pop scum album review 

Beatnik Filmstars: Pop Scum / Not The Worst Of​.​.​. (Raving Pop Blast / Old Bad Habits)

2LP/ 2CD/ DL 

10/10

out now

45 songs from 90’s heroic underachievers who combined lo-fi noise with sensitivity and scathing sarcasm whilst making a life-affirming racket. Arguably they bettered all of the decades successful bands in terms of wit, style and invention and allegedly it was them, and not Pavement, who influenced Blur and their stylistic change circa 1997… Ged Babey salutes the ‘greatest 90’s band a lot of people have probably never heard’.

Smash Hits Is Dead. Long Live the King. Surely this is all of the proof that we need…  (…are the first words sung on disc A track 1 Curious Role Model...)

Regrets? I’ve had a few… but my main one currently is not discovering and embracing the Beatnik Filmstars at the time. (1990-98 and 2000-2005)

This fantastic double album retrospective is a sheer joy. Utterly engrossing. Massively fun and a work of cathartic, idiosyncratic genius.

Listened to in-retrospect they had everything that all the successful and all the cult bands of the 90’s had. And more.

The pop nous of Boo Radleys, Teenage Fanclub and Supergrass.  The wayward oddness of The Fall and Pavement.  The Sixties-updated obsession of well, everyone.  The challenging noise of all manner of American art-punks.  And they remind me of proper. inventive lo-fi, low budget punks Swell Maps.

A Lo-Fi, Garage, Indie-Rock band from Bristol that lasted most of the 90’s and again a few years later…The best way to describe them is Eclectic! Nothing was ever out of bounds. From pure out and out hooky Indie-pop tunes, to weird oddities and crazed noise blasts!

The song titles alone should signpost what a great band they were:  Bigot Sponger Haircut Policy / How To Succeed In Failure /  His Part In The Death Of A Lottery Winner / Hairstyle Of A Smug Bastard…

The lyrics are soul-searching but disguised as self-destructive piss-taking and mockery.

There are lots of mentions of shoes, haircuts and style and yet the songs concern self-hatred and loathing   Some are funny and some make you cry.  Some have great melody – others are a fuckin’ racket.

John Peel was a huge supporter. (5 Sessions!!)  Here they have collected 45 of their favourite songs, and what a mighty fine collection it is too! Imagine if you will a sort of ‘White Album’ for a band who had no money and had to record as and when & where and how they could, and as cheaply as possible!  We think you’ll be impressed!

The case could be made for Beatnik Filmstars being a West Country equivalent to and variation on The Fall… but that wouldn’t quite be right.  I could also try and convince you that they personified a kind of punk-rock which didn’t conform to restrictions self-imposed on the genre by others.  In truth, they are a combination of everything both before and after the pivotal year C(19)86.

Popular in Europe and touring the States with the Flaming Lips and Superchunk the Beatniks were seemingly more appreciated outside of the UK. The press here decided they were ‘the UK’s answer to Guided By Voices’… a band I quickly decided were humourless shite to be honest, when the Filmstars were the opposite.

In their time they played shows around the world, supported all your favourite big indie names (The Fall, Flaming Lips, Superchunk, Archers Of Loaf, Wedding Present, Slowdive, Guided By Voices, Blur, Lush, The Rod Jane & Freddie Experience etc…) and it was suggested by one magazine they might have been the influence for Blur leaving their ‘Country House’ and Woo Hoo-ing their way back to the top of the charts with a harder sound… Pavement got the credit, but those who knew, knew.  We’re saying nothing.

Eleven albums including singles and rarities compilations, there is a huge amount of material to draw on to go into a ‘Best Of’.  I sought out as much as I could online and there are some albums which are near-unlistenable when the band would put out records seemingly to challenge their fans to like them.  That said, every single track on Pop Scum is a winner.

When it comes to Hits from the Nineties you really don’t need to listen to Blur, Oasis or even You And Me Song, Wake Up Boo, Loser or Cut Your Hair ever again if you get hold of a copy of Pop Scum.

Cool kids, the fans of the band knew at the time: there was only one English band that made the 1990’s worthwhile – and it was the uncategorizable and wayward geniuses Beatnik Filmstars. It’s time for the rest of us to catch up…

Some-one once said you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone from you… are the last words sung on Disc B, track 45 The Greatest of Minds

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All words Ged Babey – press release content in italics

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Ged Babey is 56. from Southampton, has written since 1985 for Sound Info, Due South, various fanzines and websites, contributed to Record Collector magazine and was sole author of 'Punk Throwback' fanzine -the name of which was taken from an insult hurled at him by the singer with a young band he managed for a while. Ged believes that all good music and art has a connection with punk rock.

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