Aaaaaahhh....Fanzine culture, how we love thee!
Back in the days before the Internet the most reliable way of getting your unsigned band's music out to the people, or to share your views and opinions on music was through the power of the fanzine. I used to love fanzines! Really love them. There was almost a sense of labour-of-love about them; all that xeroxing and stapling all the pages together, then trying to flog them to the great indifferent. Halcyon days,my friends.
It was through fanzines that I got my rare Smiths flexi 'Poppycocteau', and my Sonic Youth 'Teenage Riot' flexi complete with Savage Pencil illustration. And let's not forget that without legendary fanzine 'Sarah 4' I would not have 'Anorak City' by Another Sunny Day....and that really just wouldn't do.
So why am I banging on about fanzines?
Because it was thanks to a long forgotten, and tragically discarded fanzine that we stumbled upon The Scrotum Poles; Dundee's finest scratchy, angular Post-punk theorists, and thus our lives became complete....well, maybe not....but I'm sure you get my drift.
According to t'internet The Scrotum Poles only released one single, an EP which it is claimed is called 'Revelation'. The reason for my vagueness is that the single we have looks different to the one on the bands own webpage, yet it contains all of the same 5 songs. Our version is far more home made looking with blank labels upon which 'Happy' and 'Sad' have been written in pen.
We discovered The Scrotum Poles at a time when we seemed to be forever discovering new, left-field, angular, trebley guitar bands. Bands who only ever seemed to release a couple of singles which we would treasure dearly before they would disband leaving us wanting. Step forward The Paramedic Squad, The Wall, The Luddites, The Violators, Artery, The Surface Mutants etc. At a time when our school chums taste in music was mainly in Duran Duran or Haircut 100(or The Police if they were feeling a tad more hardcore), we adopted a rather smug, snobbish stance, defiantly veering into the theatre of the off-kilter. Some might say we haven't changed much!!
As I listen back to these songs again for the first time in many a year(thanks to Griff converting the old vinyl copy into MP3s) the first thing I find rather quaint is that the songs are not quite as outré as I remember them. They are actually palatable enough for our Sting-loving friends....if only we'd known this at the time, we could have force fed the Scrotums on our school mates(not a phrase I envisaged saying this morning!)
What I also notice, rather annoyingly, is that once again our mutual friend Gary has duped us. For you see, when we had our band, the spiffingly named The Beirut City Rollers going in the late 1980s, our friend Gary wrote most of the songs, although I use the term 'wrote' in it's loosest sense. What he actually did was 'borrow' some obscure track he thought we wouldn't know, some old b-side or whatever and pass it off as his own work. We call it 'doing a Noel Gallagher' round our way. Anyhoo, it seems that one of the songs I long thought was an original of ours turns out to be a retread of 'Pick The Cats Eyes Out' which you'll find below(it starts at about 1:45). To compare and contrast, go to our old band's Myspace page and click on the song 'Shops'.....see! It's exactly the same isn't it? Fooled again, boooohh!
When Griff heard that I was planning on a Scrotum Poles Blog he insisted on having his say on the band too, his love of the band as undiminished as mine. Take it away....
Griff: "The two songs which mean the most to me are,firstly; Pick The Cats Eyes Out, as when I was learning to play punky-style bar-chords on the guitar this was the main song I used to practice to. I transposed it to the key of E and used to batter it out really badly on a Kay's catalogue electric guitar and sing along. The main drawback of this was that I could never fully make out lines 3 and 4 of the first verse and used to sing a sound-a-like nonsense version.
Radio Tay was my other favourite and years later when I had a job that saw me driving around the Perthshire, Angus and Tayside area I often used to listen to it in the afternoons as it was so couthy and kitsch it used to make me laugh. I remember that they used to have a show where you could phone in and swap unwanted items. A lady from Wormiehills would offer a large bag of dogfood and it would be swapped for various balls of coloured wool to a woman from Inverarity.Happy Days!"
Happy Days indeed old chum.
So folks, please be sure to check out this page where you can download a few Scrotum Poles tracks, and being such good guys, we've uploaded a couple of tracks ourselves here just for your delectation. And there's always their Myspace and Last.fm pages too.
Happy trails, my friends,