I have been a James fan for the last 16 years ever since the Sit Down days. The last time James released a Best of was in 1998 and prior to this they had released 6 conventional studio albums, 1 excellent live album and an album of jams called 'Wah Wah' (released in September 1994). They had previously notched a very respectable 14 Top 75 singles including 6 Top 20 hits - the most well-known of these being 'She's A Star' and the #2 hit 'Sit Down'
The last best of similarly to this singles collection contained two great new tracks 'Destiny Calling' and 'Runaground' which were thought at the time to represent James new direction. The Best of James flew to #1 in the UK Album charts and sold nearly a million copies in the UK - a remarkable achievement. The following year the album 'Millionaires' was released and whilst critically it got almost resoundingly excellent views it was given a mixed reception by James fans who viewed it as slightly conventional and commercially focussed compared to previous offerings. The album did well and got to #2 but slid out of the charts fairly quickly not achieving the sales levels originally predicted. The three singles from this album are on this new collection. Whilst all are excellent songs they don't quite capture the true James spirit for me and are highly polished songs.
James then in 2000 instead of releasing more songs from Millionaires started writing their new album 'Pleased to Meet You' which tried to go back to how the originally wrote material through a series of jamming session. The finished album - produced by Brian Eno was released in July 2001 to overall disappointing reviews and again mixed reception from fans. Only one single was released 'Getting Away With It (All messed up)' - which is contained in this new collection which had an edgier, rawer feel than any of the Millionaires singles. However the album was a mixture of familiar sounds blending previous albums Whiplash, Laid and Millionaires with a new more laidback sound.
Following the release of the album which peaked at only #11 (the worst album performance on their record label at the time - Mercury Records)two critical decisions were made; Mercury had decided not to renew James contract and Tim Booth (Vocalist for 19 years at the time) decided to leave James at the end of their short Arena tour at the end of 2001.
With fans in shock and mourning James effectively split up at the end of the tour and went their seperate ways. Tim Booth released a solo album 'Bone' in 2004 which got critical praise from fans and music critics alike. Since that time time Tim Booth appeared in Batman Begins in 2005 with a small role and in 2006 as Judas in the Manchester Passion play.
In January 2007 it was announced that James would be re-forming with original guitarist Larry Gott and the rest of James (minus Adrian Oxaal - replacement guitarist for Larry Gott and Michael Kulas (guitar/backing vocals)and they announced an April 2007 tour, the Fresh as a Daisy singles and a brand new album - slated for November 2007.
So Fresh as a Daisy - double singles CD has every single created by James (minus Sit Down 98) including their earliest material on Factory records the majority of which has not graced a CD until now.
Why is this collection so brilliant - every single crackles with inspiration and great ideas. Their are anthems (Sit Down/Laid/She's A Star/Desting Calling/Come Homes), their are slowburners (Sound/Who Are You/Runaground/Getting Away With It), singalongs (We're Going To miss you/How Was it For you?/Tomorrow) and their are some mid-paced classics (Say Something/Lose Control/Folklore).
The two new tracks like the previous 'new' tracks on 'The Best of James' are original and show another different face of James 'Who Are You' is one of the greatest songs James have ever made and contains a brilliant outtro 'Warning Coming Down' and 'Chameleon' is totally different to other James track with a true rock n'roll feel.
Those who have bought the Best of - buy the double album it has 16 songs that weren't on the previous best of - for those casual fans buy the single CD you get the new songs as well as hearing what James are about.
For those who haven't heard James before they make music like no other band; not rock but not quite pop, estoric, very emotional, romantic, passionate, catchy, edgy and magnificent.
so 25 Years of Brilliance in one CD...go discover what you've never heard, find out those songs you've missed or buy for the brilliant new tracks. James are back - music is back!