I'm not entirely sure why anyone would say that the Green and Brown albums are the best here and the other 3 are just alright? I'd say the first 4 albums are all absolute classics, the Middle of Nowhere is good and perhaps classic to anyone who's not been following Orbital since the very beginning but perhaps not as super analog and creative as the previous 4 albums.
For me the analog days represent the best of Orbital. As soon as the Novation Supernova synth and copious software plugins reared their ugly head, I feel they lost a bit of their creativity and sparkle.
Insides and Snivilisation are more melodic offerings and in my opinion the real journey's here, but to choose which is the best of the 1st four albums would be like choosing which of your children are your favourites.
Personally I love Insides for tracks like "The Girl With the Sun in Her Hair" and "Out There Somewhere Parts 1&2" these are tracks only Paul and Phil could have made and are pure genius with bubbling, screaming synths and real atmosphere. I much prefer the darker sides to Orbital and the unique sound pallets they constructed across their first 4 albums, their later stuff especially the new album Wonky is a little too over sweet for my liking, though I still like their work very much.
When they released the single "The Gun is Good" last year I really thought we were getting back the Orbital of old and this made me really hopeful their new album would be full of mental synths, interesting samples and spot on humour. Unfortunately Wonky didn't even have "The Gun is Good" on the track listing and for me tried to hard to embrace the new. The age old adage of "Nothing's broke, don't fix it" rings true here.
If anything their early works were so far removed in terms of quality and ideas from the majority of dance music producers around at the time and subsequently the last 20 or so years it made their music standout from the crowd. Their early albums were always a journey and each sounded unique because of this leaving plenty of space around themselves to continue in that vein if they so wished.
The one thing you'll always get with Orbital is a splash of humour, usually demonstrated in the samples they use. They also have a habit of throwing in the odd guilty pleasure here and there, especially in their re-worked sets. In the past Paul & Phil haven't always seen eye to eye on this, I'm not entirely sure which one it is with the masochistic taste for cheese, but they've mellowed over time and allowed it to creep into their music. I guess it's all about the fun these days and well, if any-ones earned the right to do as they please it's definitely these two boys.....
So to wrap, if you love inventive, melodic electronic music of the highest order and in particular that stadium techno hands in the air vibe where the music really grabs you and takes control, then this is the collection for you. A massively important and enjoyable tour de force. I'd go as far as saying this is the most important example of ground breaking, (accessible) electronica ever made. A work of true genius in a time of musical revolution and evolution which we may never see the likes of again in our lifetime.
If you don't own it already, buy it now !!!