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Holy Crap! I said to Phil I was gonna sack off reviewing JK's hallowed "unreleased" début 'Sorry For Laughing' in favour of concentrating on the curious enclosed bonus - a complete full-length CD containing Haig & Co's entire first ever recording session from 1979 (The 'TV Art Demos') That's because the majority of interested parties already know 'SFL' is a total classic (many post-punkers rate it much higher than the subsequent substitute) and, hey, let's face it, my writings would seem like cumbersome word-bricks compared to the poetic literary architecture of, say, "top cultural scribes" Morley or Reynolds. Most have probably heard that legendary album in the digital realm as LTM tagged it onto their two times re-issued edition of 'The Only Fun In Town' from 1990. Bring on a fresh vinyl of that too please LTM, yarp, thank-you very much.
So, without further ado, let's peruse this twelve track archive surprise then. I'm stunned at how excellent this sounds - the closest comparison for me is a band who blossomed in Manchester around the same time - the Blue Orchids, themselves obsessed with the scratchy minimalism and dissonance of the Velvets but infused with the demented shambolic nature of what Bramah had started with The Fall. There's some ace cheap shit keyboard on many tracks - trebly, meandering, drunken and faintly comical - yet it needs applauding for somehow altering the DNA of those few embryonic gems. The contrast is so wonderfully jarring but also essential if just to appreciate how they eventually honed their massively influential sound. I fell in love with Half Man Half Biscuit for this very reason.
The guitar playing here is quite fantastic - raw, scratchy metallic shards and tentative minimalist new-wave riffing ago-go and the more well known songs are more than recognisable in their unpolished states. The rhythm section comes across as lively and very driving in parts, clattering and rumbling along devotedly and those two boys sure get reasonably punky at times! Haig's reedy wavering vocal yearn is unmistakable, totally giving the game away as if you were ever in doubt! They sound rippling and eager from the off, I'm not surprised they created significant waves far beyond Scotland. I don't know whose cupboard this set has been languishing in for 33 years but I cannot thank them enough for allowing us to clap ears on it after all this time.
The JK-inspired Franz Ferdinand may eventually become a glib footnote in the unfeasibly vast history of alternative guitar music but these Edinburgh lads are the full first edition book and this is the opening chapter. The amount of exploding ideas and rugged brittle dynamism displayed here is way impressive, I could listen to these songs for all time, then I'd travel Far North to bribe or kill in order to unearth later demo sessions but you can't have it all. Or can you? Well, only 25 white label copies of 'Sorry For Laughing' existed in vinyl form a few months ago and now look what we have in our paws! x
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- Sorry For Laughing (+ The TV Art Demos CD) by Josef K
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