Sleeve Note: "Rider to the World's End"

by Dave Gelly

Witty without glibness and serious without self-importance, these 15 songs, chosen from their first three albums, are a good demonstration of what makes the songwriting partnership of Pete Atkin and Clive James something special.

One characteristic of a good song is that the words and music should be inseparable. Listen, for instance, to "Beware Of The Beautiful Stranger", where the wry humour of the lyric is carried along by a tune which, while simple, never gets so familiar as to become dull. I defy anyone to remember a verse of this one without its melody.

A theme which crops up again and again in this selection -- and in the whole Atkin/James output -- is the actual business of making music. It is a subject which often produces their best work, and "Thirty Year Man", "Thief in the Night" and "Practical Man" have a rare insight into the less publicised corners of showbiz.

From the self-deflating humour of "The Girl On The Train" to the sheer delight in lists of evocative names which forms the basis of "Screen Freak", this collection presents a sample in depth of the work of Britain's best contemporary songwriting team. When you've experienced it you'll want to hear all the others too.

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