Good Deeds And Dirty Rags (30th Anniversary Deluxe)

Goodbye Mr. MacKenzie

Neon Tetra Records, 2019

http://www.goodbyemrmackenzie.com

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/26/2020

In America, if Goodbye Mr. MacKenzie is remembered at all, it’s for being the first place we discovered Shirley Manson, who flew the coop and found superstardom in Garbage.

This is probably their most notable record, and to celebrate, most of the classic lineup has reunited to release a deluxe remastered version of the album complete with bonus tracks.

This is an album I’ve never been able to find a copy of beforehand, so to hear it for the first time is a bit of a letdown. Opening track “Open Your Arms” finds one hearing late ‘80s inflected New Wave with an alternative edge to it. Maybe that’s because their guitarist, Big John Duncan, had previously found notoriety in Scottish punks the Exploited. His status in the band was justified on tracks like “Wake It Up,” where the adrenaline is cranked up and the song reaches new heights as a result.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

If the band could only find a sound and stick with it, then maybe they would’ve had some success. “Candlestick Park” is a longer ballad, but it’s just okay; again, not the sound I was hoping for from a band like this. “Goodwill City” sounds like some cool, angular early ‘80s post punk with keyboards. It’s not a bad track. At the same time, “His Masters Voice” comes off as bad New Wave; it’s not exciting at all and drags on far too long. The band picks up quite considerably for their self-named track, which is one of the cuts that best captures the band’s true nature instead of a group trying out too many different things in order to try to fit in with the sounds of the day.

A new version of the band’s biggest indie hit, “The Rattler,” proved to be their biggest hit on the UK charts and it fits in line with a lot of the anthemic rock that was prevalent at the time like The Alarm and it still holds up remarkably well. The less said about some of the album’s final tracks, “Dust” and “You Generous Thing You,” the better off we all are. Horrible swill.

Ultimately, the band left us with a very confusing legacy. There’s some decent material here, but it’s just more head scratching and befuddling than anything else. While the band themselves is pretty decent, if they’d been able to settle on a sound and stick with it, I think everything would have been way more memorable than it became. We in America might even remember them more affectionately.

Rating: C+

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