Positioned between '78 Till '79 and Send Me a Lullaby, Very Quick on the Eye, a semi-official bootleg which has never been formally re-released, is a listenable curio from the band's archives. Lindy Morrison had joined at this point, and the ten songs were indeed cut as demos in 1981 for Send Me a Lullaby, recorded and released later that year. Several tracks later reappeared on that album, but others were left in the vault, and the overall result is a quick, rough snapshot of a band still getting it together, but already demonstrating a precocious talent. Both McLennan and Forster are in fine voice, generally calm and gentle. The tendencies of the early band toward the edgier side of things like Pere Ubu aren't completely in immediate evidence here, though Forster does occasionally peel off some nicely trebly solos while arrangements reflect some new wave stiffness, as the take on "Arrow in a Bow" shows. Anytime the trio seems to be on the verge of suddenly becoming the Gang of Four or the like, though (and McLennan's bass playing definitely smacks of Dave Allen's stripped-down funk at points), it's the emotional, lovely singing which transforms it, just enough. Once or twice, though, it can be more petulant -- "It Took You a Week" doesn't sound like a bit of emotional despair as it does a bit of snottiness. Those familiar with Send Me will find the earlier takes of familiar songs enjoyable -- "If One Thing Can Hold Us" is neatly balanced between fragility and sudden brisk work on the chorus, and the de-emphasis of vocals in the mix actually works like a charm. Morrison's drum abilities, always a deeply underrated part of the band's appeal, fit hand in glove with the arrangements -- nothing fancy, just a bit of flair here and there for fun.
Share this page