Well, as promised, I had a good old listen to them over the past couple of days, and here are a few thoughts...
1) They're actually pretty good, aren't they? There are a couple of songs in there that do have the stamp of genius - Time for Heroes, Can't Stand Me Now, Likely Lads etc.
2) That said, quality control isn't all it could be and some of the more 'charming' tracks are actually a bit weak, really.
3) They came along at the perfect time, at the arse-end of Britpop - no real competition for them as their generation's 'spokespeople' - only The Strokes in the States offering anything other than retrodden Beatles/Kinks licks or nu-metal posturing from boys short on trouser and long on tattoo.
4) They kick-started a new wave of white-boy indie rock which is sometimes a good thing (Arctics, Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand) and sometimes not so good (Razorlight).
5) There is always a need for 'bad boys' in rock to keep it slightly edgy, and Doherty played (and plays) that role to perfection.
So where does this leave them in the overall scheme of things? I think they were so lucky in their timing - they really did have the field to themselves. Had they some real competition at the time, they might not have been so lucky.
From my generation, the band they remind me of most is The Only Ones - a touch of heroin chic coupled with a clutch of really good songs, burning out after two or three album's worth of material. Ironically, the two kids of Only Ones lead man Peter Perrett played with Doherty in an early incarnation of Babyshambles.
The Only Ones came through with a whole host of other bands at the back end of the '70's and remained a cult band throughout their career. With no competition, they could have been massive. Which might not have been too good for Perrett's health, admittedly.
So overall conclusion? Good band. But not as good as The Only Ones!