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As Good As It Gets
collects Gene's complete singles output, spanning 1994-99, plus a smattering of album tracks, all of which serve as a fitting tribute to a seriously undervalued band. Gene have long been saddled with the tag "Smiths
copyists" and, let's face it, there's no escaping the mighty Manc miserablists' paw-prints on their early material. Their first two--admittedly rather fine--singles, "For The Dead" and "Be My Light, Be My Guide", spotlight Steve Mason's jangling Marr-esque arpeggio guitar and the Rozza's Morrissey-like phrasing and Wildean way with a witty epithet. However, they gradually moulded their own distinctive oeuvre, majoring in elegantly attired urban vignettes such as "London, Can You Wait", lifted from 1995's debut album Olympian
. Other highlights include the stomping rock & soul of "Haunted By You", the magnificently lachrymose drinking lament "Fill Her Up" and, of course, those languidly crooned ballads "Olympian" and "You'll Never Walk Again". --Chris King