As a diehard Saint Etienne fan I bought this Japanese import CD thinking it would be, as Mr Simon Brayley claims, merely an `odds-and-sods' collection which I needed to purchase primarily for the tracks (seven out of thirteen) that I did not already possess in various other guises (EPs and compilations). What surprised me about the collection is how seamless it is. Indeed, alongside their first _Foxbase Alpha_ it is their most beautifully constructed album. (Compare this to both the UK and US versions of _Tiger Bay_ which, for all its good tracks, is structurally random and diffuse. I suspected, at the time, that it was the result of a rift between the boys and Sarah. The subsequent - and, thankfully, brief - split up of the band seemed to validate this impression.) The brilliant sequencing of tracks on _Continental_ breathes new life into previously released material. For example, the instrumental "Winter Melody" (which is titled "Sometimes in Winter" on _Casino Classics_) is preceded here by the ballad "Sometimes in Winter" and the combination of songs brings added depth to each track. In particular, the mood of - how to put it? - defiant melancholy that was already latent in the instrumental is here brought to the fore by the way it comes to extend the fierce sadness on display in the track that precedes it. In other words, the latter (and its refrain "Sometimes in winter/Love can go astray") comes to reverberate in the former. We retain the memory of Sarah's plaintive vocal as "Winter Melody" loses itself in the snowstorm. One more example: "The Process," which was originally contained on one of the "He's on the Phone" eps surrounded by (even swamped under) two other overly wistful tracks is given new life by being sandwiched between the giddy "Public Information Film" and the euro-fun of "He's on the Phone." The poignancy of the track is more affecting for being so exposed. Finally, let me add that their cover of Gary Numan's "Stormtrooper in Drag" is even better than their cover of Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy." This CD is right up there with the very best of Saint Etienne, which is to say _Foxbase Alpha_ (esp. "London Belongs to Me"), _Good Humor_ (Japanese Import Version for including "Afraid to Go Home," "Zipcode" and "Hill Street Connection" from the "Sylvie" ep), _Casino Classics_ , and the ep for "You're In A Bad Way" (esp. "Archway People" and "Duke Duvet"). I might add that this CD also contains a lyric sheet, although - truth be told - most of the songs work better for retaining a certain elusiveness (the lyrics to "Burnt Out Car" are obviously meant to be heard as fragments of emotion, of inarticulable longing; very little or nothing is added to them by seeing the words printed on a piece of paper).