ALBUM REVIEW: JAMES THE BEST OF… London Records

Not Born Of Frustration, but as Model Team International in ’81, James have become a band dogged by capricious success, being the flavour of the month one month, being the black plague the next.

From their first commercial chart breaker (the exceedingly brilliant and anthemic re-release of ‘Sit Down‘ in 1990), James have hit more lows than highs since with record buying lassitude towards them, ensuring that their place in the great hall of pop fame is not yet assured.

It is a mystery as some brilliant songs have fallen by the wayside, hardly denting the national top 40 (if at all), with the likes of ‘Lose Control‘, ‘Come Home‘, ‘Ring The Bells‘ and ‘How Was It For You?’ – in fact the band have only accumulated four Top 10 hits in their long career (including the recent ‘Destiny Calling‘ which pokes tongue in cheek fun at themselves and their contemporaries Perhaps part of their problem is their (deliberate?) changing musical styles from poppy, catchy, upbeat numbers like ‘She’s A Star‘, ‘Born Of Frustration‘, ‘Sit Down‘ which are instantly likeable and melodic, to their more ambiguous ‘Lose Control‘, ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Seven‘ which were still good songs in their own right but failed to attain high and sustained chart positions. Yet, having said that, listening to this collection, it is amazing how many James songs you will know. Particular mention must go to the transcendent ‘Sound‘ and phenomenal ‘Laid‘.

The track listing bears no chronological order; hence there is vagueness to how the band has evolved over the years for those who are not overly familiar with them. Jangling guitars are an almost permanent feature in their musical makeup of music which is very hard to classify, with many of their compositions happy-go-lucky summery smiling happy bouncy tunes, while others are more diverse and deep in their meaning and presentation.. Undoubtedly,

James will never be fully accepted by the musical establishment, but as long as they produce songs of the calibre contained on this album, they will always be able to sell a respectable quantity to warrant their continued existence.

Taken from Scotland Calling  (Scottish Music Network)