The Desperate Bicycles declared "it was easy, it was cheap go and do it!" on their 1977 debut single, Smokescreen, and thousands of people across the UK went and did it.
Those people included Dave Morgan (later of The Loft, Primal Scream and other Creation acts) and Graham Massey (later of 808 State) among the many who had access to cheap instruments, even cheaper recording equipment, cheaper still cassettes and a network of music fans whose hunch that the best that music had to offer from 1979 –1984 might not be available through the established outlets was often right.
Messthetics Greatest Hiss (‘an introduction to the DIY cassette scene 1979-84’) is an invaluable record of post-punk’s teenage dreams. Many of those dreams were informed by the Television Personalities or The Fall’s Live At The Witch Trials. Some banged on beer cans; others strummed an egg slicer.
The line between genius and madness is never quite so blurred as on a Messthetics compilation. I can’t pretend to like all of the songs, but for the dedicated pursuer of lost classics, a trawl through this CD will uncover some treasures.
Everything, conversely, on Messthetics 106, The Manchester Musicians Collective 1977-82, has either the potential to excite the listener or demand further investigation. This compilation is another example of why Manchester was the global capital of music in terms of influence and inspiration for the dozen years after Buzzcocks’ Spiral Scratch.
The 21 songs here reveal a scene as enthralled by the sonic potential of keyboards as by the aural experiments of the electric guitar. All of these bands sound like they merited Factory recording contracts. If your idea of greatness is the Stockholm Monsters’ doleful anguish or The Blue Orchids’ bitter misery, then you’ll love this CD.