An introduction by IAN CRANNA
Time, 11.45am on a undistinguished grey Tuesday morning, winds light to variable. Place, Dunfermline, an unremarkable Fife mining town of some 50,000 souls, previous musical honour role, Nazareth, Barbara Dickson, Cado Belle's guitarist Alan Darby, Fay Fife of the Rezillos......and now THE SKIDS.
Stuart Adamson (20) guitar, writes all the music, cheerful wisecracker.
Richard Jobson (18), fast moving frontman, singer and lyric writer, the youngest and most talkative.
Bill Simpson (21) bassist, down to earth, laconic type. Tom Kellichan (24) drums.
Like most drummers, not given to eloquent discourse and prefers hitting things instead.
As The Skids, they've been together for just over a year now, having their origins in a long forgotten band called Tattoo which included Stuart and Bill.
It was pretty much unrelated to what they are doing now, they played Quo, Bowie etc, round the dance halls of northen Scotland.
Latterly, however, the pair had been messing around in a pub in Cowdenbeath with six or seven of Stuart's songs and inevitably decided to form their own band.
A mutual friend told them about Richard, previously unattached, who was looking for a band to sing with. Richard made an immediate impression, he got thrown out of the introductory party at Stuart's house for being vicious!
A week later, however, more peaceful negotiations resulted in Richard being taken aboard.
The trio then advertised for a drummer which eventually resulted in Tom, previous experience playing what he calls 'me-oh, my-oh music in dance bands' completing the line up.
Like most bands in the summer of '77, The Skids started out as a punk band and will cheerfully admit to stealing everything from the early English bands, image, attitude, the lot, except (and its a big except) the music.
The punk mantle never did fit them well.
Mostly The Skids had jobs, they weren't bored, and ramalamadolequeue never was their musical line.
Moreover, they were never afraid to experiment, and their moody and atmospheric 'Scared to Dance' (featuring some fine controlled guitar work by Stuart) was a splendid contrast to most of the two minute blitzes that were going down at the time.
The Skids were new alright, but they were different aswell.
In due course came the 'Charles' EP, a three track collection of Stuart's songs which proved to be a Lightning Alternative Chart topper, and an impressive demo of what was to come.
A short tour of London was to follow, after which Virgin moved in and closed the deal.
Together, The Skids are typical Fife youth, reserved in company until they suss the stranger, reluctant to open up and given only to short definitive opinions to guard against hte bravado jibes from their pals until, of course they demonstrate their national weakness for alcohol when they become more, erm, extrovert.
This band's lyrics are distinctly different. Richard's mainman is Television's Tom Verlaine, with Leonard Cohen and Steve Harley both right in there too.
Stuart goes in for shorter, sharper songs. Nils Lofgren, Leonanrd Cohen again, and Lenny Bruce are his favourite people.
Take the inventive flair from the lyrical style of these gents, add a sharp dash of observant humour, and mix it all in with Stuart's amazing riffs and you've got something like the essence of The Skids.
The band as a whole are also into Bebop Deluxe and their sense of warmth and humour is renowned, take a listen to fans favourite 'TV Stars', for instance, which is nothing more than the names of 'Crossroads' and 'Coronation Street' characters chanted over an old riff!
It can be a tricky business, trying to pin these Skids chappies down. One thing they're unanimous about is that they do not want to be stuck with an image.
With an image you have to take a direction, and that's just what they don't want to do.
One criticism of their appearance at the Edinburgh Stiff Test was that their set was the most unbalanced of the night.
Ever eager to move on, The Skids loved that one! Here's one band that certainly won't be following a plotted path to ifinity, take a bow, Skids.
'To Skid', according to my dictionary, means to 'slide forwards or backwards or sideways'. I couldn't have put it better myself.
That's the beauty of The Skids, always on the move but theres no telling where they'll go next. Catchy tunes, rocking verve, vivid imagery, dance music, what more do you want? Choose another band to The Skids and you'll get the band you deserve..IAN CRANNA
London meets The Skids
Review of Skids first tour in London
Two Scottish bands here tonight, The Skids from Dunfermline and the Cuban Heels from Glasgow.
The Cuban Heels were on first, for a support group they weren't bad at all.
They played a short set (they had to, they started very late) they wrote most of their own songs (i think) but played quite a few non-originals, a couple of Stones songs and Petula Clark's Down Town (honest, thats their single).
They're not really punk, more fast R & B but they're better than the average support group.
A couple of minutes after they finished, on came the Skids.
It cost them about £1000 for the tour, doing about 8 gigs in London, and they almost certainly made a loss on it, most venues paid only £20 - £25 for the night.
The group brought down a lot of fans from Scotland, was it worth it?
Well, i dunno about that, i mean i wouldn't go all the way up to Scotland to see a local group, but they were one of the best new groups i've seen in some time.
One thing i liked about them was the contrast in their songs, some slow, some fast but all of them good.
They even change time during some of them! In the first song, 'Of One Skin' they slowed down and speeded up three times without spoiling the rhythm and there's not many groups that can do that.
Their most popular stage number is 'Test Tube Babies' which is on the b-side of their maxi- single (the other two are Reasons and Charles) but the band don't like it very much (it's a bit power-pop-ish, not typical of the rest of their set).
They finished the set with 'Walk on the Wild Side', the Lou Reed song, but it's so different from the original that only the words sound the same.
The other songs (according to the playlist stuck to the mike stand) are:Night and Day/ Design/ Call the Tune/ New Daze/ Sweet Suburbia/ Scared to Dance/ Johnny Wants/ Scale/ Zit/ Question of Style/ Open Sound/ Withdrawal Symptoms.
Well.....they're worth seeing, so if they ever manage to come down to London again, see them while you've got the chance, there might not be another one!
Scared to Dance
Kingdom Come reviews Scared to Dance
There's not much point giving space to local heroes unless once in a while you get a scoop.
Ok, so here's the Skids scoop, a sneak preview of their debut album, 'Scared to Dance'.
(Incidentally, the title was inspired by a Tony Parsons article on, of all people, Smokie!)
I'm not gonna sit down and review the thing track by track, but just try and give you a brief idea of what you get for your money.
First, the bad points, like so many other albums, it contains songs previously available elsewhere (Charles/ Of One Skin/ The Saints are Coming) plus the new single 'Into the Valley', while some of my favourites that didn't make it onto vinyl are 'Paralysed/ Zit/ London/ Johnny Wants/ Withdrawal Symptoms.
Ah well, you can't have everything.
After repeated plays, this still sounds really fresh, but be warned, if you're a Skids fan who has seen the band several times, it may take a while to adjust to the studio versions of some songs, but you'll soon find hidden subtleties to win you over.
But what the heck, no way is this a punk album, it's a collection of superbly crafted tunes from a band so explosive on stage it's a wonder they don't cause riots.
The highlights, and there are many, far outweigh any disapointments i may have about the choice of songs. 'Scared to Dance' (the song, that is) may well be the finest hour, and yet it was played at their first ever gig, more than a year and a half ago!
The controlled guitar, shimmering cascades of pure music, leave you in no doubt as to their musical ability, while the ending....well, just wait till you hear it!
I could ramble on all day talking about this band, this album (in fact, i often do!) but let's just say that 'Scale' (or the waltzy one as one of my friends calls it) is stunning in its execution, 'Integral Plot' is a superb pop song with a riff that recalls BBC2 theme tunes and that 'Hope and Glory' reflects the title admirably.
Sit, don't believe what you read, order the album NOW!
Skids interview from Woodmill High School Magazine 1979
Trying to track down Dunfermline's own "unconventional rock band", Ricky Jobson, Stuart Adamson, Bill Simpson and Tam Kellichan, collectively the"SKIDS", wasn't easy.
It was a case of third time lucky before we finally cornered the band on the music shop premises of manager SANDY MUIR.
The band had just returned from recording their new single "MASQUERADE" at VIRGIN'S studio in London.
We asked the band how they were first formed.
"It all started when Bill and I got together and started playing some of our old songs," Stuart Adamson said.
"We had been together in a Rhythm and Blues band previously, but at the end of 1976 we decided to form a new band.
We auditioned for a drummer and we met Ricky at a REZILLO'S gig".
The band who all come from the Dunfermline district, were not directly influenced by any contemporary punk band.
It was the general music scene at the time which made the greatest impression on them.
It was John Peel who first brought their name to the attention of the top people in the music business by playing frequently on his RADIO 1 show "CHARLES", the group's first single on Mr Muir's own record label.
The band supported THE STRANGLERS several times, and JEAN-JACQUES BURNELL recognised their potential and arranged gigs for them in London.
It wasn't long before VIRGIN RECORDS made an offer and THE SKIDS signed on for Britain's top 'punk' studios.
"I don't think we could have got a better deal anywhere," said Ricky.
The band admitted that they hated studio work, but they have begun to enjoy it more and more with freedom to experiment in the studio, with producer BILL NELSON.
The new single "MASQUERADE" contains the first examples of the SKIDS use of synthesisers and other electronic influences.
The latest release is in facta four tracked, double single. "We felt we owed a little to our public, after repeating several tracks on our previous album", commented Bill.
The band are modestly pleased with the success of the TOP TEN single "INTO THE VALLEY", which sold 240,000 copies, but they stressed that they are not going to become ego-maniacs, like many other bands, on achieving success.
They dismissed rumours of the band being bankrupt and splitting up, as commonplace fantasies.
Asked about the success of "INTO THE VALLEY", Ricky replied, "It was totally unexpected.
It was fantastic, not bad for four yokels from Dunfermline".
During the success of the single, the band were asked to appear on BBC television's 'TOP OF THE POPS'.
Stuart commented, "It is totally plastic, prefabricated.
We don't like appearing on the show, but we've got to do it for the publicity. It looks great on television, but it's different in the studio".
The writer of most of THE SKIDS lyrics is Ricky Jobson.
He gets most of his ideas from the lyrics of LEONARD COHEN and STEVE HARLEY.
He may take their ideas and rewrite them with his own impressions and in his own unique style.
"This should not be frowned upon. After all, Shakespeare's plots weren't all original".
Stuart, who writes the music, said he rarely found difficulty in fitting music to Ricky's lyric, it was the lyrics themselves which often inspired the music.
This partnership, and the musical abilities of TAM and BILL, is undoubtedly the bands recipe for success.
Although they have sold thousands of records, the band claim to be no better off financially than they were two years ago.
Though, as Ricky said, "The money should start to trickle through soon".
Prompted by a question which suggested that, now that the band were going to be 'in the money', their attitude had changed, Ricky retorted, "We're not changing our attitude, it is the public who are changing their attitude to us".
The group, however, cannot deny they have entered into a low key 'jet-set' lifestyle, with plane trips down to London every other week to record or do promotional work.
The band undoubtedly appreciate the intense local interest and support which they obtain, although commenting on the frequent rumours flying around the town, Stuart said, "It's pretty nyaff, typical Dunfermline.
They're like a bunch of old women sitting around a table with their curlers in, discussing the latest gossip. Their support however has been phenomanal, and we will always be prepared to give a concert in Dunfermline".
The band have varied opinions on the up and coming young punk bands in Dunfermline.
They said that too often the fact that they aregetting attention and that they are getting good audiences due to Dunfermline's great interest in punk, means that success goes to their heads, and after that their music, too often goes downhill.
Stuart gave the following advice to any youngsters thinking of starting a band,
"Don't buy cheap equipment. Save a wee while longer and buy better stuff.
Don't be like us and packk in your jobs as soon as success appears on the horizon, or you'll be left struggling for money, just when you need it most to travel around. And don't expect success too quickly. It's no good just diving straight into the great big musical ocean, because you'll face the strain. The sharks will eat you, and there's plenty of them".
What of the SKIDS future?
They are just finishing their second successful British tour, and they are planning to record a new album after the summer.
Asked about the possibilities of recording a live album, they answered honestly, "We are not good enough".
However, i expect that most of their fans would disagree. The band are cautiously optimistic about their future, and who knows how many more albums and chart topping singles they will produce.
Let's hope that, unlike other punk bands such as the REZILLOS and the SEX PISTOLS, they can maintain their good spirit and honest approach to the cruel business which is their life.
Interviewed and compiled by: Robert Beattie, Steve Armitt, Alex Watson.
Days in Europa
Odeon 7th September 1979 Edinburgh Rock Festival
For The Skids, this gig was important.
Not only was it the final event in the Edinburgh Festival, it was also a preview of new additions to the line-up, of attempts at on-stage visual effects, and of new material from the recently complete album.
More on that later.
Meanwhile, support for the evening, The Berlin Blondes provided the first indication of the fervour of the headliner's following.
Throughout their set of electronic interludes for the new age, the crowd constantly chanted the the top band's name.
The Skids are preceeded by a black and white newsreel entitled 'The Eleventh Hour'.
The moving footage from the Great War is backed by 'Grey Parade' the band's forthcoming B-side and a perfect elegy.
As the final scene of a barren sea shore tails off, it becomes apparent that the film and self penned soundtrack has gone right over the heads of the Odeon's young crowd.
Wherein lies a problem.
The Skids, like it or not, have gained a following as young as one might find at, say an Osmonds show.
There, of course, the comparison ends, for Stuart Adamson and Richard Jobson have written some of the most intellegent and pertinent rock music around.
If i were Jobson, however i would have great pangs of self doubt.
His, to say the least, substantial lyricism is totally wasted here.
The kids a merely content to imitate his dervish dance and there it ends.
A shame. 'Animation' the opener and a track from the forthcoming album is boistered by the strident drumming of Rusty Egan, though the keyboards of other new recruit Alistair Moore seem low in the mix.
The song is horrendously commercial and would seem to set the tone for the album.
Out of Town, like Animation is brilliant, though bad levels in the mix completely obliterate the keyboards and Egan's more complex drumming jars somewhat after the compact drive that was Kellichan's forte.
Melancholy Soldiers, another epic, is followed by four new songs, Working for the Yankee Dollar, Dulce Et Decorum Est, The Olympian and Pros and Cons.
The Olympian, i have serious doubts about.
It opens with the organ playing Beethoven's Ninth and certain factions in the audience flash Nazi salutes to it.
The scene is in no way helped by Jobson's apparent attraction to well known fascist Nietzsche and the back projection of an Aryan receiving the laurels at the Berlin Olympics.
Scared to Dance and The Saints are Coming inspire, though both contain shoddy moments, particulary the latter on which Egan seems to try to much.
Vanguards Crusade is a gem from the new material.
A great melodic race with Adamson playing Hank Marvin playing the theme from a Western, it will be a high on the album.
Home of the Saved is a slow lament whilst Charade with it's metalic throb and classic Skids climax into the last verse will be the next hit.
The last Masquerade sees the back stalls seething with youngsters acting out their fantasies and is quickly followed by another two songs, Days in Europa, the title of the new album and Thanatos, the Greek word for death we're told.
Both are excellent though the crowd goes placid.
It occours to me that perhaps there are too many new songs, too soon.
The Skids close with Of One Skin and a version of Sloop John B intoned over Big Wull's classic bass opening to Into the Valley.
Encores were All The Young Dudes, Charles, Be Bop's Panic in The World with Bill Nelson, Into The Valley and Charade.
It was a great show, sloppy, true, but with only a week's rehearsal with a new drummer and keyboardist that is to be expected.
It was a great audience, though i can't see why so young.
The Skids, i think aim to high above theit heads.
I leave considering the stupidity of people.
All around the crowd's unrequited screams for Albert Tatlock ring in my ears.
The Absolute Game
The Absolute Game. Review by Chris Bohn.
BUBBLEGUM'S BACK and it sounds wonderful.
In contemporary terms THE SKIDS are to THE CLASH and the post-modernists what SWEET were to SLADE and BOWIE, opportunistic enthusiasts with a starry-eye on the charts and an ear for crazy combinations.
I mean Sham and Bebop Deluxe?
THE SKIDS, however, have gone one step beyond their predecessors by moulding their sources into something very much their own - and it's their emphasis on a SKID sound that places them within the bubblegum bracket.
But theirs is one to be pleased with and, indeed, to please.
The main components are ADAMSON'S stirring guitar stylings and JOBSON'S outrageously hammy torch singing, thankfully modified by his predilection for leading community sing-songs.
The guitarist roots his work in theyearning lines Mick Jones used to spin of circa 'Give 'Em Enough Rope', and he whips them up into a rapidly rotating hooks that are as difficult to escape as a speeding roundabout.
His contributions gell best with JOBSON'S on contagious, even hysterical choruses, worked up from the moaning 'ooohs' of '77 Clash fused with quick to grasp terrace chants.
They can be dangerous (more about that in a minute) but at best-on 'THE DEVIL'S DECADE'-they round off the album's most comprehensible verses.
For once Jobson leaves his Penguin Modern Classics alone and draws on more direct experience of his native working town, Dunfermline, to construct a poignant kitchen-sink drama about the mills and the mines, strong enough to carry the dopey mysticism of the refrain: "Oh mother of mine, Release us from eveil oh show us a sign, Oh mother of mine, your children lie bleeding, oh show us a sign....."
Effective because of its familiarity, 'THE DEVIL'S DECADE' is as evocative as DYLAN'S 'NORTH COUNTRY BLUES', if ultimately not as moving.
Elsewhere Jobson as a lyricist, still obsessed with being taken seriously as an artist, loses us completely in a Scottish landscape (well depicited by the music) scattered with confused imagery and symbolism garnered from romantic novels and poetry, but his results sound, thankfully, like penny dreadful digestions of the likes of Lorna Doone.
'THE CHILDREN SAW THE SHAME', for instance, could be about serfs in rebellion against their laird, but nothing is too clear.
At other times their apparent meaningless doesn't matter, as the sound of the words is enough, especially on the painstakingly poetic 'A WOMAN IN WINTER' - a song so lovingly laboured over, it would be churlish to knock it, the music strikes the mood Jobson's aiming for, anyway.
But words for words sake fit into the great British bubblegum tradition begun by MARC BOLAN.
If the latter wanted to be William Blake, then Jobson wants to be some doughboy crouched in a muddy trench, eulogizing and re-appraising his past from afar.
He hits the mark on the marching 'HURRY ON BOYS', a droning singalongaskids about the breaking out of the family cycle of childhood, work, breeding.
And the outlaw strut of 'OUT OF TOWN' isn't bad either, although it relies heavily on some forced rhyming:" the gripping of the vice....when nothing is suffice".
Then, thats one of the record's charms.
Despite the title of the free album enclosed - 'STRENGTH THROUGH JOY', the SKIDS have thankfully left the idiot Ubermensch posturing of 'DAYS IN EUROPA' behind them.
Likewise the hints of that album toward European electronic pop have been confined to the intermittenly interesting experiments of the 'STJ' bonus record (but why the suspect title?), leaving 'THE ABSOLUTE GAME' free to continue their first LP's distinctive, yet unfinished guitar-orientated explorations.
At its best, 'THE ABSOLUTE GAME' comes close to being great pop music.
It always sounds good, though Jobson thinks it has probably got more depth than that.
Well, lets leave him with the illusion, as this time his attempts to impress exhilarate rather than offend, unlike his previous, pernicious offering.
After all, much of the fun with bubblegum is watching how far you can expand the bubble before it bursts. Chris Bohn.
SOUNDS 13TH JUNE 1981
ADAMSON'S EPITAPH Why a SKID split, by JOHNNY WALLER
After knowing Stuart Adamson for almost four years, I was at the SKIDS third gig, the first person to interview them for the rock press, and even attended his wedding, I was slightly unsure as to whether I should phone him on hearing the news that he'd left the band.
It wasn't that I was so surprised (both Stuart and Richard have repeatedly quit since inception), but i didn't want our friendship to be soured by such routine duties.
Besides, he might not want to talk to me!
As it turned out, both Stuart and his wife Sandra, were in great spirits, so we all went to the pub and reminisced over old times, good times, Stuart suggesting that the true group empathy began to disintigrate as soon as the original drummer Tam left, then we returned to their flat in Townhill, a village suburb of DUNFERMLINE, 20 miles north of Edinburgh.
Cosily decorated (by Stuart himself), without being fussy, a guitar or two lie haphazardly as constant reminders, while the walls bear only a photo of mid-period SKIDS and a presentation plaque for selling out EDINBURGH ODEON.
Eventually Stuart and I settled down to the matter in hand.
How and why he left THE SKIDS, and what was he going to do now.
What makes this departure so final compared to before??
"At that time it was much more the business side that was the problem, not so much the band itself.
Now i feel the bands energy is spent, as a band, as a force to be reckoned with.
It's just come through a total lack of communication between everyone in the band.
"The distance is a big problem, and I refuse to move to London purely to become more successful.
You're always speaking to people on the phone, which is a pain at the best of times and when you don't have that extra curricular social contact, it's difficult to keep in touch.
My enthusiasm for the band has been totally dampened."
Was that due to the people you were working with?
"I think it was a collection of circumstances.
It's hard for me to look at it with hindsight yet, it's only the past coupleof weeks that things have come to a head really.
I've not thought overly much about my reasons for leaving the band, or what they might do now.
I've been thinking much more about what I'm going to do in the future".
What are your immediate plans?
"On a basic level I'm going to record some stuff on a four track TEAC machine through there (points to the bedroom) I just want to make music thats alive and sparkling"
Will it be a progression from the SKIDS?
"Well, what do you mean by a progression?
I always hated talking about musical directions, I refuse to be pinned down.
" I'm not trying to pin you down, i just want to clarify things.
"Look, there's only one way to classify music, it either gives you shivers up the back or it doesn't. But i suppose there will be alot of people who see it as a rapid departure from THE SKIDS".
Did you feel THE SKIDS lost the passion of youth?
"Yeah, I think so.
" Won't it be difficult to regain that now you're four years older, married, and with a nice house?
"What, a one bedroomed flat over a chip-shop!"
Well, I think it's nice, you should see where I live!
"But both Sandra and I just love music....our idea of a good nigh out is to go dancing, the same as it ever was, but I'm so full of enthusiasm now, i'm dying to get on with it"
In the past you've often appeared so tired, both mentally and physically.
"I'd agree with that entirely.
It's always a strain when you know something isn't going right.
I don't want really want to go over this anyway.
I've still got a great liking for Richard and Russell as people, it was just that on a creative basis nothing came together."
What about IONA, the planned single?
"I don't know, I haven't thought about it that much.
To me, it was just something we went and did because we weren't doing anything else."
Does it worry you that the glare of publicity might be shifted from Richard to you now?
"I don't know, I haven't thought about it that much.
"But that's only on other peoples terms!
It's something I might have to come to terms with.
I was never particularly averse to interviews before, it's just that i don't go out of my way to do things on a publicity level.
I'm much more interested in working on the band side of things, on the musical side.
To me, it's just a change, it's a pity it has to be a destructive change in the initial stages, but i felt it was important.
I felt i was beginning to lie to myself, just carrying on hoping something would gel together, but it just got to the stage where i couldn't see that happening at all."
Can you see yourself playing live again?
"Oh aye, totally! For me that's the most important thing.
That instant spark between audience and performer"
Before I can ask another question, Stuart complains.
"This is all getting too serious. It's a forced situation anyway, and it's even worse because i know you."
So we watched more TV with the sound turned down, laughing at the crass adverts.
"Adverts are like singles" Stuart shrieks with delight.
"Too many of the programmes are like concept albums".
A particular glossily superficial, vacuous advert spews forth stereotypes.
"God, it's like a bloody EMI single , or BUCKS FIZZ" i exclaim.
" It's not like Anarchy in The UK, thats for sure" Stuart adds drily.
Singles should be alive with emotion.
"I see all the great music being huge and wide, it releases so many emotions" - and Stuart wants to release one as soon as possible.
He wants to be back on the radio, back on your TV screens, back on TOTP's. He looks so young again.
Joy Review by Barney Hoskyns
From the cover's horrendous mismatch of Eisenstein's General Line with a patriotic Ealing war movie, say 'THE FOREMAN WENT TO FRANCE'- Jobson (not unlike a juvenile Gordon Jackson) as heroic peasant straining eyes and sweaty brow at some golden future in the sun, to the incredible nonsense of lines like "Oh shift thy feet, oh peasant one, pull and tug thy burden.....", it is clear THE SKIDS have this time broken all reasonable barriers of taste and credibility.
From start to finish and back again, 'JOY' is one great idiotic farce of a concept album, an ersatz folk epic of toil and brotherhood, a spurious trek through war and agriculture in quest of the blood and the soil.
Sounds like fun?
For a man who scarcely six months ago was swanning about in tweed jackets and cricket pullovers, it presumes on nothing in the listener short of abject gullibility.
Then again it may be just another form of entertainment. Perhaps even the grime and the three days' stubble are synthetic compounds.
After all, who could forget Jobson's lowdown on the definitive rock 'n' roll upbringing of cleanliness next to godliness?
But what will 'JOY' mean to the kids of Europa?
Could it be 'The Day The Baggy Trousers Stood Still?'.
Of course not.
JOY has about as much to do with fields and mountains and brotherhood as MALCOLM McLAREN has to do with leafy glades and rowing boats.
Governed by the same pomposity and thirst for glam heroics that lie behind everything Richard Jobson has ever done, it is an impeccably assembled, scrupulously researched, and utterly fraudulent piece of music.
Admittedly, Jobbo takes himself with more than apinch of salt, though a block of the stuff would possibly be more in order, but there is still a habitual and vacuous showiness about him, perhaps a bad faith in pop itself.
On the first SKIDS singles the sham was excessive and unco-ordinated enough to provide a refreshing respite from the likes of THE BOOMTOWN RATS and EDDIE & THE HOT RODS, but his mouth is getting mealier every year.
Perhaps 1981's stint at CABERET FUTURA has deluded him into thinking he really is a genius.
"Too many hymns going down", go the album's opening words, "We can be taught blood and soil."
If this is informing sentiment were borne out by singing that wasn't emotionallly counterfeit, and if THE SKIDS were really playing a modern folk music and not a bombastic plastic rock of star spangled acoustic guitars over mighty MEAT LOAF drums, then the thing might work.
They might have pulled it off.
But as those drums once again come crashing back into the brain - on, say, "A MEMORY", the fields fade from the frame, the soil turns soundproof, and Jobson is revealed as another rock 'n' roll clown.
Sure, so there's a few quite pretty moments on 'JOY', in 'BLOOD AND SOIL', 'A CHALLENGE', and 'THE MEN OF THE FALL', but they're outweighed by a preponderately hygenic production which makes a mockery of Jobson's earnest attempt at vision.
The result is often something like the Bunnies' 'All My Colours' as hypothetically performed by, say, REO SPEEDWAGON.
Perhaps the album's only authentic song is 'FIELDS', which at the least has the half way decency not to pretend it isn't pretentious.
One of the year's more tuneful examples of epic pop nonsense.
So, approximately three quaters of an hour of unmitigated mirth is, if you so desire, in store in your stores. As a matter of interest, on "A CHALLENGE", Jobson almost confesses to the whole crime.
"The parasite within me, Drowned among the flak, Releasing my bravados, The stunt of my attack.....".
A more stunted stunt than 'JOY' will not be heard this year. Barney Hoskyns
BBC Radio1 Live in Concert
Review by Johnny Waller, November 1991.
Emerging from the fall-out of the punk explosion, THE SKIDS were inspired by the new class of'77-especially THE CLASH and BUZZCOCKS - but were influenced by artisits from an earlier age.
Guitarist STUART ADAMSON modelled much of his playing style on BE-BOP DELUXE maestro BILL NELSON while adopting the *bleep*y stance of US punk prototypes NILS LOFGREN and LOU REED.
At a party, Adamson met the 16-year-old RICHARD JOBSON - a gapped tooth headstrong punk with two - tone hair - and THE SKIDS were born, the first band from the cultural wasteland of DUNFERMLINE since blues rockers NAZARETH.
Completing the line-up was ex lorry driver drummer TOM KELLICHAN and taciturn bassist WILLIE SIMPSON, both local lads who combined as the typical quiet but solid rhythm section.
ADAMSON and JOBSON were not only the public face of the band, but also the creative force - initially Richard was simply a frustrated new-wave shouter (most forcibly displayed on their live version of MOTT THE HOOPLE'S 'VIOLENCE'), while the naturally talented Stuart provided both music and lyrics for songs such as 'NECKSHOTS', 'DON'T WANT TO GO' and 'SCARED TO DANCE'.
Support slots with THE STRANGLERS, VIBRATORS and RADIO STARS plus a series of London dates at famed venues like HAMMERSMITH RED COW, THE NASHVILLE and STOKE NEWINGTON ROCHESTER CASTLE were ideal promotion for their debut single, which comprised three Adamson compisitions 'CHARLES', 'REASONS' and 'TEST TUBE BABIES'.
They gathered a small clan of devoted fans, including one VIP, Radio One DJ JOHN PEEL, whose patronage led to a record deal with Virgin.
THE SKIDS repaid the debt by immortalising him in their seminal 'TV STARS' singalong-thus bizzare audience demands for 'ALBERT TATLOCK'.
By the time this live recording was made, THE SKIDS were about to release their first album 'SCARED TO DANCE', and the balance of creative input had shifted towards an equal songwriting partnership, with Jobson providing virtuous, provocative lyrics for songs like 'MELANCHOLY SOLDIERS', 'THE SAINTS ARE COMING' and their breakthrough chart entry 'INTO THE VALLEY', delivered in his unique vocal style, part Scottish thug, part teenage street poet.
Jobson had recently adopted basic rhythm guitar duties-listen again to 'MELANCHOLY SOLDIERS' for his painfully fumbled chord changes, way to high in the mix, which nevertheless allowed he and Adamson to present a dynamic two-pronged visual attack, on some nights, the moment when they both crashed through the windmilling chord section on the same song was truly exhilarating.
In many ways, this live album captures THE SKIDS in their element, it features the original line-up (subsequent albums were recorded with new bassist RUSSELL WEBB and a variety of drummers), driven by a naive lust for fame and glory and damn the consequences.
But the future split with the home-loving Adamson retreating to DUNFERMLINE to form BIG COUNTRY and the cosmopolitan Jobson continuing with Webb for one more SKIDS album before the short lived ARMOURY SHOW, then a high profile career as a TV prsenter, male model, performance poet and would be actor and finally an under rated solo album - was already on the cards during this club tour.
On a rare night off, while band and crew drove from Liverpool to see THE CLASH play in Sheffield, Adamson caught the train back to Scotland to see his future wife, Sandra.
But for a brief, glorious moment in 1979, THE SKIDS embodied everything vital and exciting that punk had liberated from the shackles of mid-'70's British rock torpor.
They were brash, frenetic, ragged, arrogant and burning with the unquenchable fire of youthful abandon. On this record, that spirit lives on.....Johnny Waller, November 1991.
Notes from Fanfare by John Peel 1982
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 Edingburgh, 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 wierd 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 preffered 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 definate 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."
Masquerade Masquerade Skids Live
Notes by Richard Jobson 2007
During the halcyon days of 1979 and 1980 The Skids had arrived at a special place as a live band.
For me it was what we were all about, the rush, the energy, the audience, the sound of Stuart Adamson’s guitar and the two of us flying through the air on stage passing each other mid-flight, smiling with joy.
This was what we had dreamed of becoming; a band who could do it live in front a big crowd.
From the opening bars of Circus Games Adamson was capable of creating an electric tension.
The music was waiting to burst open, fill the room with an overwhelming sense of being alive.
He was in my opinion one of the greats to come from the punk and post punk period and the ghost of him on this recording is evident on every burst from his Yamaha guitar which created his beautiful uplifting sound.
Our friendship by the time of the last tour was finished, we had gone separate ways;
He chose to stick to what he was best at song-writing and being a musician, I was on a journey of self-discovery which was taking me further and further away from our roots.
We never ever talked about our point of departure, why it happened and why we did nothing to stop it.
It seemed natural and part of our evolution as people that we would both move on to do different things.
But when it came to playing live, we were as one, totally tuned into what the other would do and captivated by the sheer raw power of what we did each evening.
I loved playing live, hated the studio, and considered myself to be a limited musician but give me a stage and I could dance a Kung Fu ballet all night long.
We played with our hearts on stage.
Stuart had talent, bags of it, he was a special man, we were only ever equals when we the lights went up and we crashed, thrashed, bashed and on occasion elegantly pushed ourselves to a dizzy height.
These live recordings capture us when in our world the only thing that mattered was making peoples hearts pump with Joy. Richard Jobson
The Saints are Coming / Best of the Skids 2007
Notes by Ronnie Gurr 2007
NEARLY 30 years ago, two teenage punk rockers germinated an idea in one of their bedrooms in the historic but sleepy Scots town of Dunfermline.
That musical idea was taken in to what passed for a rehearsal room behind the local High School and, with the help of two of their two comrades, thrashed out into a song that would be added to their band’s increasingly impressive body of work.
On September 25th 2006, the two biggest rock acts on the planet — U2 and Green Day — resurrected and unveiled that same song to a crowd of 70,000 in the newly re-opened New Orleans Superdome and a global Internet audience of millions.
The Saints Are Coming…punk fairy tales don’t come any bigger…
It’s a measure of the esteem in which I hold people who altered the course of my life that I can tell you the day and place we first met.
As life-changing experiences go, meeting two safety pin and leather bedecked punks backstage in a beer cellar-cum-dressing room at Edinburgh’s Clouds after a gig by Lanarkshire’s finest mod exponents The Jolt might seem somewhat underwhelming.
Nonetheless, it was here — July 15th, 1977 — that I first encountered Richard Jobson and Stuart Adamson.
That night, they were brash and brusque — fuelled by the “can-do” zeitgeist that this thing called punk bestowed.
Their bravado was infectious rather than intimidating. They wanted to support The Jolt and soon.
Of course, in the midst of punk’s DIY frenzy, everyone seemed to be forming a band.
However, these two were different.
They had their eyes on the prize and in those eyes you could see the drive and passion that would be instrumental in getting their visceral musical message out into the world.
Shortly after, Jobson and Adamson, now joined by the redoubtable rhythm section of Willie Simpson and Tam Kellichan, set about their task.
In keeping with the times the band adopted daft names.
Thus Joey Jolson (Jobson), Stevie Cologne (Adamson), Alex Plode (Simpson) and Tom Bomb (Kellichan), after dropping the ridiculous moniker of Marcus Zen Stars With Tom Bomb & The Martyrs Of Deal, emerged fully formed as The Skids.
One live appearance (opening for The Buzzcocks and Prefects in Edinburgh in November 1977) and a listen to their first demo tape was enough to be convinced of their transformative, life-affirming qualities.
As a live band, The Skids encapsulated — and were the soundtrack to — the fact that we were living at the start of something very good and at the end of many things that were bad.
As Richard states in his sleeve-notes on The Skids’ live album, Masquerade, Masquerade:
“For me it was what we were all about, the rush, the energy, the audience, the sound of Stuart Adamson’s guitar and the two of us flying through the air on stage passing each other mid-flight, smiling with joy.”
The band clearly revelled in their live abilities.
A typical live set of late 1977 and early 1978 would feature the debut single’s Charles, Reasons and Test-Tube Babies as well as New Daze, an ambitious three-part song called which veered dangerously close to psychedelia.
Songs like Nationwide, Zit and London offered consummate and the by now trademark anthemic riffing. (For decades, these songs could only be found on home-recordings of early John Peel sessions.
The good folks at Virgin are currently working on making these gems more widely available).
You could always depend on the band to drop in an inspired cover version to keep things interesting.
Mott The Hoople’s Violence, Garland Jeffrey’s 35 Millimetre Dreams and even Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich’s You Make It Move all took a robust assault from the four Fifers.
Stuart could also be counted on to offer up snatches of songs by his beloved Be-Bop Deluxe and Nils Lofgren during sound checks.
While The Skids were an assault on the senses replete with a tune that would burrow into your sensibilities, their maelstrom of manic energy was clearly built on a bedrock of great musical knowledge and taste.
Lyrically, Jobson was like a puppy with a bone, playing with word and found text in an always-intriguing manner.
He was a writer who could craft poetic crescendos that perfectly complemented their epic musical backdrop.
He was also, I would suggest, one of punk’s greatest front men — a mad kung-fu ceilidh dancer and a perfect foil to his scissor-kicking guitar buddy.
The sonic and lyrical attack of songs like Into The Valley and Working For The Yankee Dollar showed that home-grown Scots talent could compete with the best that London, Manchester and New York had to offer.
In many cases, The Skids would eclipse through art that offered greater depth, more vigour and no little pride.
As word of mouth and media exposure grew, The Skids influence was reaching furth of the band’s native land.
In Dublin’s Malahide area a teenage David Howell Evans had picked up on the band.
Stuart’s sterling work on his beloved Gibson Marauder guitar (the cheapest model available in the range) chimed with young Evans.
The Skids’ lyrical content also resonated with the guitarist who would become better known as The Edge in the band he was forming with three former school mates.
That The Skids’ first three singles (Charles, Sweet Suburbia and the magnificent Wide Open EP — which featured The Saints Are Coming and included Of One Skin and Night And Day) influenced the evolving U2 is self-evident.
These three releases during 1978 set a template that U2 would adapt and modify en route to the low-key September 1979 Irish release of their Out Of Control EP.
A full 28 years later, while looking for an anthem to launch Music Rising — a charity to help rebuild the musical heart and culture of the Gulf Region by replacing the musical instruments lost during Hurricane Katrina — The Edge remembered a red vinyl 12-inch EP from his record collection.
As The Edge states: “When the idea of playing at The Superdome re-opening came up I immediately thought of The Saints Are Coming. It could have been written for the occasion … the lyric fits so well it’s almost eerie.”
The Edge would also later tell Jobson: “Good work never dies. It just goes to sleep for a while until somebody wakes it up.”
In later years it became clear that both Richard and Stuart were unaware of the profound influence they had bequeathed to a generation of young Scots.
However, the spectacle of a Scottish band successfully planting a flag on Summit Punk was to have an immeasurable impact on countless fans who went on to form their own bands, their own labels, start fanzines and follow media careers.
Latterly, that influence and inspiration would also be apparent and more widely visible and audible in the music of the likes of Echo & The Bunnymen, The Cult and Blur to name but three.
Tragically, Stuart is not around to savour the living legacy of his work.
As a musician’s musician he would have been quietly delighted by recent events.
When Bono Vox — “only the world’s biggest *bleep*ing rock star mind” you can almost hear one of those teenage Skids saying — strolled onto the stage of the Superdome and offered up the vocal incantation “Cried to my daddy on the telephone, how long now?” it was more than a brilliant spine-tingling rock moment.
Here was final and fitting recognition of the fact The Skids were something truly special and were deservedly reaching a worldwide constituency while gaining the respect their work should have been accorded long before.
It could be said that we look back on the music we grew up with as special only because we were there.
U2 and Green Day — here and now, onstage and on record, pouring new life and raw emotion into the song that saw it’s birth in that dingy rehearsal room in Dunfermline — prove conclusively just how special The Skids music was and still is.
The Saints Are Coming… punk fairy tales don’t come any better… By RONNIE GURR