Various - Messthetics #105 (4 stars)

Various - Messthetics

(Hyped 2 Death Records)


This is a surprisingly worthwhile US import representing a wide range of – as the subtitle suggests – Scottish DIY and (very) indie post-punk from 1977-1981. There are 24 tracks (in 69 glorious minutes) to wade through and reminisce, particularly if you witnessed the joys of the Scottish new wave scene at the time, or indeed part of the toilet circuit brigade of bands that littered our streets around three decades ago. It just seems like yesterday that the subsequent ‘Sound of Young Scotland’ were about to make it big. In truth, not many of them did but the movement still provided plenty of interesting efforts.

The most prominent name here is undoubtedly Edinburgh’s Fire Engines (represented here by `New Thing in Cartons’ from their jangling debut recording session), who were on the fringes of success at the turn of the 80s before their implosion. Davy Henderson and co also pop up as The Dirty Reds, although ‘Bad Sex’ should carry a parental warning for its Fall-meets-foul-mouth banter. Indeed, echoes of Mark E Smith are everywhere, stemming mainly from Aberdeen’s He’s Dead Jim and Stirling’s Vertical Smile, the latter’s ‘The New Clash Single’ oozing class if not much Clash. The capital’s Metropak kept the art school rock movement intact via ‘You’re a Rebel’ and ‘Here’s Looking at You’, two songs that proved young Scotland had variety.

The Glasgow scene finds its feet via one-time Postcard act The Jazzateers (albeit, pre-Paul Quinn), who offer up ‘Blue Moon Over Hawaii’, while the Joy Division-esque Radio Ghosts (this time with crooner Quinn at the helm) are afforded two creditable cuts.

From the depths of Easterhouse and Bishopbriggs respectively, come Restricted Code and early power-poppers The Exile, while Hamilton’s Article 58 (featuring future Creeping Bent label owner, Douglas MacIntyre and Clare Grogan hubby-to-be Stephen Lironi) shine courtesy of ‘Event to Come’.
Of the other highlights, there’s punk-pop-poet Paul Reekie, and who can forget the Spizz-like Scrotum Poles from Dundee. Top marks for the ballsy American Indie-an, moniker.