A treasure chest of Brit-pop odds and sods, this 24-song collection rounds up all nine of the singles that the Giles Brothers, Peter and Michael, had a hand in during the half-decade preceding The Brondesbury Tapes, together with a clutch of numbers that solidly predate the days of cheerful insanity. Opening with the almost insolently Everlys-esque "Little Sue" and "Julie," recorded with the Dowlands in 1962, and following on with more beat-oriented follow-ups "Big Big Fella" and "Breakups," it's a genuinely mixed bag. As with so many other hopeful young musicians of the age, the Giles Brothers played with whomever and offered up whatever the market demanded. Still, you can trace the development of the sharp end of British pop as the album rolls on, and the starkly pre-Beatles sounds of the Dowlands (proud members of the legendary Joe Meek stable, by the way) are swiftly followed by the Merseybeaten pop of the Trendsetters Ltd., signed to Parlophone between 1964-1965 and oddly redolent of a cross between the Hollies and Freddie & the Dreamers. Two outtakes from their lifetime are included. Following the loss of their deal, Trendsetters Ltd. lived on, unrecorded, until 1967, when four of the original quintet regrouped as the Trend and signed to producer Larry Page's Page One label; one mildly psych-ish single later, the same quartet returned as the Brain, to play out the collection with six tracks, four outtakes, the mad soul of "Kick the Donkey," and a title that most King Crimson fans will instantly recognize, "Nightmare in Red." And now we're firmly into Giles, Giles & Fripp territory, and the only caveat is to beware the hopelessly misleading track listing, which lines the contents up in chronological order, but spins off after 1965 into a sequence that makes no sense at all. A lot like these bands' obscurity, in fact.
AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson