Scientists - A Place Called Bad album review

Aussie post-punk iconoclasts get a consummate set in this reissue

Scientists A Place Called Bad album cover

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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.

Formed in Perth by singer-guitarist mainstay Kim Salmon in 1978, line-up changes (and a brief split in 1981) occurred as the band evolved from the punky bombast of 45rpm debut Frantic Romantic to the grungy swamp-rock that served them well when they relocated to London in 1984 and supported the Gun Club in Europe. By then, other influences were creeping in, including Captain Beefheart, whose Clear Spot became a rollicking set fave, alongside scathing band compositions such as When Worlds Collide and Ghost Train.

After the Scientists hung up their lab coats in 1987 (Salmon going on to Beasts Of Bourbon and various solo projects), their half-dozen albums and many singles started enjoying posthumous recognition, particularly from New York’s early-90s indie scene, as they became one of rock’s most quietly influential cult bands.

Chicago’s esteemed Numero Group have given the band the long-overdue consummate document they have long deserved, roping together albums, EPs, singles and live recordings, along with a 64-page book boasting notes, memorabilia and a family tree.

Crucially, radioactive classics such as Blood Red River, Weird Love, Atom Bomb Baby, Swampland and their psychobilly spray-job on Jonathan Richman’s She Cracked still sound vital and audaciously genre-crushing. The Scientists well deserve this Mount Rushmore of a set.

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Kris Needs

Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!