Following their disappearing act in the mid-Nineties, James risked becoming the forgotten chord in the guitar-based, alternative rock pantheon. This compilation is a timely reminder of their vaultingly epic, stadiumpfriendly classics.
It also emphasises the development of a band that has managed the difficult trick of retaining an identifiable sound without ever standing still. "Come Home" and "Sit Down" from 1990's 'Gold Mother' recall those carefree Madchester days of yore and sound as euphoric as ever. 1992's 'Seven' was different again, best represented here by "Sound" and "Ring The Bells." The title track from 1993's 'Laid,' and the hit single, "Say Something," benefit from the magic touch of Brian Eno's production.
'Whiplash' saw James back in the mainstream, with both "She's A Star" and "Tomorrow" sounding distinctly Brett Anderson-ish, as Tim Booth embraced the camp melodrama that was always yearning to get out in his voice.
Two new songs on 1998..., "Destiny Calling" and "Run Aground" - both ear-marked as singles - are typical James pop anthems, full of insistent melodies and energetic guitars. Some complain of a certain lack of irony about James which can make their epic pop sound overblown. The rest of us are content just to taste the power and the glory.