Album of the week: DIY Scotland 77-81

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VARIOUS ARTISTS DIY Scotland 77-81 ****

Messthetics 105, 13.99

This is a lovingly curated collection of scruffy Scottish punk and indie rock instigated by the tenacious US label, Messthetics.

Having personally lost or misplaced 10 or more of these 7" slices of Caledonian 20th-century culture to thoughtless storage and multiple house moves, it is amazing to hear all of them spruced up to sound so sparkly on this CD.

The accompanying booklet is painstakingly researched, and a fascinating snapshot of social history. From Edinburgh proto-art rockers Metropak to Stirling's awkward post-punk stylings of The Vertical Smiles and Aberdeen's post-punk He's Dead Jim, this is a fascinating sweep of Scottish bands operating on the periphery of the critical radar. Context is provided by better known names such as The Fire Engines, and that group's Tam Dean Burn-fronted predecessors, The Dirty Reds.

The Ettes represent the chafing chord-driven aspirations of lesser known but equally bright capital lights, while Ian Burgoyne's Jazzateers' smooth sounds pre-empt the lounge stylings of many an Eighties' Glasgow outfit.

Sadly it is hard to imagine anyone in Scotland devoting the same time and attention to detail to produce such a labour of love. Those who lived through the era may be startled at the enduring quality of music seemingly fuelled solely by the sense of urgency incumbent of the time.

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