The Gathering Sound


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The Gathering Sound Review

by Jon O'Brien

Released just in time for Christmas, Brit-pop veterans James' first foray into the box-set market, The Gathering Sound, is perhaps the most comprehensive overview of their enduring, 30-year career as any self-respecting fan could wish for. Alongside a USB stick containing all ten of their full-length studio LPs, (plus a physical CD combining 2010's mini-albums The Night Before and The Morning After), there's a DVD of their 1990 Come Home Live tour, a vinyl disc featuring four previously unreleased demos, and a whole array of merchandise ranging from a scrapbook to a replica backstage pass. But it's the two discs of lost tracks, obscurities, and live performances that will spark the most intrigue. The 18-track set of studio rarities features everything from early-'80s home-recorded demos ("Willow," "Say It with Flowers"), songs discarded from both the Pleased to Meet You ("Scratchcard") and Whiplash ("Hedex," "I Thought You Were") sessions, and B-sides from 12" singles Ya Ho ("Mosquito," "Left Out of Her Will") and Just Like Fred Astaire ("Long to See"), in addition to recordings from BBC Radio Manchester ("Doubts") and Absolute Radio ("Dust Motes"), an extended version of Stutter album track Just Hip ("Just Hipper"), and songs previously only available digitally ("All My Letters") and flexi-disc ("Weather Change"). The 16-track live CD is just as arbitrary, with performances culled from some of their very first gigs ("Folklore"), right up to 2008 ("Bubbles"), including highlights from sets at Glastonbury 1990 ("Hang On," "Hymn from a Village"), Alton Towers 1992 ("Maria's Party"), and Brixton Academy ("Honest Joe") alongside one of the few numbers that will be recognizable to wider audiences, "Sit Down" (taken from London's Town & Country Club 1992). Of course, most hardcore James fans will already own most of this material, meaning The Gathering Sound's hefty price tag might not represent as much value for money as you'd think. But for any new converts, this is a veritable treasure trove which contains pretty much everything you need to know about one of Britain's most underrated indie pop bands.

Track Listing - Disc 5

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 James Amazon
2 James Amazon
3 James Amazon
4 James Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick