Captain Oi has been a great servant in keeping the Skids' back catalogue alive and fresh on CD in recent years and now comes its pièce de résistance to date, a compilation of every a- and b-side spanning two discs housed in a robust cardboard clamshell box. Inside, the two discs come in separate sleeves and are joined by a 19 page booklet.
As far as memory serves, all songs present are correct versions faithful to the original singles. Iona is an interesting case. There's the seven minute album version and then two different single edits of around three and five minutes. The decision was taken to go with the five-minute version here. It's considered the rarest and the other version was primarily for radio, so it sounds like the smart choice to me. For the completists there are debut appearances on CD (to the best of my knowledge) for Brave Man and the alternate version of Blood and Soil. The booklet, meanwhile, contains images of every front and rear sleeve in addition to an array of handy liner notes for each release, much like the information on Iona I just nicked from it. Ha!
A total success as a package and a welcome addition to any fan's collection. Now all we need is for a set that has all the singles on separate discs in their own replica sleeves. Just saying.... hinting... call it what you want...
I had various Skids compilations before, so I resisted buying this for a while. It was the B-sides and EP rarities which clinched it (some available before, but scattered on individual album CD re-issues) and having them in a chronological order with the singles, so that you can hear how the band evolved musically in such a short time.
Apart from the familiar great stonking Boy's Own anthems familiar to many, the alternative highlights which drew me are 'Hymns From a Haunted Ballroom' (synths to the fore, so circa the Days in Europa album), 'Vanguard's Crusade' (very martial, galloping tune), 'Grey Parade' (slow and evocative martial lament), 'All the Young Dudes' (a cover, and not very Skids - but grows on you), 'Test Tube Babies' (basic punk structure, but kinda fun), 'Contusion', 'Out of Town' (as good as the 'Masquerade' A-side and the lyrics are decipherable).
The box contains a decent booklet of sleevenotes and artwork for the Skids anorak. The whole package is fine as far as it goes, but really one for completists, considering the compilations already released.
Hats off to Captain Oi! for the splendid job they've done on this. It can't be faulted.
It's a shame that all this has been ruined by Amazon's inability to pack 'fragile' items sensibly. My copy arrived squashed thanks to them cramming it in a card outer wrap. I now have to go through the whole debacle of returning it and finding a Collect+ outlet!