The Nectarine No.9: Saint Jack

Davy Henderson’s cranky masterpiece revisited.

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Scotland’s whisky-spitting answer to Pavement, The Nectarine No.9 were perhaps the finest moment for the Fire Engines’ Davy Henderson, and 1995’s second album Saint Jack was their cranky crowning achievement.

As wonky and unpredictable as a Glasgow meth busker, it intertwined moments of narcotic beauty – instrumentals like Curled Fragments and Fading Memory Babe – with frayed, sinister pop noir, Henderson’s voice often triple-tracked into an unruly mob of backing vocals.

Can’t Scratch Out, My Trapped Lightning, Couldn’t Phone Potatoes and the title track were the sort of jagged rock’n’roll tunes you might expect to find junkies dancing to in a Springburn crack den, a tone enhanced by the presence of renowned street poet Jock Scott drawling out his portrait of Just Another Fucked Up Little Druggy On The Scene.

The album set out to unsettle – the sound of Henderson as a dissonant Pentecostal preacher trapped in some terrifying industrial purgatory on It’s Not My Baby Putting Me Down was the stuff of Black Grape’s worst nightmares.

But it stands as one of the 90s most essential indie cult albums thanks to the sublime exploding ballad Un-Loaded For You and the sardonic pop sunniness of This Arsehole’s Been Burned Too Many Times Before, complete with the deathless couplet ‘This tongue’s been burned, your ass has lost its flavour’. It sums up the album: sour, unsavoury, but rimmed with delight.

Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle.