Sex Gang Children – ‘Shout & Scream’

Scandal, sleaze, art and darkness: Sex Gang Children were and remain one of post-punk’s most difficult outpourings. Essentially the vehicle of Andreas McElligott [Andi Sex Gang] with a contentious name borrowed from Boy George*, SGC embodied the diversity, intensity and creativity of the early 80s punk fallout. Any fan of SGC knows the minefield their discography is. Numerous unauthorised re-issues, remixes and compilations pepper their output, with their early ‘classic’ albums virtually impossible to find on CD. Anyone who managed to snag the re-master of ‘Song & Legend’ would do well to hold on to it, with copies already trading at three figures on eBay. The albums that are available – ‘Blind’, ‘Medea’, ‘Bastard Art’, ‘Veil’ etc – seem to turn up on a different label, with a different sleeve, depending on the day of the week you search. If you’re like me and wanted the original, official releases, use Discogs and buy wisely.

Andi Sex Gang was and remains a highly unique and prolific artist, and Shout & Scream goes further than most compilations in illustrating this. Across the two discs we get everything from early Sex Gang Children material – featuring the first, and arguably strongest, line-up of Rob Stroud, Dave Roberts, Terry McLeay and Andi himself – through the band’s 90s output and Andi’s solo work. The anoraks will note the version of ‘The Bormann Chain’ which opens this set [from the spoken-word ‘God on a Rope’]; predating a quite different arrangement that would end up on ‘Bastard Art’. For the nubile goths you get classics like ‘Sebastiane’ and ‘Dieche’, plus the blackly-comic ‘Oh Funny Man’; ‘Guy Wonder’ and ‘Boss & Beauty’ stake the case for the band’s 90s records; and ‘Ida-Ho’ and ‘All the Diamond Girls’ indulge ASG’s continued love of glam rock.

‘Shout & Scream’s biggest failing is the ludicrous omission of ‘Mauritia Mayer’, the 9 minute cabaret floorfiller that was the band’s finest moment. However, until some crazed loon decides it’s time to release everything Andi’s ever laid claim to as one monolith of a box-set, ‘Shout & Scream” will start your journey off nicely. Add ‘The Best of the Hungry Years’ for 99% of the band’s ‘Song & Legend’ work, and essential 90s albums ‘Veil’ and ‘Medea’ for the definitive SGC experience.

 

*Yes, that Boy George! Andi was a friend of the Culture Club singer in the turbulent drama of early 80s London. Called In Praise of Lemmings, George met Andi in a cafe with a list of new names for his nascent pop outfit: Working down the list, Andi stopped at Sex Gang Children and began a heated lecture on why his friend should use the name. George played it safe and chose Culture Club – in hindsight far better suited to their sugary new-wave sound – but let Andi use the name he loved. The word is that George got SGC from punk fashion figurehead Malcolm McLaren, who’d heard it from beat junkie William Burroughs.

4/5

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