In the wake of Brian Setzer's success as a retro-swing act, his former Stray Cats partners Lee Rocker (bass) and Slim Jim Phantom (drums) formed their own swing/rockabilly/jump blues combo, the Swing Cats, with another rockabilly revivalist veteran, ex-Polecats guitarist Danny B. Harvey. The Swing Cats released their eponymous debut early in 1999, featuring guest vocal spots from Tim Polecat, Jamie James, and Claudia Cummings, among others. A Special Tribute to Elvis followed a year later. That same year Swing Cat Stomp was released.
With individual song comments from McNabb, an appreciative essay, complete discography, and fine artwork, the Icicle Works collection provides an excellent overview of the group's heyday. If not quite as strong as the band's debut album as an experience due to the inclusion of less successful later numbers, all the hit singles and some fine album cuts appear, not to mention an interesting rarity or two. Beginning with the "long version" of the chiming drive of "Hollow Horse" from The Small Price of a Bicycle, this collection fully showcases McNabb's passionate, elegant quaver and driving songwriting, as well as the abilities of the fine Layhe/Sharrock rhythm section. The three biggest hits get pride of place near the start: "Love Is a Wonderful Colour," "Birds Fly" (with wry comments from McNabb on its stateside re-titling as "Whisper to a Scream"), and "Understanding Jane".
This 33-track overview plays like an expanded version of 1999's Under the Milky Way: The Best of the Church. The two-disc Deep in the Shallows: The Classic Singles Collection includes all of the obvious hits like "Unguarded Moment," "Under the Milky Way," "Ripple," and "Metropolis," while incorporating key tracks from the band post-1999 like "Numbers" (After Everything Now This), "Song in Space" (Forget Yourself), and "Block" (Uninvited, Like the Clouds). While the recent remasters of all of the original recordings remain the most solid recommendation for dream pop/alternative rock fans who missed the boat the first time around, this Classic Singles Collection is the perfect gateway drug.