A raucous riposte to the hair ‘n’ synths of the 80s, the Screaming Blue Messiahs rampaged across the second half of the decade with four blisteringly intense albums – and even acquired the patronage of David Bowie – before suddenly vanishing, along with their catalogue. Although nobody who saw them play is likely to have forgotten the experience.
In fact the trio, fronted by the hyperactive, defiantly bald Bill Carter, claimed that the four albums in this box set never really captured their torrential sound. That’s a tad unfair on producer Vic Maile, who brought his Motörhead pedigree to bear, bringing some clarity to Carter’s splenetic, jerky riffs and the fierce thudding rhythms. He catches the devil-may-care attitude of their indie debut, Good And Gone, especially on the title track and Let’s Go Down To The Woods.
Gun Shy, coming after they’d signed to WEA, is more restrained although there’s no disguising the energy of the punked-up Wild Blue Yonder. But the gloves are off on Bikini Red, probably their best album, which included I Wanna Be A Flintstone, the closest they came to a hit. They switched to Howard Gray (Apollo 440), who gave 1989’s Totally Religious a bigger sound. But the songs remained the same when they should have been kicking on. There’s a bonus live CD with the cacophonous sound bouncing off the walls. Play it loud.