JAMES have always defied categorisation. Originally hailed as a whimsical version of The Smiths, they were ultimately likened to grandiose stadium-fillers U2. The truth is they were neither.

Driven by singer Tim Booth’s unique take on the world, and underpinned by those jangling guitars and glorious harmonies, they ploughed their own very singular furrow, while producing at least four classic spine-tingling anthems (Sit Down, She’s A Star, Seven and Nothing But Love).

Now their first two albums, Stutter and Strip-mine, have been re-released, offering a fascinating insight into the embryonic James, a band striving for identity ino those strange, mixed-up late 1980s.

Booth’s vocals, already powerful, are too mannered at times, while elusive anthems remain just out of reach. But there are hints of the glory to come: What For is the hit single that never was and Really Hard is a startlingly beautiful ode to being misunderstood which, of course, James were until they found their true voice with Sit Down.