Josef K - Entomology

Cam 27/01/2007

Rating: 4/5

It was 1981 and the two promising best bands from Scottish label Postcard records were in apparently different positions.
Orange Juice were jumping ships to Polydor where they would find minor success in the near future including a Top 10 hit with the fantastic 'Rip It Up'.

Meanwhile, Josef K's first record 'Sorry for Laughing' sounded "too slick" for their own perfectionist tastes, so they proceeded to scrap what they had and re-recorded the entire album, leaving some of their best songs out of the final track list.

Six months after 'The Only Fun in Town' came out to poor reception. From the music press (including their two biggest champions: Morley at the NME and McCullough at Sounds) to the Glasgow hipsters who rushed to buy their first Postcard singles, everyone was horrified at how the band themselves had betrayed everything they stood, or wanted to stand for (sonically speaking of course).By autumn, the band named after the main character in Kafka's 'The Trial' was no more.

You see, Josef K were always different.Like most Indie bands of their time (and sadly almost none of this time) they read ferociously. From Camus to Dostoevsky, the literate lyrics found in Josef K's records have meaning and are not a facade. And yes, the influences may be obvious; the nods to Joy Division, The Subway Sect, The Velvet Underground and Television may sometimes eclipse what the band was trying to achieve, but if you listen very closely, you can feel how time has made Josef K's sound something truly original, even amongst the Indie Pop parameters.

This compilation is something special, it features the band's four postcard singles ('Radio Drill Time' , 'It's Kinda Funny', 'Chance Meeting' and the brilliant 'Sorry For Laughing' -with a reference to Charles Atlas, how cool is that?-), some Peel Sessions, some bits from 'The Only Fun In Town' and, most interestingly, six of the aborted tracks for 'Sorry For Laughing', the legendary lost debut, which goes to show that even though the first album could have been much better, it wasn't the jewel that some claimed it could have been.

Is it important to listen to an obscure Scottish band from the 80's, now in 2007?Of course it is! With their brilliantly cultivated lyrics, it just shows what we are lacking in today's “mainstream indie” scene.That's why having these two collections from The Sound of Young Scotland (OJ's 'The Glasgow School' and JK's 'Entomology') coming out with a gap year between via Domino Records (responsible for Franz Ferdinand's success) makes so much sense.

It's almost like saying, "sorry, we recognize how one of our biggest bands are ripping off everything that was done by Postcard bands and just polishing it up to make it sound commercial". Or maybe, the folks at Domino are just fans.

Oh and by the way, if you want to read The Trial for free, check this out: