Various Artists

Messthetics No. 4

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If you need one reason to buy Messthetics #4, you'll find it eight tracks in, as the Young Marble Giants spiral out of legend and folklore to deliver "Include Me Out," a cut from their one-and-only Colossal Youth album and, despite its under-two-minute brevity, incontrovertible evidence for this band's longtime canonization by everyone who's heard them. The Young Marble Giants are by far the biggest name on Messthetics #4, the volume dedicated to the final five letters of the alphabet. They are by no means the sole attraction, however. The oddly tragic Wavis O'Shave, a comic rocker who shot to fame via his highly publicized (and utterly unrequited) love for British newsreader Anna Ford, weighs in with the plaintive "Mauve Shoes Are Awful"; punk poet Hugh Volk is recalled from volume three; and listeners are even invited to relive the tabloid outrage that greeted the 1980 release of the X-Defectors' "Free Myra Hindley," a Dead Kennedys-esque rocker that is, in fact, opposed to the then-mooted release of the infamous murderess, although you'd never know that if you only read the title. Spiking the alphabetical format of the series, there's also a burst of Peter & the Test Tube Babies, the delightfully sacrilegious "Elvis Is Dead" from the much-loved Vaultage 78 compilation. Set to a rough approximation of Eddie Cochran's "Three Steps to Heaven," it's a far cry from the Oi!-ish racket for which the band was subsequently renowned, but is classic Test Tube Babies all the same. Other highlights include cuts from the Walking Floors, Zeitgeist, and, best of all, XS Energy, a band that proves not everyone in Coventry circa 1979 was fixating on the 2-Tone sound.

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