The Scenics – Sunshine World and How Does It Feel To Be Loved (Watchtower Records)

Although they were part of the small local punk scene that sprouted in the wake of The Ramones’ 1976 tour stop in Toronto, The Scenics were closer in spirit to the amphetamine-frenzied chug of The Velvet Underground, mixed with mid-’70s Ohio art-rock. Sunshine World, a collection of 1977-1978 studio recordings, is a surprisingly tight and well-produced group of songs that proto-punk fans should investigate. The best songs are the straight ahead rockers, although if you like Pere Ubu you’ll gravitate towards “O Boy” and “So Fine”. “Do The Wait” is one of the great unheard singles of the era (think Mink Deville covering “Sweet Jane”) and “Wild Trout” isn’t too far off from Television. Their cover of The Kinks’ “Where Have All The Good Times Gone”, however, is hampered by sloppy harmonies and poor playing.

If the Velvet’s chord-progressions sprinkled throughout Sunshine World weren’t enough of a testament to The Scenics’ love of all things Reed, Cale, Tucker, Morrison and Yule, there’s How Does It Feel To Be Loved, compiling ten live VU covers recorded from 1977-1981. The sound starts off pretty lo-fi and gets increasingly worse as the album progresses, although it’s no worse than The Velvet Underground’s own live recordings. Looking past the bad sound (no easy task), the performances are for the most part pretty good, with some excellent guitar work – especially on “Here She Comes Now” and “Beginning To See The Light”. The album ends predictably, with “Sister Ray”, which The Scenics cut down to a slim ten minutes without sacrificing the experimental aspects.