Even before this CD has made the transition from case to stereo and 'play' has been duly pressed, the fact that Mclusky have now ceased to exist for over a year gives this latest release the overwhelming whiff of contractual obligation. Unlike most "posthumously"-released compilations though, for some reason Mcluskyism doesn't come across as something that's just been thrown together haphazardly in a last ditch attempt to squeeze a few more quid out of a once-popular but now defunct rock'n'roll band.
OK, Mclusky may not be everyone's cup of tea, but as 'greatest hits' collections go this is a pretty respectable one, particularly as it's available either as the standard 'best of' album, or also a limited-edition comprehensive 3 CD set, including A-sides, B-sides and C-sides (obscure live versions and other rarities). All told, this results in a package which leaves pretty much no stone unturned in terms of picking out the highlights of Mclusky's relatively brief career.
Brief though it may have been, in the grand scheme of things, it was disproportionately productive; the band released three albums before their implosion in 2005 and the A-side collection brought together on Mcluskyism includes the essential listening from each.
Attempting to find any kind of deep, philosophical meaning in songs such as "Alan is a Cowboy Killer" and "Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues" might very possibly be a fruitless exercise, but that doesn't detract from the fact that these and every one of the other ten tracks that made it onto this CD are powerful, cleverly constructed songs lashed together with the kind of energy, intelligence and perverse kind of charisma that you can't help but admire.
To the untrained ear, Andy Falkous's manic voice has, in places, the potential to grate like a chalkboard/fingernail combo through a Marshall stack – that is, before you come around to the realisation that it's actually curiously expressive (and even more paradoxically, radio-friendly) in its own bizarre way. Intermittently overlaid with perfectly placed saccharine melodies, the vocals, the angularity of the riffage (a la Biffy Clyro but with balls), and the king-hell rhythm section combine to give Mclusky a truly unique, if often hyperactive sound, a sound brilliantly showcased on this album.
Faultlessly capturing the underlying essence of Mclusky, the album is also laced with the humour – like, actually quite intelligent humour – and the cheeky grins of a band who like nothing better than to rip the piss out of themselves, as is evident from the lyrical content of any one of their songs. While the silly lyrics and off-the-wall subject matter may be enough to put a lot of people off these guys, this shouldn't detract from the fact that they're a truly original and talented band, albeit entirely and unreservedly insane, and this is a fact which this retrospective selection aptly conveys.
And in any case, any band with a song called "Dave, Stop Killing Prostitutes" is OK by me.
So depending on whether you're new to the ways of Mclusky, or an erstwhile follower still sobbing into your handkerchief following the band's demise, this album is either a brilliant introduction, or a lasting testament to one of the most underrated and sorely missed UK bands of recent years.