In March 1998, all concerned thought it would be a good idea to compile and release The Best of James. It brought together fourteen hit singles from the Mercury/Fontana years together with Hymn From A Village from the Factory Records era plus two brand new songs, both of which were due for release as singles as part of the promotion of the ‘new’ LP.
Destiny Calling was made avilable a couple of weeks before the album and was issued, as had become the norm, in a 3xCD package. It’s a single that’s among the best James released in the mid-late 90s. The tune is more than decent while the lyric pokes fun at how the music industry was beginning to pan out in the run up to the turn of the century with its ever-increasing emphasis on manufacturing and controlling the entire sound, look and feel of musicians. Who really in their right mind would set out to be a famous pop star in these times?
The first of the CDs featured what was claimed to be three exclusive rare tracks all of which however had been available as b-sides to previously released hit singles and therefore probably already owned by most fans. The second CD went for live material from what had been, to all intents and purposes, a more than decent show at the Reading Festival the previous August, and having come in for justified criticism over the choices made on previous live songs as b-sides it was good that two of them were from Wah Wah and this rather different in the live setting that than the studio. Just a pity the other track was a lumpen and wearisome number that too often sounded like u2 by numbers. CD3, which I don’t have, provided a multimedia section containing the video of She’s A Star together with snippets of videos of other songs you could find on ‘Best Of’.
Interestingly, the artwork for the single harked back to the baggy era with the use of the daisy logo that had adorned so many t-shirts.
The single entered the charts at #17 and dropped down the week after just as the album began its ascent to the #1 spot.
James were now arguably, more popular and better-known in the UK than at any other point in their career, thanks to this compilation drawing attention to the consistency and quality of the singles. Those of us who has been looking on for over a decade could only sigh and think of all the great tracks that would have made it a genuine ‘Best Of’ rather than a chart-fodder effort.
The tracks on CD 1 (Assassin, Goalie’s Ball and The Lake) have all featured earlier in this series so here’s the tracks from CD2:-
mp3 : James – Destiny Calling
mp3 : James – Jam J (live)
mp3 : James – Honest Joe (live)
mp3 : James – Sound (live)