Release Date: Aug 19, 2016
Record label: Numero
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Punk Blues, Noise-Rock, Power Pop, Post-Punk, Aussie Rock
Perth and Sydney in Australia, then London, and back to Sydney: none of these cities were particularly good to the Scientists. The band built a decent fan base in each city and, some 30-plus years later have been accorded legendary status within the Australian music scene, for what it’s worth, but they were on the dole and beholden to a bad record contract wherever they went during their performing and recording heyday. Bandleader Kim Salmon’s artistic vision followed a unique course, from punk wannabe (based solely on reading a description of the Heartbreakers) to creator of a post-punk swampy rockabilly amalgam that remains unnamed but which has been identified by some as a precursor of grunge.
The You Get What You Deserve LP is probably their high mark as a group, filled with songs that reach out and grab the listener by the lapels, performances that leave a mark, and a massive sound. Salmon's guitar playing never got any more ferocious than it did here; his work on "Atom Bomb Baby," for one, is breathtaking. On the whole, the music on A Place Called Bad makes a strong case that the Scientists were one of the best bands of the '80s, especially during their swamp noise years.
Led by their one constant – guitarist/vocalist Kim Salmon – volatile Australian quartet The Scientists slogged their way through an arduous decade-long career pock-marked by numerous line-up changes and label-related troubles. They remained off all save the hippest of radars, yet this exhaustive 80-track anthology incorporating their complete studio recordings and an exuberant bonus live set shows that they nonetheless amassed a fearsome catalogue. Released through a variety of small Australian labels, the band’s early 45s (Frantic Romantic, The Scientists EP) and their self-titled debut LP were largely in a Big Star-esque power-pop vein, but starting with ’82’s classic 45 This Is My Happy Hour and 83’s Blood Red River mini-LP, Salmon and co wholeheartedly embraced psychedelia and cranky, proto-Mudhoney garage-punk.
Aussie post-punk iconoclasts get a consummate set in this reissue Although developing their visceral strain of punk-fuelled garage hoodoo in a different laboratory, the Scientists stand next to Radio Birdman as a world-class 70s Australian rock band that got away at the time, only to be recognised later. .
The Scientists, one of the key bands in Australia’s late-70s punk and garage-rock explosion, have slowly developed a cult reputation out of all proportion to their popularity first time around, especially as heroes to scores of Seattle grunge bands. Thus this four-CD set – the ninth compilation of their work, compared to seven albums they actually recorded. A Place Called Bad demonstrates both why they garnered cult adoration, and why they never transcended it.
Depending on who you listen to – and just make sure that it isn’t the godawful Dominic Sandbrook, a man whose grasp of popular culture could described as ‘slender’ at best – the decade that saw Reagan and Thatcher flush the post-war consensus down the u-bend of history was the point when the new gold dream of shiny synth pop consigned the guitar and rock & roll to gather dust in some mouldy corner. Blah, blah, blah… Of course, it wasn’t like that at all. The 1980s was the point when rock & roll, having been reduced to its base elements and so reinvigorated by punk rock, took stock of itself and, while looking to the past as a jumping off point, actually went off on a variety of tangents.