Heading for a Trauma is one of Scientists more schizophrenic releases; they are "putting out the garbage," to quote the liner notes. On the one hand, it features some of their best material, like the primal "Swampland" ("my heart is a place called Swampland/nine parts water, one part sand") and the (original) explosive "Fire Escape," but it also features some of their weakest. The 11-track collection spans the years 1982-84 and combines four new songs with three from Belgium-only release, Demolition Derby (dropping "Backwards Man"), and a session from the Australian Broadcasting Company's 2JJJ-FM. Most of the tracks reveal Scientists at their grungy swamp blues best, but those from Derby witness Kim Salmon and cohorts sliding into "noise for noise's sake" territory, and those sludgy numbers have not worn as well. Three of the strongest selections just happen to be covers: John Fogerty's "The Wall," former Suicide vocalist Alan Vega's "Raver," and Don Van Vliet's "Clear Spot," which would later end up on 1988's Beefheart tribute, Fast 'n' Bulbous. The Fogerty cover might seem like a bit of an aberration, but Scientists always had some "choogle" in their bones, and this wasn't the first time they would cover the Creedence Clearwater Revivalist (Atom Bomb Baby includes a great version of Willy & the Poorboys' sci-fi hoedown "It Came Out of the Sky"). Au-Go-Go issued two pressings of Heading for a Trauma: one on black vinyl and the other on green with a slightly different sleeve design.
AllMusic Review by Kathleen C. Fennessy