Greatest Hits

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A sensibly titled 15-track epitaph to one of the most premature of all the Brit-pop bandwagon's many casualties, Greatest Hits rounds up each of Catatonia's major U.K. hits, alongside a clutch of well-chosen album cuts and, by way of completeness, the two duets that further established vocalist Cerys Matthews among the country's best-loved performers, "The Ballad of Tom Jones," cut with Space, and "Baby It's Cold Outside," a hit alongside Tom Jones. Elsewhere, "Strange Glue," "Road Rage," "Dead From the Waist Down," and "I Am the Mob" deliver a chain of pop confections that are as memorable as their titles, with Matthews' distinctively half-husky voice imbibing the daftest lyric with a deft vulnerability: "I put horses heads in people's beds," indeed. From the opening "Mulder and Scully"'s heartfelt dismissal of parenthood ("As for some happy ending, I'd rather stay single and thin"), to "Game On"'s defiant, "I know that I could never fall from grace, I'm much too clever," Catatonia in general, and Matthews in particular, packed an electricity that left much of the rest of the pop pack simply gasping in their wake. That fact is reinforced across the bonus disc attached to early pressings of Greatest Hits, wrapping up ten B-sides dating back to 1996 and the deceptively sweet "Do You Believe in Me?" It's a scattershot selection that omits far too many gems to be anything more than a pleasant distraction, but if you were luckless enough to have missed the original singles, you'll be pleased to have it anyway.

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