A 10" EP housed in an awkward 10" by 12" foldout sleeve, Backwards and Forwards is more of a promotional gimmick than an actual record. A studio five-and-a-half-minute version of the Scottish folk-poppers' semi-legendary take on Van Halen's "Jump" (the original three-minute version appeared on the flip of the "All I Need Is Everything" single; this one adds a noisy, almost Robert Fripp-like electric guitar solo by Malcolm Ross to the end) joins four live tracks recorded at the Dominion Theatre, London, on October 16, 1984. For all the press "Jump" got Roddy Frame and crew at the time, it's actually the live tracks that are the most interesting. Two are from the group's disappointing second album, 1984's Knife; "Backwards and Forwards" and "The Birth of the True" sound several hundred times better without Mark Knopfler's entirely inappropriate production gloss. The melodramatic "The Bugle Sounds Again" has never been one of Frame's better songs, but a solo acoustic version of "Mattress of Wire," Aztec Camera's second single (which came out in 1981 on the much-coveted Postcard label) brings out new facets in an often overlooked song. The portfolio-like sleeve opens into a small press kit with a miniature bio of the band, a comprehensive discography and profiles of each band member done in the style of those questionnaires from 1960s teen fanzines.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason