In 1980, The Skids released The Absolute Game, their third LP. It’s really some achievement when you consider that on its release, lead singer and main lyricist Richard Jobson was not yet 20 years old while Stuart Adamson, whose guitar playing has rarely sounded better (even when he hit his commercial peak with Big Country) had not long turned 22.
There is a very strong case for Side One of this vinyl artefact to be considered the best single side of an LP ever recorded by a Scottish band. Three of its tracks were released as singles, although criminally only one of them made the Top 40, while the other two songs could also have been chart hits if the public had been interested.
One of the reasons that the LP didn’t do as well as it should was down to the band’s unwillingness to promote it properly as Jobson and Adamson had fallen out badly by this time. It was a record that, as I said earlier, had some of the guitarist’s finest ever tunes but with the singer wanting to go in a totally different direction, tensions were high all the way through the recording process. Virgin Records, in an effort to hold things together, gave the green light for initial copies of the LP to come with a bonus record of songs called Strength Through Joy, a collection that sounded very unlike The Skids but betrayed the sort of style the singer wanted to adopt for the future.
Having said that, there’s a view that musical differences weren’t the main reason for the fall out between the two main men. Jobson was very much having his head turned by London and was very keen to locate the band in the capital full-time while Adamson was far too fond of life in Dunfermline to ever agree to that. Nowadays, modern communications, cheap travel etc would make light of such a problem, but in 1980, having one half of the partnership in London and the other 400 miles away was insurmountable.
The live shows to accompany the release of the album were unhappy affairs and it was no great surprise that Adamson quit not long after, as did Mike Baillie, leaving Jobson and Russell Webb to continue as The Skids. Together they would make one more LP, Joy, released the following year before making a clean breast of things as The Armoury Show.
I thought it would make a great contrast to let you hear all five songs on Side A of the LP along with the 8 tracks that made up Strength Through Joy just to compare and contrast. It is a really remarkable thing to realise just how young these guys were at the time and the extent of their different talents:-
mp3 : The Skids – Circus Games
mp3 : The Skids – Out Of Town
mp3 : The Skids – Goodbye Civilian
mp3 : The Skids – The Children Saw The Shame
mp3 : The Skids – A Woman In Winter
mp3 : The Skids – An Incident In Algiers
mp3 : The Skids – Grievance
mp3 : The Skids – Strength Through Joy
mp3 : The Skids – Filming Africa
mp3 : The Skids – A Man For All Seasons
mp3 : The Skids – Snakes and Ladders
mp3 : The Skids – Surgical Triumph
mp3 : The Skids – The Bell Jar