That’s Celtic with a ‘K’ incidentally……

Glasgow has, for many years now, used the month of January to stage a three-week festival called Celtic Connections which nowadays really does offer something for everyone and goes well beyond the celebration of fiddle and accordian based folk/trad music that has long been associated with my home country.  To get an idea of what 2016 had to offer, pay a visit over to Charity Chic as he took in a number of gigs and has provided some excellent reviews.

I went along to a couple of shows but pressure of work and a clash of commitments prevented me taking in more.  As I sat at one of them with a mate who really is big into his folk/trad music, as well as being a huge fan of post-punk and in particular Joy Division, I got thinking about how in some ways the final two singles and album by The Skids back in 1981 were ahead of their time in that nobody who was aiming at the young market in Scotland made use of folk or roots music. Instead, it was regarded, in Glasgow at least (as that’s all I can authentically vouch for as it was where I was raised and had lived all my years till that point) as being music for old fogies.  Nowadays, you look round an audience at a Celtic Connections gig and it takes in all age ranges with ever-increasing numbers in the 16-30 bracket.

I can take it in small doses.  And in much the same way, I can take the excesses of the final stuff by The Skids in small doses and only every few years.  It’s amazing to realise that this music was recorded in August/September 1981, just two and a half years after Into The Valley, one of the great new-wave anthems of all time, had propelled the band to fame.  Of course, by 1981 The Skids were really just a two-man outfit consisting of Richard Jobson and Russell Webb augmented by guest and session musicians.  Jobson has warned everyone the next LP was going to be different and those of us who had got our hands on a copy of the Strength Through Joy extra album with The Absolute Game (see this previous posting for details) were, shall we say, a tad concerned.

Joy bombed, not even making the Top 100.  The two singles also sold abysmally and it was no real surprise that Jobson went off to lick his wounds with poetry readings and it would be three years before he returned to music with The Armoury Show, again with the help of Russell Webb.

This was the band’s last ever single:-

mp3 : The Skids – Iona
mp3 : The Skids – Blood And Soil

The a-side is a shortened version of a track which lasts more than seven minutes on the album. It’s the second best thing on the album (the best was featured in this post last year) and by far the most accessible track.  The b-side, which is one I’ve grown to appreciate over the years as it does sound authentically traditional,  is an alternative version of the track which opens the album (and which still makes me grimace a fair bit).

mp3 : The Skids – Blood And Soil (album version)

One other thing worth noting and including today is that Stuart Adamson contributed guitar to Iona while the Fairlite, which is responsible for the bagpipe sound, is played by Mr Tubular Bells himself, Mike Oldfield (and that’s the first and likely last name check he gets on this blog).

The album closes with an ambitious but ultimately flawed track on the basis that the kitchen sink and the rest were thrown at it and there’s just too much going on to take it all in:-

mp3 : The Skids – Fields

The reason that particular track also features today is that Alan Rankine plays guitar on it while his band mate Billy Mackenzie contributes a backing vocal. Sadly, the opportunity to turn into something akin to an Associates track isn’t taken.

Enjoy…even if only for the fact it’s not the normal sort of fare on offer round these parts.


  1. (You know you watch too much football when you see that word and immediately think “cell…” Same goes with Reading)
    The Skids were one of my favourites, I was saddened that it didn’t happen for The Armoury Show.

    Slightly related, don’t know if you saw this JC – Richard Jobson on the Gary Crowley show. It is nothing less than fantastic:

  2. How strange that the Skids ended their career releasing material like this. And that Jobson became a poet, filmmaker and husband to Mariela Frostrup, which is not bad going. Loved the Gary Crowley interview. Once again what a weird end to the Skids career Iona is.

  3. Billy didnae just contribute “a” backing vocal to “Fields”. If you listen from the second chorus onwards Billy is everywhere in the background. Goodness knows how many backing vocal tracks he slapped onto this. By the breakdown section at 3.02 onwards there is a choir of Billy’s swooping from every direction in the mix. Turn the song up loud and hear what’s going on…
    There were three versions released – the 7″, the 12″ and a full-blown album version. It was recorded in July 1981 and the single released in August 1981 (theycould turn things around quick in those days). The “Joy” album finally slid out in November 1981. And for Skids it was over. A little more info here.

    “Fields” was quite something to hear in 1981. The prevailing public mood (remembering that Skids had been a popular singles band) had Lennon/ Adam and the Ants holding Number One for nearly six months between them, Julio Iglesias, Shakey, Joe Dolce and St Winifred’s Choir filled in the gaps with Buck’s Fizz. To throw singles like “Iona” or “Fields” out there… as the swansongs of Skids… what magnificence… what gestures. Just nobody heard them. Jobbo and Webb wandered off bloodied but unbowed.

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