1980 – Swampland – The Scientists
A primal, animalistic pulverizing four minutes of rock, this was the song journalist Everett True used as the first example of something called “grunge”. Nirvana, Mudhoney and their ilk were listening carefully to Kim Salmon’s band, residents of some place called Perth Australia.
Salmon’s has possibly been the most prolific output of any Australian artist, a restless figure delving into genres like a lucky dip to which he can add his do-or-die vocals. A thirty-five year career of vast diversity. Salmon is one of the most intelligent vocalists in rock. A horror movies screamer who knows where to slip in whispery breathless punctuations. Even his love songs seem to carry an implicit threat of passion that can’t be restrained.
Guy Ritchie took The Scientists’ we had love and used the whole song for a the most entertaining chase scene in his mobster flick Rock’n’Rolla. If you’re dealing with brutes, soundtrack a brutal song. In comparison Swampland is almost a pop song. More concise and catchy in i’s own unhinged way. You know that Kurt Cobain, and others were repeatedly spinning The Scientists to later add to their mix Cheap Trick and The Stooges. But next to the monster that ate Perth, then Australia and then the world, Nirvana were an over produced soft rock band.
The Scientists aren’t done yet, having recorded a new album. Prepare for a new earthquake.
Michael Witheford is a freelance writer and author. He has been published by RAM, Juke Magazine, On The Street, Beat, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, the Launceston Examiner, The Melbourne Sunday Sun, Melbourne Times and various periodicals. His novel Buzzed was published by Penguin in 2002.
He wrote songs, played bass guitar and sang in the Fish John West Reject and ARIA nominated Lust In Space, among many bands.
He now lives in Tasmania and is working on a memoir and personal account of the Tasmanian and Melbourne Music scene in the ‘80s and ‘90s.