How the superb Newcastle/Sydney Australian 80s Indie pop outfit Pel Mel have thus far escaped a CD reissue is a mystery to me, but it’s great to see that this has finally been addressed with a limited (200 copies only) compilation Rags To Tatters: The Best of Pel Mel (also available as an unlimited download album). RTT compiles most of their debut Out of Reason (1982) and follow up Persuasion (1983) with a two non-album tracks included – their almost-breakthrough single ‘No Word From China’ and the excellent Water (B-side of Blind Lead the Blind 7”). Unfortunately chart success eluded Pel Mel despite their catchy singles and vibrant indie sound. I was hooked the first time I heard ‘No Word From China’ and Out of Reason quickly became a firm favourite featuring the deliriously effervescent singles ‘Blind Lead The Blind’ and ‘Shoes Should Fit’.
This compilation appears to have been released by the band and although it’s a fantastic thing for Pel Mel fans I’m disappointed that they’ve left off some tracks from their albums, in particular the heartbreaking closer from Out of Reason ‘Logic Failing’. Also missing from OOR is ‘Current’, and from Persuasion both ‘Tongue-Tied’ and ‘That Girl Had A Gun’ have been excised. I imagine this was due to space considerations but is still a great shame. A preferable approach would be an anthology double CD to collect both albums in full, following which there would be ample space for single b-sides, different 7” versions, the 12” of Pandemonium, the early compilation track ‘Click Click’ and probably even their offshoot recordings such as The Limp and who-knows-whatever-else lurking in the Pel Mel vaults. Maybe they could address these missing tracks with a Bandcamp download compilation instead? They’ve already done this with a selection of live tracks – called I’m a TV: pel mel live 1979 ─ 1984
RTT remains an essential purchase and a long-overdue reminder of what an excellent band Pel Mel were – or are, as they reformed in 2012 as Pel Mel Organisation, hurrah!