Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Scientists: Weird Love

Big Time Records, 1986

For their only US release, Australia's Kim Salmon and his band The Scientists (in its fourth incarnation and minus the original drummer) went into a London studio and re-recorded this set of songs, at least one of them even better than their originals ("When Fate Deals Its Mortal Blow"). Joe Carducci in his Rock and Pop Narcotic book said The Scientists were "a rather unfocused blend of Crampsian dynamic and Stoogian structure" - this description might also work for The Gun Club although J. L. Pierce's voice was much more striking than Salmon's drone. Furthermore, this batch of songs sounds much more tilted towards the "Crampsian dynamic" than "Stoogian structure."

Salmon's voice is unremarkably recorded here and there's a garagepunk sameness to the overall sound -- maybe its because almost all the songs were recorded in London with a slick new wave producer over the space of three days in February, 1986. Some of the songs sound like the band is playing in a detached manner and I can't find the enthusiasm that exists in their earlier stuff or the original versions of the songs.

But, but, but there are some cuts that approach a sort of limited form of nirvana. "When Fate Deals Its Mortal Blow" is a slide guitar shuffle and a bass line that shakes the cobwebs out of my skull - although this band wasn't known for their lyrics, I love the line: "There's a hundred head hunters all headed your way / with a hundred ways they'll make you pay." I don't think Lux and Ivy could have written a better line.

A cover of the James Bond song "You Only Live Twice" (originally done by Nancy Sinatra) has some great guitar noise, Stoogian structure or not and refashions the song's hook with a buried single note piano. I'm not surprised that this was the only song on the record not recorded with Wall of Voodoo producer Richard Mazda (and with a different drummer). "Swampland" is redone with more finesse than the original and while it may lose something in its regurgitation, this version still stands alone quite nicely and makes for a promising record opener. Finally, "If It's The Last Thing I Do" (sometimes called "Travis") adds to the canon of Great Works inspired by Travis Bickle and Martin Scorsese.

  • Guitars: Tony Thewlis & Kim Salmon
  • Drums & Piano: Leanne Chock
  • Bass Guitar: Boris Sujdovic
  • Voice: Kim Salmon

Some Weird Love songs:
  • "Swampland" - opening track - from the liner notes: "A song of yearning for the exotic. Love of the weird."
  • "You Only Live Twice" - closing track liner notes: "Nothing weird about loving this song - or its original songstress, for that matter."

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