Filed under: The Scientists | Tags: Australia, Australian Punk, Punk, The Scientists
The Scientists went through many incarnations in their nine-year history but are remembered mostly for the lineup that existed from 1981 to 1985. Kim Salmon, Tony Thewlis, Boris Sujdovic and Brett Rixon together had the peculiar chemistry that produced the classics, Swampland, Happy Hour, Blood Red River and We Had Love. With a sound that was swampy, primal and modern-urban all at once—as much in the tradition of rock and roll and punk rock as it was a rejection of those things, the Scientists’ formula was as universal as it was specific to their own experience. They were about what it was like to be young and living in modern times in an Australian urban/suburban environment. The themes of getting wasted on alcohol and drugs, driving round in hotted-up cars, being trapped in crap jobs and paranoia were their subject matter. Machine throb bass and drums with jagged car-wreck guitars were their modus operandi. Fitting into no place or time they spurned all but the most rudimentary and elemental of rock structures along with other peoples modes of embellishment. They rejected the contemporary sound and look and so consequently were never able to carry around baggage that would allow them to date.
“The Scientist proved to me that rock n roll could be played by gentlemen in fine silk shirts half unbuttoned and still be dirty, cool and real.”—Thurston Moore
The Scientists’ 1981 wild debut bewildered Perth, Australia’s punters with its charging anthems centered on themes of young love and alienation. Obvious in its rebellion yet more pop than punk, the self-titled “Pink Album” deftly embodied the tough-yet-danceable outsider aura of The Ramones, and its unheard of, feverish clip shook the shores of the geographically confined Swan Coastal Plain of down under. Recorded just as the lineup of guitarist-vocalist Kim Salmon (The Cheap Nasties), drummer James Baker (The Victims) and bassist Ian Sharples were breaking up, the album stands as a testament to the contagious chops of Perth’s swelling pool of musical talent, and to the promise of Salmon’s unwavering vision that would become one of the most celebrated acts of the Aussie underground.
“They wrote fantastic singles and looked like they just crawled out of the ooze. What more could you ask for?”—Warren Ellis
After trekking east from the suburbs of Perth to take new root in Sydney, in 1983 the Scientists hooked up with producer Chris Logan, who’s credited Blood Red River’s imposing sonic girth and rumbling low end, and premier Aussie punk label Au Go Go for an album that would define their unmistakably swampy, psychotic aura. These six songs revisited band leader Kim Salmon’s interest in the Cramps and the Stooges, while adding in the repetitive dementia of Suicide and elements of cow punk twang, with Salmon’s distinctly unrefined Australian accent snarling tales of lust, confusion, and angst.
“The Scientists turned my head around and made a man out of me! They grew hair on my palms and made my socks stink!”—Jon Spencer
Purchase Blood Red River here.
1 Comment so far
Leave a comment