Pride Of Manchester originally wrote our Starsailor
pages, prior to their debut single in 2001, we said (quote) "Expect
to see Starsailor become 'The Big Thing' in 2001". With hindsight,
even we'd have to admit we couldn't have predicted how good a year
they would actually have:
20 year-old James Walsh
from Chorley, Lancashire was brought up on a diet of his older brother's
Oasis, Blur and Charlatans record collection. He didn't fit in very
easily at school and was shy and withdrawn. Music gave him the ideal
outlet and he started to get some focus to his life when he went
to music college in Wigan, Greater Manchester, where he met the
Warrington lads, James Stelfox and Ben Byrne. The line-up was completed
with the arrival of Barry Westhead, also from Warrington, and Starsailor
played its first gig in London in April 2000.
Named after a Tim Buckley album, Starsailor
were spotted by a NME journalist at another London gig in July and
his glowing report set them on the road to stardom, with EMI signing
They were the first band without a
record release to their name to be given a slot on the NME Brats
Tour and at this point, were already building up a head of steam,
tipped to be the big find of 2001.
Their debut single, 'Fever' was released
in Feb 2001 and immediately charted at Number 18, amid mainstream
media hype. It appeared though that all their fans had bought the
single on its day of release, as the following week it had dropped
out of the charts completely.
Their music has a bleakness with lyrics riddled
with angst and tales of lost love, similar in a way to fellow Manchester
groups Elbow and Witness. Walsh's voice heightens the fragile quality
of the lyrics and he has been compared to Richard Ashcroft.
Their next single, 'Good Souls', received
huge media attention and was played to death on MTV and VH1 before
going straight into the UK charts at Number 12 on its release in
April 2001. Its longevity in the charts, three weeks, proved they'd
already come a long way since 'Fever'.
They toured extensively, playing all
the major summer festivals of 2001, including a great performance
at V2001, alongside fellow Manc acts Ian Brown, The Charlatans,
Doves, David Gray, Witness, Rae & Christian and Alfie. Whilst
clearly over-whelmed by their sudden popularity, they played an
amazing set and increased their fanbase even further. All this with
out even an album being released!
Boosted by this ever-increasing fanbase,
their third single, the brilliant 'Alcoholic' charted at Number
10 in the UK, heralding the long-awaited debut album, 'Love Is Here'.
It remained in the charts for three weeks.
When the album finally hit the shops
in October 2001 even their biggest fans and the music press, who
were heavily hyping the band by this point, could not have predicted
how well it would do. The album reached an incredible UK No.2 chart
placing, pipped by Kylie - an amazing achievement to say the least
for a debut album from such young musicians.
On December 14th 2001, Starsailor
supported The Charlatans, at the Manchester Evening News Arena.
The interest for their short set was arguably as great as that reserved
for the Madchester heroes. Again they delivered an amazing performance,
which included the beautiful 'Lullaby'.
The track was released as a single
two days later, and despite recieving lots of radio airplay, only
just scraped into the UK Top 40, peaking at No.36 - it disappeared
without trace the following week.
The fifth and final single that was
to appear on 'Love Is Here', was comfortably the favourite with
many fans. 'Poor Misguided Fool' was a more upbeat, catchier, rocky
tune. Had it been released before the album, it could have arguably
been the band's biggest hit to date. Instead it achieved a respectable
UK No.23 placing in March 2002; an impressive achievement considering
that most fans had been playing 'Love Is Here' to death for a full
Starsailor's eagerly awaited second
album, 'Silence Is Easy', was heavily inspired by the success the
lads had enjoyed, as well as the birth of James' daughter. Produced
by the legendary Phil Spector and recorded at Abbey Road Studios,
it debuted at Number 2 in the UK charts in September 2003. The single
of the same name, had early reached UK no.9.
With 'Love Is Here' having sold over
a million copes and 'Silence Is Easy' expected to better that, you
can expect Starsailor to go stellar in 2003. Although, you know
what happened last time we made a prediction on these pages...
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