Edwyn Collins & Orange Juice A Casual Introduction: 1981 to 2001

Orange Juice burned briefly but gloriously throughout the early ’80s. Edwyn Collins was a marvel then: a handsome, rigorously intelligent front-man who used his platform of burgeoning stardom to simultaneously elevate and deconstruct the pop song. When the group’s "Rip it Up” (1982) — a holy alliance of Buzzcocks and Chic — became a UK Top ten hit, Collins was primed to become the foremost force of the much-vaunted New Pop revolution that made shooting stars of ABC and the Human League. But New Pop faltered and Orange Juice soured, and Collins’ discography since then has been a frustrating pick-and-mix of brilliance, misfires and unbecoming demonstrations of stubborn bitterness — the latter a trait that not even 1995’s shock million-seller "A Girl Like You” could curb. This career-spanning compilation confirms that Collins, like most enigmas, wouldn’t be himself if not given to frequent left-turns and fits of self-sabotage. Orange Juice’s work is consistently wide-eyed and stunning ("What Presence?!” "Falling and Laughing”), while the man’s 17 subsequent years of solo struggle is represented here by choices that range from the crucial ("The Magic Piper,” "Johnny Teardrop”) to the questionable. (Why include petty gripe-fests like "Adidas World” rather than, say, the infectiously celebratory "If You Could Love Me”?) (Setanta)