IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (17) : AZTEC CAMERA

This has been partly cobbled from previous T(n)VV postings on Aztec Camera. I also had to wait until the singer/songwriter had been eliminated from the World Cup so that the song didn’t run the risk of featuring in consecutive or close posings.

Roddy Frame was born in January 1964. Before he was able to be legally served in the pubs of his hometown of East Kilbride, he had written, recorded and released two astonishingly good singles on Postcard Records that were released in 1981.

A teenage kid wrote this and recorded it not long after he turned 17 years old.

mp3 : Aztec Camera – Just Like Gold

Johnny Marr must have been tuning in and been inspired. And Grant McLennan and Robert Forster will have looked on while they made their fleeting visit to Glasgow to record for Postcard and smiled at being in the presence of a genius. I’ve previously admitted that it wasn’t a song I took an instant shine to. It was, if anything, too clean sounding. I realise now that my musical tastes in 1981 hadn’t quite evolved enough to appreciate it. It’s now probably my favourite Aztec Camera song of them all.

The fact it came with an equally majestic b-side does really beggar belief:-

mp3 : Aztec Camera – We Could Send Letters

In a parallel universe, radio stations across world over have picked up on the debut and record pressing plants have been working senseless amounts of overtime to ensure supply is keeping up with demand for this particular sound of young Scotland. Roddy Frame has become the biggest and most popular pop star on the planet and Alan Horne has just made the first of his many billions in what would turn into an entrepreneurial career that would turn him into one of the world’s best known personalities, albeit one who is loathed by as many as those who like or admire him.

I’m happy enough, however, with what happened in this particular universe in that a few thousand copies of the single were sold in small, independent stores across the UK, just enough to allow Roddy Frame to survive the demise of his record label to go onto bigger things that brought occasional chart success but sustained a career that is still going strong and is being critically acclaimed the best part of 40 years on. OK, I wish Alan Horne had gotten a slightly better deal out of it, but I get the feeling, for the most part, that he was happy enough with his occasional 15-minutes worth of fame every now and then, all of which has resulted in much of the myth still enduring.

Some might claim that the likes of Oblivious and Somewhere In My Heart (notwithstanding my personal disdain for the latter) were ‘better’ singles than the debut in that they had a catchiness and appeal that resonated with the record-buying public. But if I was around, I would be very quick to challenge such a claim and willingly enter into an argument. Just Like Gold b/w We Could Send Letters is a cracking debut single that no other 45 from Aztec Camera quite matched up to.

JC

8 thoughts on “IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (17) : AZTEC CAMERA

  1. A truly great debut single, and also the second Postcard single is a very fine one. And later a great debut album as well. There is a thing with Scottish bands being able to release stunning first albums.

  2. There is much to like after this one, but it’s my favorite as well. I don’t have a Sites Fit for Heroes section on my blog like you do, but if I did, Roddy would be on my list.

  3. Yes, love it. Everything we came to love about Aztec Camera on the glorious debut album is already present in spades on this, the shimmering acoustic or semi acoustic guitars, the pop classicism if the melody and the romantic poeticism of the lyrics. This is actually my favourite Roddy Frame lyric of all time as it sums up everything he is all about.

    Saw him at the Concert Hall the other year on the HLHR tour. It was majestic . Before they played the album in part 2 of the show, they played all the Postcard and unreleased gems like Green Jacket Grey, Remember the Docks etc in part 1. Majestic.

    For all the stuff he’s done if I’m being honest he moved away from my musical taste very quickly. My personal Best of… would be the Postcard singles and B sides, the whole of Jugh Land Hatd Rain, other early gems like Orchid Girl, obscure but blistering b side Set the Killing Free, then only Birth of the True and ending with Killermont Street.

  4. This song is like your young wool coat wrapped around, standing on the grassy hill, breath rolling from your mouth, looking down at your town, white church spires piercing through the autumn leaves. The town has been unimpressed by your sensitive nature. The morning is glorious.

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