Scotland is not a large country by any stretch of the imagination. As such, it should always be relatively easy for music fans (or indeed fans of any cultural activity) to keep tabs on what is happening outside of their own local community.
The release of the Big Gold Dreams boxset has highlighted just how much I managed to miss out on over the decades, even the periods when I was paying particular attention. It is only now that I have learned of the brief existence of an 80s band from Dundee:-
JiH revolved around the voice, attitude and style of Grant McNally, who was part of the same Dundee society frequented by mercurial Billy MacKenzie. Indeed, various live incarnations of JiH featured Billy’s brother Jimmy MacKenzie on bass. This debut single was a string-laden slice of epic 1980s pop produced by Dave Ball of Soft Cell, and which showed off McNally’s own vocal ambitions in impressive fashion. An album, The Shadow to Fall, followed, as well as two singles. The last of these, Take Me to the Girl, was a cover of an Associates song produced by MacKenzie, who also provided backing vocals. McNally continued to perform for a time as Jesus in Heavens, but sadly died in September 2018.
A band championed by Billy MacKenzie, based in a city just 70 miles to the north-east of Glasgow and I knew nothing……I am hanging my head in shame. My only defence is that they emerged just as I had left Glasgow to live and work in Edinburgh, and while I kept an eye on much that was happening in the capital, it was with less enthusiasm than before and indeed music would become, temporarily, less important to me for a while.
All of the JiH output came via the singer’s own label, Breadth of Vision Records (no other band would ever release anything on the label):-
1985 : Big Blue Ocean (7” and 12” single)
1986 : This Gift (12” single)
1986 : The Shadow to Fall (LP)
1988 : Take Me To The Girl (12” single)
The album had nine tracks, three of which (including the first two singles) were produced by Dave Ball, with the remaining tracks seeing Grant McNally at the helm. There is a very serious mistake in the text on the reverse of the sleeve in that the production credits are all wrong, leading at least one contemporary review to accuse Dave Ball of falling asleep on the job when in fact it was his songs that had found most favour!
Looking back, there was a decent degree of support and positive media locally for JiH but not a huge amount beyond its boundaries, which is perhaps the main reason it all passed me by. I’ve managed to find a few things to share with you today:-
Listening now, I’ve a feeling I would have really appreciated them far more back in the day on account of the music now sounding a bit of its time from the production dating somewhat. I do, however, enjoy the fact that there is use made of strings, which came courtesy of violinist Virginia Hewes, the then wife of Dave Ball and cellist, Martin McCarrick, who had previously worked with Marc Almond.
Tune in tomorrow for some more songs featuring Mr McCarrick……………………….