Friday, May 26, 2006

Scientists - Weird Love

And now for something completely different...

This is one of my favorite albums of all time. For those who do not know, the Scientists were a seminal Aussie band led by the semi-legendary Kim Salmon. Founded in 1978 and dissolved in 1987, the band went through (to me) three fairly distinct phases. The early phase being sort of punky pop or poppy punk a la Radio Birdman, the middle phase being more of a swamp blues grunge rock sound and the latter phase being a bit more quirky and experimental. Sympathy For The Record Industry released three CD comps that more or less chronicled each of these three phases on a separate CD. For me, without doubt, the middle swamp-hunch phase is by far the superior and even though Weird Love was recorded and released in 1986, near the end of their career, it definitely and perfectly summates that phase of the band's output.

None of these tracks from this recording session appear on the SFTRI CD comps or on the Sub Pop comp. All of those tracks are taken from recordings made for Au Go Go or other labels. For this LP the band re-recorded the selected songs in London in 1986 with producer Richard Mazda. The LP was released on Karbon Records (UK?) and Big Time Records (US). I love the sound and the style that they got in this session. Its a tad more b(l)oozey, grungey and loose than the original takes. As far as I can determine these have appeared nowhere else but on this album and have never been put on CD.

I found this album by chance in 1986. I lived in a smallish college town in the South and we had a record store in the local mall that had a cool manager that would stock weird and unusual LPs, maybe he even had a few bootlegs. Can you imagine anything like that in a mall record (err, CD) store today? I think it was a Camelot Records. Anyway I bought this based soley on the cover art and I immediately fell in love with it. I sought out other Scientists releases but they were few and far between in the US in the days before ebay and independent mail order record stores. Whatever I found was good but not as good as Weird Love. For me, this is the pinnacle of their output.

Kathleen C. Fennessy, writing for All Music Guide ( described their sound as "primitive, psychotic, feedback-drenched swamp blues with a hint of twang (Hank Williams' legacy had also worked its way into the equation)" and also wrote that "At their best they were so far ahead of their time, they transcended the very notion. The proto-grunge they were cooking up in the late '70s/early '80s prefigured the music Sonic Youth, the Spacemen 3, and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion would be cranking out a decade later." But don't let that comparison possibly put you off, I don't think the Scientists sound all that much like those three bands (much looser and less dissonant than Sonic Youth or the JPBE and not as minimalist as Spacemen 3), at least not on this release.

This music sounds as fresh to me now as it did 20 years ago. And speaking of 20 years, that's how long I've had this LP and its been played probably hundreds of times but still sounds pretty decent.

Lastly, this is one of the few rock albums that I can see playing in a tiki bar. At least in my tiki bar. Its got that same exotic (but darker) vibe that the Hoodoo Gurus had with their early stuff. So if you're ever in the mood where the polynesian and the exotica just ain't mean and booze drenched enough for you, put this on and fire up the pufferfish lamps.

Weird Love


Blogger whoops said...

I totally agree with you, even if i must admit that i'm still in love with the Birthday Party too. I got a couple of vintage Scientists LP's and 12inch 45rpm but not this one. I saw them live during their so called reunion tour in late 2004, fact it was Kim Salmon with a bunch of musicians who were unknown to me. It was sad and boring, seems like the "All Music Guide" description is now history...

By the way, your blog is really really great !

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric "Butch Audacity" told me to come here and read your blog so i did.

what is music?

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Steve, Pacifica CA said...

Regarding Weird Love -

I also have a ccopy of this record. It was mailed to the alternative student newspaper at Georgetown University in 1986. My roommate was the editor, and he mentioned this strange record - - which had been trashed. I fished it out of the garbage can and cleaned the beer off of it (no cover, although I had remembered seeing one at some point). It has been one of my favorite records ever since. The newer comps are really very good - -there is also an older one called Absolute Scientists that I found in a budget bin in the early nineties, and there's a decent tribute album from the mid nineties (featuring Mudhoney and The Mono Men - - the Scientists got some airplay in the Pacific Northwest).

Anyway, thanks very much for the album art. Yesterday I got a USB-enabled turntable and am in the process of converting the entire record to CD and then iTunes. The first batch includes Billy Mure, Randy Holden and The Scientists - - what a party...

7:36 PM  
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9:21 AM  

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