Fat Les new single ‘JERUSALEM’ has been adopted as the official FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION theme for this year’s EURO 2000 tournament and has been branded “one of the most expensive records ever made” by the band’s ALEX JAMES.
The song is an adaptation of the William Blake poem which was set to music by Fat Les, aka Blur bassist Alex James, artist Damien Hirst and Keith Allen, whose ‘Vindaloo’ single scored a Number Two hit during the 1998 World Cup.
Speaking exclusively to nme.com, James refused to put a figure on how much the single and video had cost to record (both feature a 75-piece orchestra) but conceded: “It was a lot of money for a single; more than Blur‘s first album.”
He continued: “We wanted to do something posh after doing ‘Vindaloo’. Roast potatoes take longer than Vindaloo did!” he laughed.
“It sounded amazing. It was probably the greatest studio moment ever…I think this really fits the bill. It’s stirring, it’s got this historical majesty, it has a spiritual dimension. I don’t think it works as a pop record, but it works as a hymn. It’s dignified.”
James and Allen approached the FA about making it the official theme and, despite some worries from football’s governing body, they got the gig. James explained: “I think they were a bit worried about us being loose cannons, so we scrubbed up and went down there. But it suits their purposes as well. And record companies are keen to have football records because they can make money out of it.”
But he added: “The FA have a problem with football violence, and they are naturally very cautious about any association with violence. We had a Spitfire in the video, but thought it might be misleading, so now there are kids rolling around in the mud, which they liked.”
Revealing that ‘Jerusalem’ was his old school song, and that Fat Les hoped to send arrangements of the single out to school orchestras, James also claimed he would like it to become the new national anthem: “It sounds like the new national anthem to me. It’s a new dawn, in terms of the calendar. New Labour. New. The old one is a stodgy old pudding, it’s just awful. Do people really feel like they’re the Queen’s subjects any more?”