Of all the recent 1980s revivalists Grand National are amongst the most visionary ones. Allied with Sting-like vocals, ska and indie influences, the twosome have always had one eye on the dancefloor, albeit one that is overrun with melancholia. It's testament to their talents that this "between album" compilation is better than a lot of proper releases around today.
Steel drums are used as a favoured tactic by Grand National. They crop up on the otherwise slow-paced 'Sixty Seven Up'. Yet this duo are not one for gimmicks generally. There are a few fantastic tracks here. 'Leaves' is brilliant in its simplicity; sighed harmonies wrap themselves around the most beguiling acoustic melody. Likewise 'Rabbit Facts' is more soulful but has an infectious chorus and lovely crisp beats; a cracking song which seems familiar but its source cannot be placed. To complete a superb three-track run, 'Strange Magnificent Noise' does exactly what the title says with Rupert Lyddon's vocals combining with strident bass and those underrated steel drums to excellent effect. Of the other tracks, Sasha's extended remix of 'Talk Amongst Yourselves' gives further creedence to Grand National's club viability whilst 'Rub Your Potion' makes good use of a Bauhaus-like rhythm and a lonely vocal. All of which whets the appetite for the imminent new album.