James乐队的灵魂人物是 Tim Booth（vocals），一个有着一个受鄙的青春期，被音乐拯救的男孩。乐队1982年成立于英国的曼彻斯特大学，初始阵容是 Paul Gilbertson（guitar），Jim Glennie（bass）、Gavan Whelan（drums）和Tim Booth（vocals）。在1983年，在 Morrissey 的支持下，乐队签约与独立唱片公司 Factory，并在当年推出首张EP唱片《James》，Morrissey 对 James 的评价是：”the best band in the world“ ，《James》专辑推出后乐队一直跟随着 Smith 乐队，为他们做暖场演出。两年后 James 推出第2张EP唱片《James II》，但结果同上张《James》一样：反响平平。
1985年夏天，Larry Gott 取代了 Paul Gilbertson ，James 与 Sire Records 签约，1986年推出首张专辑《Stutter》。1988年，乐队推出第二张专辑《Strip Mine》，虽然两张专辑反响同样不愠不火，但通过这两张专辑，乐队确定了自己标志式的清脆明亮吉他效果。1988年，James 离开 Sire Records转签到独立唱片公司Rough Trade ，在那里乐队自资出版了 Live 专辑《One Man Clapping》，专辑中收录了早期版本的单曲 ”Sit Down“ ，让James开始广为人知的成功歌曲。
不久后 James 调整了乐队阵容：David Baynton 取代了 Gavan Whelan，乐队中并加入了键盘手 Mark Hunter，提琴手 Saul Davies 和吹奏手 Andy Diagram。新阵容的 James 录制了些新歌，这些歌曲后来被 Rough Trade 出售给 Fontana 公司，收有这些歌曲的专辑《Gold Mother》于1990年秋季出版，专辑一经推出就十分受欢迎，仅在英国一地就销售出超过35万张，专辑中的单曲 “Sit Down” 升到了英国榜的第2名，这使得 James 开始广为人知，成为与 Stone Roses,Happy Monday 等当红乐队平起平坐的摇滚明星。
1992年的专辑《Seven》使 James 尝到了排行榜 No. 1 的位置，《Seven》音乐风格上基本是《Gold Mother》专辑的延续。不久后 Saul Davies 和 Andy Diagram 离开了乐队，James 开始与对乐队影响最大的人 —— Brian Eno 的合作。双方合作的结晶是1993年的专辑《Laid》，这张专辑与乐队以前的作品大大不同：减少了以前激昂奔放的成分，专辑中的13首作品大多都是静态之作，充满了梦幻般缥缈的电子韵味，这正是 Brian Eno 的一贯风格。《Laid》使乐队成功打入了美国市场，专辑在美国销量达 60 万张，要知道那时候整个美国遍地响起的几乎都是 Grunge 之声，一支英国乐队要在美国成功几乎是不可能的。只是乐评人对 James 的这次转变褒贬不一，不少乐评认为乐队放弃了以往愤怒青年似的呐喊而变得虚无缥缈实在是捡了芝麻丢了西瓜。不过 James 声称与 Brian Eno 合作非常愉快，并承认从 Brian Eno 那里学了不少东西。James 与 Brian Eno 合作的下一张专辑是1994年的双唱片 Live 专辑《Wah Wah》，专辑中充满了实验性的东西，同样的虚无缥缈，专辑中形形色色的歌曲有时让人难以理解。
1995年，乐队元老之一的吉他手 Larry Gott 离开 James，Tim Booth 也跑去跟其他人合作录制个人专辑，那时候种种都迹象表明 James 将走向末路。
好在 James 还是从低谷中走了出来，他们找来新吉他手 Adrian Oxaal，在1997年推出新专辑《Whiplash》，专辑适度的加入一些电子舞曲的成份以迎合潮流，但乐队引以为豪的流水般的吉他声和纵情奔放的激情并未消失。《Whiplash》成为一张金唱片，并诞生了一首畅销单曲”She's a Star“。1998年，James 推出第一张精选专辑《Best Of James》，美中不足的是专辑中未收录 James 最早在 Sire 旗下推出的两张专辑的歌曲，相信可能是版权问题吧。《Best Of James》成为 James 第一张获得双白金的唱片。
1999年，James 推出专辑《Millionaires》，Brian Eno 再次与乐队合作，《Millionaires》是对乐队以前各个时期风格的综合，他们来到吉他摇滚和电子流行之间的灰色地带，Brian Eno 的制作使 James 变得更为时髦，丰富多变的音效更将整张专辑点缀的繁花似锦，绚丽多彩。总之，《Millionaires》一张不可多得的佳作。水准不低于 James 以往任何一张专辑，而事实上 James 从未出版过所谓的劣作，他们每张专辑都能保证极高的音乐水准。
2001年，James 推出最新专辑《Please To Met You》。可就在专辑推出后的几个月后，Tim Booth 发表了一项声明：他将离开陪伴了自己近二十年的乐队，时间就在随后的冬季巡演结束后，这绝对是个非常坏的消息，要知道 Tim Booth 是 James 绝对的核心人物。虽然乐队剩下的成员对此的反映是他们依然会把 James 继续下去，但没有了 Tim Booth 的 James 是无法让人想象的。
2002年唱片公司为乐队推出名为《Getting Away With It: Live》的双CD现场专辑和一张名为《Ultra》的 B-Sides 专辑，同时也将乐队以前的一系列专辑以增加 “Bonus Tracks” 的形式再版发行，除去商业上的考虑，这也算是对 James 这支优秀乐队的一次怀念吧。
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
As one of the first groups to be dubbed the next Smiths, James became an institution on the British alternative music scene of the 80s and 90s with their pleasant folk-pop. Early in their career, James were blessed by praise from their idol Morrissey, which turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. The group was pegged as second-rate Smiths, yet continued to tour and record, eventually gaining a sizable following. In the late 80s, the group, like many of their British peers, became involved in the acid house-inspired baggy scene and recorded the baggy-inspired Sit Down, which became their breakthrough hit. Shortly after Sit Down, James became more experimental, culminating in a collaboration with Brian Eno that resulted in their biggest American album, Laid, in 1993. James took four years to follow Laid, by which time their audience had returned to a cult following.
James formed in Manchester in 1982, when Paul Gilbertson (guitar), Jim Glennie (bass), and Gavan Whelan (drums) met Tim Booth (vocals) at Manchester University and asked him to join their fledgling band. During the next year, the band became regulars on the local club circuit, and by 1983, they had signed to Factory, releasing their debut EP, Jimone, later that year. Two years later, their second EP, James II, was released, and Morrissey, the lead singer of the Smiths, publicly endorsed the group, asking them to open for his group. By the summer of 1985, Larry Gott had replaced Gilbertson, and the group signed to Sire Records. Working with producer Lenny Kaye, the group recorded its debut, Stutter, that year, releasing it in early 1986 to generally positive reviews.
Over the next two years, James toured constantly, building up a solid fan base. They released their second album, the folky Strip-Mine, in 1988. The record failed to capitalize on their live following, and the band departed Sire the following year, signing with the independent Rough Trade. On their new label, James released the moderately successful Sit Down and the live album One Man Clapping, which climbed to number one on the indie charts. In 1990, Whelan was replaced by David Baynton-Power, and James expanded to a septet with the addition of keyboardist Mark Hunter, violinist Saul Davies, and trumpeter Andy Diagram. The new lineup signed to Fontana Records and released Gold Mother in the fall. Following a handful of minor hit singles, Gold Mother finally became a breakthrough success in the spring of 1991, when a re-recorded version of Sit Down — now boasting a contemporary baggy beat — climbed to number two on the U.K. charts and became a staple on U.S. modern rock radio. Although the success of Sit Down was a blessing, it also was a curse, as the single became all James were known for. The band began to rebel in concert, playing almost nothing but new material, and their next album, 1992s Seven, was perceived as a misguided stab at big arena rock.
For the follow-up to Seven, James stripped away Diagram and worked with producer Brian Eno. The resulting record, Laid, was a quieter, more ambitious album, and it received some of the bands best reviews. While the album was ignored in the U.K., it was an alternative rock hit in the U.S. on the strength of the title track, which became a crossover hit. During the Laid sessions, James recorded another albums worth of experimental music with Eno that was released in the fall of 1994 as Wah Wah. The album received mixed reviews and the group took an extended break throughout 1995, partly due to guitarist Gotts departure. In 1996, Tim Booth recorded a collaboration with composer Angelo Badalamenti (Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet) entitled Booth and the Bad Angel, which received generally positive reviews.
With guitarist Adrian Oxaal in tow, James returned in early 1997 with Whiplash, a more straightforward record that was greeted with mixed reviews. 1999s Millionaires, recorded with new guitarist Michael Kulas, was initially released only in the U.K. Their spectacular follow-up, 2001s Pleased to Meet You, was also available only in the U.K. A few months later, frontman Tim Booth announced his departure from the band he founded nearly 20 years before, citing that it was the right time to go. A winter tour of the U.K. was slated for December 2001, marking Booths last with the band. The remaining members insisted theyd carry on; however, James officially called it quits at the tours end. In 2007, James announced that it would be re-forming and embarking on a tour in support of the double-disc compilation Fresh as a Daisy: The Singles.