Noel Gallagher hit the proverbial nail on the head in 1997 when he sat his labelmates Teenage Fanclub down at Air Studios in London and proclaimed them to be the second-best band in the world. He was right -- but of course, Radiohead, and not his band, was arguably number one. The Fannies opened for the OK Computer auteurs that year, with singer Thom Yorke picking Songs From Northern Britain as his favorite record in Rolling Stone. Meanwhile, Oasis' Be Here Now, burdened by, well, the Gallagher brothers, was "here" and then gone in America and sent everyone but Radiohead scurrying from the death knell of Brit-pop. All of which is to say that the last time an album by the boys from Glasgow received any real fanfare, plaid flannel was de rigueur. Going AWOL from the grunge wars of the early '90s, Gerard Love, Raymond McGinley, and Norman Blake -- the only Fanclub mainstays -- begged off to the Highlands, grew beards, drank tea, and developed into some of the most reliable singer/songwriters on the planet. Consequently, 1995's Grand Prix (the rebirth of melody) and 1997's Songs (the best album this side of Abbey Road) barely registered outside of Oslo, which is why Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty Six Seconds: A Short Cut to Teenage Fanclub will come as revelation to those who haven't bothered since Blake strummed his Gibson Explorer on Saturday Night Live. It's all here, from the messy Badfinger "tude" of "The Concept" to the Sweetheart of the Rodeo-era harmonies on "Ain't That Enough" and the stereo-panning of "Dumb Dumb Dumb." Despite the omission of some fan favorites like "God Knows It's True," at 21 tracks this is easily the best from the beatific sludge of A Catholic Education to the criminally neglected Howdy!. Also, the three new tunes recorded specifically for the collection are stellar additions, making the purchase more than worthwhile for longtime fans. Featuring an epic Pink Floyd-style album cover from Donald Milne -- the man behind the gorgeous Songs photos -- and two thick booklets that trace the band's history and feature reminiscences respectively, Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty Six Seconds is a first-rate production.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar