From peers of The Smiths to rivals for U2's stadium crowd, the career of indie stalwarts James has certainly been more colourful than most. Now, with the departure of their mercurial singer Tim Booth, it's effectively over - although the others have gamely insisted they'll carry on without him. To mark the event they've re-released some of their best-loved albums (Gold Mother, Laid, Whiplash) along with Ultra, a collection of 18 of their most popular B-sides from the last decade. As you might expect, Ultra is a mixed bag, but since James generally took far more care over their bonus tracks than most bands, the ratio of quality to dross is gratifyingly high. Spirited covers of China Girl and Sunday Morning are highlights but pick of the bunch is I Defeat, a duet between Booth and Sinead O'Connor which most bands would have been proud to call an A-side.
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