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Timeoff Magazine, Brisbane (AUS) November, 2005
3 CD Box Set, Hot/Didgeridoo Records, #1088
by Donat Tahiraj

When The Saints split in 1978 due to an apathetic record label, and lead singer Chris Bailey’s lack of interest in the band’s foray into a more jazz-influenced sound, guitarist and founder Ed Kuepper returned to Australia from London and formed The Laughing Clowns. Often regarded by the press as jazz-punk, the Clowns assumed the sounds of The Saints’ swansong Prehistoric Sounds and gave it a more primal and experimental edge.

Cruel But Fair collects the band’s studio recordings from 1980 to 1984, re-mastered properly under the aegis of Kuepper himself for the first time. With a jumbled tracklisting, the timeless quality of the Clowns’ studio recordings over a legacy of singles, EPs and a trio of studio albums (Mr Uddich Schmuddich Goes To Town, Law Of Nature, Ghosts Of An Ideal Wife) make for a bold and compelling anthology without being a chronology.

In the course of three discs and 49 tracks, Cruel But Fair displays the most inventive and innovative Australian band of the post-punk era.

Donat Tahiraj

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