THE TVV 2022/2023 FESTIVE SERIES (Part 7)


I bought a second-hand CD a long time ago, specifically for the purposes of having a bit of fun on the blog, and I’ve decided to use the normally quiet festive period, when the traffic and number of visitors drops quite dramatically, to go with it.

The CD was issued in 1996.  It is called Beat On The Brass, and it was recorded by The Nutley Brass, the brains of whom belong to New York musician Sam Elwitt.

The concept behind the album is simple. Take one bona-fide punk/post-punk/new wave classic and give it the easy listening treatment.

There are 18 tracks on the CD all told.  Some have to be heard to be believed.

Strap yourselves in.

mp3: The Nutley Brass – Into The Valley

And, just so you can appreciate the magnificence (or otherwise) of the renditions, you’ll also be able to listen to the original versions as we make our way through the CD in random order.

mp3: The Skids – Into The Valley

A top ten hit in March 1979.



I’m going full wiki for the 300th different entry in this alphabetical rundown of singer/bands whose music features on the hard drive.

Skids are a Scottish punk rock and new wave band, formed in Dunfermline in 1977 by Stuart Adamson (guitar, keyboards, percussion and backing vocals), William Simpson (bass guitar and backing vocals), Thomas Kellichan (drums) and Richard Jobson (vocals, guitar and keyboards). Their biggest successes were the 1979 single “Into the Valley” and the 1980 album The Absolute Game. In 2016, the band announced a 40th-anniversary tour of the UK with their original singer Richard Jobson.

Skids played their first gig on 19 August 1977 at the Bellville Hotel in Pilmuir Street, Dunfermline, Scotland. Within six months they had released the Charles EP on the No Bad record label, created by Sandy Muir, a Dunfermline music-shop-owner-turned-manager. The record brought them to the attention of national BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel. This led to a local gig supporting The Clash.

Virgin Records then signed up Skids in April 1978.  The singles “Sweet Suburbia” and “The Saints Are Coming” both made commercial inroads, before “Into the Valley” reached the Top 10 in the UK Singles Chart in early 1979. The band released their debut studio album, Scared to Dance, the same year.

Skids enjoyed a further year of chart success as “Masquerade” and “Working for the Yankee Dollar” reached the Top 20 in the UK chart.  The latter came from their second album, also released in 1979, Days in Europa, with the record’s production and keyboards by Bill Nelson. Just before recording of the album commenced, Kellichan left the band and was temporarily replaced on drums by Rusty Egan (ex-Rich Kids, then with the band Visage and a New Romantic 1980s dance DJ at the Blitz club).  Egan played on the album and later on the live concert tour of the record. Keyboard player Alistair Moore also temporarily joined the band to perform live with them. Mike Baillie, ex-Insect Bites, was recruited as a permanent band member, taking care of the drums, backing vocals and percussion).

Some of Jobson’s lyrics as well as the album cover caused controversy. It showed an Olympian being crowned with laurels by an Aryan-looking woman, and the lettering was in Gothic script. Some, including DJ John Peel, felt that this glorified Nazi ideology, and it was indeed similar to posters from the 1936 Summer Olympics, held in Germany. After the original version of the album had already been released, Canadian record producer Bruce Fairbairn was brought into the project. The original cover and the track “Pros and the Cons” were removed. The sleeve was completely re-designed and the song “Masquerade” added. The album was also remixed and the tracks re-sequenced. This second version was released in 1980.

In February 1980, William Simpson, left and was replaced by Russell Webb (bass guitar, backing vocals, keyboards, percussion, and guitar as a permanent band member and immediately started work on the recording of the band’s third album The Absolute Game, released in 1980 and produced by Mick Glossop. It proved to be the band’s most commercial release, reaching the Top 10 of the UK Albums Chart and contained the minor hit single “Circus Games”.  Initial copies of The Absolute Game came with a free limited edition, second album entitled Strength Through Joy, echoing the band’s previous controversial themes. Jobson claims to have got the title from Dirk Bogarde‘s autobiography.

Soon after the release and live concert tour of The Absolute Game Baillie left the band, shortly followed by Adamson (but Adamson did stay around long enough to play on one more song for the next album, Joy, called “Iona”).  Baillie moved back to Scotland to live and Adamson went on to launch his new band, Big Country. This left Jobson and Webb to write and record the band’s fourth and final album Joy. The pair played multiple instruments on the album, and also invited a collection of seventeen musical friends to perform on various tracks with them. Skids dissolved in 1982, with the compilation Fanfare posthumously issued by Virgin. It was a mixture of most of the band’s singles and some B-sides, though it omitted any tracks from the Joy period.

Jobson and Webb then went on to form a new band called The Armoury Show. The group recorded just one album, Waiting for the Floods in 1985 before splitting up. Jobson went on to pursue a solo career as a poet, songwriter, television presenter and as a film director. He released albums on the Belgian record label Les Disques du Crepuscule and on Parlophone Records. Webb later joined Public Image Ltd. in 1992 (but played only on one tour), and is now a video game designer.

In 2007, Richard Jobson, William Simpson and Mike Baillie, along with Bruce Watson (guitar and backing vocals), Jamie Watson (guitar), Brian Jobson (backing vocals) and Jane Button (backing vocals), got together to play three gigs. They were to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the group’s formation and as a final tribute to Stuart Adamson, who had died in 2001. The shows on 4 and 5 July were at Dunfermline’s Glen Pavilion.

Skids returned to the stage on 28 November 2009 as one of the headlining acts in Homecoming Live, a series of gigs held around the SECC complex in Glasgow to celebrate the end of the Year of Homecoming in Scotland. The line-up mirrored the 2007 gigs, with members of The Gospel Truth Choir joining Button on backing vocals for “A Woman in Winter” and “Working for the Yankee Dollar”.

The same line-up performed a concert on 5 March 2010 at the ABC in Glasgow, and lastly a concert on 6 March 2010 at the Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline . This final concert was to conclude a week of events celebrating the works, past and present, of Richard Jobson as part of The Fifer Festival 2010 on 6 March 2010.

The band undertook another reunion tour in 2017 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their formation. It had a more extensive set of venues than the 2007 reunion, with concerts throughout the UK and Ireland, and headlining the 2017 Rebellion Festival on the final night. The line up included Richard Jobson, Bill Simpson, Mike Baillie, Bruce Watson and Jamie Watson.

In 2018 the album, Burning Cities, was released. It reached number 28 in the UK Albums Chart.

After issuing an acoustic album in 2019, the band (including Big Country’s Bruce and Jamie Watson) returned in 2021 with a covers album called Songs from a Haunted Ballroom. The album was recorded as a tribute to a music venue called the Kinema Ballroom in Dunfermline,(opened in 1938 but now the Kinema Restaurant Global Fusion Buffet) and features covers of tracks by The Clash, The Adverts, Sex Pistols, Magazine and Ultravox as well as re-recordings of their own “The Saints Are Coming” and “Into the Valley”. The band recently announced that a new album of original material will be released before the end of 2022.

mp3: The Skids – Circus Games (single version)



It was around this time last month that I offered up details of the bewildering and baffling press release for Oh! Brother by The Fall, released as a single in June 1984.

Without the threat of turning this into any sort of series, I thought I’d now provide an example of the more understandable and straightforward press release, although I should warn you that there is a fair use of poetic license in many of its sentences, issued on 24 September 1980:-

VIRGIN information


While The Skids are strutting and leaping around the nation’s concert halls and school-yards over the next month, and their third album ‘The Absolute Game’ comes rocketing into the charts at number 9, Virgin, recognising a winning streak, gear up for the next Skids single.

‘Goodbye Civilian’ which is lifted from the album and sees release on October 3, is another of those typically rousing terrace anthems which takes Scottish jungle music to an ever-widening and appreciative audience. A much jauntier number than its predecessor ‘ Circus Games’, and with some liberal dollops of synthesizer, ‘Goodbye Civilian’ firmly cements the band’s burgeoning reputation as the most exciting band to move into the first division this year.

The flip ‘Monkey McGuire Meets Specky Potter Behind Lochore Institute’ is a rousing instrumental thrash. According to Richard Jobson, aged 49 and 5ft., ‘Monkey McGuire’ is a Dunfermline (Skids home town) jockey who never quite made it. ‘Specky Potter’, says Skids’ guitarist Stuart Adamson, is quite simply a genius. “He’s the innovator of the infamous guitar strap breaking technique and is a legend in his own drinking time. The man’s ageless and he’s the cult hero of Dunfermline’s Belleville Hotel”

Speaking of Skids’ watering holes, Lochore Institute is a working man’s club situated between Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy, and wee Richard Jobson has been known to sink more than a few ales with friends within its precincts. What else do you expect an instrumental to be about?

mp3: The Skids – Goodbye Civilian (single version)
mp3: The Skids – Monkey McGuire Meets Specky Potter Behind Lochore Institute

Both taken from at least a second-hand copy, which is a bit battered, worn, and crackly.  Keepin’ it real…….

Despite the best efforts of the PR folk, the single was a relative flop, only reaching #52.  Indeed, the aforementioned Circus Games would prove to be the last time The Skids had any impact on the singles chart, and even that only reached #32.




Stuart Adamson was just a month beyond his 20th birthday when The Skids recorded five tracks for their first session for John Peel.  Even more ridiculous and incredible is the fact that Richard Jobson was still too young to vote or legally buy a drink in a pub, and wouldn’t turn 18 for another five months (mind you, he looked about 25 years old at the time!)

mp3: The Skids – Of One Skin (Peel Session)
mp3: The Skids – Open Sound (Peel Session)
mp3: The Skids – Contusion (Peel Session)
mp3: The Skids – Night and Day (Peel Session)
mp3: The Skids – TV Stars (Peel Session)

It’s also worth noting Of One Skin is the sole track of those aired at this session that would find a place on the band’s debut album when it hit the shops just under a year later, an indication of just how fast things were moving and the ability of the songwriting duo to keep churning out tunes and lyrics. All the others would be relegated to the status of b-sides, and indeed TV Stars wouldn’t even be honoured with a studio recording, with just a live version appearing on the flip side of Into The Valley.

There is, as you’d expect, a sense of huge energy to the songs with that very distinctive sound that is can be attributed to the guitar skills of Stuart Adamson.  At the time of the session, The Skids had just the one physical release, the Charles EP on No Bad Records, a label that had been the brainwave of Sandy Muir, the owner of a record shop in the town of Dunfermline.

But there was a real buzz among the London-based music industry that this group of young men, who all hailed from a community reliant economically on coal mining and other blue-collar industries, had a guitar prodigy (Peel had proclaimed Adamson as the Hendrix of the generation) and a punk-poet among its numbers (one with a sense of humour as evidenced by TV Stars), as well as a rhythm section in Tam Kellichan (drums) and Bill Simpson (bass) that was as good as any in the punk/new wave scene.  Just one week after the session, Virgin Records asked them to support Magazine at a gig in Glasgow, following which they signed them to an eight-album deal, something which in due course became something of an albatross around their collective necks and would play its part in the band’s gradual and messy demise within four years.

If time-travel was a genuine concept, and everyone was allowed one wish as part of it, I reckon getting myself along to that gig in 1978 would be high up on my list.



The Skids first ever release epitomised the punk ethic.

Four teenage mates from a small town in the east of Scotland just far enough away from Edinburgh to feel isolated, they feel they have the songs, drive, energy and ambition to take on the world. The problem is, nobody from any record label will travel to Dunfermline – the London ones are completely out of the question and the Scottish ones want to concentrate on the capital and Glasgow. The solution, as advocated in the fanzines of the day, is DIY.

Four teenage mates scrimp and save all they have and get themselves into small studio in Edinburgh in October 1977 where they lay down three self-produced and raw sounding tracks. The tracks are in a fit enough state to go to a printing press to be turned into a 7” EP and so the next step is to form a label to host the subsequent release. The four teenage mates get help from the owner of a music shop owner in their home town who is able to create a new label and call it No Bad Records.

A cheap looking sleeve is designed to house the plastic containing the vinyl. The front of the sleeve has four grainy images from photos that look as if they have been taken in the booth you find in train and bus stations, together with a stylised take on the name of the band – Skids. The reverse lists the three tracks on the vinyl as well as the most basic information about the band members:-

Stuart – Lead
Richard – Vocals
Alexander – Bass
Thomas – Drums

The engineer, Dougie, is credited and thanks are given to Mike Douglas, Clive, Oscar, Conn, Sandy…….(the last-named being the music shop owner)

It also says ‘Released through Aim Enterprises Limited (Dunfermline) 28464’ which could well be a phone number. It was released on 24 February 1978

This is what you heard if you played the vinyl:-

mp3 : The Skids – Charles
mp3 : The Skids – Reasons
mp3 : The Skids – Test-Tube Babies

John Peel heard it and then played it. His listeners liked it a lot and Skids were suddenly on the radar of many in the music industry. It didn’t take too long for them to leave No Bad Records behind as they signed to Virgin Records just two months after the EP had hit the shops. A successful career ensued.

The next release on No Bad Records was in 2017 when The Skids released Burning Cities, their first new album in 36 years. A lot had happened in the intervening period.

The Charles EP is a fine debut. It did exactly what it was designed to do and that was act as the showcase and calling card for Stuart Adamson (19 years and six months old when they went into the studio), Richard Jobson (16 years and a handful of days when they went into studio) and the slightly older Tom Kellichen (23) and Bill Simpson (aka Alexander) (20).

They would record better and more memorable singles, but none quite as important.


BONUS POST : THE NOT SO SECRET DIARY OF JC (aged 54 and a smidgin)

Wednesday 28 June : Paisley, 2017 Scottish Album of the Year Award Ceremony

The sixth year of the SAY Award and I keep my 100% attendance record. As ever, delighted to make it along and I’m in the company of Aldo. I see a few well-known faces who I manage to say hello to, some involved in the music industry, others who have become friends in recent years from this blogging lark. Someone I know happened to be talking to Stephen Pastel and so I politely barge my way in just to say thank you to the pop star for making Teenage Superstars such an enjoyable view. Turns out Stephen hasn’t seen the finished version nor indeed any of his own contributions. As ever, I come away from a few seconds in his company amazed at his modesty and the fact he doesn’t ever seem to understand how so many of us are in awe of him.

Last year’s winner Anna Meredith gets things off to a decent start before The Spook School take to the stage and deliver a 15-minute mini-set that channeled the energy and fun of Buzzcocks when they were at their peak.

mp3 : The Spook School – Books and Hooks and Movements

The next two acts to perform didn’t do anything for me so I won’t waste time writing about them.

The night ends with the announcement that the 2017 SAY Award is to Sacred Paws for Strike A Match. I’m pleased as it is a record I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment out of since its release back in March but it wasn’t the one from the long list of 20 and then the shortlist of 10 that I’d have put my money on.  Rachel and Eilidh were thrilled and stunned in equal measures when told they were to receive the £20,000 prize.

mp3 : Sacred Paws – Strike A Match

Thursday 29 June : Glasgow, launch of Reverse Drift by Adam Stafford

Regular readers will know how much I love the work of Adam Stafford.  There was no way I was missing out on the launch of his latest piece of work, Reverse Drift, which has just come out on the local indie label Gerry Loves Records.

It’s an ambitious piece consisting of a 40-minute piece of improvised music that was recorded live in one take with no overdubs featuring just a synthesizer, a sequencer, some effect pedals and Adam’s occasional vocal, along with a 48-page book containing photos he had taken over a period of eighteen years, between 1999 to 2017, mostly of landscapes in and around his home town of Falkirk.

Adam announces that as Reverse Drift was wholly improvised on the day it was recorded, he won’t be playing any of it at the show to launch its release!  Instead we are treated to 50 minutes of new, mostly instrumental music. Just one man and his guitar, foot pedals and various effects mics and made for an unforgettable and special evening. He’s hopeful that the music will be recorded in October this year for future release. It was everything those of us who like Adam have come to expect and appreciate, but it had added anger and energy that translated the music into gothic landscapes. Something to look forward to in the months ahead. In the meantime, here’s a lovely nimber that was an outtake from his 2015 LP Imaginary Walls Collapse

mp3 : Adam Stafford – Sound Of Fear Evaporating

It’s a song that features a vocal contribution from Siobhan Wilson who herself was launching her latest album the following night in Glasgow, an event I’d have gone along to except it clashed with something else….

Friday 30 June : Dunfermline, The Skids Homecoming Show

This was a huge surprise.  The 1,500th posting on the blog a few weeks back was an ICA featuring The Skids. I lamented that I had missed their show in Glasgow as they embarked on a 40th Anniversary Tour but I hadn’t minded as it had clashed with the bloggers’ weekend and the unforgettable hook-up with Dirk, Walter, Brian, Adam and many others.

I took a call from Mr John Greer, past contributor to these pages, saying that he had come into possession of four tickets for the band’s long sold-out gig in their home town; not only that, but it was part of a package that had been bid for at a charity event that enable the ticket holders to attend the sound check and have a meet’n’greet with the band. There was also some food and drink at a nearby pub thrown in (but not with the band!!)

I was thrilled to be invited along as one of the guests, mainly as I was keen to see the band on the back of consistently great reviews on the tour, but especially for the fact I would meet a long-time hero.

Yup. In a year that is proving to provide all sorts of wonderful first-time happenings, this was right up there.

The gig could have been an anti-climax but that was far from the case. In front of a manic but brilliantly behaved 600-strong audience in the splendour of the art-deco Glen Pavilion (another new venue for me), Richard Jobson and co really did turn the clock back. As he said, in his head he was on the stage still thinking he was a 16-year old punk looking out at an audience of 16-year old punk music fans – fat and bald 16 year olds for the most part, but still determined to singalong and dance away as if there was no tomorrow.

The set-list was majestic:-

Of One Skin
Melancholy Soldiers
Dulce et Decorum Est (Pro Patria Mori)
Working for the Yankee Dollar
The Saints Are Coming
Scared to Dance
The Olympian
Out of Town
Hurry On Boys
Circus Games
Into the Valley


A World On Fire
TV Stars
Of One Skin

Yup….they ended with a song they had aired before as they didn’t want to leave the stage. I’ve no idea just how these old troupers managed to keep up the sort of energetic pace throughout the near 100 minute set. It was sweltering hot from the word go but not once did any of them appear short of breath. Richard Jobson remains a front man who so many could learn from – utterly charismatic, witty and performing throughout with the widest grin imaginable. It was wonderful.

mp3 : The Skids – The Olympian

Saturday 1 July : Villain Towers, Glasgow

Lazy day to recover.  Was able to reflect on a few personal things such as my parents celebrating 55 years of marriage earlier this week, my many Canadian friends today celebrating 150 years of theirs becoming a country and the fact that one of my younger brothers would have been 50 years old today if he hadn’t passed away in a car crash in 2010.  I toasted his memory as I recharged my batteries

Sunday 2 July : Edinburgh, world premiere of England Is Mine

Once again, a late and unexpected invite courtesy of Mr John Greer as the 2017 Edinburgh International Film Festival comes to an end with the screening of England Is Mine:-

For all that the subject matter of the film is an utter twat these days, there was no way I was missing out on this invite. I’ll be on my way east as these words are posted.


So here we are. Post number 1500 since the blog was raised from the dead after being killed off by Google.

A huge thanks to all of you out there for the amazing support you’ve given, and a special word to those of you who have contributed guest postings, offered comments or just encouraged me through some nice e-mails. I wouldn’t be motivated to do all this if wasn’t for the fact it is being enjoyed and responded to so positively each and every day.

I was going to mark it with a look at a Northern Soul single but that plan fell through as it was featured recently over at Brian’s place. So I’m turning to Plan B with an ICA from The Skids, one of the best bands to emerge out of the post-punk era.

They played Glasgow a few weeks back as part of a 40th Anniversary Tour. I didn’t get along as I was otherwise very happily occupied with the visit of Dirk, Walter, Adam and the afore-mentioned Brian along with meeting up with and enjoying the company of Drew (whom it was gave me the Northern Soul 45 that I was intending to feature today), CC, Aldo, Strangeways and Comrade Colin. But a couple of other friends went along to The Skids, and come Monday reported that it had been outstanding; seemingly Richard Jobson still has it in spades while the band, consisting of Bill Simpson (bass), Mike Baillie (drums) and the father and son combo of Bruce and Jamie Watson on guitar, delivered a blisteringly loud and perfectly paced set that also paid fitting tribute to the contributions of the late Stuart Adamson.

The thing is, just after The Skids broke up in 1982, a compilation LP entitled Fanfare was released by Virgin Records and its 12 tracks (six on each side of the vinyl) is quite tough to better. So Fanfare is your ICA today for nothing else other than the fact it also came with these liner notes composed by John Peel…and so I can claim he’s written something for this blog!

John Peel writes….

“Richard Jolson (vocals)
Alexander Plode (guitar)
Stuart Adamson (guitar)
Thomas Bomb (drums)

Yes, Jolson. This, according to a mimeographed sheet from No Bad Records of Dunfermline, was the original line-up of the Skids. The anonymous writer of this press release, which accompanied the first Skids single, was of the view that the band was ‘destined for the top’, and he was almost right. To quote further from his thoughtful paragraphs, the Skids were ‘causing a substantial “BUZZ”,’ and this time he was spot on. This was early 1978 and for some months Scottish fanzines had been noising abroad the excellence of Messrs. Jolson, Plode, Adamson and Bomb, remarking that they had moved beyond the confines of pure punk and were evolving into something entirely of their own devising, something that was, or so it was hinted, identifiably Scottish.

Thus it was that when No Bad NB1, ‘Reasons’, ‘Test Tube Babies’, and ‘Charles’, reached the sink-pits and stews of London, the Skids already enjoyed the first murmurings of a reputation, and when the band followed the record south they must have hoped for an enthusiastic reception. Back home they had been heard on Radio Forth, for Heaven’s sake, and had supported the Stranglers in Edinburgh, and when they clambered on stage in a Stoke Newington pub they must have been disappointed at the mute, incurious glances of the few regulars which greeted them. Happily, my old brave ones, this performance was enough to win the Skids an outing on Radio 1 and a subsequent approach from Virgin Records.

The rest, I am tempted to say, is history.

First out of the Virgin gate was ‘Sweet Suburbia’. ‘This white vinyl record has a weird gimmick’, warned the company’s effervescent promotions department mysteriously, adding ‘You’ll like it’.

Consumers did, but only a bit, as the record pounced on the number 70 spot in the charts but then fell away into nothingness. ‘The Saints Are Coming’ improved on this, clawing its way as high as 48.

Next on our turntables was ‘Into The Valley’, released in February 1979, which reached the top ten, although the truly discerning preferred the reverse, ‘TV Stars’, assuredly the only record to date to bring together in song the stars of ‘Coronation Street’ and ‘Crossroads’ along with Kenny Dalglish, the greatest living Scotsman, and this typist.

There were further hit singles, stirring LPs, and it wasn’t too long before the music weeklies, having come to terms that Richard Jolson was really Richard Jobson, spotted that he was also a likeable, gregarious, and highly quotable chap. ‘Jobbo’, as we had to learn to call him, has never been backward at coming forward, and he took to this notoriety with definite enthusiasm, using it to his own advantage and diversing into poetry and the theatre.

After the Skids third LP, ‘The Absolute Game’, Stuart Adamson, by now a highly individual guitarist, resigned his commission, leaving Richard, brother to Meadowbank Thistle’s goal-hungry striker, John Jobson, to soldier on with bassist Russell Webb.

On the stage, amid locker-room gossip that he never simulated anything, no siree, Richard was to be spotted spending evenings lying on top of the celebrated ingenue, Honey Bane, and he could be observed at artistic soirees declaiming his and other folks’ poems in a firm and manly voice. Contemporary with this arts-lab activity Richard was working with Russell on ‘Joy’, an LP in which they ferreted back into Scottish history and culture. Despite a warm review from the Guardian, reaction to ‘Joy’ was pretty frosty and shortly after release the Skids were no more.

Brushing aside with a contemptuous snort all the usual stuff about legacies of fine music, the great sadness in the demise of this most admirable of bands lies, for me, in that in his search for a Celtic identity and sound, Richard Jobson (nee Jolson) overlooked the fact that it was precisely these elements that distinguished the Skids from the post-punk herd in the first place.

If you don’t believe me, listen again.”

John Peel

And now….here’s my own inconsequential words on each song….

Side A

1. Into The Valley

One of my favourite singles of all time. Still puts a smile on my face every time those first few distinctive notes are played. Richard Jobson has stated that the indecipherable lyrics are about the recruitment of Scottish youths into the army and more specifically about a friend who had been killed on a tour of duty in Northern Ireland. I prefer to think that it is actually a tribute to High Valleyfield (aka The Valley), a former mining village just outside of Dunfermline whose residents have long endured a reputation for hard living.

2. Working For The Yankee Dollar

The band’s sixth single and their final Top 20 hit (not that anyone knew that at the time).

Days in Europa, the band’s second album had confused me a bit. It wasn’t remotely like the debut and while it contained a few were moments that I really liked, it wasn’t an easy listen.  It wasn’t helped by the fact that its closing track was in fact the opening track played backwards with a highly serious semi-spoken Jobson vocal that made no sense, even when read from the sheet provided with the LP.

There was a bit of a backlash to the album, partly from the sound that producer Bill Nelson has delivered, but also from the fact that sleeve was alleged to have incorporated artwork associated with Nazism. Virgin Records quickly announced that the LP was going to be remixed and re-released within a new sleeve.  The first signs of the remix was a totally different and beefier take on Working For The Yankee Dollar.  I loved how much better it sounded, particularly the guitar work from Stuart Adamson, so much so that for about two weeks I thought it was the greatest record ever written. Bear in mind I was just 16-and-a-bit- years of age and my tastes, like my hormones, were all over the place.  My tastes have evolved somewhat but I still think this is a great piece of work.

3. Sweet Suburbia

The debut single for Virgin Records in September 1978 and which, true to the punk ethos, was kept off the debut LP. As Peel reminds us, it only hit #70 when it was worthy of so much more. The lyrics of the final verse, from about 1:45 to 1:57 are priceless…

Birth and birth and birth and birth and birth
Live and live and live and live and live
Mate and mate and mate and mate and mate
Die and die and die and die and die

4. A Woman In Winter

There were only 18 months between Into The Valley and A Woman In Winter, and yet the latter sounds as if it is a band who are five or ten years down the road in their career such is the quantum leap in sound and ambition. The title of this song would also be the name of a movie directed by Richard Jobson in 2006 – footage from which would be used as the basis for the promo video for the Arab Strap single Speed-Date.

5. Masquerade

The prompt follow-up to Into The Valley was surprisingly not lifted from the debut LP as the band were already well on their way to the follow-up LP by which time they had lost a drummer. It’s maybe not quite their finest moment and it hasn’t dated too well, but it still has that great one-word shouty chorus to get the juices flowing.

6. The Saints Are Coming

It doesn’t matter that U2 and Green Day got their paws on this many years later with their versions raising monies for victims of Hurricane Katrina (the song was chosen partly for its lyric about storms and drowning and partly because the NFL team in New Orleans are The Saints).

This is a belter of a new wave anthem. An absolute belter. If the band had recorded this and then broke up without anything else seeing the light of day, it would be high up on the list of cult hits.

Side B

1. Animation

The re-mixing of Days In Europa LP also saw the release of the updated version of Animation which was regarded as one of the strongest songs to emerge from the process.  To the surprise of many, including this fan, it stalled at #56so becoming the first flop single in a long while.

2. Out Of Town

Lifted from the third LP The Absolute Game, this really had the potential to be a great radio-friendly single but the band insisted on more experimental and less typical cuts being lifted as 45s.

3. T.V. Stars and 4. Of One Skin (live)

Track 3 on Side B is one of the greatest and funniest b-sides ever recorded. This wasit as captured at the Marquee in London on 1 November 1978. It is still played live in the current shows although many of the names have been updated to make it more contemporary. But the chorus remains “Albert Tatlock”. Overseas and younger readers can click here to find out more about our Albert….

It segues straight into another live track, this time from the Hammersmith Odeon show in London on 20 October 1980 as part of the tour to promote The Absolute Game.

Of One Skin was originally a b-side to The Saints Are Coming as well as bring on the debut LP Scared To Dance; it was a real joy that this was included on Fanfare and to be honest was one of the main reasons I bought it back in the day.

5. Charade and 6. Circus Games

Once again, the decision was taken to weld these two tracks with no gap between them.

I remember being disappointed by Charade on its release as it felt a bit of a con to follow up a 45 entitled Masquerade with one that had a similar sounding word. It’s still my least favourite single of theirs and probably wouldn’t have made the cut in a standard ICA.

Circus Games was the lead single off The Absolute Game and the last time the band would crack the UK Top 40 singles chart in July 1980.

I don’t know why, but this song caused quite an emotional reaction within my then 17-year old self. Maybe it was the use of the kids choir on backing vocals; maybe it was that the lyric seemed to convey a really sad and epic tale although I couldn’t quite work out what it was meant to be about; or maybe it was just that the guitar playing, which seemed to come from a totally different place than any of my other heroes of the day, just got into my brain and caused a reaction I wasn’t expecting. One of their most enduring songs and a perfect way to end the ICA. Except….


1. Charles
2. Reasons
3. Test-Tube Babies

The three-track debut on No Bad Records, recorded in October 1977 and released in February 1978; and as John Peel reminds us above, attributed to Richard Jolson on vocals; this is a different version of Charles than that which would appear on Scared To Dance a few months later.

Here’s to the next 1500 postings, hopefully.





JC writes…..

Lochore is described by wiki as a former mining village in Fife. Its largely inconsequential nature is such that wiki goes on to state:-

Lochore is largely joined to the adjacent villages of Ballingry to the north and Crosshill to the south.

I don’t think any of my regular readers will be vaguely aware of the existence of the village, other than perhaps Aldo as he was born and raised in another former mining village in Fife not too far away.

I also feel compelled to offer wiki’s take on ‘local facilities’:-

Lochore has a Co-operative Foodstore, Nisa, Mario’s Fish and Chip Bar, and Baynes, which also has a bakers and butchers on the street. Baynes factory is located in Lochore. There is also a small corner shop located in the other end called Lochore Foodstore.

There are two bars, Lochore Institute, a former miners institute with a bowling green, and the Red Goth.

The village has Benarty Medical practice and Rosewell Pharmacy and an NHS Clinic.

There is also a police station operated by Fife Constabulary.

Aldo adds…..

As JC suggests above, Lochore is a place I’m reasonably familiar with having grown up not too far away.

The mining communities of this area of Fife were always hotbeds of trade unionism and left wing politics – and in fact the last remaining Communist Councillor in the United Kingdom, who only stood down last month due to ill health, represented Lochore as it was situated within his constituency.

The name of the pub mentioned above, the Red Goth, may sound unusual to some, and should you be wondering it owes nothing to young teens dressed in black, but does in fact come from the ‘Gothenburg System’ of public houses, whereby profits made by the boozer were used for the benefit of the community. Almost every mining town had a ‘Goth’ at one point, some still survive even if the principal that established them is long gone.

The town was always fairly prominent in local football circles as the village team, Lochore Welfare were always a decent junior side when I was growing up, and currently feature an ex-Scotland international among their ranks.

And finally, I was always semi-puzzled when I was younger if an item came on the news declaring major flooding or whatever in Lahore – as it sounds pretty much the same in local vernacular, the ‘c’ is very much silent. Only later did I realise there was a major city in Pakistan.  I was on holiday recently with a mate of mine and I mentioned to him that JC was doing a piece for his blog on Lochore, and he provided another nugget of info…..

Big Stuarty adds….

It is not widely known but the famous novelist Sir Walter Scott has a great connection with the village.  There was a grand old property known as Lochore House which he bought in 1825 when he was at the height of his fame. The house was specifically a gift for his son and his new daughter-in-law who was a local lass whose name was Jean Jobson. Which fits in nicely to why JC is wittering on about this small corner of the Kingdom of Fife.

mp3 : The Skids – Monkey Maguire Meets Specky Potter Behind Lochore Institute

Yup… might not be a place of obvious appeal to rock’n’roll tourists, but one of its local facilities has  been immortalised in song.  This wonderfully named piece of instrumental music was the b-side to Goodbye Civilian, the band’s rather jaunty eighth single which reached #52 in the UK charts back in 1980.

mp3 : The Skids – Goodbye Civilian

Any other suggestions for unlikely places that have been immortalised in song? I feel a new series coming on……………………





I’m just about halfway through this epic adventure, and maybe it’s a bit of fatigue that’s set in.

But its getting more and more difficult to put into words, in a different way, just why a particular 45 means so much to me.

I think I’ve also thrown myself by Buzzcocks appearing way down at #23. Can I really justify that it’s better than what you’re getting today? Looks like I’m going to have to…

My love for this song is very much down to two things.

Firstly, The Skids were the first Scottish band to really make a big impact on the punk/new wave scene. And by that, I mean they were probably the first to get themselves onto Top Of The Pops.

Given how little exposure bands got on TV back in the 70s, getting your face on TOTP was an incredibly important arena to be seen on. And the debut performance from Richard Jobson et al will stay etched firmly in the minds of everyone who saw it. As well as in the minds of their parents.

This truly was the first time I heard my dad say something completely negative about something on TOTP. He was 43 years of age when this came out…..his taste was a little bit of Johnny Cash, a little bit of Neil Diamond, a little bit of Supertramp and a little bit of Status Quo. He knew that music was important to me, and never did he slag off anything that I brought into the house or that I professed to loving when watching TOTP.

Then he saw and heard The Skids.

I don’t think he swore – at that time, he wouldn’t do so in front of any of his sons. But he laughed out loud at Richard’s efforts at dancing and singing, which truly were like nothing else on the planet. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this was the generation gap finally showing through.

Of course I went out and bought the record a few days later with that week’s money from the paper round. Of course I played it louder than anything else I owned at the time. Of course I tried, behind the privacy of a closed bedroom door, to dance the way I had seen Richard dance (remember kids, no VHS tapes in those days, you saw something once and you had to commit it to memory).

There must have been thousands doing the same as me because the single continued to rise up the charts. TOTP had a policy of not having bands on two weeks in a row (unless they were at #1), so it was a fortnight before the band got back onto the show. This time my dad went into the kitchen and made a cup of tea as he was thoroughly sick to his back teeth with the song by now. I was a teenage rebel……at last.

Oh and the second reason why I love this song? One of the best b-sides ever. No arguments.

mp3 : The Skids – Into The Valley
mp3 : The Skids – TV Stars (live at The Marquee, London)

The TOTP performance is now widely available thanks to youtube. As is a hugely clever advert featuring the song, which I’m sure must have made my dad laugh many years later.

Happy days.


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.



The Jam reminded us yesterday, courtesy of Edwin Starr, that the answer is ‘absolutely nothing’.

And today, of all days, these seem the right songs to post:-

mp3 : The Skids – And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
mp3 : The Pogues – And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

I can forgive Richard Jobson for all his pretentions simply for the fact that his inclusion of this song on Joy, the final LP by The Skids in 1981 was the first time I ever heard it. And it made me realise that folk music was nothing to be afraid of.

Elsewhere, the unique delivery of Shane McGowan over the gorgeous playing of his band, perfectly produced by Elvis Costello, brings a lump to my throat every single time.



Tomorrow would have been Stuart Adamson‘s 57th birthday so I thought it appropriate to have a look back at his contribution to music via a review of a bio that was published back in 2010.

This is the first book I’ve featured in this series that I don’t actually own – I found it the other week while browsing around the local library. And to be brutally honest, borrowing it for a few weeks was a good decision as it proved to be a bit of a letdown.

The author, Allan Glen, has the advantage of coming from that part of Scotland in which the Manchester-born William Stuart Anderson was raised and the best bits of the book are those when he can bring that local flavour to the pages and particularly the description of physical, social and economic conditions in the villages and towns in Fife in the late 70s as The Skids came to the fore. The author paints a vivid picture which makes it very clear that Stuart Adamson was a true-to-life working class hero whose roots never left him.

However, the book for the most part is an extended consideration of the recording and touring careers of The Skids and Big Country rather than an in-depth look at Stuart Adamson. There’s lots about the music (up to 1996) but little about the man. The disease that eventually killed him – alcoholism – is sometimes hinted at but never referred to openly until the closing pages of the book and even then it is in almost throwaway fashion. There’s nothing about what led Stuart to divorcing his first wife and upping sticks to live in American in the mid-90s and I’m assuming this is because the author was unable to talk to anyone who was particularly close to Stuart in his final few years before his suicide in a hotel room in Hawaii in December 2001. So all in all, a disappointment.

What the book does remind you of however, is just how huge Big Country were for a spell in the early 80s. They went from near complete unknowns in early 1983 (which was when I first saw them as they played a gig in the students union at Strathclyde University) to flying on Concorde to perform at the Grammys in Los Angeles less than a year later. Their debut LP, The Crossing, had caught the imagination of the record buying public while their live shows had a real energy and vibe that made for a good night out. But almost as quickly, things began to fall apart.

There was a less than favourable reaction to the band’s second LP, Steeltown, while many fans attracted initially to the band because of The Skids connection were aghast and embarrassed at how often Big Country seemed to be on the support bill for stadium/arena performances of acts and bands we had thought the punk wars had seen off. To many, such as myself, the band never recovered. I certainly never had any great interest in the band after 1984 although I always wished them well as Stuart Adamson seemed to be one of the genuine folk in the music industry at a time of much artificiality and besides, who could ever fall completely out of love with the man whose guitar licks had meant so much to me as a teenager.

The main chunk of the book is a sad reminder of how hard Big Country tried to get back on track. I hadn’t quite appreciated that they continued to release albums in the late 80s and early 90s at regular intervals and completely missed that they actually enjoyed a couple of Top 30 hit singles in 1993.

It might be easy enough for me to say with the perspective of hindsight but it would probably have been better for the band to have broken up after the third or fourth album with Stuart finding some new musicians to back him and when he was out on the road have his new mates play old Skids and Big Country material alongside his new stuff. That way, the critics might have been a bit kinder to him rather than coming out with the ‘same old-same old’ barbs time and time again. Who knows?

It might even have got the old fans interested again….as happened when The Skids reformed briefly back in 2007 (with Bruce Watson from Big Country taking on the guitar parts) and then Big Country a few years later when just afterwards when Mike Peters from The Alarm took on the unenviable task of filling in for Stuart as evidenced by Brian from Linear Track Lives! when, back in 2012,  he came all the way over to Glasgow from Seattle to catch a show.

So, overall, I wasn’t too enamoured by the book but appreciated the flashbacks it provided to the days when I loved seeing Stuart Adamson on stage alongside his nutcase of a frontman in The Skids or when he bravely took centre stage with his new band to show that he wasn’t, as many had thought, washed-up at the age of 24 and that he still had a sound worth listening to.

mp3 : The Skids – Scared To Dance
mp3 : The Skids – TV Stars (Peel Session)
mp3 : Big Country – Angle Park
mp3 : Big Country – 1000 Stars




This week’s single was #22 in my 45 45s at 45 series back in 2008. I thought I’d do a re-posting…

My love for this bit of plastic is very much down to two things.

Firstly, The Skids were the first Scottish band to really make a big impact on the punk/new wave scene. And by that, I mean they were probably the first to get themselves onto Top Of The Pops.

Given how little exposure bands got on TV back in the 70s, getting your face on TOTP was an incredibly important arena to be seen on. And the debut performance from Richard Jobson et al will stay etched firmly in the minds of everyone who saw it. As well as in the minds of their parents.

This truly was the first time I heard my dad say something completely negative about something on TOTP. He was 43 years of age when this came out…..his taste was a little bit of Johnny Cash, a little bit of Neil Diamond, a little bit of Supertramp and a little bit of Status Quo. He knew that music was important to me, and never did he slag off anything that I brought into the house or that I professed to loving when watching TOTP.

Then he saw and heard The Skids.

I don’t think he swore as at that time, he wouldn’t do so in front of any of his three young sons. But he laughed out loud at Richard’s efforts at dancing and singing, which truly were like nothing else on the planet. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this was the generation gap finally showing through.

Of course I went out and bought the record a few days later with that week’s money from the paper round. Of course I played it louder than anything else I owned at the time. Of course I tried, behind the privacy of a closed bedroom door, to dance the way I had seen Richard dance (remember kids, no VHS tapes in those days, you saw something once and you had to commit it to memory).

There must have been thousands doing the same as me because the single continued to rise up the charts. TOTP had a policy of not having bands on two weeks in a row (unless they were at #1), so it was a fortnight before the band got back onto the show. This time my dad went into the kitchen and made a cup of tea as he was thoroughly sick to his back teeth with the song by now. I was a teenage rebel……at last.

Oh and the second reason why I love this song? One of the best b-sides ever. No arguments.

mp3 : The Skids – Into The Valley
mp3 : The Skids – TV Stars (live at The Marquee, London)

The TOTP performance is now widely available thanks to youtube . As is the promo video. As is a hugely clever advert featuring the song, which I’m sure must have made my dad laugh many years later.

Happy days.



In 1980, The Skids released The Absolute Game, their third LP.   It’s really some achievement when you consider that on its release, lead singer and main lyricist Richard Jobson was not yet 20 years old while Stuart Adamson, whose guitar playing has rarely sounded better (even when he hit his commercial peak with Big Country) had not long turned 22.

There is a very strong case for Side One of this vinyl artefact to be considered the best single side of an LP ever recorded by a Scottish band.  Three of its tracks were released as singles, although criminally only one of them made the Top 40, while the other two songs could also have been chart hits if the public had been interested.

One of the reasons that the LP didn’t do as well as it should was down to the band’s unwillingness to promote it properly as Jobson and Adamson had fallen out badly by this time.  It was a record that, as I said earlier, had some of the guitarist’s finest ever tunes but with the singer wanting to go in a totally different direction, tensions were high all the way through the recording process.  Virgin Records, in an effort to hold things together, gave the green light for initial copies of the LP to come with a bonus record of songs called Strength Through Joy, a collection that sounded very unlike The Skids but betrayed the sort of style the singer wanted to adopt for the future.

Having said that, there’s a view that musical differences weren’t the main reason for the fall out between the two main men.  Jobson was very much having his head turned by London and was very keen to locate  the band in the capital full-time while Adamson was far too fond of life in Dunfermline to ever agree to that. Nowadays, modern communications, cheap travel etc would make light of such a problem, but in 1980,  having one half of the partnership in London and the other 400 miles away was insurmountable.

The live shows to accompany the release of the album were unhappy affairs and it was no great surprise that Adamson quit not long after, as did Mike Baillie, leaving Jobson and Russell Webb to continue as The Skids. Together they would make one more LP, Joy, released the following year before making a clean breast of things as The Armoury Show.

I thought it would make a great contrast to let you hear all five songs on Side A of the LP along with the 8 tracks that made up Strength Through Joy just to compare and contrast.  It is a really remarkable thing to realise just how young these guys were at the time and the extent of their different talents:-

mp3 : The Skids – Circus Games
mp3 : The Skids – Out Of Town
mp3 : The Skids – Goodbye Civilian
mp3 : The Skids – The Children Saw The Shame
mp3 : The Skids – A Woman In Winter

mp3 : The Skids – An Incident In Algiers
mp3 : The Skids – Grievance
mp3 : The Skids – Strength Through Joy
mp3 : The Skids – Filming Africa
mp3 : The Skids – A Man For All Seasons
mp3 : The Skids – Snakes and Ladders
mp3 : The Skids – Surgical Triumph
mp3 : The Skids – The Bell Jar