With 26 tracks, this compilation gathers about as much Vanity Fare as can be stuffed onto one CD, all but two of the songs coming from the A-sides and B-sides of their 1968-1973 singles (there's also a 1977 B-side and one cut from their debut LP). Vanity Fare has passed into history as a band without a distinct identity that managed to get hold of a couple of excellent breezy pop songs, the hits "Hitchin' a Ride" and "Early in the Morning" (which are both here, naturally). This anthology does little to counteract that impression, though its thoroughness and high standard of packaging are commendable (even if the chronological sequencing of the tracks jumps all over the place). Most of their A-sides -- all of them penned by outside writers -- are well-harmonized mainstream British pop tunes of the late '60s and early '70s, sometimes leaning toward Beach Boys-influenced vocals, sometimes chewing on a bit of bubblegum, sometimes putting in a pinch of old-time rock & roll, and almost always exuding a faceless sort of good-time cheer. The Beach Boys influence bobs closer to the surface on their sole British Top 20 single besides "Hitchin' a Ride" and "Early in the Morning," "I Live for the Sun," which is itself a cover of a Beach Boys imitation by the Sunrays. Unfortunately, the Mike Leander-Eddie Seago team responsible for writing "Early in the Morning" came up with just one other song for Vanity Fare, the 1970 single "Come Tomorrow," which is a transparently inferior attempt to write something along the lines of "Early in the Morning," down to the pseudo-Eastern European melody and minor-keyed keyboards. More of a band personality, and somewhat more earthiness, come across on their original material. But even here they flit from sub-Beach Boys boppers ("Making for the Sun"), light soul-rock, earnest trendy pop with reflective lyrics ("Man Child" and "Stand"), and a Traffic and Spencer Davis Group-influenced organ-based workout ("Megawd (Something Tells Me)") without coming up with something special.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger