“The Scientists turned my head around and made a man out of me! They grew hair on my palms and made my socks stink!”—Jon Spencer
By Fred Mills
A Place Called Bad is the name, and chronicling the mighty Scientists is the game: the Australian post-punk legends have been covered extensively by yours truly over the years, from reviews to features to interviews with leader Kim Salmon. More recently, archival label Numero Group reissued, on digital and vinyl, the group’s 1981 debut The Scientists and 1983 mini-album Blood Red River. Now comes word that a comprehensive 4CD box set is about to drop next month, the aforementioned A Place Called Bad. It’s due August 19. Here’s the video trailer:
Numero Group describes the band thusly:
“With a sound that was swampy, primal and modern-urban all at once—as much in the tradition of rock n’ roll and punk rock as it was a rejection of those things, the Scientists’ formula was as universal as it was specific to their own experience. The themes of getting wasted, driving around in hotted-up cars, being trapped in crap jobs, and paranoia were their subject matter. Machine throb bass and drums with jagged car-wreck guitars were their modus operandi. Fitting into no place or time they spurned all but the most rudimentary and elemental of rock structures to create a sound all their own.”
I couldn’t have said it better. As far as product details is concerned, the 4CD set “includes complete studio recordings, live recordings, and a previously unissued set from Adelaide UniBar, plus a 64-page book with dozens of previously unpublished photographs, discography, and fold out Perth Punk family tree, while the 2LP version will be “23 essentials, plus a 24-page book with unpublished photographs, discography, and fold out Perth Punk family tree.” And, if you opt to mail order direct from Numero Group, you can score a previously unissued Cheap Nasties “53rd & 3rd” 7″ EP (limited to 1000) or 10 song cassette (limited to 100). The Cheap Nasties were Salmon’s shortlived, early punk band from ’77, and though the group’s limited (just 10 demos) output has surfaced here and there over the years (typically on bootlegs), this is the first official release in four decades.
For me and fellow Salmon/Sci followers, it will be particularly intriguing to see what live material was selected for the box; the UniBar show and several other early recordings of Australian origin have long circulated among tape traders (and their digital heirs), as have a handful of European concerts from back in the day.
Over at the Big Takeover they just premiered a vintage Sci track that appears on the set, “Frantic Romantic,” which was also the band’s debut single. Check it out at that link to the BT site.
Incidentally, to mark the upcoming release of the collection, the Scientists will play a special one-off gig at the Lexington in London on June 25. Over the past few years the group has done a number of reunion shows, although Salmon has remained busy with his own career (True West is his latest album, billed as Kim & Leanne; the latter is Leanne Cowie, aka Leanne Chock, who was one of the Scientist drummers) and with the Darling Downs, a collaboration with Ron Peno of the Died Pretty (read the BLURT interview with Salmon on the DD right here).
Got all that? Okay, let’s review….