Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Scientist Vs. Scientist

Yeah, flush from the monies accrued by shepherding the White Stripes to international renown, Sympathy For The Record Industry, ironically enough, began slowing their flow of releases to a manageable trickle, and began releasing some highly recommend, classy reissues rather then the high volume, scattershot efforts of years hence.

Beyond the rerelease of The Gun Clubs fine 'Death Party', the underrated 'Miami', and the highly inconsistent 'The Las Vegas Story', Sympathy released multiple compilations of the work of the Australian band, The Scientists. It's rare a band has as drastic of a division between periods as The Scientists. Their early work, the best of it, compiled on the excellent 'Murder Punk' series (for my money, the 2 LP's are my all time favorite punk compilation) are serviceable pop punk tunes. I like 'em fine. Sympathy rereleased the compilation of much of this material as the 'Pissed On Another Planet' double disc. The Scientists switched lineups, started listening to the Cramps, and mutated into a wholly different band, whose material was compiled on the excellent 'Blood Red River' and 'Human Jukebox' records. Permit me an allusion, if the early Scientists were a weather, it would be a late summer's day, bright and clean and and fun and devoid of darkness. If the later Scientists were a weather, it would be a gray, ominous overcast day, with menacing clouds descending on the horizon.

I like the early Scientists, but I am not a huge fan. Even by the standards of someone who has more then a passing familiarity with the sub-genre, while good and serviceable and fine and worth multiple listens, the early output isn't extraordinary. They are good songs, to be sure, but there is little to distinguish them from dozens, if not hundreds of bands who are easily comparable. As for the later Scientists, I really dig them. The music does not bounce, the music throbs and oozes.

This is high school stuff; there is going to be debate about objectivity vs. subjectivity in criticism, obviously. Right? The act of reviewing, when done in an especially engaging manner, is more autobio then criticism, telling about oneself moreso then the objective contents to be evaluated. So yeah, with some, you find out what they likes and why they do because it tells much about a person, rather then looking for a wholly objective analysis, which is especially difficult in terms of talking about (Saints excepted, Birthday Party hot on their tail, Radio Birdman nowhere near close, Fun Things just didn't have the numbers) THE Australian Punk band - where subjectivity reigns just 'cause it's so difficult to quantify and explain an emotional reaction. This is a long winded way of saying this: I don't know why I like the later work of The Scientists so much more then their early stuff.

Am I trying to be iconoclastic and go against the trend of enjoying the early, more accessible stuff and viewing their later output as an aggressive deterioration and overly reminiscent hodge podge of influences? Do I just prefer the gutter crawl to the early pop, like I just enjoy the former genre more? Or is it more like a the finals of a Dog Show, where totally different breeds are compared and a the best of judges do no take in their own preferences into any consideration? Do I just like it more for whatever reason that I can't explain? Fuck, I don't know.

Is it a litmus test? Are the people that prefer the early stuff people that are slightly less inclined to enjoy things off of the beaten path? Or is that a gross oversimplification, the type of sweeping generalization which I am very fond of employing as the punchline for a joke? I don't know that, either.

But, in any case, I like the later stuff better.

Readers, how about you? Late Scientists? Early Scientists? I am actually inviting comments, let me see how well (or more likely, how poorly) this works out. Comment away, folks...

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