Two years after they disappeared with barely a whimper, Gene remind us, through this curious history lesson, that there is no justice in the world. Oasis, who were the best Beatles covers band in the world, conquer stadiums like a Manucunian Rolling Stones, whilst Gene, arguably their superior, struggled with the student unions of the outlying towns. There is no justice.
In two halves, much like the Pulp release, this sits between two live concerts recorded in 1999 as the band began their commercial wane, and two Peel Sessions - recorded in late 1995 and early 1998. The two studio sets barely scrape the surface of the disc with a flimsy twenty eight minutes, and are bafflingly incomplete. The band recorded "Something For Everyone" for a Peel Xmas Show which is not included, not to count numerous other BBC sessions that whilst not actually Peel Sessions, surely should have been included to fill the disc and provide a wider view of their work. And whilst this is mere quibbling in some ways, there is no doubting the quality of the work.
The first session, from December 1995, shows the band exploring material that would later comprise their commercial high-mark "Drawn To The Deep End." : prototype versions of "Speak To Me Someone" show the emerging classic within, and also show the songs remarkable, yet little-noticed similarity to the Manics "Design For Life", with the same fluctauting guitar apeggios and rhythms. Martin Rossiter croons like a welsh Sinatra through the heartfelt epic, his vocal lilting, rising and falling between the canyons of despair and devotion, looking for a vessel into which he can place his trust.
Similarly, "Fighting Fit", and the title track of "Drawn To The Deep End" (mysteriously absent from it's parent album) show just how far ahead of the pack, so far ahead in fact as to be outcasts, this visionary band were. The second session, premiering songs from their final major label release "Revelations", centre on an excellent but atypical original "I Need You", and an exploratory version of "As Good As It Gets" - which is still, possibly, the best deconstruction of capitalism and the fiscal world to ever be shrunk into three and a half minutes.
The live sets pack a far better punch - fourteen songs recorded in 1999 in London, taking in one semi-acoustic set that breaks the convention of replicating the existing versions note-for-note, and turning the songs into out to reveal their hidden soul. Nobody seemed to notice that, for Gene, The Faces and Aretha Franklin were at least as important as The Smiths. The fourteen songs here are at least the equal of the bands official "Rising For Sunset" album, and just as important in their body of work.
Around them, critics fawned over thugs and Reebok wearing faux-cockney's, dandyish talentless fops who spent more time on suits than songs, and on career dullards like Echobelly and the 60ft Dolls. Gene were kings in a time of cretins. Lest we forget, they vilified Christ in his lifetime.