Music Reviews

The Scientists

The Scientists

A Place Called Bad

The Numero Group

The Scientists arose from the ashes of other bands in Perth, Australia in 1978, and since then, in fits and starts leader Kim Salmon has kept some variant of the group going, (along with membership in Beasts of Burden and the Surrealists, among others) and finally, the groundbreaking force of nature that is The Scientists have gotten their due, with this 4 CD, 80 track box set called A Place Called Bad.

Before The Scientists, Salmon led The Cheap Nasties, generally regarded as Perth’s first punk band, with heavy doses of The New York Dolls, the Stooges and the Modern Lovers, influences he would mine for The Scientists. Their first single, “Frantic Romantic” is a Flamin’ Groovies-ish stomper, with Salmon braying over trebly guitars, and the first disc of the set, Cheap and Nasty documents this era of the band’s more “power pop” stage with cuts such as the Dolls-like “Shake Together Tonight” or the speedy “Bet Ya Lyin'”, and if they had been content to pursue this avenue, their mark would have been made. But by the early ’80s they took a more dark turn, trading “loud fast rules” for a bluesy, Gun Club/Cramps-like mood, full of menace and foreboding. Numbers such as “Swampland”, “Clear Spot” and an evil version of CCR’s “It Came Out of the Sky” are highlights of their dark period, and are documented on the next 2 discs, Set It on Fire and When Worlds Collide. The concluding disc is Live Cuts, drawn from shows ranging from Perth in 1978 to Melbourne in 1983, and man, they ruled live. One can almost feel the sweat and smell the hairspray as they careen thru “Solid Gold Hell” or a gnarly version of the Groovies “Slow Death”.

Along with Radio Birdman and the Triffids, The Scientists were the leaders of Australia’s punk movement, and with A Place Called Bad, the rest of the world can catch up to their marvelous squall. The set includes a 66 page book as well as an exhaustive family tree of all the assorted members different groups, but really, all you need is to do is light a smoke, pour some whiskey, and turn the volume up to 11. The Scientists will do the rest, believe you me. Classic stuff, lovingly presented.