The Story of Skip Bifferty represents both the advantages and the limitations of the two-CD set -- especially when the group in question has such a slim discography. On the one hand, the first disc, consisting primarily of material from the band's self-titled 1968 debut, bonus tracks, and previously unissued material, is a pure, unalloyed delight. Fans of the Creation, the Pretty Things, Village Green-era Kinks -- even XTC's ingenious incarnation as the Dukes of Stratosphear -- are sure to enjoy Skip's similarly catchy, power pop approach to psychedelia. On the other hand, the second disc, consisting primarily of BBC sessions, is a bit of a disappointment in comparison. The early live tracks are fine, but the harder-rocking material from singer Graham Bell's sojourns with Heavy Jelly and Griffin is a little lackluster. Further, the sound quality of some of the live songs, like an otherwise appealing cover of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," could be better and the DJ identifications for the radio tracks are all faded out. Why not just eliminate them altogether if they couldn't be edited with greater care? Then again, the first disc sounds great and the retrospective is nicely packaged, featuring original album and single cover art, publicity stills, comprehensive liner notes, and a eye-catching cardboard slipcase. ~ Kathleen C. Fennessy
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