Is the post-punk group Scars
the Last Great Lost Band?
Chances are that you won't remember post-punk band Scars. Their moment in the sun was both tragically and gloriously brief. They stormed out of Edinburgh in the early 1980s possessed of equal parts glam audacity, art-rock solemnity and futuristic zeal. They were roundly hailed as the next great white musical hope. Two Peel sessions and a handful of music-paper covers later, they vanished in a fog of egotism and unhealthy appetites. But not before they delivered their one and only album, 1981's maddeningly beautiful Author! Author!
In the intervening years, Scars have been effectively forgotten. Years ago, Mark E Smith name-checked them as his favourite band ("because they were the complete opposite of the Fall"), and more recently, Lemon Jelly briefly raised Scars' profile by sampling them on their '64-'95 album. But despite guitarist Paul Research's sterling efforts to keep the name alive on his Scars website, the band appeared to be permanently consigned to the dustbin of history. Even in Simon Reynolds' encyclopaedic post-punk history, Rip it Up & Start Again, they merit only the most fleeting of mentions.
Meanwhile, down the last 25 years, every other once-forgotten band of their era has been either endlessly repackaged and/or critically rehabilitated to enable them to enjoy an extension on their fifteen minutes. Even the very worst of the fag-end punk bands (The Lurkers, Chelsea, Slaughter and the Dogs) have been kept on life-support by virtue of their appearance on a thousand and one dodgy service-station compilations. Music monthlies can be relied upon to remind us all of the greatness of cult artists (John Cooper-Clarke, Vic Godard, Penetration's Pauline Murray) who might have accidentally slipped off the radar. Most recently, Castle's CD86 compilation plucked the likes of Darling Buds, Revolving Paint Dream and 14 Iced Bears from the kind of shambling obscurity that most would agree was their deserved fate.
As for Scars, their fate has hardly been helped by the convoluted copyright situation that held up the reissue of Author! Author! for all these years. Now that it's finally here in 24bit audio and sounding as edgy and lovely as it always did, maybe the band can finally enjoy some of the critical acclaim that has long been denied them. If that should come to pass, then this will surely establish them as the Last Great Lost Band to come to our attention. Unless, that is, you readers have any better ideas. Word of warning: the likes of Bram Tchaikovsky, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Stump, Cock Sparrer and Bum Gravy will automatically be disqualified on the grounds that the dustbin of history is exactly where these bands belong.