Iain Matthews left Fairport Convention in 1969 and wasted no time in getting his own career started, releasing his first solo record within a few months of his departure. The decade that followed proved to be quite a productive one for him, including two bands and 13 albums, and by evidence of this 20-song collection, much more. These various outtakes, demos, radio broadcasts, and live recordings -- taken primarily from his first five post-Fairport years -- remained in the vault until 1991 with the release of Orphans and Outcasts, Vol. 1. Going back to a handful of 1969 Matthews Southern Comfort recordings, which are every bit as strong as what eventually ended up on the respective records, the bulk of Orphans and Outcasts is of an unusually high caliber for a compilation of this sort. Of the highlights, many come from BBC radio broadcasts, including Plainsong's 1973 recordings of Gene Clark's "Spanish Guitar" and Paul Siebel's "Any Day Woman," which are real finds. Other BBC sessions include Matthews leading a terrific band which featured Richard Thompson and Andy Roberts on guitars, through four tunes, including Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" and his own "Hearts." Elsewhere, his demos for the disappointing Go for Broke, recorded in Emitt Rhodes' garage, possess a spark that was sadly missing from the finished album. The consistently high quality of the material here makes Orphans and Outcasts, Vol. 1 an excellent addendum to Iain Matthews' early work.
AllMusic Review by Brett Hartenbach