I was having a long overdue catch up with friend, someone who I had spent a lot of time exploring music’s learning curve with and the only time that the old vinyl collection gets an outing these days and we noticed something remarkable. Out of curiosity I checked the dates of the albums we had been reminiscing to and many shared a release year. Indigo Girls debut, XTC’s now iconic Oranges and Lemons, Claytown Troupe’s Through The Veil and Diesel Park West’s Shakespeare Alabama. What was it about 1989 that spawned so much music that has been so important to me? The next album to hit the turntable, and another gem from that era was Good Deeds and Dirty Rags by Goodbye Mr Mackenzie which has just been re-released to complete the package of the bands recent reformation.
At a time when many Scottish bands were looking to soul music to flavour their pop output, The Mackenzies were clearly listening to darker, more conflicted, rockier music and whilst their tunes were always melodic and accessible they also did brooding and intense very well and, in the case of their titular tune, anthemic. And if I remember rightly the oddball pop charms of The Rattler was where it all began for me…a chance sighting of the video on VH1, followed by an album purchase and the next thing you know I am walking about with a badge with their stick man emblem displayed proudly on the lapel of my leather jacket.
It’s a great reminder of what a stand out band they were, non-conformist, especially for the times and the bands that they would have been rubbing shoulders with, like a mad parody of pop music which somehow turned out better than the subject that they were pointing at and pulling apart.
Even better is the PR package comes with a couple of demo versions of the The Rattler from even earlier…probably only of interest to us fans of old, completists and those who don’t remember just how awful videos used to be back in the early days, which I am saying with the utmost love.
And I got through that without mentioning Shirley Manson once. Damn!