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James - Fresh As A Daisy: The Singles

2007-09-07 10:16
So we did come back, to a singles collection also featuring two new tracks from the posh lads of James. And what do we find there. Were they as good as they seemed?

Well, this summary of their charting career shows that James were never best at being original. What James did best was distilled trends. And their passion for their songs - even on a singles collection - allows them to get away with a pop twist so pronounced it's actually bent.

In their saddish sing-along songs you'll hear, among others, the flavours of Lou Reed, Steely Dan, Waterboys... and well, everyone good whose popularity shared a decade with James' days in the limelight, or inspired them. Tim Booth's deceptively straightforward lyrics are the stylish glue.
Darkened down by the sarcasm of the 90s scene, this collection also features perhaps the sexiest rock song of that decade, the 1993 smash "Laid" ("She only comes when she's on top"), as well as all the other classics.

Then there's the new songs.

Yes, the new songs: "Chameleon" sounds self conscious and awkward, like a filler track off Booth's excellent solo project "Bone". "Who are you" is a bit laboured, but catchy and somewhat soulful. Nothing essential about either in other words.

Why buy? Well, there's no need if you already have a collection, but as compilations go, this one is above average. James have mixed up the order of the songs, avoiding the chronology trap, instead pulling out a playlist that really works. And by including (albeit so-so) new material and a few different remixes to those on albums, they’ve made it worth picking up.

- Jean Barker

"So we may be gorgeous / so we may be famous / come back when we're getting old" Tim Booth sings on the lovely and laddish 1998 early classic, "Destiny Calling".

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