Some years ago, when I first saw Clinic live, they had already existed for half a decade. Dressed in doctors’ scrubs, they used a melodica in virtually every song and played a set so hypnotic that the crowd was left wondering if it wasn’t perhaps Derren Brown behind that surgeon’s mask. Needless to say, Clinic have never been chart-botherers. From raw punk riffs to psychedelic scuzz, they channel anyone from the Velvets to Phil Spector through surf guitars, 60s organ or that really creepy melodica (FYI, a melodica is like a mini keyboard that you play through your mouth. Quite).
After the release of fourth album Visitations late in 2006, Clinic have followed it up with the obligatory B-sides collection. A dire listening prospect as far as most bands are concerned, the B-sides album is usually a necessary marketing evil preceding the old ‘musical differences’ chestnut and a parting of ways. In this case though, such a compilation is truly worthy of the plastic it’s printed on. Though Funf doesn’t present some alternate vision of Clinic’s output or better any previous work, there are some real gems here. The eerily festive ‘Christmas’ and all-out garage punk of instrumental ‘The Scythe’ showcase the extremes of Clinic’s range, and the soul rhythms of ‘Lee Shan’ contrast perfectly with Ade Blackburn’s tense vocals sung through a clenched jaw.
Fate is a cruel bitch, as the saying goes, and the saddest thing about this record is that no one is really going to buy it and, after ten years, few really know who Clinic are. They’ll have to wait for the inevitable retrospective when they split before taking their rightful place alongside Sonic Youth and Suicide as purveyors of brooding, intense punk rock. Or, you could do them a favour and get this record.