It's unfair that I have to gaze at '77 through the hazy eye that is everyone else's collective retrospective. When rock exploded into a thousand pieces, it was the burgeoning punk curio that tried to piece everything back together with DIY crazyglue. And, of course, I missed it, born far too late to be caught in the riptide of any wave, barely treading water while being continuously inundated with the high-tides of yesterday. No first come, first served for this music neophyte, I had to creep and crawl my way through the unfamiliar subterrane, gorging myself on whatever thirty-year-old treat made my ears "O"; a blind cave fish just happy to have sustenance, happy to be feeding on something. Sometimes it was nothing but a hold over, something to keep the belly full enough so I could still hunt through the virtual bargain bins of the blogs, pouring over lost ruins looking for gems. Sometimes, though, what I found was gold. Enter Messin' With the Kid.
Amazingly not a cover of the blues near-standard, Messin' With the Kid happened to be the cream of Australia's best known entry to punk's second-wave. The Saints debut crackled with the high-energy, reckless and youthful abandon, and totally scummy sound that all great demos seem to be inherently blessed with. Yet, for all the spitfire aggression, slashed amp distortion, and bratty speedfests that colored the rest of the record, Messin' With the Kid bordered on being a tasteful rock ballad. It's weird. A goddamn anomaly, coming off like Dylan writing for The Damned or something. Underneath the snotty punk sheen is a lazy, summery pop song that gloriously waxes and wanes, building up tension in all the right spots and dropping a delicious and unforgettable hook as the outro. A band shouldn't be this good on a demo. Yet, The Saints were and Messin' provides the evidence that Brisbane's first punks shouldn't be taken at face value. One listen to the brilliant bass that fills in the negative space proves that. Sure, (I'm) Stranded received the glory, and rightfully so, but Messin' With the Kid is the secret crush, the one you wouldn't even divulge during the craziest Jolt-infused sleepovers. Ask, like, Thurston Moore or J. Mascis or something. Or me. I'm drunk.