Noteworthy day. Big thanks to everyone who has helped me get to this landmark. Too many to mention by name, but I’m including guest contributors, those who have left behind comments and/or dropped me an email, and indeed anyone who has dropped by over the previous 999 posts and had a read. Oh and the reason why there’s been a rash of bonus postings was to hit the landmark in advance of the Easter holidays…..
Park Lane Archives is a compilation CD that was released back in 2009. It consists of songs, mostly in demo or unreleased form, recorded at Park Lane Studios which are located on the south side of Glasgow. The CD comes with a 16-page booklet in which a number of the musicians explain why the studios, which from the outside really look nothing special, were an essential element in helping to create a music scene in and around the 80s and 90s. There’s also wonderful contributions from those who worked at the studios, whether on the management side or as part of the incredibly gifted recording/engineering staff.
One of the contributors makes the very accurate statement that the studios were at the centre of the affluent Scottish music scene of the 80s and furthermore, the bands, even when they gained fame and fortune, liked to remain loyal to Park Lane. One of the musicians believed this is down to it being a long room with a high ceiling that was odd-looking (it was a converted 19th century stable block) but captured a magical sound. The major labels regarded the studios very highly and were happy to have some big names head to Glasgow to work. And it wasn’t just local or Scottish bands who used them, with the likes of INXS, The Fugees, Martin Stephenson & The Daintees and the Pet Shop Boys all popping by at one time or another.
The CD has 22 tracks, and here they are together with the liner notes –
mp3 : Bourgie Bourgie – Breaking Point (demo version)
Bourgie Bourgie were tipped as the next big thing. The band had evolved from The Jazzateers, and later, evolved into Nectarine No.9. Singer Paul Quinn also recorded with Vince Clarke and Edwyn Collins and was a regular fixture of Postcard Records. Guitarist Mick Slaven has also played with Del Amitri and Ricky Ross. Park Lane in-house producer Kenny ‘Mac’ McDonald was also their drummer. This is the demo version of the single later produced by Lightning Seeds’ Ian Broudie, which narrowly missed the Top 40, beginning their dissolution.
mp3 : The Bluebells – Young At Heart (demo version)
The Bluebells famously scored a number one hit with this song, originally composed by Bobby Bluebell and Siobhan Fahey. Interestingly, here’s the original demo, mixed by Rab Andrew in April 1983. The final master added Valentino’s violin, who successfully sued for a songwriting credit after it fot used for a TV advert. The band also featured the McCluskey Brothers and Aztec Camera and Smiths guitarist Craig Gannon. They played a reunion gig supporting Edwyn Collins in Glasgow in 2009.
mp3 : Texas – I Don’t Want A Lover (demo version)
Here’s the demo version of the very first song written and recorded together by (Altered Images and Hipsway mainstay) Johnny McElhone and 18-year old Sharleen Spiteri. It also features Craig Armstrong on keyboards. It was later their debut and breakthrough hit single. After many successful albums they’ve taken a break; currently Sharleen is promoting her new solo album
mp3 : Del Amitri – Hammer and Peach
Led by Glaswegian troubadour Justin Currie, they attracted name producers Hugh Jones, Mark Freegard and Gil Norton to record albums at Park Lane. Del Amitri achieved numerous UK top twenty singles as well as a USA Top 10 hit. This track is an unreleased demo recorded circa 1987-ish. The song got overlooked for new material when they got to record their breakthrough ‘Waking Hours’ album. Most recently, Justin has been working solo.
mp3 : Primal Scream – Velocity Girl (alt mix)
This was Primal Scream’s raw beginning; an outtake mix from their second single, just after Bobby Gillespie left The Jesus and Mary Chain, produced by the late Bobby Paterson. Originally a b-side to ‘Crystal Crescent’ after gaining exposure on the C86 cassette it was voted no.4 in John Peel’s 1986 festive 50. They’ve sold ten million albums since then.
mp3 : Altered Images – Now That You’re Here (outtake)
Championed in their early days by Siouxsie & The Banshees and John Peel, their commercial success came in 1981 with two ‘Happy’ top 10 singles. They broke up after 3 albums. Clare Grogan went solo and became an actress, along the ay marrying band-member and producer Steve Lironi; Johnny McElhone went on to first form Hipsway and then Texas. This is an outtake version of the song.
mp3 : Jazzateers – Sixteen Reasons
The Jazzateers were formed by guitarist Ian Burgoyne and bassist Keith Band. Paul Quinn became their singer, and was then replaced by Grahame ‘Skin’ Skinner who later left to form Hipsway. Quinn rejoined as they became Bourgoie Bourgie, who were filmed for ‘The Switch’ TV show performing this track. This recording is from their 1983 Routh Trade album, with Skinner on lead vocals.
mp3 : Hipsway – Broken Years (demo)
Hipsway memorably attained the Top 20 of both the UK and US singles charts. Formed in 1984 by Jazzateers vocalist Grahame Skinner, Altered Images’ Johnny McElhone and Harry Travers. Skinner later formed a band with members of Love & Money; Johnny went on to found Texas. This recording from January 1984 is the original demo of their debut single and features Love & Money front man James Grant on lead guitar, before they discovered Pim.
mp3 : Love & Money – Candybar Express
Love & Money released four albums over a seven-year period. Singer James Grant continues as a solo artist. Bobby Paterson, who was involved in early Primal Scream and later formed ‘Poems’ with Bobby Bluebell, died in 2006. Drummer Stuart Kerr was later to join Texas. Paul McGeechan remained ensconced in Park Lane Studio, running it through to 2009. This is the 7@ mix of their 1986 debut single.
mp3 : Deacon Blue – Ribbons and Bows (demo)
Led by Ricky Ross from Dundee, Deacon Blue went on to have great success, regularly topping the UK album charts. They split for a while in the 1990’s, but are now back together again, as well as Ricky recording and performing with Lorraine McIntosh as McIntosh Ross. This track is a demo of a song that only ever appeared as an extra track on the 1987, first 12″ version of the much re-issued ‘Dignity’, their debut single release.
mp3 : Kevin McDermott Orchestra – Wheels Of Wonder (demo)
Kevin continues to release albums 25 years into his career, with or without his ‘Orchestra’, which includes drummer brother Jim who’s played with Simple Minds and numerous others. Kevin and Jim are also rumoured to be part of ‘The Uncle Devil Show’ alongside Justin Currie. This is the demo that resulted in the deal with Island Records for the ‘Mother Nature’s Kitchen’ album in 1989. Island later introduced The Pretenders Robbie McIntosh to produce and play; he in turn introduced later guitarist Marco
mp3 : Gun – Better Days (demo)
Based around brothers Giuliano and Dante Gizzi and vocalist Mark Rankin, cousin of Sharleen Soiteri, who contributed backing vocals to several songs on their debut album. They came back to Park Lane to record their album, and then went on to your with Simple Minds and the Rolling Stones amongst others. This is the original demo of their debut single. They became active again in 2008 with European tours underway.
mp3 : Slide – Life Of Our Own
Slide were a 4-piece rock band fronted by Grant Richards’ soulful vocals, who released singles and an album on Polygram in 1990, and toured with Black Crowes, Texas and Gun as well as in their own right. This is an unreleased track destined for their second album which wasn’t to be. Drummer Richard Hynd joined Texas, Scott Fraser toured with Deacon Blue and works with Craig Armstrong on a project called Winona and soundtrack work. Kenny Paterson continued at Park Lane, sowing the seeds for this album.
mp3 : Kissing Bandits – The Only Thing That Keeps Me Alive
This band led by Ronnie Costley remained very underground, despite releasing two 7″ singles ‘In Another Time’ and the Flamin Groovies ‘Shake Some Action’, plus a mini-album ‘The Sun Brothers’ on the French New Rose label. Featured the multi-award winning ‘Moulin Rouge’ composer Craig Armstrong on keyboards. This track is from the ‘Caveman’ single, taken from ‘The Sun Brothers’. Ronnie now croons in Ireland and has a country album ‘Dancing To Johnny’ out in Nashville.
mp3 : The Petted Lips – Somebody
An unsigned band featuring Park Lane studio manager Fiona Palmer together with John Palmer who played with Deacon Blue, amongst others. Fiona’s brother Graeme Duffin is a member of Wet Wet Wet, who provided the studio with their first number single – their Childline benefit song ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ came out of Park Lane.
mp3 : Rutkowski Sisters – Riverman
Dee and Louise began as backing singers in Bourgie Bourgie, then shared vocals with Paul Quinn in the early Jazzateers lineup. They formed Sunset Gun with Ross Campbell, releasing an album on CBS. They then became best known for their participation in ‘This Mortal Coil’, featuring heavily on ‘Filigree and Shadow’ and ‘Blood’ as well as Louise on the follow-up The Hope Blister. Dierdre later worked with Eyeless In Gaza; Louise formed The Kindness Of Strangers with Craig Armstrong and both sisters remain active. This lovely rendition of Nick Drake’s classic recorded in 1985 remained unreleased until now.
mp3 : Painted Word – Independence Day
Led by Alan McCusker-Thompson, this is an alternative version of their debut single that came came out on U2’s Mother Records. It also features Robbie Ross McFadyen, Bronek Korda and Cecilia Watson. The band went on to later record an album ‘Lovelife’ for RCA, released in Europe but not in the UK; a second album ‘Universal’ followed on the indie My Thing label. Alan now lectures in music at the University of West of Scotland.
mp3 : ac acoustics – Bluff Drive By
Fronted by Paul Campion, they were Peel favourites, recording five BBC sessions, and also much admired by Tim Burgess and Brian Molko. They released four albums between 1994-2002, and toured widely to promote them. They continued until 2003. This track is previously unreleased, although they did record a version on one of their many Peel sessions.
mp3 : Whiteout – Jackie’s Racing
From Greenock, fronted by Andrew Caldwell, Whiteout positioned themselves as ‘The Next Big Thing’, getting a major deal with Stone Roses’ label Silvertone on the strength of their Park Lane demos. They toured the world including an equal-billing tour with Oasis, achieving success and notoriety in Japan. Two albums followed, but in the rock star stakes they lost out. Guitarist Eric Lindsay continues with Eli Pop. Whiteout reformed in 2009 for their manager’s 40th…so maybe more to come?
mp3 : The Smiles – God Only Knows
Tony McGovern’s first band signed to A&M Records, appeared on TV and the main stage of T in the park, released a single but then their album got buried due to corporate shenanigans. He joined Texas in 1998 and has recently been seen in his new band Kizzy Star touring with Sharleen Spiteri. A release is soon due through a new US deal.
mp3 : The Primevals – Diamonds Are A Fur Coat Champagne
Starting in 1983, Michael Rooney’s garage-rock band had a good number of issues on the French New Rose label as well as other labels. They would wind down in the 1990’s but reformed in 1997 and continue today. This Suicide cover was issued on a 1986 New Rose tribute album, and was also a free 7″ single with their ‘Live A Little’ album. 1986 band line-up is Malcolm McDonald, John Honeyman and Rhod Burnett, + guest Frank Hughes.
mp3 : Nectarine No.9 – Curdled Fragments
Led by former Fire Engines and Win guitarist and singer Davy Henderson, they released numerous albums between 1992-2004 on the Postcard, Shake, Creeping bent and Beggars Banquet labels. This track is from their ‘Saint Jack’ album. Henderson now has a new outfit, The Sexual Objects.
I trust, despite the fact that there’s loads of demos featured today, that you’ll find something to enjoy. It’s a wee bit of history that I think complements what I try to do most days on this wee corner of t’internet.
One other thing worth noting to show how things have changed so quickly and by so much in just six years. Each of the above paras in the booklet was followed by information on how to best hear more from the band or singer. Almost without exception, it was via a myspace page, which has of course become more or less redundant nowadays. As too, one day, will this blog….although they did a few decades back say vinyl was all but dead.