The Screaming Blue Messiahs - Vision In Blues album review

The devil-may-care trio's delightfully noisy second coming

The Screaming Blue Messiahs Vision In Blues album cover

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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.

Hugh Fielder

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.