It's always been a mystery why James' back catalogue hasn't been afforded the same reverential treatment as so many of their peers, but Universal are putting this right with a series of expanded issues of their best-known albums, starting with a four-disc version of their critically acclaimed 1993 Laid album, accompanied by the improvised album Wah Wah, recorded in the same sessions but released a year later, a disc of mostly unreleased demos and jams and a fourth disc of b-sides, radio sessions and remixes.
We're working through the extras including a stunning book featuring an exclusive interview with the band about the making of the album and a whole hoard of memorabilia.
The plethora of Super Deluxe Editions that have been released are not just about the music, they also tell the story of the album and Laid is no exception. As well as the obligatory postcard prints and a selection of replica badges, the real treasure amongst the extras is the lavishly produced sixty-page book.
The centrepoint of the book is an exclusive essay by the band's long-term PR Phill Savidge, which includes insightful interviews with Tim, Jim and Larry, including a track-by-track run through the album, something the band have rarely done over the course of their career, and tales from the recording sessions including insight into which song Brian Eno didn't like during the recording process and which the band can't understand why they put it on there. They talk of how the single Laid nearly didn't make it past the demo stage had it not been for Eno's intervention and how he rated their first studio performance of Sometimes as one of the highlights of his musical career.
The concept behind Wah Wah is explored with the band as well, including their working method as their focus switched from the song record to the jams that were going on concurrently with the recording of Laid and how some songs made the move between records as they developed. Given the unfinished nature of many of the exciting jams on disc three, it's almost worth listening to it whilst reading this section to see how the band worked through this process.
The boxset is a fitting tribute to the album that would in all likelihood come top of any James fan poll of their favourite record of their career. It sees the album reunited with Wah Wah in a package the way the band had originally intended it as well as further insight into the band's working methods with the mostly unreleased disc three of jams and demos and the b-sides, sessions and remixes that make up disc four for the completist.
The album is also released as a deluxe 2cd edition featuring the original album and a second disc selected from discs 3 and 4. Both albums are also reissued on heavy double vinyl with a 500-only special edition of both available from Universal's webstore.
More about Laid can be found here on the One Of The Three fansite and about Wah Wah here.
James' official website can be found here. They are on Facebook and Twitter. Some of the band - Tim, Larry, Andy and Dave - are also on Twitter.