Friday, December 07, 2007

No-Fly Zone

Scissor Fits: Their First Cut Is the Deepest

Working my way through Hyped2Death Records' epic Messthetics D.I.Y./Post-Punk CD series, I came across my new favorite song-of-the-moment: Scissor Fits' "I Don't Want to Work for British Airways."

This single kicks off Messthetics #101, London D.I.Y. 77-81 and also appears on the CD-R Messthetics #1 (UK D.I.Y. 77-82, R & S bands) and Cherry Red's The Second Record Collection. One reviewer commented that SF vocalist Nik East sings this diatribe against British Airwaves "as if his live depended on it." How true, and yet it's a life-or-death struggle that's downright hilarious to these ears.

Here are the sleeve notes from the folks at Hyped2Death:
SCISSOR FITS -I Don't Want to Work for British Airways / A Small One
(Dubious SJP-793) Hounslow '79 first EP: Messthetics #101

The Scissor Fits hailed from Hounslow, barely two miles off the main runways of Heathrow, so "I Don't Wanna Work for British Airways" takes to heart the DIY maxim "write what you know." Their debut EP was recorded before they'd ever played in public, and 'dedicated to the Soft Boys.' Mike Alway was a songwriter and part-time guitarist-and-general-inspiration who actually went on to manage the Soft Boys: he had the 'Fits open for them several times during the Underwater Moonlight era. (Alway later managed the Monochrome Set and launched the Blanco y Negro, Reviere, ...If, él and Sound of Chartreuse labels.) Yank drummer Bud Drago put out a (remarkably American-sounding) EP on the same Dubious label but soon headed back Stateside (he's now in Character Z, and running, while the 'Fits went on to record a live EP for Tortch that featured a couple of DIY's finer, longer, more psychedelic numbers. The band-name? "a Don Martin cartoon in MAD magazine depicted a woman with a long cigarette holder accidentally stubbing her cigarette out in a man's eye. The resulting sound effect was 'SIZZZA - FITZZ' or something like that..."

Scissor Fits: Inspired by cartoonist Don Martin

Apparently Scissor Fits recorded a couple of extended play (EP) singles. The live one referenced above is probably 1979's Soon After Dark, which includes the songs "Who Wants To Live Forever," "Aniseed Trail" and "The Government Knows About U.F.O.s"; it can be had for $16 on eBAY. The 4-track gatefold picture sleeve EP Taut? Tense? Angular? And Other British Rail Sandwiches, goes for $25 at netsoundsmusic. This may be the one with "British Airways" on it.

Marxist Schoolhouse Rock
And, according to the blog 12 Apostles News, "I Don't Want To Work for British Airways" isn't just amusing - it's also a perfect slice of 1980s-era socialist rock, harking back to "the glorious days past when Britain was in the throes of Thatcher and we actually had artists who believed in politics and had the conviction to write about their beliefs." The 12 Apostles rank this song along like-minded "music with conviction" by The Gang of Four, The Redskins, The Now, The Third Rail, Billy Bragg, Paul Weller, and The Fall.

Listening to Messthetics #1, I noticed the Apostles missed another one to add to their ranks - Exeter's Scabs, whose "snotpunk" rant "Leave Me Alone" is an imperative statement addressed to Mrs. Thatcher: "Leave me alone, Thatcher!/Fuck off home, Thatcher!" Subtle, that.

Related Links:
OMG Music: Scissor Fits


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