The Scars

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(From Careless Talk Costs Lives issue 12, written by Kevin Pearce)

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 music available.

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 unavailable nowadays.

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 Song”.

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Actually, I auditioned to be their singer after Robert left, and they told me I sounded like Edwyn Collins.

I was mortified.

Jerry, Thursday, 9 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

sounded like Edwyn Collins

Well, they would know...

Alexander Blair, Thursday, 9 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

haha there is no such thing as influence unless yr name is LINDER or NEW HORMONES!! that is terrific alexander, thank you => PAUL RESEARCH is the greatest name for a gutiarist evah (esp. if it is his actual real family name)

mark s, Thursday, 9 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Ha Ned, and you thought I'd dig out the other Scars poster I have online.

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.

Alexander Blair, Thursday, 9 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

i expect i still have morley's feature on them somewhere: i dare not look, as either way i will be SAD!!

mark s, Thursday, 9 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

glad they are remembered..the first singles are still ace..saw then first at the venue,london in 81 with josef k supporting..great night! shame they haven'nt been given a cd reissue but I'm sure they will in time..still got all my old scars badges!!

DarrenS, Thursday, 9 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Ha Ned, and you thought I'd dig out the other Scars poster I have online.

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

considering the way Pre records (charisma) promoted them..i.e Free booklet with the Lp..US only 12"..extra tracks on the cassette..that they have never bothered with a deluxe reissue or even a "Best of" but then looking at some of the crap reissues they have knocked out. (vander graff generator cds with no info or lyrics in cheapo covers at mid price!)its probably for the best..maybe the rights have reverted back to king/mackie,etc now..someone should pick it up and release it..surely they sold more lps than the higsons and they have several CD releases???? and while you're at it don't forget THE PASSAGE!!!

DarrenS, Thursday, 9 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Ned, this one, I've used it in three threads (on three different topics!) and you sighed deeply the last time I posted it. Notice the Scars are headlining.

btw: Paul Research's home page is

Alexander Blair, Thursday, 9 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Ned, this one

Clarity is mine. ;-)

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 9 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

eight months pass...
This is the most superbly gratifying thread I have stumbled over. Check out some more Scars nostalgia at

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 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

one year passes...
[It has become my goal to revive at least ten threads around here in thirty days, inspired by a couple of threads on That Other Board.]

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 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

btw...there was a CD w/ Scars on it...the EMI compilation of Fast Product called Rigour Discipline and Disgust. Bob Last of Fast still owns the rights to the stuff he released. This CD, and some other stuff, may see the light of day once more, fingers crossed.

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 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Heard the couple of tracks on the Fast Records 'Mutant Pop' compilation. Liked the tracks, wouldn't mind hearing more.

Sasha (sgh), Thursday, 13 May 2004 03:41 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Haven't thought about The Scars for a long, long time - I'm pretty sure I saw them once or twice too. Must dig their stuff out and give them another airing.

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 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Osborne OTM.

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 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

eleven months pass...
If you're still around, Tim, there's a Bob Last update here:

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Wednesday, 27 April 2005 13:09 (twelve 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 (twelve years ago) Permalink

four months pass...
I don't know where the Scars are today, probably just doing ordinary jobs, minding their own businesses, but they were pretty fucking good back in 79/ 80. Wish I'd kept my Gold Scars flexi disc together with the first ever xeroxed issue of ID magazine, it'd be worth a fucking fortune, eh?

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 (twelve years ago) Permalink

The Scars are doing allright as some band called "Lemon Jelly" just had a big hit with a song that samples them.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 9 September 2005 15:33 (twelve years ago) Permalink

You can get the Scars "Horrorshow" single tracks from the Fast Product First Year Plan compilation on Soulseek. Dunno if any other stuff is on there though, might have a look myself.

Colonel Poo (Colonel Poo), Friday, 9 September 2005 18:34 (twelve 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 18:37 (twelve years ago) Permalink

There's a vinyl rip of Author! Author! on Soulseek.

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 (twelve years ago) Permalink

a scars comp is being put together by stephen pastel.

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 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Harvell I'm calling you out!

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 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Yeah, look up, dipshit.

Andy_K (Andy_K), Friday, 9 September 2005 22:51 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Well, low and behold I didn't think I knew the Freeze, but my memory is better than I thought - they were indeed the ones that had to do with that guy who went on to be associated with Cindytalk later on. Yeah, I came across The Freeze's stuff about a year and a half ago. Doomy, gloomy stuff as I recall - but some of it was quite good.

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 (twelve years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...
Paul Research is playing at a Peel show (Oct 13th) at Edinburgh's Pineapple Club (which is, I believe, what was Aquarius on that flyer above). Sadly, a reunion is unlikely as Bobby King is (I'm told) an archeology professor in Tel Aviv.
Also on the bill - Malcolm Ross, TV21 and Boots for Dancing!
I should immediatey say that some of these are DJ sets, some ae full live sts. No idea what is what, and neither I suspect do they.
Also, on the Scottish indie tip: has new material from Paul Haig.
I'm going to see if I can find a mail address for Gordon 'Cindytalk' Sharp - maybe he'll reform The Freeze for this gig too!

Stu, Friday, 7 October 2005 12:57 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Oops, I better tell D@r@ to change her bands name to the Scars UK or something.

Paranoid Spice (kate), Friday, 7 October 2005 12:59 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Boots for Dancing!

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 7 October 2005 13:16 (twelve years ago) Permalink

four years pass...

I uploaded loads of of Scars stuff (released and otherwise) at:


Scoorieboy, Tuesday, 13 July 2010 07:37 (seven 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 (seven 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 (seven 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 (seven 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 (seven 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 (seven years ago) Permalink

eight months pass...

Just heard them for the first time today. SO GOOD!

ENBB, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 01:09 (six years ago) Permalink

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