As one of the most geographically isolated cities in the world, punk came late to Perth, but when it finally did, it caught the attention of Kim Salmon, the man who the mainstay of The Scientists. Formed in 1978, The Scientists would evolve into their own version of Post-Punk, relocating to the UK in the process and releasing four studio albums and a clutch of EPs.
I have to admit, I’m something of a newcomer to The Scientists, so this four disc behemoth of a compilation is comprehensive, if somewhat overwhelming at times.
As you may expect, there’s something gloriously untutored and spontaneous about The Scientists earliest recordings, which eventually culminated in their 1981 eponymous debut album. One of those bands permanently in a state of flux, they would split and reform the following year at the opposite end of Australia in Sydney, before relocating to London. This goes some way to explaining why it took them until 1985 to record their second album, You Get What You Deserve, by which time their Post-Punk sound had mutated into something which saw them slightly soften the roughest of their raw punk edge, in favour of a vaguely more sophisticated sound.
One of the glorious benefits of this four disc release is hearing The Scientists briefly share the same sonic territory as the likes of The Birthday Party, before shifting to a sound more similar in tone to The Replacements. If, like me, you’re a newcomer to the band, there’s an entire hidden history of a band for you to immerse yourself in, and given the likes of Sonic Youth, John Spencer and Mudhoney have all at various points pointed to The Scientists as a key discovery on their own musical journeys, it’s inevitably meaty stuff too.
From The Scientists Stooges / Velvets / New York Dolls indebted early days, to their later material, including fully committed cover versions as diverse as their rattle through Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “It Came Out of the Sky”, to a startling “You Only Live Twice”, this epic 80 track behemoth is not for the feint hearted. If you are already a fan, it’s a superb catch all collection, as it covers the material from their first four albums, collects the various EPs together, offers previously unheard concert recordings and even mops up the odd flex-disc release. If, like me, you’ve never heard of The Scientists before, and you are emboldened to jump in at the deep end with them, you could find yourself swept along by one of the most gloriously chaotic bands you never realised you loved.
A Place Called Bad is released by The Numero Group on 19 August 2016.