Maybe like for many others, Goodbye Mr MacKenzie is a band which we did not pay enough attention to back when they were a potent part of a Scottish indie/rock scene lauded for the presence of bands such as The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Fire Engines, Simple Minds, The Waterboys, The Cocteau Twins and many others. The fair share of acclaim they earned was impossible to miss and a few familiar tracks, and more than we knew we knew it turns out, left a rich vein of pleasure in our personal musical journey. Funnily enough it was not the recent reforming of one of Scotland’s most iconic rock bands which has most strongly drawn us to the upcoming re-reissuing of their seminal album Good Deeds and Dirty Rags but the fact that one of our current favourite bands, The Filthy Tongues, consists of three of Goodbye Mr MacKenzie’s founders; that and the welcome urging of Shauna McLarnon of Canadian duo Ummagma.
Due for release this coming November and inspired by the massive success of their recent 30-year anniversary tour, Good Deeds & Dirty Rags has been re-mastered and comes with 3 additional tracks from those early years not previously included on the original edition. The band’s line-up at the time consisted of vocalist Martin Metcalfe, bassist Fin Wilson, and drummer Derek Kelly, the trio who have inflamed ears and the passions with their two albums as the aforementioned Filthy Tongues. Alongside them was guitarist John Duncan, previously of The Exploited, the future Garbage vocalist Shirley Manson, and Rona Scobie both providing keys and backing vocals. For the rest of the band’s potent history we will let you go search but there will be no finer way to set it off then through Good Deeds and Dirty Rags.
The album opens up with Open Your Arms, a track which swiftly hooks ears with its sweeping breath and magnetic jangle. Metcalfe’s vocals resonate with the expression and character which we are more familiar with within his current creative adventure as melodies, harmonies, and sharp hooks are woven into a slice of indie contagion. There is a Big Country like grandeur to the song at times and a gnarly edge to the bass which just hit a personal appetite, again something since keenly devoured with Wilson’s presence in The Filthy Tongues.
Wake It Up follows bringing a rousing roar to its composed stroll, every aspect fuelling an unapologetic catchiness which easily swept up eager attention. In some ways there is a larger than life hue to the song which reminds of The Associates but whether familiar with or new to the band through the album there is no denying Goodbye Mr Mackenzie had a distinct individuality.
The electronic hug of the especially enthralling His Masters Voice is just a big warm smile upon the ears but another track with a certain rock ‘n’ roll edge to it which erupts with vociferous voice throughout while Goodwill City is a drama soaked slice of anthemic temptation. It is a song set in climatic layers, each small but tenacious crescendo a rich incitement on spirit and involvement with its creative intrigue and emprise. One of their less familiar tracks before this release the song soon proved a firm favourite even as the riveting Candlestick Park swung its own shadow wrapped, melancholically spun seduction upon ears and imagination. The truth is the song easily matches anything on the release, its mesmeric and indeed haunting presence a siren of craft and sound.
The song, Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, is another which simply infests ears and appetite with its melodic audacity and fertile imagination. The earthy threads of guitar perfectly collude with the celestial breeze of keys and sighs of harmonies as marching rhythms firmly leave their galvanic imprint on the senses; another highlight re-introduced to ears before the band’s most famous track, The Rattler shares its masterful indie pop contagion.
Through the infectious creative animation of Dust and the glorious sonic theatre of You Generous Thing grinning pleasure only rises up, both tracks pure adventure for ears and imagination on
both sides of the speakers; both traits a persistent thrill across the release and echoed again within the equally superb Good Deeds. Straight away rhythmically it had us enslaved; Kelly’s agility and lures reminding of King Trigger before the rest of the band bring their own eager inventive exploits to the fascination of sound.
Good Deeds and Dirty Rags is completed by three demo tracks of Open Your Arms, Diamonds, and You Generous Thing; all from 1987 and each their own portion of thick temptation.
Though listening to the album inspires annoyance at not having embraced it well before now, it is a real treat to discover and you know what? It is not out of place or time within the current indie rock scene at all.
Good Deeds and Dirty Rags is released 2nd November via Neon Tetra Records.
Pete RingMaster 27/09/2019
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