"The greatest British band of the Nineties"? I wouldn't go as far as Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley, but there's no doubt that Earl Brutus were something special. The release of a new boxset, Closed, has prompted Stanley to reappraise the idiosyncratic charms of a curious bunch of misfits who emerged sounding like the post-punk to Britpop's punk: "confrontational, antagonistic, intellectual and hilarious", lurching between glam, punk and Krautrock, picking over Britpop's bones and surveying the contemporary landscape with sardonic wit.
I only saw them once, at Reading in 1996, and was captivated by Jim Fry's belligerent vocal style, the revolving garage forecourt signs (which, that day, had "PISS" on one side and "OFF" on the other) and a Japanese man, Shinya Hayashida, whose sole responsibilities on stage seemed to be to drink and smoke while staring out at the audience, as if to suggest to Bez that he has a tough gig in the Happy Mondays.
The only band I've seen before or since that have come close to resembling them either musically or in terms of chaotic art terrorism in the live environment have been The Pre New - who feature former Earl Brutus members Fry, Hayashida, Stuart Boreman and Gordon King and who appeared on the bill at the 1-2-3-4 Festivals in 2010 and 2012.
(Thanks to Dave for the link.)