“Author! Author!” by Scars - album review

TJR says

John Peel loved them from the start, playing both sides of their debut single (“Adult/Ery” / “Horrorshow”) to death in 1979. He invited them down to London to record a session early in 1980 and continued to support their 1980 single releases. Early in 1981, their reading of Peter Porter's near-20-year-old satirical poem, “Your Attention Please” (recorded live in the springtime of 1980) was pressed on a gold flexi-disc and given away free on issue 3 of the i-D Fashion fanzine/magazine. Good reviews in the NME helped the cause and all was set for the album statement, delivered in April, 1981, on which the Edinburgh quartet lined-up: Robert King (vocals), Paul Research (electric guitar, piano, backing vocals), John Mackie (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Stephen McLaughlin (drums, percussion). Supporting vocalists included Bobby Charm, Julz Sale, Laurence Diana and Robert Blamire of Penetration, who also produced the album with aplomb. Although some of McLaughlin's Stephen-Morris-like rolls keep us in touching distance with a recent post-punk past, the warmly rounded bass gives me the impression that they've moved on from that early abrasiveness, now more inclined towards the new-pop, poised right there on the verge of indie-pop. Their new flamboyant sense of fashion suggests a courtship with new romanticism, visually articulated in the promotional tour d'Edimbourg video for “All About You”, the album's lead single of a month earlier which closes the set.

Album opener “Leave Me In Autumn” is a fine example of where they're at right now; their smooth brand of alternative-pop is unafraid of delivering hooks whilst being way too sussed to deliver an easily consumed candyfloss chorus. Demonstrating some flair for the dramatic, the stalkerish “Obsessions” closes side one on a bit of a slow-fast ghost ride and makes me wanna go again. For me, the aforementioned “Your Attention Please” is the one classic to emerge from the set, and they certainly do justice to the madness of Porter's poem. The exaggerated piece is based on an imagined public service broadcast, warning of an imminent nuclear attack. It's ominously set to a tense backing track led by a creeping bassline, over which Robert King's matter-of-fact spoken delivery becomes more and more crazed as the clock ticks on: “Do not, repeat do NOT, take well-loved pets (including birds) into your shelter - they will consume valuable fresh air. Leave the old and bed-ridden, you can do nothing, repeat, NOTHING for them. A special genocide squad shall dispose of them humanely.” Not liking the sound of that genocide squad. As absurd as it sounds, there was a real fear, ongoing since the 1950s, that cold-war tensions between east and west could make this scenario a near-future reality, with the British government's “Protect and Survive” campaign of the mid-1970s being delivered via films and leaflets. At the close of play, the sinister tone is broken with the aforementioned single, “All About You”, a dance-able pop number which surely deserved some chart of chart placement. “The Scars will be stars: they're the new craze. The stage is theirs. Applause! Applause!” wrote Paul Morley in the NME. The views of a critic may not pay the bills, but it's nice to know they were appreciated.

The Jukebox Rebel
10-Aug-2010

A1 [02:50] 6.5.png Scars - Leave Me In Autumn (Bobby King, Paul Research, John Mackie, Steve McLaughlin) New Wave
A2 [03:13] 5.8.png Scars - Fear Of The Dark (Bobby King, Paul Research, John Mackie, Steve McLaughlin) New Wave
A3 [04:53] 6.0.png Scars - Aquarama (Bobby King, Paul Research, John Mackie, Steve McLaughlin) New Wave
A4 [03:25] 6.4.png Scars - David (Bobby King, Paul Research, John Mackie, Steve McLaughlin) New Wave
A5 [04:56] 7.0.png Scars - Obsessions (Bobby King, Paul Research, John Mackie, Steve McLaughlin) New Wave
B1 [03:41] 5.1.png Scars - Everywhere I Go (Bobby King, Paul Research, John Mackie, Steve McLaughlin) New Wave
B2 [03:37] 6.2.png Scars - The Lady In The Car With Glasses On And A Gun! (Bobby King, Paul Research, John Mackie, Steve McLaughlin) New Wave
B3 [03:10] 5.5.png Scars - Je T’Aime C’Est Le Mort (Bobby King, Paul Research, John Mackie, Calumn Mackay) New Wave
B4 [03:48] 9.4.png Scars - Your Attention Please (Bobby King, Paul Research, John Mackie, Calumn Mackay, Peter Porter) Post-Punk
B5 [05:15] 5.8.png Scars - All About You (Bobby King, Paul Research, John Mackie, Steve McLaughlin) New Wave




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