Almost everyone I know, grew up in a household that owned a copy of 1 by The Beatles or ABBA Gold. Both albums are so good that even those of a heavy metal persuasion would find it hard not to place ABBA in their secret playlist of guilty pleasures and discreetly listen to Super Trouper when there’s nobody around. Don’t get me wrong, there’s loads of other compilations that should probably be mentioned here but one in particular that stands out for me is James: The Best Of. Released in 1998, the band were 7 albums in before they released this masterpiece. As they’ve released another 8 albums since then, many new fans would find that number intimidating before getting stuck in. James: The Best Of is the perfect Gateway album (as it was for me) to introduce you to a band who have experimented and remoulded their music throughout the last 3 decades. From the spectacular stadium anthem that is “Sit Down” to the psychedelic “She’s A Star”, I can guarantee that anybody who listens to this album will become James fans for life.
The 18 track album reached number one in the charts on it’s week of release as well as a year of sold-out tours and even though James have remained a highly respected band from the Madchester and Britpop days, their hits seem to be considered timeless amongst the older millennials. The vast majority of radio journalism amongst the indie genre predominantly concentrate on bands like Oasis or The Stone Roses as far as 90s indie is concerned which, you could argue has been a contributing factor to generate a new wave of fans in younger demographic cohorts specifically for those bands. I do think that there’s an element of controversial notoriety in the aforementioned bands due to their rebellious attitudes which have appealed to many young audiences whereas James, don’t really fit that criteria and therefore they have been overlooked or overshadowed. Although James may not have adopted the loud, anarchic Madchester tropes like their Mancunian musical siblings, they are definitely not a band who should be placed into the mellow category and that compilation album is a prime example of how powerful they are musically, lyrically and vocally with hits like “Laid” or “Destiny Calling.”
It's definitely one of my favourite albums and I think that everyone born from 1994 onwards should give this album a listen.