Horrorshow – The Scars

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For a few years (like Simple Minds and Altered Images), The Scars were a regular support band around Scotland. They played on their own too a few times in Aberdeen, most memorably at a pub in Aberdeen called The Copper Beech. I reckon I saw them a dozen times. Their scratchy, funky, dark pop was what we wanted to be like when we first wrote and recorded. You can hear it in our early demos. Part glam, part punk, they were absolutely riveting live. Their drummer and bass player were locked into this ripping, tribal pop-funk, their guitarist made the tinniest, brightest noise this side of a screechy fire alarm. For a while my guitar sound was based on his. The singer was a beautiful punk-glam boy with curly hair and make-up. The Scars were my dream group. Their live sets were full of poetic, apocalyptic pop. They had one song which used the solo from Del Shannon’s Runaway in the middle of it – played note perfect. They usually ended their set with a musical adaptation of Peter Porter’s poem Your Attention Please. I remember studying the poem at school and I loved it then, so it was a moving experience for me to hear it performed to song as I knew the words so well. They ended the set with the guitarist sitting his guitar on top of his amp, creating a huge amount of feedback, mixed with a metallic flanger sound. They had all walked off stage by this time. An amazing exit.
Horrorshow/Adultery is one of my favourite singles of all time, tuneful in places, but, mostly, just grooving along with shrieks including cool Clockwork Orange language (The Jasmine Minks covered both songs live). They never matched up to the onslaught of that first single on future recordings (I really liked the b-side of a single, a cover of Cockney Rebel’s The Psychomodo).
Our roadie, Mark, had a jacket with The Scars logo on the back in stark white paint. Anyone who knew him from that time referred to him as ‘Scars’ and the nickname lasted all his life.
The last time I saw The Scars, they were playing at Rock Garden in London to promote their album (which I never liked at the time – or the elf-ish outfits they wore on the back cover photo come to think of it). Right behind me was Julian Cope, looking cool in his trademark leather Airforce jacket with fleece lapels and jodpurs and jackboots. The Scars were excellent as usual. The sound was softer and their new sound had some phaser guitar sounds (the scourge of 80’s studio recordings). I don’t know what happened to them after that. But for a few years, they were one of the best live bands on the scene…

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