GENE : As Good As It Gets: The Best Of

Britpop meat and potatoes, reheated

A ‘Best Of’ after only three studio albums means one of two things: a) here’s a band who churn out classic hits like Stuart Braithwaite sheds hair follicles, or b) we are a major record label and this bunch of underachieving indie plumbers we’ve just dropped owe us a large amount of money, so buy this album padded out at the end with crap fillers or we remove and sell their kidneys.

The mighty Gene, having always been all things to a

few, generally Kilburn-based

men, cover both bases. Where most post-Britpop ‘Greatest Hits’ rely on the ‘well felch me sideways, did they do that one?’ factor, Gene’s oeuvre is more insidious. Masters of the lustrous, lovelorn ballad (‘Speak To Me Someone’, ‘For The Dead’) and only rare callers at the brothel of toss-off guitar pop thrills (most famously on ‘Fighting Fit’ and

‘Be My Light Be My Guide’),

their fine art is in penning slow-burn outsider anthems, picking titles from [I]Morrissey’s Guide

To Arch Obtuseness[/I] and letting them quietly shine in the rough of the Top 30.

Had Martin Rossiter recorded the likes of ‘We Could Be Kings’ and ‘Fill Her Up’ with his head stuck in a bucket of pig’s intestines they’d have sounded almost exactly like The Strokes, but instead he wails them like a Royal Opera House stagehand chancing his luck and the result is an opening 12 songs that make ‘Complete Madness’ look like

the new Plaid.

Then Polydor pad it out with iffy album tracks and a shit cover of ‘Town Called Malice'[I].

The Man has won this round but the real best is yet to come.

Mark Beaumont