Even for the relatively few American listeners who are familiar with Edwyn Collins' career, there tends to be a rather large gap in their knowledge about the period between Orange Juice's 1982 career high point, Rip It Up, and his 1995 solo smash, "A Girl Like You." (To be fair, there was indeed a five-year break between 1984's The Orange Juice and 1989's solo debut, Hope and Despair.) Although those fans will find the collection instructional and entertaining, A Casual Introduction 1981 to 2001 is geared more toward the newcomer, including all of Collins' best-known solo songs (the sardonic Marvin Gaye homage "The Magic Piper [Of Love]," "Johnny Teardrop") as well as many of the high points of the pioneering Scottish post-punks' career, including their biggest hit, "Rip It Up," in its truncated single form and earlier twee pop landmarks like "Felicity" and "Falling and Laughing" (both in the re-recorded takes from the full-length debut, You Can't Hide Your Love Forever, and not the original single sides, generally considered superior by most fans). Having the album's 18 songs presented in non-chronological order goes a long way toward dispelling the myth that Collins' soul- and R&B-inflected solo work is a massive stylistic shift from his former band; late-era Orange Juice songs like 1984's "What Presence?!" prove that Collins was heading in this direction even before the band split. This is by no means all the Edwyn Collins one would ever need; his highly underrated 1997 solo album, I'm Not Following You, is drastically underrepresented. Furthermore, a full appreciation of Orange Juice requires hearing the scrappy early singles collected on compilations like The Glasgow School. But, just as the title says, this is a worthwhile casual introduction.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason