In recent times, Mondays have been set aside for a hi-res track ripped from vinyl, direct from Villain Towers. But this week, as a one-off, there’s something a bit different.
Simply Thrilled, the club night I’m involved with alongside my good friends, Robert, Hugh, Carlo and Ash, has unsurprisingly had to take an extended break as our location, The Admiral Bar in Glasgow, has been closed for much of the past sixteen months. Things are beginning to perhaps return to normal, and the hope is we can get something organised before the year is out, failing which early 2022. A few things have been taking place on social media, which those of you who follow Simply Thrilled on Facebook or Twitter will be aware, including the introduction of the Simply Thrilled Mixtapes on an occasional basis.
Robert has been working the oracle to come up with a special guests, with the most recent being none other than Douglas MacIntyre, an absolute doyen of the Scottish music scene whose main role this past decade has been as the guru behind the Creeping Bent Organisation. Douglas not only pulled together a great mixtape, but he provided a superb commentary for each selection. I’m very pleased to be able to bring it you today.
The tracks I’ve chosen for my Simply Thrilled mixtape reflect moments in time from the Scottish independent labels that have influenced me most; Fast Product, Pop Aural, Postcard, Rational, Geographic – I’ve also included two tracks from my own label, The Creeping Bent Organisation.
I was a teenager at school when the seismic explosion of punk created an environment when new possibilities opened up, inspiring many in Scotland to ultimately become musicians, artists, writers, provocateurs. The moment that the tectonic played shifted was the White Riot concert in Edinburgh on 7th May 1977, however most of the future independent movers were more influenced by Subway Sect and the Slits than headliners The Clash. Attendees at the concert would go on to form groups associated with the Scottish independent labels movement of the late 70s / early 80s.
I have chosen two tracks by each of my favourite labels, I could have chosen other tracks and artists from the labels but feel the singles I’ve included on my mixtape are a broad collection of why these labels matter to me.
Fast Product announced itself with The Mekons’ ‘Never Been In A Riot’ in Jan 1978 and propelled forward at a rate of knots. Fast releases immediately felt like artefacts and the label was a massive influence on Rough Trade, Factory and Postcard. They proved that sometimes art is an influence that harnesses negative energy and provokes reactions. The singles I’ve chosen are Scars’ ‘Horrorshow’ and The Human League’s ‘Being Boiled’. I’ve always felt the Scars single on Fast was the year zero moment in Scotland, it is still a remarkable rush. The Human League and Fast Product is an incredible story, brilliantly document by Grant McPhee in the award winning documentary he directed, ‘Big Gold Dream’. The fact that David Bowie would write to Fast founder Bob Last to praise the label and the Human League, and would go on record stating they were the future of music, was a massive vindication for Fast Product at the time. Bob Last would manage the Human League to an international number 1 single within a couple of years of their debut single on Fast.
Fast Product abruptly ceased releasing records and transmogrified into a brand new idea, Pop:Aural, who released great singles by The Flowers, Boots For Dancing, Restricted Code and Fire Engines. The tracks I’ve chosen are by The Flowers and Fire Engines, with the former being a vehicle for Hilary Morrison. Hl Ray was a partner in Fast Product, contributing to the aesthetic and providing the photographic elements and A&R impetus for Fast and Pop:Aural. Fire Engines were an art movement unto themselves, and the most exciting group of the period. ‘Meat Whiplash’ is a classic, should have been a single in its own right instead of being the B side of ‘Candyskin’.
Postcard Records announced itself with the Feb 1980 release of ‘Falling and Laughing’ by Orange Juice, with group leader Edwyn Collins running the label along with Alan Horne. Postcard quickly outflanked Pop:Aural, largely due to Horne’s brilliant media manipulation and great taste in music, relentlessly bullying and cajoling the Postcard groups to greater heights. Truly punk. I’ve chosen groups at the opposing aural ends of the Postcard spectrum; Josef K (brittle, nervous, alienated) and Aztec Camera (romantic, joyous, melodic). Josef K were my favourite Postcard group, the guitars of Paul Haig and Malcolm Ross chimed with my own tastes at that time (Television / The Voidoids), though I think ‘Chance Meeting’ is their most pop moment. Aztec Camera were my age and lived up the road from me in East Kilbride, the original Postcard trio line up should have recorded an album for Postcard, by the time ‘High Land, Hard Rain’ was released on Rough Trade the group had lost something.
Rational was an incredible label that didn’t really stand a chance against the twin towers of Fast and Postcard. The label was run by Josef K manager Allan Campbell, and released the only single by my own group, Article 58. We’d recorded a single produced by Alan Horne and Malcolm Ross, which Malcolm passed on to Allan Campbell who signed us to Rational. Article 58 supported a lot of groups at the time (Scars, Restricted Code, A Certain Ratio among others), and completed a short tour of England supporting Josef K before imploding. The tracks I’ve included from Rational are by Delmontes and Paul Haig’s Rhythm of Life. Delmontes were an amalgamation of European sensibilities meshed with US garage bands, whilst Haig’s ROL concept mirrored the Walter Tevis book, The Man Who Fell To Earth.
Finally, moving forward to the 90s I’ve chosen tracks released on The Pastels’ wonderful and underrated imprint, Geographic Music.
Bill Wells should be soundtracking films, his sense of melody and adventure is magnificent, whilst Gerry Love’s album under his Lightships guise is another hidden treasure, it’s an album I constantly refer back to. I set up The Creeping Bent Organisation in 1994, our first interaction was a maxi-media event (A Leap Into The Void – BENT 001) at the Tramway theatre in Glasgow. Since then we’ve issued music by a wide range of artists including Appendix Out, The Leopards, The Nectarine No9, Vic Godard, Alan Vega & Revolutionary Corps of Teenage Jesus, Sexual Objects, and many many others. The tracks I’ve chosen are at the avant-pop end of Bent, by Adventures in Stereo and The Secret Goldfish. AiS feature the angelic voice of Judith Boyle and the pop chops of Jim Beattie. Jim came to prominence co-writing ‘Velocity Girl’ and was Bobby Gillespie’s partner in the first iteration of Primal Scream during their Byrds/Love phase, my favourite period of the group. He’s a great writer and producer. The Secret Goldfish were formed by two musicians from the C86 period, Katy McCullars from the Fizzbombs and Paul Turnbull from Mackenzies, and like Adventures in Stereo took influence from 60s girl groups like The Shangri-Las.
1. Scars – Horrorshow (Fast Product)
2. Josef K – Chance Meeting ( Postcard)
3. Rhythm of Life/Paul Haig (Rational)
4. Flowers – Ballad of Miss Demeanour (Pop Aural)
5. Adventures in Stereo – Down In The City (Creeping Bent)
6. Bill Wells – Singleton (Geographic)
7. The Human League – Being Boiled (Fast Product)
8. Aztec Camera – Just Like Gold (Postcard)
9. Delmontes – Don’t Cry Your Tears (Rational)
10. Fire Engines – Meat Whiplash (Pop Aural)
11. The Secret Goldfish – Seasick (Creeping Bent)
12. Lightships – Two Lines (Geographic)
The Creeping Bent Organisation is currently utilising its Patreon site to release new and archive music, new writing, art, photography, video, ornithology. We have been releasing new album tracks by Port Sulphur, The Secret Goldfish, Monica Queen, Black Hill Transmissions, Hapton Crags, and archive tracks and bootlegs by Article 58, Bricolage, Alan Vega/RCTJ, The Nectarine No9, Gareth Sager, Sexual Objects & Vic Godard.
Subscription is monthly and can be stopped anytime, it has proved to be extremely popular, which has taken us by surprise. If you are interested in subscribing it is £5 per month, here is the link.
Regular readers will hopefully be aware of many of the acts mentioned by Douglas, given that many of them have appeared, often on a regular basis over the many years that TVV has been in operation. Douglas is clearly someone with very fine, almost impeccable taste, and an encyclopedic knowledge of the Scottish music scene, not to mention having the contact details of anyone who is anyone!
I’ve mentioned before, back in March, of how much I was enjoying and valuing the Patreon subscription to Creeping Bent. It’s actually hard to believe, but the output in recent times has grown, with all sorts of wonderful music, images, cuttings and streamed live performances being made available. It’s an absolute treasure trove and I really can’t recommend it highly enough.
Here’s a couple of images which Douglas provided to go with his piece for the mixtape.
The above, taken by Gavin Fraser of The Secret Goldfish features the legendary James Kirk alongside Douglas.
The colour photo is of The Secret Goldfish, just one of four groups which count Douglas as one of its members…the others being Port Sulphur, Sexual Objects, and Jazzateers. For good measure, he’s also done session and live work with Future Pilot AKA, The Nectarine No9, Vic Godard, The Bluebells….. & countless others, including as a member of The Leopards, who have backed Lloyd Cole on a number of occasions.
As it so happens, a Creeping Bent act is going to feature this coming Saturday on the long-running series on songs by Scottish singers and bands….it wasn’t deliberate, their slot came up on the alphabetical rundown. The Secret Goldfish will also be making an appearance on a Saturday in the not too distant future.
In the meantime, from 1997 and ripped direct from the 7″ vinyl here in Villain Towers are the two sides of the record with catalogue number bent 019:-