Released 19th April '99, "Skulduggery" is of interest to fans of the Cook 'n' Jones sound, not least as it includes 2 tracks on which Paul Cook played & produced. Both sides of this oft forgotten single "Be like Me" / "Pain In Love" are featured on this 17 track collection which gives a complete overview of The Physicals short career ('78-'80).

The group had released only one EP, "All Sexed Up" in '78, before they gained the attention of Paul Cook & Steve Jones. During '79, the group found themselves without a drummer. Paul stepped in for the recording of the single as well as sitting in the producer's chair. The results (eventually released in '80) are two powerful slabs of musical muscle in keeping with the Cook 'n' Jones tradition.

So what of  the rest of  the collection? The 4 tracks which make up the debut EP lay bare the band's New York Dolls /MC5 /Iggy influences. Crude in execution, but gloriously trashy, reflecting the variety of the DIY ethos which followed in the wake of the punk explosion.

If the song writing skills of vocalist /guitarist Alan Lee Shaw come to the fore with "Be Like Me", then the real surprise of the collection comes with the unreleased tracks, all 11 of them!

With the band clearly not limited to the 3 minute format, a number of songs rock, then rock some more! Try "Crying In The Alley". Featuring such illustrious players as Alvin Gibbs (UK Subs) & John Towe (Chelsea /Generation X), energy & melody are delivered in equal measures, "Got A Feeling" & "Meat Off The Bone" being the pick of the bunch. Oh yes, there's a meaty live "Lust For Life" here too.

The Paul Cook tracks are reason enough for Professionals fans to buy this CD, but the enjoyment won't stop there. The disc contains many a nugget.

Review by Phil Singleton
April 1999

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