MUSIC THAT TIME FORGOT
1: THE SCARS
This column will each issue point you in the direction of
unavailable music. This is not an excuse to brag about
something we have and you don’t. It is rather a plea to that part of
the music industry dedicated to salvage. It is a plea to make this
So, for a start, it is absurd that no music by Scars is available
on CD. This is a ridiculous oversight, for in the spring of 1979,
Scars released the greatest single ever in the form of
“Horrorshow” c/w “Adult/ery”. This extreme pop single was
released on Fast, a small label out of Edinburgh, and was even
better than its more famous stable-mates’ finest moments: The
Gang Of Four’s “Damaged Goods”, the Human League’s “Being
Boiled”, The Mekons’ “Where Were You”.
“Horrorshow” was gloriously depraved. Singer Robbie King
barked strange “Clockwork Orange” passages in the broadest of
Edinburgh brogues. Over a rumbling bass line, guitarist Paul
Research came up with the most piercing trebly guitar squall you
can ever imagine. The other side was a brave bash at being the
first to hit the spot where punk and disco collided. Someone at
the time said it was The Fall and the Bee Gees, but that barely
hints at its momentum. The song was coincidentally inspired by
a night out to see “Saturday Night Fever”.
Scars then were cocky, provocative and brash, and how they
never became pop stars remains a mystery to me. Attention to
detail was central to their art, and these kids were perfect
material for the State Arts design group to produce the best
range of pop T-shirts ever. The people involved with State Arts
were also involved in setting up the style-mag i-D (a great story
for another time and place), and Scars contributed a song for a
free flexi with an early edition. The song, “Your Attention Please”,
seems curiously apt now, being a setting of a 60s Peter Porter
poem about impending nuclear terror.
Scars’ shot at the big time came with the Chrysalis-sponsored
Pre label. The imprint briefly had a stable to savour, with Scars,
Delta 5, Manicured Noise, Prince Far I and Gregory Isaacs
among others, though most if not all Pre-releases are curiously
Scars’ relationship with Pre resulted in a few singles and one
LP. It also saw the teenage upstarts adopt a startling new image
with a look inspired by Viviene Westwood’s World’s End pirate
collection. If this makes Scars seem like comrades of Bow Wow
Wow and Adam and the Ants, that’s fine. Mark E Smith said
Scars were his favourite group as they were the complete
opposite of The Fall.
The LP, “Author! Author!” deserves to be heard, though at the
time it sounded as though ex-Penetration guitarist Robert
Blamire’s production was a little too lush. Now it would probably
sound completely avant garde and rough as you like.
The finest moment was the single, “All About You”, which made
that emerging big pop sound (Bunnymen/Wah! Etc) seem just
right momentarily. Better still was the earlier, edgier single “Love
After the LP, Scars seemed to run out of steam. There was talk
of Postcard saving the group, but perhaps this was just romantic
speculation. It should be noted however Scars were as much an
influence on the emerging Postcard groups and attitude as the
better documented litany of the velvets, Subway Sect, Richard
Hell and the Voidoids. It is coming to something when the
Subway Sect is better documented than the Scars, but that’s the
way it is.
― Jerry, Thursday, 9 May 2002 00:00 (11 years ago) Permalink
I was mortified.
Well, they would know...
― Alexander Blair, Thursday, 9 May 2002 00:00 (11 years ago) Permalink
― mark s, Thursday, 9 May 2002 00:00 (11 years ago) Permalink
Mark S: Yes I saw them a lot initially as support (Cure, Banshees,
Human League, Rezillos etc ), after a while they had enough of a
local following to headline medium sized club venues in Edinburgh and
always had a good support or two: usual sound of young scotland
suspects. Paul Morley was a big fan and they got NME covers on the
strength of glowing reviews from him.
I slightly preferred 79-80 earlier shows where they sounded like
the Horrorshow single (even on tracks recorded later such as
Obsession which was awesome live and the version on author author is
merely great) but they never turned in a poor performance.
They would often do covers of Billy Porter or The Psychomodo which
were ace too.
Incidentally on that Poster, The Fakes become Scottish rave
nutters Ege Bam Yasi and The Freeze had Gordon Sharp of This Mortal
Coil fame in them.
― DarrenS, Thursday, 9 May 2002 00:00 (11 years ago) Permalink
Er, I did? I admit that Careless Talk article caught my
attention. Someone get LTM to reissue them.
― Ned Raggett, Thursday, 9 May 2002 00:00 (11 years ago) Permalink
btw: Paul Research's home page is http://www.scarsresearch.com
Clarity is mine. ;-)
For those hoping for a Scars CD reissue, we tried to get the rights off Virgin but they won't let go. If you want a nice CD on loan for an extended period, mail me.
― Paul Research, Saturday, 18 January 2003 19:16 (11 years ago) Permalink
Wow, I can't believe this, a Scars thread. Wait, I can -- momentarily forgot where I was. Anyway... I love to keep up with the MP3s posted as the New Wave Outpost Song of the Week. This week's song is "All About You" by The Scars, and after downloading it just now and listening to it, I realize I really, really like it. From what I've read in this thread, this is actually an example of the band's latter period musically... ? And the early period doesn't exactly match up... ? Am I correct? What would you guys recommend I check out in terms of the band's earlier output? I'm going through a period musically where I'm especially welcoming of "new to me" sounds and this seems like one of those artists who would fulfill that requirement as well as my most basic need of musical comfort food.
― Those Beautiful Lines (Dee the Lurker), Wednesday, 12 May 2004 23:40 (9 years ago) Permalink
Pre hasn't let go of anything, the forthcoming Delta 5 CD will not apparently include their Pre material, but everyone mostly wants the Rough Trade stuff anyway.
― Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Thursday, 13 May 2004 00:10 (9 years ago) Permalink
― Sasha (sgh), Thursday, 13 May 2004 03:41 (9 years ago) Permalink
As I recall, the first single (Horrorshow / Adult/ery) which came out on Fast was absolutely startlingly fantastic; the subsequent couple of singles and the album (Author! Author!) were a bit less startling and a bit less fantastic.
― Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Thursday, 13 May 2004 07:47 (9 years ago) Permalink
Just a couple of random things: when I saw a picture of the Scissor Sisters recently,m the way they dressed reminded me very strongly of the piccy of the Scars on '"Author! Author"', all scarved piratical new romantic.
Dan S: what's Bob Last doing now? I was talking with my brother about this very subject a couple of days ago, and I had to admit I didn;t know. Something at the back of my mind said graphic design or TV production or something, but I had to admit I was making that up.
PRE was Charisma and Virgin bought Charisma some years back, apparently in order for Branson to get his hands on all that Genesis material which he always wanted. This has been good news for reggae lovers because it means that the Virgin Front Line reissues can be augmented with the really rather good PRE reggae catalogue (inc. some of Gregory Isaacs's best work). The non-reggae element of the PRE roster appears to have been left to fester: very likely no-one at Virgin cares less. I wonder if I'm right about all that?
― Tim (Tim), Thursday, 13 May 2004 07:58 (9 years ago) Permalink
― Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Wednesday, 27 April 2005 13:09 (8 years ago) Permalink
Sandy Blair is a loss to ILM, I wish he was still around.
― Dr. C (Dr. C), Wednesday, 27 April 2005 13:25 (8 years ago) Permalink
I'd love to get hold of some Scars tunes again. Also, The Visitors, who I thought were even better than the Scars. And I liked Freeze too.
Any of you dudes computer literate enough to transfer vinyl to MP3? Do the world a big favour and do it! Stick it on Limewire for us post-punk nostalgics, eh?
― Dee Rimbaud, Friday, 9 September 2005 15:24 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 9 September 2005 15:33 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Colonel Poo (Colonel Poo), Friday, 9 September 2005 18:34 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 9 September 2005 18:37 (8 years ago) Permalink
If there's any justice, a compliation will see the light of day sometime soon.
― Brooker Buckingham (Brooker B), Friday, 9 September 2005 19:29 (8 years ago) Permalink
i see that one little indian have just put out a prats cd retrospective. who's have thought it?
dee - i don't use soulseek but if i remember, i'll yousendit some visitors and freeze.
― stirmonster (stirmonster), Friday, 9 September 2005 20:40 (8 years ago) Permalink
I'm assuming this Freeze I'm unfamiliar with is different from the Freeez I'm familiar with...?
― Andy_K (Andy_K), Friday, 9 September 2005 22:50 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Andy_K (Andy_K), Friday, 9 September 2005 22:51 (8 years ago) Permalink
As for the Scars, I agree Horroshow is an amazingly good track and I'd planned on including it in the 1979 compilation I've been working on. I remember going kinda mental over that about 10 years ago when I first heard it, then being rather disappointed in "Author! Author!" But I too would like to hear that album again.
― Mr. Whirly, Please Don't Call Me (Bimble...), Saturday, 10 September 2005 02:06 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Stu, Friday, 7 October 2005 12:57 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Paranoid Spice (kate), Friday, 7 October 2005 12:59 (8 years ago) Permalink
― Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 7 October 2005 13:16 (8 years ago) Permalink
I uploaded loads of of Scars stuff (released and otherwise) at:http://www.youtube.com/user/scoorieboy
― Scoorieboy, Tuesday, 13 July 2010 07:37 (3 years ago) Permalink
or you can wait and see if any legit Fast related compilations may be coming out.
― Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 9 September 2005 19:37 Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink
Did this ever happen?
― a fucking stove just fell on my foot. (Colonel Poo), Tuesday, 13 July 2010 08:14 (3 years ago) Permalink
"Author Author" was reissued on CD with extra tracks a couple of years ago.
― Gerald McBoing-Boing, Tuesday, 13 July 2010 11:39 (3 years ago) Permalink
Dang, looks like the CD is sold out and Amazon doesn't have anything available. I guess you'll have to watch eBay.
― Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 14 July 2010 00:00 (3 years ago) Permalink
We spent a good deal of time discussing some sort of Fast compilation, but there was a bit of a snag and we couldn't sort it out to everyone's satisfaction.
I still think about it, and if we ever get going with regular vinyl releases, plan on looking into some of the lesser known Fast/Pop Aural acts.
― dan selzer, Tuesday, 20 July 2010 20:33 (3 years ago) Permalink
That Scars cd might be one of the more severely compressed remastering jobs I've ever heard. Almost hard to listen to. And it doesn't have the first single, of course. For that you have to get the (also way out of print) Rigour comp mentioned above.
― Michael Train, Tuesday, 20 July 2010 22:59 (3 years ago) Permalink
Just heard them for the first time today. SO GOOD!
― ENBB, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 01:09 (2 years ago) Permalink