The Collection is the US release of 1999's 38 Carat Collection with ever-so-slightly altered title and cover art. This two-disc set contains the band's 19 UK singles, and adds 19 key album tracks.
To a certain extent, The Collection effectively renders half the Prefab Sprout back catalog redundant. Steve McQueen and From Langley Park To Memphis are represented by eight and nine tracks, respectively. However, it's good to see that Epic/Legacy has kept the set intact; given the general lack of awareness of Prefab Sprout's existence in the U.S.,the label could have made a case for whittling things down to a single disc, or passing altogether on its release.
The usual highlights are present, from "When love breaks down" to "The sound of crying", with "Faron Young", "Appetite", "Cars and girls", "Hey Manhattan!", "Looking for Atlantis" and "We let the stars go", among others, in between. A bonus for the American enthusiast is the inclusion of five songs from 1997's Andromeda Heights, which Epic declined to release in the U.S.
The only real disappointments here are the absence of "Wild horses", which was included on 1992's best-of, Life Of Surprises, and "Jesse James symphony", without which "Jesse James bolero" sounds strangely incomplete, as if one had walked into the theatre halfway through the movie.
Still, this collection shouldn't be passed up. Prefab Sprout has consistently managed to combine tasteful arrangements and emotional content without coming across as either too restrained or too mushy. Hopefully, Epic will see fit to release their forthcoming album, The Gunman And Other Stories, in the States this time.