While they never scored major commercial success in either the United States or the United Kingdom, the Creation inspired a cult following during their original 1966-1967 run that continues to grow with the passage of time, and with good reason. The Creation's pre-psychedelic fusion of mod style and freakbeat sound was intriguing enough, but the real key to their music was the guitar work of Eddie Phillips, who combined forceful, elemental picking with feedback and the use of a violin bow (years before Jimmy Page embraced the idea) that allowed him to conjure singular sounds from his axe. Combine that with the inspired crash-and-bash of bassist Bob Garner and drummer Jack Jones, and the soulful passion of vocalist Kenny Pickett, and the Creation produced a sound that was second only to the Who for sheer power and inventiveness during their brief, impressive heyday. While the Creation plenty of singles, they didn't cut a proper album until two decades after their original breakup, and there have been enough collections of their work to confuse most casual observers. The box set Creation Theory is the second large-scale Creation anthology to emerge in 2017, appearing two months after the American archival label Numero Group issued Action Painting, a superb two-disc summation of the group's recorded legacy. Edsel Records' Creation Theory is a more complete set, which in practical terms isn't an improvement. Creation Theory includes 11 rare tracks from the Mark Four, the beat combo that featured several other future Creation members, and while the feedback-enhanced solo on "I'm Leaving" is an early indication of Phillips' genius, the lifeless covers of "Rock Around the Clock" and "Slow Down" are nothing to write home about. The boost in energy and adventure when Disc One segues from the Mark Four's "Going Down Fast" to the Creation's "Making Time" is tremendous, and the run of the band's single sides is thrilling. Disc Two also includes new stereo mixes of 19 Creation tracks by Alec Palao, and while they don't all sound radically different, they do give the performances a greater sense of space and color, making it easier to appreciate the details of Phillips' guitar work. Where the going gets tough is on Discs Three and Four, which feature Psychedelic Rose, a partial reunion album recorded in 1987 (only Phillips and Pickett appeared on the sessions -- drum machines and synthesizers fill up the space), and Power Surge, a full-band reunion cut for Creation Records in 1996. While Psychedelic Rose is remarkably disappointing, Power Surge is at least serviceable, but neither holds a candle to the group's 1966-1967 sides, and picking a few representative tracks would have been better than presenting both albums in full. There are two CDs' worth of outstanding music on Creation Theory, but there are another two discs of relative filler, and for that reason, unless you're an obsessive Creation completist, Action Painting is the way to go if you're looking for a collection of this band's finest hour.