The charm, for me, of Belle and Sebastian is their ability to take the famous British wit (from the tradition of the Smiths and the Beautiful South) and subtract from it the self-obsession characteristic of some of their predecessors (particularly Morrissey). Like the Smiths and the Beautiful South, though, Belle and Sebastian are also fond of writing pop songs not from the first person, but from the perspective of another person. The EPs compiled in this box set capture Belle and Sebastian at their very best, and rank second only to "If You're Feeling Sinister" in the history of Belle and Sebastian recordings.
Both Dog on Wheels and 3..6..9 Seconds of Life are nearly flawless. The highlight of Dog on Wheels would have to be "String Bean Jean," which is one of my all time favorite Belle and Sebastian songs including the brilliant line, "We call her string bean jean 'cause the label on her jeans says 7 to 8 years old, that's pretty small." The highlight of 3..6..9 Seconds of Light for me is "Beautiful," which is in the tradition of songs like "Mary Jo," and "Judy and the Dream of Horses." Even with lines like, "everyone she knew thought she was beautiful, only slightly mental," it manages to be strangely touching. The EP from which the title of the set was taken is certainly the weak point. It features two good songs on par with the other EPs: "Photo Jenny" and "You Made Me Forget My Dreams." It also features, however, "Lazy Line Painter Jane," which features "guest vocals" by Monica Queen, who is rumored to be just one of the members of the band singling like an idiot, and "Century of Elvis," which features the same music from another song with rambling about Elvis over the top of it.
Overall, in spite of the weakness of the Lazy Line Painter Jane EP, the strength of the other two is more than enough to make this a worthy purchase for long time fans (who probably already have it), and also a great introduction to those who have been hesitant to listen to Belle and Sebastian. Super, SUPER , SUPER!!!