Arguably, the fickle limits of public taste and toleration deem that any band with a high novelty or jocularity quotient is unlikely to be taken seriously for long enough to warrant much high-street interest in a greatest hits compilation. Although Space's Greatest Hits
arrives pessimistically early in their recording career--and, to compound matters, after a mooted third album (I Love You More Than Football
) failed to manifest itself for retail--perhaps this is the exception. Truly, no other Britpop band hugged the Godfather of the genre--Ray Davies
, of course--more endearingly to their collective bosom than Liverpool's Space, a band whose propensity for all-round Englishness reached rare levels of affectionate working-class satire on "Neighbourhood" and who, nevertheless, weren't shy of introducing castanets, maracas, Tijuana brass and easy-listening to Britpop's' bread-and-butter musical conservatism.
That they succeeded in injecting humour into their music without becoming to Britpop what Freddie and the Dreamers were to the British Invasion is highly commendable. Although Greatest Hits includes two previously unreleased tracks--the marvellously entitled "The Shit You Talk Is Beautiful" auguring particularly well for the future--it's "The Ballad of Tom Jones" (rarely has the word "knickers" been uttered with such lusty relish, thank you Cerys Matthews of Catatonia) and the groovy 60s vibe of "Female of the Species" (subsequently covered live by Tom Jones) that remain the most entertaining. And while "Begin Again"--on which Space morphed into a Latin-pop infatuated version of Al Stewart--and "Me and You Vs the World"--a Kinks chorus meets the Buzzcocks gone calypso--weren't very far behind, covers of the Animals' "We've Gotta Get Out of This Place" and a duet with Tom Jones (yes, him again) on the Ray Davies (yes, him again) song "Sunny Afternoon" were merely competent and workmanlike. --Kevin Maidment