Some bands just aren’t meant to have long in this world, and so it was with Mclusky. They burnt out after a mere three albums (two recorded with Steve Albini), imploding with a slight puff rather than the gigantic phosphorus flash they should have gone out with. This was, after all, a band that was capable of some seriously violent live shows. It was not an unexpected sight, for example, to see bassist Jon Chapple (now of Shooting At Unarmed Men) pogoing on his guitar until the neck splintered and fell useless to the floor.
Mcluskyism is available in a 3CD set which is something of a boon for the hardcore fan, featuring as it does a plethora of B-sides, rare recordings, and live performances. For the entirely uninitiated there’s the single CD version that traces the band’s singles in chronological order. A safer option perhaps, but you’d be unlikely to be disappointed with the whole set (that’s where you’ll find Whiteliberalonwhiteliberalaction and Gareth Brown Says, after all).
It would be fair to say that they never really released a poor single, and as such this collection highlights the fact that Mclusky were probably one of the most underrated British bands of the last few years.
Kicking off with Joy and Rice Is Nice, Mcluskyism goes straight for the jugular with some fine bursts of the kind of punk that the Pixies used to throw out in their more frenetic moments. It may well sound under produced, but these two tracks are fizzing with an insane energy.
By the time Lightsaber Cocksucking Blues makes an appearance, Albini has taken on the ‘production’ duties and things are far more focused. Andy Falkous’ glass guzzling voice is pushed to breaking as he bellows over these frantic tracks: “My love is bigger than your love, we take more drugs than a touring funk band,” he croaks as they riff acerbic lyrics off an old Bill Hicks gag. It’s the mixture of cynicism, thundering bass lines and white noise that you find on the likes of Alan is A Cowboy Killer (“You were such stupid child we should have cottoned on”), or Without MSG I Am Nothing (“You are the only one who has no trousers on, Good Audition”) that gets under your skin and forces you to love these songs.
Of course they were also capable of much more than just raucous punk, as She Will Bring You Only Happiness proves. It’s a song that rests on a cute melodic riff, some heartfelt lyrics, and some great backing vocals. Of course this being Mclusky, they can’t resist wrapping the whole thing up with the repeated refrain: “Our old singer is a sex criminal.”
Mclusky used to sell t-shirts that said “Fuck This Band”. The pity for us is that now this band is fucked. Still it was fun while it lasted, and Mcluskyism is a fitting way to mourn a brilliant band.