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Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1

1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77) 
2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77)
3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77)
4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77)
5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77)
6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77)
7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77)
8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78)
9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78)
10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79) 
11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79)
12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79) 
13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79)
14. JOLT See Saw (6/79)
15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79)
16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79)
17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79)
18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79)
19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79)
20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79)
21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79)
22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79)
23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79)
24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80)
25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980)

1. THE REZILLOS  I Can’t Stand My Baby
(Sensible FAB 1  8/77)
If it wasn’t for The Rezillos, Scotland’s pop revolution might never have happened. Formed at Edinburgh College of Art by former Knutsford Dominators Jo Callis and Alan Forbes, with fashion student Sheilagh Hynd and others on board, they evolved into colour-clashing purveyors of trash-punk B-movie pop-art bubblegum. With Forbes becoming Eugene Reynolds, Callis as Luke Warm and Hind remodelled as Fay Fife, this sneering debut single was followed by (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures, a libidinous love-song to the sex appeal of art school integrity, which preceded their big hit, Top of the Pops. A sole album, Can’t Stand The Rezillos, was released on Sire Records. With the band’s core members regrouping in 2001, and a new album, Zero, unleashed in 2015, The Rezillos continue to cause a retro-futuristic riot to this day.

2. THE EXILE  Hooked on You
(Boring BO 1  8/77)
Coming straight out of Bishopbriggs, The Exile were the sound of the (Glasgow) suburbs. Formed by Graham Scott, who cut his musical teeth in pre-punk rockers Free Flight before The Exile’s school tie and leather jacketed quartet released the four-track Don’t Tax Me EP on their own Boring Records. As well as Hooked on You’s slice of scratchy would-be power pop, the record featured Fascist DJ, about Radio Clyde’s Tom Ferrie, who had helped spear-head Glasgow’s ‘ban’ on punk gigs. The Exile had fallen foul of the ban by way of a cancelled show with The Jolt, Johnny and The Self Abusers and The Cuban Heels. A one-off single on Charly Records and an appearance of their track, Disaster Movie, on Beggar’s Banquet’s punk compilation, Streets, followed, before The Exile morphed into the Television-inspired Friction, fizzling out following another single on Boring.

3. DRIVE  Jerkin’
(NRG RE 46  8/77)
‘Banned Punks Cut Own Sex Single’ went one suitably outraged local rag headline in response to the sole single on NRG Records by Dundee’s opportunistically-inclined quintet led by vocalist Gus McFarlane. With McFarlane and his fellow corrupters of youth named and shamed, the quintet feared their aunties might be scandalised by such publicity, and split up shortly afterwards. Too late, alas, as it was picked up by Beggar’s Banquet for their Streets compilation, where the song could yelp, leer and thrust its lasciviously unreconstructed boogie towards a sudden and possibly premature climax once more. A proposed follow-up, Blow Job / Gonorrhoea Go-Go, mysteriously never appeared.

4. THE VALVES  Robot Love
(Zoom  ZUM 1  9/77)
Science-fiction and pub rock combine for this deadpan lurch through the pains of falling for a moon-dwelling mannequin. Forming one side of the debut single by Portobello’s premiere r’n’b no-wavers, it was the first release on Bruce Findlay’s Zoom label. Guitarist Ronnie Mackinnon, vocalist Dave Robertson, aka Dee Robot, Gordon Scott on bass and drummer Gordon Dair were the band’s mainstays, with more wordplay to be had with the titles of follow-up single, Tarzan of the King’s Road / Ain’t No Surf in Portobello. It took two years before a third, Don’t Mean Nothin’ At All, appeared, before the band split shortly after. Valves reformed for a one-off Edinburgh show in 2013, and with Robertson now living in Antwerp, Cheetahs vocalist Joe Donkin has been drafted in for sporadic live shows since then.

5. P.V.C. 2  Put You in the Picture
(Zoom  ZUM 2  10/77)
It may mean nothing to him these days, but Midge Ure’s metamorphosis from teeny-bopper idol fronting Slik to earnest European arthouse in Ultravox was bridged by this first foray into Strangleresque punk before he hooked up with ex Sex Pistol Glen Matlock to form Rich Kids. Released on Zoom as a ‘triple A-side’, Put You in the Picture featured Slik’s core of Ure, drummer Kenny Hyslop and keyboardist Billy McIsaac, with Russell Webb joining on bass. The song was re-recorded by Rich Kids debut album, though without McIsaac’s brief Grange Hill style synth break. With Alex Harvey’s cousin Willie Gardner, Webb and Hyslop formed Zones, who released a quartet of singles and an album, Under Influence, before Hyslop and Webb joined Skids, with Hyslop eventually decamping to Simple Minds. 

(Chiswick  NS 22  11/77)
When Johnnie Plague was advised to draft Pripton Weird and Charlie Argue into his south side of Glasgow punk band, with Plague’s pal Sid Siphilis also in tow, little did they know what would eventually emerge from the buzzsaw-guitar-sax snarl of their sole single, Saints and Sinners / Dead Vandals, released seemingly with some amusement by Chiswick Records. Plague was in fact one John Milarky, and Siphilis Allan McNeill, while Weird and Argue had been christened Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill respectively. As factionalism took hold, Kerr and Burchill brought in drummer Brian McGee and bassist Tony Donald. The subsequent split gave rise to Cuban Heels on the one hand (Milarky, McNeill), and, somewhat more epically, Simple Minds (Kerr, Burchill, McGee, Donald) on the other.

7. BEE BEE CEE  You Gotta Know Girl
(REL  RE 48 S  11/77)
With Britain’s state broadcasters chasing ratings on the back of punk’s shock value, come in Edinburgh five-piece Bee Bee Cee. Led by vocalist Dave Gilhooley and guitarist Callum McNair, Bee Bee Cee’s sole vinyl offering was paired with the far snottier We Ain’t Listening and released on Radio Edinburgh Ltd before finding its way onto the Short Sharp Shock compilation. Gilhooley and McNair later teamed up as Club of Rome, contributing to the Mint Sauce for the Masses Edinburgh compilation EP. McNair went on to Syndicate, then The Apples with ex Win-ites Ian Stoddart and Willy Perry, and Captain Shifty with Stoddart before joining The Bathers, fronted by ex Friends Again frontman Chris Thomson. McNair currently plays with Blondie tribute band Dirty Harry.

8. SUBS  Gimme Your Heart
(Stiff  OFF 1  2/78)
A drum-driven chant ushers in this piece of hyperactive lovelorn nihilism by a short-lived Glasgow quartet whose initial claim to fame came after rescuing a couple trapped beneath a Highland snowdrift on the A835. Vocalist Callum Cuthbertson, guitarist Kevin Key, bassist Derek Forbes and drummer Ali MacKenzie won a Stiff/Chiswick Challenge that led to a one-off deal with Stiff. Released on yellow vinyl, Gimme Your Heart was overseen by Blodwyn Pig / Pink Fairies veteran Larry Wallis. Forbes went on to join a nascent Simple Minds, moving on to Propaganda, Spear of Destiny and Big Country before releasing solo material and, in 2018, with Marc Almond / Nick Cave collaborator Anni Hogan, released material as ZANTi.

9. SKIDS  Reasons
(No Bad  NB 1  4/78)
Richard Jobson’s brilliant career started in Dunfermline with a three-track EP released on No Bad Records Reasons is taken from. With all songs penned by guitarist Stuart Adamson, their youthful exuberance is a long way from the lofty grandeur of the four Skids albums released between 1979 and 1981, but reveals a rough template for Adamson’s panoramic guitar sounds he would later unleash to the full leading Big Country. With Jobson forming The Armoury Show before becoming a full-on renaissance man, Adamson’s passing in 2001 marked the sad loss of an epic musical force. With Jobson co-opting Big Country guitarist Bruce Watson into the fold, a revitalised Skids released their Burning Cities album in 2018.

10. FINGERPRINZ  Dancing with Myself
(Virgin  VS 235  1/79)
With vocalist Step Lang singing on their debut single, Fingerprintz’s jauntily sharp-edged paean to solitary dancefloor pleasures was released on green vinyl 12” through Virgin Records. With guitarist Jimme O’Neill stepping up as singer, the band went on to release three largely unheralded albums, beginning with The Very Dab. O’Neill also penned songs for the likes of Lene Lovitch and Paul Young, while second guitarist Cha Burns moonlighted with Adam Ant alongside Fingerprintz drummer Bogdan Wiczling, aka Bob Shilling. With Fingerprintz’s demise, O’Neill and Burns regrouped as The Silencers, releasing a series of artfully arranged under-the-radar albums focused around O’Neill’s songwriting. Since Burns’ passing in 2007, O’Neill has continued to write and record.

11. THE ZIPS  Take Me Down
(Black Gold Music  ZIP 1  4/79)
Saturday afternoons at Glasgow’s Custom House Quay beside the River Clyde were once enlivened by the sound of The Zips, whose poppy take on punk was exemplified by this
lead track from a four-song EP released on the Black Gold label. Formed by pub rock veterans John McNeill and guitarist Brian Jackson, The Zips released a second single, Radioactivity, on their own Tenement Toons label, funded by Jackson’s granny in solidarity with the A-side’s anti-nuclear stance. The Zips reunited in 2002, since when they have released numerous EPs and a whopping three albums, with a fourth on the way.

12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE  All The Boys Love Carrie
(New Pleasures  Z 1  5/79)
Before Mike Scott embraced widescreen Celtic twilight, the Edinburgh-born, Ayr-sired wunderkind and cohorts released this masterful homage to unobtainable women. Having had a musical epiphany by way of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich and Hank Williams at an early age, Scott produced a fanzine, Jungleland, before forming Another Pretty Face. Carrie’s primitive but still epic urgency saw it become NME Single of the Week. APF released three more singles and a cassette album, I’m Sorry That I Beat You, I’m Sorry That I Screamed, but for A Moment There I Really Lost Control, on Scott’s Chicken Jazz label before the stars, the moon and the sea beckoned.

13. VISITORS  Electric Heat
(Deep Cuts  DEEP ONE  5/79)
Edinburgh quartet formed from the ashes of The Deleted by brothers John and Derek McVay with Colin Craigie and Alan Laing. Released on Sounds journalist and proprietor of fanzine Kingdom Come, Johnny Waller’s Deep Cuts label, Electric Heat opens with the ominous insistence of a dystopian sci-fi film. Visitors signed to 4AD Records, but split up before they could release anything. In 2011, Visitors final single, Compatibility, released on Allan Campbell’s Rational Records, was covered by Finitribe co-founder and Revolting Cocks mainstay Chris Connelly on his Artificial Intelligence album. In 2016, Canadian label Telephone Explosion Records released Poet’s End, a compilation named after the B-side of Compatibility.

14. THE JOLT  See Saw
(Polydor  2229 215  6/79)
See Saw’s slice of 1960s-tinged mod pop was always destined to be a B-side, whether it was by the Glasgow-based trio on the band’s final release, an EP led by Maybe Tonight, or by another 1960s influenced band led by the song’s writer, The Jam’s Paul Weller on the flip of Eton Rifles. Weller had gifted See Saw to The Jolt after the bands shared bills in London after being signed by Polydor. A fistful of singles included a cover of The Small Faces proto-mod classic, What’cha Gonna Do About It?, which appeared on The Jolt’s eponymously named album, re-released in 2002 with eight bonus tracks, including See Saw.

15. SIMPLE MINDS – Chelsea Girl
(Zoom  ZUM 11  6/79)
The second single from Simple Minds’ debut Life in a Day album may have taken its title and attitude from Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico’s own solo debut more than a decade earlier, but the keyboard melody that opened the recorded version pointed to a more grandiose future. Released through manager Bruce Findlay’s Zoom label, by now licensed to Arista Records, Life in A Day’s glossy John Leckie production may not have captured the raw power of Jim Kerr and co’s live shows, but Charlie Burchill’s Heroes-esque guitar and a voguish split-screen video nevertheless revealed a band with panoramic ambitions and European intent.   

16. SHAKE – Culture Shock
(Sire  SIR 4016  7/79)
When The Rezillos split in 1978, while Eugene Reynolds, Fay Fife and Hi-Fi Harris formed the similarly trashy Revillos, song-writer Jo Callis, bassist Simon Templar and drummer Angel Paterson, plus future Teardrop Explodes guitarist Troy Tate, became Shake. Released as the lead number on a 10” EP, their exuberant debut highlighted a Callis-penned song that had originally been part of The Rezillos live set, and can be heard on Callis’ former band’s Mission Accomplished…But The Beat Goes On live swansong recorded at Glasgow Apollo. A second single, Invasion of The Gamma Men, followed, before Callis embarked on a pop voyage that would ultimately lead to global domination with The Human League.

17. THE HEADBOYS – The Shape of Things to Come
(RSO  RSO 40  7/79)
Originally known as Badger, this Edinburgh four-piece led by singer and guitarist Lou Lewis signed to Robert Stigwood’s RSO label. This textured piece of triumphalist power-pop prophecy landed them eight weeks in the chart, crossover American attention and a Top of the Pops appearance. A self-titled album and another couple of singles eluded anything similar. The song’s stand-out classicist keyboards were provided by Calum Malcolm, who, as producer and engineer, worked with the entire Postcard roster before overseeing the debut album by The Blue Nile and many others. In 2013, The Headboys released The Lost Album, originally recorded as a follow-up to their debut, and here dedicated to drummer Davy Ross, who passed away in 2010. 

18. FIRE EXIT  Time Wall
(Timebomb  TBE 1  8/79)
Recorded with assistance from Vibrators bass player Pat Collier, this piece of street-smart dystopian desire to get beyond the punk era’s all-pervading sense of urban dread marked the arrival of Gerry Attrick’s much lauded combo who are still going strong. With three original albums released since 2004, a compilation, Religion is the Biggest Cause of War (the Best of Fire Exit So Far 1977-Now), arrived in 2013. This was followed in 2017 by 40 Years of Punk Rock, a 2CD collection of assorted demos, scraps and unreleased recordings. Now in their fifth decade, Fire Exit are growing old disgracefully, and are probably coming to a punk festival near you soon.

19. THE FREEZE   Paranoia
(A1 A1 1 A1  9/79)
Formed at Linlithgow Academy, West Lothian, vocalist Gordon Sharp, guitarist David Clancy and bassist Keith Grant were joined by Grangemouth drummer Graeme Radin, with lyrics for this lead track from the band’s debut EP provided by their English teacher manager Alistair Allison. A far darker proposition than this straightforward thrash might suggest, with an American hardcore band called The Freeze in existence, while British disco act Freeez had a 1981 hit with Southern Freeze, Sharp and Clancy morphed into Cindytalk. This gave Sharp especially free rein, as he went on to work with kindred spirits The Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil album, ploughing a wilfully singular fashion under the Cindytalk banner to this day.

20. THE FAKES  Sylvia Clarke
(Deep Cuts  DEEP TWO  9/79)
‘The Fakes are no real’ was the conceptual gag promoted by the Stirling-sired quartet founded by bassist James ‘Jamzy’ McDonald, singer Johnny McGuire and drummer Brian Kemp. Originally The Cunts, then SK70, named after a silicon lubricant used with condoms, The Fakes’ pounding comment on dead-end factory jobs, Production, featured guitarist Mairi Ross on their sole single alongside a self-released cassette. The band fell apart following the death of Kemp in a motorcycle accident. McDonald reinvented himself as Mr Egg, overseeing a one-man acid techno revolution as the Can-referencing Ege Bam Yasi. More recently, McDonald and McGuire reformed The Fakes with guitar whizz William Baird and Tango Rhums drummer Lee McPhail on board. Recent live shows sound as authentic as they’ve ever been.

21. TPI  She’s Too Clever for Me
(Clever  TPI 1ST1  10/79)
‘Band with A Difference’ went the legend on the promotional key-rings put out by this Edinburgh four-piece, whose acronym stood for Thick Pink Ink. T.P.I were originally fronted by a man known only as Curtis, who was resident DJ at Edinburgh New Town nightspot Tiffany’s, which on Mondays became the best gig venue in town. Once Curtis left, guitarist Billy Barker stepped up to front this sixties-tinged first-person study in being romantically out of one’s depth. Produced by original Bay City Rollers vocalist Nobby Clark, the songs’ prettified melodies and ringing guitars resemble the likes of The Flaming Groovies particular brand of power pop.

22. FUN 4  Singing in the Showers
(NMC NMC 010  11/79)
Originally known as Rev Volting and the Backstabbers, The Fun 4’s only gift to the world featured James King and Steven Daly, plus Colin McNeill and vocalist Rev Thomas. While King and McNeill went on to form James King and The Lone Wolves, Daly joined The Machetes. Along with that band’s guitarist James Kirk, he wound up drumming in The Nu-Sonics, who eventually morphed into Orange Juice, who subsequently invented indie-pop as we know it. Daly and Kirk went on to form Memphis, before a move into journalism saw Daly write for Rolling Stone and becoming music editor of Spin magazine. Daly became a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, and has also written two books, Alt.Culture and The Rock Snob’s Dictionary.

23. FLOWERS - Confessions
(Pop:Aural  POP 001  12/79)
Hilary Morrison’s role in the development of Scottish post-punk has been criminally underplayed. As co-founder of the Fast Product label/concept alongside Bob Last, Morrison, aka HL Ray, provided much of Fast’s visual sensibility by way of her photographs and attitude. There was an awareness too of gender politics that came through her songs as vocalist with Flowers. Released in 1979 as the first of two singles on Last’s Pop:Aural label following two tracks – Criminal Waste and After Dark – on Fast’s Earcom 1 compilation, Confessions was a scratchily jangular construction which sat roughly in the same agit-funk feminist territory as The Au Pairs and Delta 5, the latter of whom Best joined. Morrison fleetingly hooked up with Fire Engines vocalist Davy Henderson as Heartbeat, releasing Spook Sex on an NME cassette, and now works as a community artist in Edinburgh.

24. TV21 Playing with Fire
 (Powbeat  AAARGH 001  4/80)
With a name lifted from Gerry Anderson, TV 21’s bright shade of powerpop saw the Edinburgh quartet release their debut single on their own Powbeat label. Produced by Shake and Teardrop Explodes guitarist Troy Tate, Playing with Fire was a stirring rabble-rouser from guitarists Ally Palmer and Norman Rodgers, bassist Neil Baldwin and original drummer Colin Mclean. The trumpets and percussion smattered across their A Thin Red Line album didn’t stop them splitting up backstage at Edinburgh Playhouse after supporting The Rolling Stones. Reforming at the end of the noughties for a one-off John Peel Night show, a revitalised TV 21went on to release a collection of new work, Forever 22, and still surface occasionally inbetween other commitments that include Palmer overseeing Scots football magazine, Nutmeg.

25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight
(Red  RS 003  11/80)
If Glasgow auteur Alex Fergusson’s snappy piece of dancefloor synth-pop sounds like it was paving the way for Depeche Mode and co, bear in mind that producer Larry Least was actually Daniel Miller, aka The Normal and founder of Mute Records. Fergusson had played with Sounds journalist Sandy Robertson as The Nobodies before forming Alternative TV with Sniffin’ Glue fanzine writer Mark Perry. As a producer, Fergusson also worked with Postcard-era Orange Juice and The Go-Betweens. He then joined Cash Pussies, the conceptual brainchild of pop journo provocateurs Fred and Judy Vermorel, who released the Sid Vicious-sampling 99% is Shit. For five years he played with Genesis P Orridge’s cult collective, Psychic TV. Since his departure, Fergusson has released several albums, including 2001’s The Essence, which featured a guest vocal from former Strawberry Switchblade co-vocalist Rose McDowell.


1. ALTERED IMAGES Dead Pop Stars (2/81)
2. PRATS Die Todten Reyten Schnell (circa 5/80)
3. DELMONTES Tous Les Soirs (9/80)
4. CUBAN HEELS Walk On Water (11/80)
5. 35MM DREAMS More Than This (11/80)
6. PRESIDENTS MEN Out In The Open (11/80)
7. SCARS All About You (3/81)
8. THE ASSOCIATES Tell Me Easters On Friday (4/81)
9. JOSEF K Sorry For Laughing (4/81)
10. ARTICLE 58 Event To Come (4/81)
11. RESTRICTED CODE Love To Meet You (5/81)
12. THOMAS LEER Don’t (7/81)
13. FIRE ENGINES Big Gold Dream (12/81)
14. WAKE On Our Honeymoon (1/82)
15. BOOTS FOR DANCING Ooh Bop Sh'Bam (2/82)
16. THE HAPPY FAMILY Puritans (3/82)
17. EVEREST THE HARD WAY Tightrope (4/82)
18. APB Palace Filled With Love (5/82)
19. PAUL HAIG Running Away (6/82)
20. FRENCH IMPRESSIONISTS Pick Up The Rhythm (9/82)
21. HEY! ELASTICA Eat Your Heart Out (10/82)
22. LAUGHING APPLE Participate! (11/82)

1. ALTERED IMAGES Dead Pop Stars
(Epic – Epic A1023,  2/81)
Clare Grogan’s legacy as singer with Altered Images and star of Bill Forsyth’s film, Gregory’s Girl may be perceived as one of cutesy pop saccharine, but the band’s debut single was a far spikier proposition. Named after Buzzcocks designer Malcolm Garrett’s sleeve image for their single, Promises, Altered Images’ original line-up sent a demo tape to Siouxsie and the Banshees, whose bass player and future Edinburgh resident Steven Severin produced Dead Pop Stars’ swirlingly nasty take on showbiz cynicism. Crossing over to the mainstream with third single, Happy Birthday, a rejigged line-up added pop gloss to Grogan’s sugar-rush vocals, with third album Bite siring a set of sophisti-pop singles led by Don’t Talk to Me About Love. With Altered Images’ musical tentacles everywhere, Grogan has recently formed an all-female version of the band.

2. The PRATS Die Todten Reyten Schnell
(Da Da Records das 1, 5/80)
The Prats’ barely pubescent original quartet of Paul McGlaughlin, brothers Dave and Greg Maguire and Tom Robinson used a cardboard drum kit and sang songs about disco popes. Having sent a demo to Fast Product, three Prats tracks, Inverness, Bored and Prats 2, appeared on Earcom 1. The German-only release of Die Todten Reyten Schnell was co-produced by original Bay City Rollers vocalist Nobby Clarke. In 2004, fan Jonathan Demme put Prats track General Davis on the soundtrack of his big-screen reboot of The Manchurian Candidate. This in turn inspired the compilation, Now That’s What I Call Prats, while a documentary, Poxy Pop Groups – The Story of The Prats, is ongoing.

3. The DELMONTES Tous Les Soirs
(Rational Records  RATE 1, 9/80)
The debut single by Edinburgh five-piece The Delmontes was a groovy slice of sixties-inspired indie that pre-dated Stereolab’s pan-European exotica and mixed gender dynamics across a three-woman/two-man line-up fronted by chief chanteuse Julie Hepburn. Guitarist Mike Berry, bassist Gordon Simpson, keyboardist Gillian Miller and drummer Bernice Campbell completed the line-up. Like Tous Les Soirs, the follow-up, Don’t Cry Your Tears, was released on Allan Campbell’s unsung Rational label. Various flirtations between The Delmontes and assorted major labels bore little fruit, though a compilation, Carousel, was released on LTM Records in 2006. Campbell went on to The Pastels, while more recently Berry could be spotted playing with former drummer of The Freeze Neil Braidwood and bass-playing theatre director Mark Thomson as The Bail Sheriffs.

4. CUBAN HEELS Walk On Water
(Cuba Libre  DRINK 1, 11/80)
When Johnny and the Self Abusers split, while Jim Kerr and co went on to world domination with Simple Minds, vocalist John Milarkey formed Cuban Heels, whose mix of pop-funk stridency teetered just the right side of anthemic. Debuting with a breathlessly bratty cover of the Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent-penned Petula Clark hit, Downtown, by the time of their third single they came on like a speedier, less angular Talking Heads. A sole album, Working Our Way to Heaven, was released by Virgin in 1981, with their final single, a re-recorded version of Walk on Water, coming with a free flexi-disc featuring a cover of Cat Stevens’ Matthew and Son.

5. 35MM DREAMS More Than This
(More Than This Records ASA 100, 11/80)
Taking their name from a song by Lou Reed and John Cale favourite Garland Jeffreys, the debut single by Edinburgh’s 35MM Dreams sounded like a post-punk Eleanor Rigby. This followed a four-track cassette of demos, Suburbia Sheikhs, which perhaps nodded to the band’s roots at Craigmount High School in west Edinburgh, also alma mater of assorted Fire Engines and Scars. A second single, Fasten Your Safety belts, followed. Drummer Moray Crawford went on to play in Buba and the Shop Assistants before decamping to Japan, where he guested on Shonen Knife’s Heavy Songs album. A briefly reformed 35MM Dreams and Moray Crawford’s Japanese band My-T-Hi played an Edinburgh show alongside Shock and Awe thirty years to to the day since the release of More Than This.

(Oily Records  SLICK 4, 11/80)
Jeremy Thoms was the driving force behind this Aberdeen quartet who recorded two singles for the city’s Oily Records. Alongside guitarist Roy Ingrams, bassist Donald Macdonald and drummer John Watson, Thoms recorded Out in the Open in Edinburgh at Tony Pilley’s famed Barclay Towers studio. Following the Presidents Men’s second single, Reasons for Leaving, Thoms decamped to the capital, toured with The Revillos and went on to play in the likes of Strawberry Tarts, The Naturals, New Leaf and The Fabulous Artisans. These days he fronts The Cathode Ray and also runs Stereogram Recordings, which has put out all Cathode Ray material to date, as well as albums by the likes of James King and The Lone Wolves, Roy Moller and The Band of Holy Joy.

7. SCARS All About You
(PRE Records PRE 014, 3/81)
Scars’ mix of Robert King’s fearlessly literate incantations and Paul Research’s metallic guitar shards bore recorded fruit with the Clockwork Orange-referencing Horrorshow paired with the more poetically inclined Adult/ery. This marked Scars out as the first Scottish band to have a single released through Fast Product, the concept-heavy record label founded by former Rezillos tour manager Bob Last and Flowers vocalist Hilary Morrison. Scars signed to Charisma offshoot Pre, who released their sole album, Author! Author!, which closed with their third Pre single, All About You. On the back of Lemon Jelly sampling Horrorshow, Scars reformed for a one-off Edinburgh date in 2010. Since then King has been active fronting Opium Kitchen, while Paul Mackie/Research is working with cross-generational riot-grrrl-inspired troupe, Voicex.

8. THE ASSOCIATES Tell Me Easters On Friday
(Situation Two SIT 1, 4/81)
When Billy Mackenzie and Alan Rankine released a cover of David Bowie’s Boys Keep Swinging as The Associates weeks after Bowie’s original, such an audacious stunt got the Dundee-born singer and Bridge of Allan-sired multi-instrumentalist a record deal for their first album, The Affectionate Punch. While g Party Fears Two brought crossover success, the series of singles from the previous year revealed a more maverick talent. Tell Me Easter’s on Friday in particular possessed a martial electronic grandeur turned stratospheric by Mackenzie’s swooping vocal. Walking away from success, Mackenzie recorded as The Associates without Rankine, who went on to produce the likes of Paul Haig before becoming a lecturer at Glasgow’s Stow College. Mackenzie’s misunderstood genius continued to shine, but was only fully acknowledged following his death in 1997.

9. JOSEF K Sorry for Laughing
(Les Disques du Crepescule TWI 023, 4/81)
Originally TV Art, the Edinburgh quartet of Paul Haig, Malcolm Ross, Ronnie Torrance and Davy Weddell took their new name from Kafka. After releasing their debut single, Chance Meeting, on Orange Juice drummer Steven Daly’s Absolute 45 label, Josef K became Postcard Records’ east coast connection as a kind of existentialist Chic. Sorry for Laughing was the band’s third Postcard single, heard both on the unreleased album of the same name and the far scratchier The Only Fun in Town that did see the light of day. Haig split the band shortly after. Ross played with both Orange Juice and Aztec Camera, while Haig embarked on a peripatetic solo career. Sorry for Laughing was covered first by Propaganda, then much later in a 1960s cappuccino bar style by Nouvelle Vague.  

10. ARTICLE 58 Event to Come
(Rational Records RATE 4, 4/81)
Formed in rural South Lanarkshire by singer Gerry McLaughlin and guitarist Douglas McIntyre and named after the Soviet classification for counter-revolutionaries, Article 58’s sole single was mooted for release on Postcard after being produced by label boss Alan Horne and Josef K guitarist Malcolm Ross. Allan Campbell’s Rational Records picked up the mantle before drummer Stephen Lironi was whisked off by Restricted Code. McIntyre went on to found the Creeping Bent Organisation, another post-Fast art happening masquerading as a record label, releasing material by the likes of The Secret Goldfish, Vic Godard and Davy Henderson’s post-Fire Engines and Win outfit, The Nectarine No 9. McIntyre also plays bass with Henderson’s latest vehicle, The Sexual Objects, while masterminding the parallel universe supergroup that is Port Sulphur.  

11. RESTRICTED CODE Love to Meet You
(Pop:Aural POP 009, 5/81)
Glasgow’s sprawling post-war housing estate of Easterhouse didn’t have much going for it when teenagers Tom Cannavan and Frank Quadrelli started playing music together in the mid-1970s. This was given a sociological nod by Restricted Code’s taut form of mutant pop. Making their recorded debut on the Second City Statik compilation alongside Positive Noise and The Alleged, their first Pop:Aural single, First Night On/From the Top, made number 1 in the NME indie charts. By the time of second single Love to Meet You, also on Pop:Aural, ex Article 58 and future Altered Images drummer Stephen Lironi was in the fold, but the band split shortly after. Fast forward to 2018, and Restricted Code are together again with ex Positive Noise drummer Les Gaff on board and are recording new material.

(Cherry Red, 12 Cherry 28, 7/81)
Born in Port Glasgow, Thomas Leer played in short-lived local bands before decamping to London and forming Pressure before self-releasing his solo single, Private Plane. Having hooked up with fellow Port Glasgow émigré Robert Rental for The Bridge album, Leer moved to Cherry Red for 4 Movements, with lead track Don’t’s mix of electronic drum beats, disco bass and nouveau torch singing mining the playful fourth world funk of mid-era Can. All About You followed before Leer released a series of singles and an album, The Scale of Ten, on Arista. Hooking up as Act with former Propaganda chanteuse Claudia Brucken, one album was released on ZTT. A retrospective exhibition on Leer and the late Robert Rental was seen at the Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock in October 2018.

13. FIRE ENGINES Big Gold Dream
(Pop:Aural POP 013, 12/81)
‘Boredom or Fire Engines. You cannot have both.’ So went the manifesto of arguably Edinburgh’s most urgent proposition, formed by vocalist Davy Henderson, guitarist Murray Slade, bassist Graham Main and drummer Russel Burn. The band’s No Wave primitivism on debut single Get Up and Use Me enticed them to Pop:Aural, who released Lubricate Your Living Room, a set of ‘Background Music for Now People’, before their next single, the wonky-stringed Candyskin. The band’s final release, Big Gold Dream, was a 12” glossy pop confection that paved the way for Henderson and Burn’s attempt at entryism with Win. A resurgence of interest in Fire Engines followed Franz Ferdinand citing them as an influence, with a briefly reformed Engines sharing a split single with their progeny. These days Henderson fronts The Sexual Objects, and remains the most important pop star alive.

14. THE WAKE On Our Honeymoon (1/82)
(Scan 45 SCN 1, 1/82)
Formed by ex-Altered Images guitarist Gerard McNulty, aka Caesar, with bassist Joe Donnelly, and early incarnations featuring a pre-Primal Scream Bobby Gillespie, this self-released single was noticed by New Order manager Rob Gretton. With Carolyn Allen joining on keyboards, Factory Records released two Wake albums, Harmony and Here Comes Everybody. A move to Sarah Records for another two albums, Make it Loud and Tidal Wave of Hype, looked more comfortable for a now three-piece line-up. While the entire Wake back-catalogue was re-released on LTM records, McNulty and Carolyn Allen focused on their theatre company, 12 Stars, before hooking up with ex Field Mice/Northern Picture Library/Trembling Blue Stars mainstay Bobby Wratten and releasing two albums as The Occasional Keepers. A new Wake album, A Light Far Out, was released on LTM in 2012.

15. BOOTS FOR DANCING Ooh Bop Sh'Bam (2/82)
(Re-pop-x WHY 100, 2/82)
Named by poet and Thursdays vocalist Paul Reekie in response to post-punk contemporaries Shoes for Industry, Edinburgh’s Boots for Dancing were led by Dave Carson, a dervish-like frontman whose jittery punk-funk moves were responsible for some flamboyantly theatrical live shows. With members at various points including ex Flowers guitarist Graeme High, who went on to join Delta 5, Thursdays guitarist Michael Barclay and assorted ex Rezillos including the ubiquitous Jo Callis, Boots for Dancing released two singles on Pop:Aural prior to this follow-up on the Re-Pop-X label. Following the release of The Undisco Kidds, an archival compilation on the Athens of the North label, Boots for Dancing reformed with a line-up that includes Carson, Barclay, Fire Engines drummer Russell Burn, guitarist Gavin Fraser and bassist Colin Whitson.

(4AD AD 204, 3/82)
Nick Currie was a Josef K fanboy whose dream came true when he ended up with most of them in his band, with both guitarist Malcolm Ross and bassist Davy Weddell receiving a co-writers credit on Puritans, the lead track on the band’s debut EP for 4AD Records. Drummer Ronnie Torrance also appeared on the follow-up album, The Man on Your Street. All of which made for a florid take on scratchy post-punk. Walking away from 4AD, Currie released a cassette of Happy Family demos, This Business of Living, on the Les Temps Modernes label, before morphing into Momus, an arch creation named after the Greek god of mockery, a name Currie continues write and record under today.

17. EVEREST THE HARD WAY Tightrope (4/82)
Do It (DUN 17)
Named after the 1975 documentary film charting Chris Bonnington’s heroic mountain-climb, this strident piece of European electro-pomp was Everest the Hard Way’s sole single release. A Kid Jenson session on BBC Radio 1 featured vocalist David Service, keyboardist Jim Telford, bassist and future member of The Chimes Mike Peden and drummer Ian Stoddart.
Another track, Consumption, appeared on Fools Rush in Where Angels Dare to Tread, a compilation collated from recordings at Richard Strange’s London-based Cabaret Futura club. The album also featured Skids vocalist Richard Jobson performing his poems, India Song and Daddy, and two tracks by Positive Noise. Strange’s The Phenomenal World of Richard Strange album featured keyboards from Everest the Hard Way’s Jim Telford and a guest vocal from Positive Noise’s Ross Middleton.

18. APB Palace Filled with Love (5/82)
Oily (Slick 8)
Making the leap from Aberdeenshire to the New York club scene seemed unlikely when vocalist Iain Slater, guitarist Glenn Roberts and drummer George Cheyne formed APB in 1979. That’s exactly what happened when copies of the band’s second of five singles on Aberdeen’s Oily Records, (I’d Like to) Shoot You Down, found their way stateside. Utilising a stripped-down take on punk-funk, the trio’s records ended up filling the floors at hip big apple hang-outs Dancetaria and the Mudd Club. Early singles were compiled on the Something to Believe In album, with an original set, Cure for the Blues, released in 1986. While APB morphed into Loveless, renewed attention prompted a twentieth-anniversary reissue of Something to Believe In and a brief reformation, with live dates in Aberdeen and New York.

19. PAUL HAIG Running Away
(Les Disques du Crepescule TWI 089/Operation Twilight OPT003, 6/82)
Having departed Josef K, vocalist Paul Haig released two singles under the Rhythm of Life banner designed to keep him in the shadows, Haig’s next move was to Belgium, where Les Disques du Crepescule had championed his former band, and did the same for his latest guise by way of this sublime Sly and the Family Stone cover, released simultaneously on Crepescule’s short-lived UK arm, Operation Twilight. Haig’s deadpan version coincided with a cover of the same song by Rough Trade feminist icons The Raincoats. Utilising state-of-art electronics on numerous releases on labels great and small across the decades, Haig dips in and out of view, with thirteen solo albums, many of them electronic instrumentals, released on his own cottage industry ROL label.

(A Selection of Songs Les Disques du Crepescule TWI 070/ LTM LTMCD 2415, 9/82)
Glasgow song-writer Malcolm Fisher heralded a very quiet wave of nouveau coffee bar pop-jazz that looked to classic writers such as George Gershwin. Accompanied by Aztec Camera’s Roddy Frame and Campbell Owens plus future Bourgie Bourgie vocalist Paul Quinn, two songs appeared under Fisher’s French Impressionists nom de plume on Les Disques du Crepescule’s The Fruit of the Original Sin compilation. With assorted female vocalists including Margaret Murphy, aka Tutti Frutti actress Katy Murphy, the Belgian/Scottish auld alliance continued when Crepescule released A Selection of Songs, on which the finger-clicking Pick up the Rhythm featured. Fisher released three albums of solo piano music, while a new line-up of The French Impressionists released Fete in 2007, followed by an album of musical settings to poems by Amelia Rosselli.

21. HEY! ELASTICA Eat Your Heart Out (10/82)
(Virgin VS 547, 10/82)
Purveyors of shiny, happy, synthetic dancefloor pop, Hey! Elastica were a colour-clashing riot of style over substance. The louche tones of BFJ McVicar (Barry to his friends), were off-set by the double act joie de vivre of Samantha Swanson and Giles De Mabrielle, who had provided backing vocals on Paul Haig’s post-Josef K single, Blue for You. Eat Your Heart Out was the band’s first of four singles, and was produced by long-term David Bowie producer Tony Visconti, who would go on to oversee Altered Images swansong, Bite. Hey! Elastica’s only album, In on the Offbeat, was just as flashy as the singles, but never quite grabbed the mainstream.

22. The LAUGHING APPLE Participate!
(Autonomy Records AUT 002, 11/82)
As calls to arms go, this second single by The Laughing Apple threw down a gauntlet for everything that followed. Formed by Alan McGee and Andrew Innes, both had been in Glasgow band The Drains, who McGee had joined with future Jesus and Mary Chain drummer and Primal Scream vocalist Bobby Gillespie. Decamping to London without Gillespie, the two ex-Drains hooked up with drummer Mark Jardim and released two singles on Autonomy, with a third, Precious Feeling, coming out on the band’s own Essential label. With Dick Green and Joe Foster, McGee went on to Biff Bang Pow!, while Innes formed Revolving Paint Dream. The seeds for Creation Records can be found here.


1. COCTEAU TWINS Feathers Oar-Blades (11/82)
2. TWINSETS Out Of Nowhere (TX 4/11/82)
3. BLUEBELLS Cath (2/83)
4. WATERBOYS A Girl Called Johnny (3/83)
5. FRIENDS AGAIN Lucky Star (Moonboot version) (5/83)
6. STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE Trees And Flowers (7/83)
7. JAZZATEERS Sixteen Reasons (7/83)
8. SUEDE CROCODILES Stop The Rain (8/83)
9. REVOLVING PAINT DREAM Flowers In The Sky (2/84)
10. JASMINE MINKS Think! (3/84)
11. BIFF BANG POW! There Must Be A Better Life (6/84)
12. AZTEC CAMERA All I Need Is Everything (8/84)
13. POP WALLPAPER Over Your Shoulder (8/84)
14. WEE CHERUBS Dreaming (9/84)
15. FINI TRIBE Cathedral (10/84)
16. JESUS & MARY CHAIN Upside Down (11/84)
17. PASTELS Baby Honey (11/84)
18. MEMPHIS You Supply The Roses (1/85)
19. PAUL QUINN & EDWYN COLLINS Ain’t That Always The Way (2/85) 
20. WIN Unamerican Broadcasting (3/85)
21. BLOOD UNCLES Swallow (3/85)

1. COCTEAU TWINS Feathers Oar-Blades
(4AD  BAD 213 11/82)
The other-worldliness of vocalist Liz Fraser and guitarist Robin Guthrie, first with bassist Will Heggie, then with Simon Raymonde, was evident from this opening track of the original Grangemouth-sired trio’s EP, Lullabies. This followed their first album, Garlands, and showed portents of their ethereal magnificence to come across eight albums and eighteen years. With Heggie departing to Lowlife, post-break-up Guthrie and Raymonde founded Bella Union Records, with Guthrie forming Violet Indiana and releasing several solo records. While Fraser’s appearances have been few and far between, in 2017 she appeared at the Royal Albert Hall in London in conversation with John Grant, and in 2018 played an invitation-only live show, featuring Grant on backing vocals for a rendition of American folk song, Shenandoah. 

2. THE TWINSETS Out Of Nowhere
(John Peel Session, TX 4/11/82)
Based around the vocal harmonies of sisters Gaye and Rachel Bell, Edinburgh’s The Twinsets gave a punky edge to cocktail bar swing-time covers. Taken from their second of three John Peel sessions, this is no relation to Johnny Green and lyricist Edward Heyman’s jazz standard had been Bing Crosby’s first hit in 1931 before numerous versions by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne and Frank Sinatra. In August 2018, the Bell sisters reunited onstage for two songs as part of Since Yesterday, a concert at Edinburgh International Festival to celebrate the lost female voices of Scottish pop as a precursor to Teen Canteen vocalist Carla J. Easton’s film of the same name.

(London  LON/+X 20  2/83)
Before The Bluebells hit paydirt with the countrified hoe-down of Young At Heart, this second single was an effervescent paean to lost love led by an infectious harmonica melody by vocalist Ken McCluskey. A sole Bluebells album, Sisters, followed. With bassist Lawrence Donegan decamping to Lloyd Cole and The Commotions, McCluskey and his drumming sibling David formed The McCluskey Brothers while guitarist Bobby Bluebell moved into Dj-ing. The Bluebells briefly reformed in 1993 on the back of Young at Heart being used in a Volkswagen TV ad, reuniting again in 2009 to play with Edwyn Collins. Ken McCluskey was instrumental in setting up an exhibition of photographs by former Sounds photographer Harry Papadopoulos, in which The Bluebells and many other Sound of Young Scotland types appeared. 

4. WATERBOYS A Girl Called Johnny
(Chicken Jazz CJ 1  3/83)
As Mike Scott’s Another Pretty Face vehicle morphed into The Waterboys, the band’s debut single on Scott’s own Chicken Jazz label announced a more panoramic sound that would ebb and flow with assorted musical influences across the decades. Scott’s homage to Patti Smith set the tone for a series of records that mixed spiritual roots with epic productions that hit the zeitgeist with the questing euphoria of A Whole of the Moon. Overseeing numerous line-up changes, Scott stripped things down to incorporate Irish traditional music influences for 1988’s Fisherman’s Blues album. Assorted solo wanderings followed before Scott picked up the Waterboys name once more for albums including the WB Yeats inspired An Appointment with Mr Yeats and 2017’s Out of All This Blue.

5. FRIENDS AGAIN Lucky Star (Moonboot version)
(Moonboot  MOON 1 5/83)
Friends Again took the sartorial aesthetic of Orange Juice and married it to a slicker sound that mixed soul influences to a pop sensibility, with vocalist Chris Thomson fronting a band that featured future Love and Money maverick James Grant on guitar. The five-piece released their debut single, Honey at the Core/Lucky Star on their own Moonboot label before being picked up by Mercury for a series of mature-sounding records that peaked with their third single masterpiece, State of Art. Lucky Star was beefed-up for the band’s sole album, Trapped and Unwrapped, before Thomson embarked on numerous incarnations of The Bathers, while Grant, keyboardist Paul McGeechan and drummer Stuart Kerr formed Love and Money, spear-heading a new wave of glossy blue-eyed Scottish soul-boy pop.

(92 Happy Customers  HAPS 001  7/83)
Strawberry Switchblade were gifted their name by Orange Juice guitarist James Kirk, who had planned it as the title of a fanzine. With early demos heard by Dave Balfe and Bill Drummond of Liverpool’s Zoo Records, the duo of Jill Bryson and Rose McDowell released Trees and Flowers on Echo and the Bunnymen guitarist Will Sergeant’s 92 Happy Customers label before Korova took charge of the duo’s sole album. Going their separate ways, McDowell played with Psychic TV and Current 93, while Bryson didn’t return to music until 2013 with her band The Shapists. In 2017, with McDowell pursuing a solo career, an EP of the only known recordings of Strawberry Switchblade’s original four-piece line-up was released on the Glasgow-based Night School label.

7. JAZZATEERS Sixteen Reasons
(Rough Trade RT 138  7/83)
Jazzateers epitomise Scotland’s labyrinthine early 1980s musical network. The original band featured chanteuse Alison Gourlay, song-writers Ian Burgoyne on guitar and Keith Band on bass along with drummer Colin Auld. By the time their debut single, Show Me the Door/Sixteen Reasons, appeared on Rough Trade, Paul Quinn and Deirdre and Louise Rutkowski had been and gone, with Grahame Skinner taking over lead vocals for a record possessing the pistol-packing punch of a 1950s Brit-pulp heist thriller soundtrack. Skinner departed, Quinn returned and the band morphed into Bourgie Bourgie, only for Band and Burgoyne to reform Jazzateers with guitarist Mick Slaven and vocalist Matthew Wilcox. Following assorted compilations, the Skinner, Burgoyne, Band, Auld line-up briefly reformed in 2013. Phew.

(NoStrings Records  NOSP2  8/83)
When a band called Popgun were brought to NoStrings Records’ attention by Del Amitri vocalist Justin Currie, the quartet fronted by singer/songwriter Kevin McDermott became Suede Crocodiles releasing the retro-sounding soul-based jangle-pop of Stop the Rain/Pleasant Dreamer as their only vinyl gift to the world in the band’s lifetime. With the band reinventing themselves as The Fourth Room following McDermott’s McDermott pursued a more troubadourish route as The Kevin McDermott Orchestra. A compilation of unreleased Suede Crocodiles material, also called Stop the Rain, was released on Accident Records in 2001, then again on Fastcut Records in 2010.

(Creation Records  CRE002   2/84)
Following their adventures as The Laughing Apple, with guitarist Andrew Innes having formed The Laughing Apple, while Alan McGee branched out into Biff Bang Pow!, Andrew Innes and his then girlfriend Christine Wanless formed neo-psych band Revolving Paint Dream. Flowers In The Sky/In The Afternoon, was the second release on McGee’s Creation label, and sounded trippy enough to resemble the soundtrack to a sixties London Happening.
By the time mini-album Off to Heaven appeared three years later, Wanless was a press officer at Creation and Innes had joined Primal Scream. A full length Revolving Paint Dream album, Mother Watch Me Burn, appeared in 1989, followed by another single, Sun, Sea, Sand. A compilation, Flowers In The Sky: The Enigma Of The Revolving Paint Dream, was released on Rev-Ola, in 2006.

(Creation Records 004  3/84)
With Creation Records the centre of a Scottish indie diaspora, Aberdeen’s The Jasmine Minks were a natural fit. Formed by Jim Shephard and Adam Sanderson, the band’s debut single, Think!, was a frenetic roar of intent. This was followed by mini-album, One Two Three Four Five Six Seven, All Good Preachers Go To Heaven and a self-titled debut set. Following Sanderson’s departure, Shephard took over lead vocals for two more albums. The band resurfaced at the turn of the twenty-first century with Veritas. This was followed by the Popartglory album, released on Alan McGee’s new Poptones label. An EP, Poppy White, was released in 2010. With a savvy sense of their own legacy, several Jasmine Minks compilations have appeared, with Cut Me Deep: The Anthology 1984-2014, the most recent.

11. BIFF BANG POW! There Must Be A Better Life
(Creation Records CRE007  6/84)
As with his record label, Alan McGee took the name of his post-Laughing Apple musical adventures from 1960s Brit-psych icons The Creation. Both were formed by McGee with guitarist Dick Green and bassist Joe Foster, completing the unholy trinity. This was the line-up that played on the first two Biff Bang Pow! singles, Fifty Years of Fun and There Must Be A Better Life, the latter a piece of pop-art mod-styled yearning that also opened the band’s debut album, Pass the Paintbrush…Honey. Biff Bang Pow! continued to release records until their final album of five, Songs for the Sad Eyed Girl appeared in 1990. A split single with Ed Ball’s band The Times was released on Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne’s Caff label. Several compilations followed, including a best-of, Waterbomb, on Foster’s Rev-Ola imprint.

12. AZTEC CAMERA All I Need Is Everything
(WEA  AC18/84)
From Aztec Camera’s remarkable debut single on Postcard, Just Like Gold/We Could Send Letters, onwards, a precociously sophisticated sheen pulsed a still teenage Roddy Frame’s song-writing ambitions and intricate guitar virtuosity. This was evident on debut album High Land, Hard Rain, and was made even more so on its Mark Knopfler-produced major label follow-up, Knife. With Frame’s choice of the Dire Straits frontman and fellow guitar maestro raising eyebrows amongst indie purists, this first single from the album showed a tender maturity beyond Frame’s years. A mournful version of Van Halen’s Jump on the B-side completed the taboo-busting transformation. Frame’s song-writing skills expanded over several more albums under the Aztec Camera name, before flying solo on albums including 2014’s Seven Dials album, released on Edwyn Collins’ AED label.

13. POP WALLPAPER Over Your Shoulder
(Spark  SPARK 001  8/84)
Based primarily around the soulful choirgirl vocal of lead chanteuse Audrey Redpath married to the jagged white funk guitars of Evan Henderson and David Evans, Stirling-sired five-piece Pop Wallpaper received extensive airplay of their debut three-track 12” EP. With John Mcvay of the Visitors joining on saxophone, a second single, a cover of Shuggie Otis’ Strawberry Letter 23 with Nothing Can Call Me Back on the flip, followed in 1986. Redpath and Henderson formed Grace River, releasing an Alan Rankine-produced single given away with the short-lived TLN magazine produced by brewers Tennent’s. Henderson went on to manage Paul Haig, and is currently in charge of Edinburgh’s Queens Hall venue.

14. THE WEE CHERUBS Dreaming
(Bogaten Records  BOGATEN 02  9/84)
The shimmering guitars that opened this one-off single by Glasgow mixed gender quartet The Wee Cherubs were de rigeur in a post-Postcard world. Formed by singers Gail Cherry and Martin Cotter with drummer Graham Adam and bassist Christine Gibson, their sublime pop song-writing sensibility makes the A-side sound like it could have been recorded by an old-school lounge club crooner. A cover of the Velvet Underground’s I’m Waiting for the Man on the flip slowed the song down in a way that gave it a very different emphasis. Cotter claimed later that Dreaming sold so poorly that five years after it was released he dumped several boxes of unsold records in a skip. By this time, he and Adam had formed The Bachelor Pad, releasing several singles and an album, Tales of Hofmann.

15. FINI TRIBE Cathedral
(Finiflex LT 1001 10/84)
Taking their name taken from seventeenth-century eclecticists the Rosicrucians, Edinburgh’s industrial Acid dance band Dadaists pursued a similarly wayward path. As Fini Tribe, Chris Connelly, Simon McGlynn, Andy McGregor, Davy Miller and Philip Pinsky’s debut three-track Curling and Stretching 12” EP led by Cathedral was a long way from the club culture inspired works that followed. A split saw Connelly depart for the Revolting Cocks and Ministry, with Miller, Pinsky and Vick getting back to basics for their debut Noise, Lust and Fun album. With Vick overseeing the band’s Finiflex studio, Fini Tribe’s remaining duo recruited a new line-up for the darker Sleazy Listening album. With Pinsky now composing for theatre and TV, Miller and Vick resurfaced as Finiflex, releasing the Ta Ta Oo Ha EP in 2017 and Suilven album the following year.

16. THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN Upside Down
(Creation Records  CRE 012  11/84)
When The Jesus and Mary Chain released their debut single, Upside Down on Creation label after Alan McGee saw them at his Living Room club, siblings Jim and William Reid already had an incendiary reputation. Originally accompanied by bassist Douglas Hart and drummer Murray Dalglish, the JAMC mixed Stooges and Velvet Underground extremities and auto-destructive pop art provocation with Phil Spector-style pop largesse before imploding after six era-defining albums. With a cover of Syd Barrett’s song, Vegetable Man, on the B-side, the single is notable for being the only JAMC release to feature Dalglish, who would soon be replaced by Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie. Burying several hatchets, the Reids reformed The Jesus and Mary Chain in 2007, and released their first album of original material in almost twenty years, Damage and Joy, in 2017.

17. PASTELS Baby Honey
(Creation Records CRE 011T  11/84)
The Pastels are arguably the conscience of Glasgow’s DIY independent music scene, with founder Stephen McRobbie/Pastel in particular inspiring several generations of bands while exploring increasingly expansive sonic waters for his own band alongside fellow mainstay Katrina Mitchell. Baby Honey’s extended slice of tripped-out lovelorn psych appeared on a 12” by The Pastels’ early five-piece line-up, and later on the band’s 1987 debut album, Up for a Bit with The Pastels. Eventually slimming down to a core duo of McRobbie and Mitchell, and with lengthy gaps between records, The Pastels have become elder states-people of Scottish indie, and continue to play and record with numerous collaborators on records including their 2013 Slow Summits album. All this is done inbetween Pastel co-running the recently reactivated Geographic label and Glasgow-based Monorail, possibly the best record shop in the world.

18. MEMPHIS You Supply The Roses
(Swamplands SWP 4  1/85)
When Orange Juice guitarist James Kirk and drummer Steven Daly left the band following their debut You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever album, they formed Memphis, allowing Kirk’s under-rated song-writing to shine on this sole single on Alan Horne’s new major label backed vehicle, Swamplands. The lush production gave Kirk’s sixties-styled bubblegum showtunes a platform before he seemingly vanished from the music scene, while Daly moved into journalism. Kirk came up for air with Horne’s short-lived early 1990s Postcard resurrection, playing with Sound of Young Scotland supergroup Paul Quinn and The Independent Group. In 2003 Kirk released his own album, You Can Make it if You Boogie, featuring a supergroup of his own, on Germany’s Marina Records before disappearing into the ether once more.

19. PAUL QUINN & EDWYN COLLINS Ain’t That Always The Way
(Swamplands  SWP 62/85) 
Paul Quinn’s solo career began with a cover of The Velvet Underground’s ballad, Pale Blue Eyes, alongside a newly solo Edwyn Collins providing guitar following Orange Juice’s demise. With Alan Horne obsessed with transforming the former Bourgie Bourgie vocalist into a retro-styled pop star crooner by way of his Swamplands label, this Collins-penned follow-up was credited solely to Quinn, who went on to collaborate with Vince Clark on the pair’s One Day single. In the 1990s Horne’s reactivated Postcard label released two albums with Quinn and a who’s who of Scottish indie under the name Paul Quinn and The Independent Group, before both Quinn and Horne left the music business seemingly forever.

20. WIN Unamerican Broadcasting
(Swamplands SWX 5 3/85)
Win was former Fire Engine Davy Henderson’s bid for the big time by way of Alan Horne’s Swamplands label. Debut single Unamerican Broadcasting was a glossily constructed slice of synthetic funk that attempted to subvert both the dancefloor and the charts by sounding like a post-punk Prince.  The record’s follow-up, the anthemic You’ve Got The Power, was a masterpiece that similarly refused to take the world by storm, despite sound-tracking an iconic TV ad for McEwan’s lager. With both singles appearing on debut album, Uh! Tears Baby, Win moved to Virgin for a second album, Freaky Trigger, before pulling the plug in 1990. While assorted members moved on to Yoyo Honey, The Apples and Piefinger, Henderson and guitarist Simon Smeeton formed The Nectarine No 9 before going on to The Sexual Objects.

21. BLOOD UNCLES Swallow
(Drastic Plastic  DRASTIC001   3/85)
Big John Duncan was a familiar figure in Edinburgh ever since his days with punk diehards The Exploited, with whom he played on several albums, including the tellingly titled Punks Not Dead. Forming Blood Uncles with vocalist Jon Carmichael and bassist Colin McGuire, Duncan’s new band released the Petrol EP with the crunchy punk-metal bump and grind of Swallow as the lead track. The band released several singles and an album, Libertine, on Virgin before Duncan went on to form Gin Goblins and later joining Goodbye Mr Mackenzie. Duncan also became guitar tech for Nirvana, joining Kurt Cobain and co onstage numerous times before the band’s untimely demise.


1. PRIMAL SCREAM All Fall Down (5/85)
2. DEL AMITRI Hammering Heart (10/85)
3. HIGH BEES Some Indulgence (10/85)
4. JIH Big Blue Ocean (10/85)
5. MOMUS Hotel Marquis De Sade (10/85)
6. PRIMEVALS Living In Hell (1985)
7. MEAT WHIPLASH Eat Me To The Core (John Peel 28/10/1985)
8. STYNG RITES Baby’s Got A Brand New Brain (1/86)
9. BOTANY 500 Bully Beef (4/86)
10. SOUP DRAGONS Whole Wide World (5/86)
11. BMX BANDITS Strawberry Sunday (5/86)
12. CLOSE LOBSTERS Firestation Towers (5/86)
13. GREEN TELESCOPE Face In A Crowd (7/86)
14. GOODBYE MR. MACKENZIE The Rattler (8/86)
15. WILD INDIANS Penniless (9/86)
16. SHOP ASSISTANTS Somewhere In China (11/86)
17. LOWLIFE Hollow Gut (12/86)
18. KEVIN McDERMOTT Slow Time And Temptation (1986)
19. INCREDIBLE BLONDES Where Do I Stand? (2/87)
20. FIZZBOMBS Sign On The Line... (4/87)
21. BEAT POETS Killer Bee Honey (5/87)
22. EDWYN COLLINS Don’t Shilly Shally (7/87)
23. DRAGSTERS I'm Not An American (7/87)
24. MOTORCYCLE BOY Room At The Top (9/87)
25. THANES Hey Girl (Look What You've Done) (9/87)

1. PRIMAL SCREAM All Fall Down
(Creation Records  CRE 017   5/85)
Bobby Gillespie’s first record as vocalist was a trippy piece of Byrdsian psych with a melody that resembled the far bouncier Here Comes My Baby by The Tremeloes. The song was co-written with guitarist Jim Beattie, who would appear as Jim Navajo on Primal Scream’s Mayo Thompson-produced debut album Sonic Flower Groove before going on to form Adventures in Stereo. Gillespie and co would by turns embrace a harder sound before helping kickstart the indie-dance revolution with the help of producer Andy Weatherall on Loaded and the band’s third album, Screamadelica. This presaged a career of magpie-like eclecticism across eight more albums and counting which have arguably made Primal Scream the ultimate post-modern rock and roll band.

2. DEL AMITRI Hammering Heart
(Chrysalis  CHS 2925   10/85)
Del Amitri’s recording career started out sharing a flexi-disc with The Bluebells on a fanzine freebie before their Sense Sickness single appeared on NoStrings Records. Justin Currie’s Glasgow-based band’s indiepop origins filtered through on this debut single for Chrysalis Records that ushered in the band’s eponymous debut album. A busy and urgent affair with harmonies reminiscent of Big Country, it would be four years until Currie and co defined their sound on their Waking Hours album. The record highlighted a slickly produced sense of melancholy that would hold them in good stead for Scotland’s 1998 World Cup song, Don’t Come Home Too Soon, and across four more albums, with the band reforming irregularly to play live.

3. THE HIGH BEES Some Indulgence
(Supreme International Editions  EDITION 85-8  10/85)
Malcolm Ross’s short-lived trio formed with vocalist Syuzen Buckley and Ruts and Aztec Camera drummer Dave Ruffy released their only single on Allan Campbell’s post-Rational Records Supreme International Editions imprint. B-side, Killing Time, was co-written with former Orange Juice bassist David McClymont. Ross released two solo records, Low Shot and Happy Boy, on Marina Records, and worked as musical advisor on films including Backbeat, Chocolat and The Illusionist, all of which former Fast Product boss Bob Last had a hand in as musical co-ordinator. Ross also released an album with The Low Miffs. Ross and Buckley still play as Buckley’s Chance, a countrified combo who can usually be seen when former Moodist Dave Graney moseys into town.

4. JIH Big Blue Ocean
(Breadth of Vision Records  JIH1  10/85)
JIH revolved around the voice, attitude and style of Grant McNally, who was part of the same Dundee society frequented by mercurial Associates vocalist Billy MacKenzie. Indeed, various live incarnations of JiH featured Billy’s brother Jimmy MacKenzie on bass. This debut single was a string-laden slice of epic 1980s pop produced by Dave Ball of Soft Cell, and which showed off McNally’s own vocal ambitions in impressive fashion. An album, The Shadow to Fall, followed, as well as two singles. The last of these, Take Me to the Girl, was a cover of an Associates song produced by MacKenzie, who also provided backing vocals. McNally continued to perform for a time as Jesus in Heavens, but sadly died in September 2018.

5. MOMUS Hotel Marquis De Sade
(El (Benelux)  ELT 5  10/85)
When Happy Family vocalist Nick Currie reinvented himself as Momus, naming himself after the Greek god of mockery, he turned talking dirty into an art form. Hotel Marquis De Sade was the B-side of Momus’ debut release, the 12” The Beast with 3 Backs, on El Records. Several albums appeared on Creation, with the compilation, Monsters of Love – Singles 1985-90, featuring a re-recording of Hotel Marquis De Sade. More albums followed on Cherry Red, with numerous releases on Currie’s own Analog Baroque imprint. These days Momus is something of a renaissance man, with several books including The Book of Scotlands published inbetween wandering the world and writing for art magazines. The most recent Momus album, Pantaloon, was released on American Patchwork. It should also be noted that Currie is the cousin of Del Amitri’s Justin Currie.

6. THE PRIMEVALS Living In Hell
(New Rose  NEW 55  11/1985)
The Primevals raucous brand of garage band trash was more reminiscent of The Cramps and The Gun Club than the increasingly smooth sounds emanating from their Glasgow doorstep. Based around the wild vocals of Michael Rooney and driven by Tom Rafferty’s guitar, the original line-up released their Where Are You? before being picked up by French label New Rose, who released three albums and several singles, including Living in Hell. While the band reformed first in 1990, then more substantially in 1997, Honeyman and Rafferty formed instrumental surf-beat combo The Beat Poets. With early New Rose material collected on he On the Red Eye compilation, new material appeared on the There is no Other Life and This is It album in 2007, with (Disinhibitor) following in 2010 and Heavy War in 2012.   

7. MEAT WHIPLASH Eat Me To The Core
(John Peel 28/10/1985)
Named after a Fire Engines B-side, Meat Whiplash released one single on Creation, the Jim and William Reid Don’t Slip Up/Here it Comes. This was perhaps the Reid brothers attempting to make amends for the apparent beating from members of the audience meat Whiplash endured after supporting The Jesus and Mary Chain at North London Polytechnic earlier in the year. Vocalist Paul McDermott, guitarist Michael Kerr, bassist Eddie Connelly and drummer Stephen McLean survived to record the John Peel session this recording of Eat Me to the Core is taken from before morphing into The Motorcycle Boy with former Shop Assistants vocalist Alex Taylor.

8. THE STYNG RITES Baby’s Got A Brand New Brain
(Snaffle Records  RITE 1  1/86)
Close your eyes and you could be in a Hamburg cellar club circa 1958listening to the slicked-back sounds of Styng Rytes, led by vocalist George Miller, aka Kaiser George. This debut three-track EP tapped into a then burgeoning wave of retro rock and roll and garage band psychobilly which retained a vintage purity through frenetic live shows. Miller kept up appearances with his next band The Kaisers, who released umpteen records over their decade-long existence, and continues to do so with The New Piccadillys.

9. BOTANY 500 Bully Beef
(Supreme International Editions  Edition 86-12  4/86)
Gordon Kerr was a key part of Edinburgh’s early 1980s music scene, and with involvement from the likes of Paul Haig and James Locke as The Juggernauts released the magnificently titled Come Throw Yourself Under the Monstrous Wheels of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Industry As it Approaches Destruction. Teaming up with David Galbraith as Botany 500, Bully Beef’s glossy dancefloor pop was the lead track on a three-track 12” on Allan Campbell’s Supreme International Label. Minus Galbraith, Botany 500 became Botany 5, releasing the Into The Night album on Virgin. With Kerr also working as a producer and remixer, he went on to become senior lecturer and programme leader of the BSC course in music technology at the University of East London.

10. THE SOUP DRAGONS Whole Wide World
(Subway Organisation  SUBWAY 4  5/86)
Soup Dragons named themselves after a character in cult 1970s kids TV show The Clangers and initially sounded like Buzzcocks after mainlining a bag of sugar. Fronted by Sean Dickson with Jim McCulloch on guitar, Sushil K Dade on bass and Ross Sinclair on drums, for their debut single. With Sinclair leaving to pursue a successful visual art career, Soup Dragons joined the indie-dance revolution with their cover of The Rolling Stones’ song, I’m Free, before disbanding after four albums in 1994. Dade released records as Future Pilot AKA, while McCulloch played with Superstar and is currently one half of Snowgoose. Dickson formed The High Fidelity before becoming a DJ, and, as HiFi Sean, releasing the Ft. and Ft. Excursions albums of collaborations with the likes of Crystal Waters and Bootsy Collins.

11. BMX BANDITS Strawberry Sunday
(53rd & 3rd  AGARR 312   5/86)
Originally featuring assorted Soup Dragons, Groovy Little Numbers and Vaselines, Duglas T Stewart’s BMX Bandits was a Bellshill supergroup in waiting. Courting a willfully naïve persona, Stewart’s heart-on-sleeve song-writing moved from resembling a Caledonian Jilted John to comparisons with Brian Wilson and Serge Gainsbourg. A live version of Strawberry Sunday first appeared on the 12” version of their first single, E102/Sad?, released on the Edinburgh-based 53rd & 3rd label set up by Shop Assistants guitarist David Keegan and Stephen Pastel. Having released numerous albums on Creation, Elefant and others, Stewart continues to front an ever-changing BMX Bandits, the core of which features Stewart with Chloe Philip, who also plays in Glasgow all-girl big pop quartet Teen Canteen. In 2016 Stewart also took up acting to play a lead role in the feature film, Wigilia.

12. CLOSE LOBSTERS Firestation Towers
(Fire Records  BLAZE 20T  5/86)
Firestation Towers was first heard on the NME’s much misunderstood C86 cassette compilation, and later made it to the B-side of the Paisley-sired quintet’s 12” version of their second Fire Records single, Never Seen Before. A crisp piece of off-kilter indie, Firestation Towers was a defining moment for vocalist Andrew Burnett, guitarists Graham Wilmington and Tom Donnelly, bassist Bob Burnett and drummer Stewart McFadyen, who released two albums and several singles in their original lifetime. In 2009 the Che Guevara-referencing Forever Until Victory compilation gathered up early Fire Records material prior to another compilation named after Firestation Towers in 2015. The Berlin-based Firestation label also took their name from the song, releasing a Close Lobsters single in 2012.

(Wump Records  BIF 4811  7/86)
Fronted by Lenny Helsing, The Green Telescope were a raw mix of fuzz guitar, reedy organ and deranged vocals that sounded so authentic on their two singles it was hard to gauge they sounded like off-cuts from seminal ‘60s psych-garage compilation, Nuggets. The first, Two By Two, was on Imaginary Records, while the follow up, Face in A Crowd, was the sole release on Jesse Garon and The Desperadoes bass player Angus McPake’s Wump label, and featured a cover of The Nomads’ Thoughts of A Madman on the flip. It wasn’t long, however before Helsing and co morphed into the Shakespearian-sounding Thanes of Cawdor before simply becoming The Thanes.

(The Precious Organisation  JEWEL 2  8/86)
From beginnings with Teenage Dog Orgy, Martin Metcalfe formed the Jean Rhys inspired Goodbye Mr Mackenzie with guitarist Jimmy Anderson, bassist Fin Wilson, drummer Derek Kelly and keyboardists Rona Scobie and Shirley Manson. Picked up by Elliot Davies’ Precious imprint for The Rattler, by the time the band released their first album, Good Deeds and Dirty Rags, former Exploited/Blood Uncles guitarist Big John Duncan had replaced Anderson. Metcalfe, Kelly, Wilson and Manson eventually reinvented themselves as Angelfish, which led to Manson joining Garbage. As The Filthy Tongues, Manson’s former bandmates provided songs for the soundtrack of Richard Jobson’s feature film, New Town Killers and recorded the Jacob’s Ladder album. Metcalfe and Kelly contributed to the writing of several songs on the reformed Skids’ Burning Cities record, while Metcalfe also plays as Martin Metcalfe and The Fornicators, Teenage Dog Orgy live on.

15. THE WILD INDIANS Penniless
(Rosebud  Spark 003  9/86)
The duo of vocalist Fiona Carlin and guitarist Kevin Low maw two singles as The Wild Indians, on which Pop Wallpaper’s rhythm section of bassist Myles Raymond and drummer Les Cook played. This second, a 12” made up of three tracks of designer pop, was produced by John McVay of Visitors and engineered by Chic Medley of Perth-based electro-pop band Fiction Factory, with whom Carlin would sing with on their second album track, Victor Victorious. As a designer, Low’s work went on to grace many a record sleeve, including ones for The Delmontes and The Blue Nile. Low worked as a theatre photographer for many years, and is now a painter of note.

16. SHOP ASSISTANTS Somewhere In China
(53rd & 3rd  AGARR 1  11/86)
Originally Buba and The Shop Assistants, the departure of vocalist Annabel Wright saw guitarist David Keegan form a new line-up featuring Alex Taylor on vocals, Sarah Neale on bass and twin drummers Ann Donald and Laura MacPhail. The band’s second single with this line-up was the first release on Keegan and Stephen Pastel’s 53rd and 3rd label. The A-side, Safety Net, contrasted strongly with Somewhere in China, a velveteen ballad that was arguably the band’s masterpiece. The song appeared on Shop Assistants eponymous album, co-produced by Mayo Thompson. The band split when Taylor left to join Meat Whiplash as The Motorcycle Boy, but reformed two years later with Neale on vocals, MacPhail on bass and joined by Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes drummer Margarita Vasquez-Ponte for two singles, Here it Comes and Big ‘E’ Power, on Avalanche Records.

17. LOWLIFE Hollow Gut
(Nightshift Records UK – LOLIF – 3T  12/86)
When Will Heggie left the Cocteau Twins, he joined Grangemouth psychobilly band Dead Neighbours, with whom one album was recorded before the band morphed into the Public Image Ltd referencing Lowlife. With Heggie on bass, Craig Lorentson on vocals, Stuart Everest on guitar and Grant McDowall on drums, this lead track on the 12” Vain Delights EP followed Lowlife’s debut mini album, Rain, and its full-length follow-up, Permanent Sleep. All of these highlighted a dark melancholy steeped in post-punk influences which grew over several albums and various line-ups, even as it sounded at odds with the band’s reputed after-hours excesses. A series of reissues by LTM Records brought renewed interest in the band, although any notions of a reunion were cut short following Lorentson’s passing in 2010.

18. KEVIN McDERMOTT Slow Time And Temptation
(NoStrings Records NO121  1986)
The opening track on McDermott’s post Suede Crocodiles mini-album, Suffocation Blues, revealed a very different artist to the one who had sung with his former band. Drawing from Roy Harper, John Martyn and Americana on a record produced by legendary singer/songwriter Rab Noakes, McDermott embarked on a more traditional musical path. With Slow Time and Temptation the sole track on the ‘Fast Side’ of the record, which played at 45rpm, five acoustic songs played at 33rpn on the ‘Slow Side’. Major label support saw McDermott form the Kevin McDermott Orchestra, releasing Mother Nature’s Kitchen under that name before embarking on a peripatetic musical journey that recently came full circle as McDermott rejoined the NoStrings roster.

(NoStrings Records  NOSP 3   2/87)
Originally known as The Lemons, the band formed by vocalist Barry Macleod and drummer Robert Campbell briefly became Protection before morphing into the off-kilter post-Postcard stylings of The Incredible Blondes. Picked up by NoStrings, the release of Where Do I Stand? as a single the result. Eighteen years later, a chance meeting between NoStrings boss Nick Low and McLeod led to new material being recorded, with seven tracks making up the Where Do I Stand? album released on NoStrings alongside another seven archive tracks. With The Incredible Blondes already big in Japan, translator and Glasgow resident Aya Matsumoto translated the lyrics of Where Do I Stand? into Japanese, with Matsumoto taking lead vocals on a re-recorded version of the song alongside Macleod.

20. FIZZBOMBS Sign On The Line...
(Narodnik  NRK-003  4/87)
Fronted by Katy McCullers, Fizzbombs’ debut single mixed ‘60s girl-pop with a fuzzbox-heavy DIY pop-punk played by Margarita Vasquez-Ponte on guitar, Ann Donald on bass and Angus McPake on drums. All were part of an incestuous Edinburgh underground which saw Vasquez-Ponte play in Jesse Garon and The Desperadoes and Rote Kapelle, and for a time taking over the drum slot in Shop Assistants vacated by Donald. McPake played bass with Jesse Garon and The Desperadoes, who also released records on Narodnik, set up by Eddie Connelly of Meat Whiplash. Lironi would go on to form The Secret Goldfish, who have released records through The Creeping Bent Organisation, while McPake currently plays with The Thanes, Les Bof, The Sensation Seekers and a million other bands as well as co-running post-punk Edinburgh club night Betamax.

21. THE BEAT POETS Killer Bee Honey
(53rd & 3rd  AGARR 9  5/87)
Taken from The Beat Poets debut EP, Glasgow, Howard, Missouri, released on 53rd & 3rd, Killer Bee Honey is an infectious beach-bound instrumental designed to shimmy to while trying not to kick sand in the faces of tough guys. Formed by former Primevals guitarist Tom Rafferty, The Beat Poets mined a retro-bound seam of party music, with twanging guitars married to smooth sax on several singles and an album, Totally Radio, which would also feature Killer Bee Honey. Depending on which way the tide’ is rolling, Rafferty and co continue to ride the surf as The Beat Poets today.

22. EDWYN COLLINS Don’t Shilly Shally
(Elevation   ACID 4  7/87)
Following Edwyn Collins’ low-key post Orange Juice return playing with Paul Quinn on the Pale Blue Eyes and Ain’t That Always The Way singles, his solo debut proper came by way of Alan McGee’s short-lived major label backed Elevation imprint. The first of two singles produced by Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins, Don’t Shilly Shally set the tone for Collins’ canon of wryly skewed pop sensibilities which peaked with the global smash hit, A Girl Like You. In 2005 Collins suffered a cerebral haemorrhage, but has since made a full recovery, and has released three albums since, with the most recent, Understated, appearing on Collins’ AED label. Don’t Shilly Shally, meanwhile, has gone on to acquire singalong anthem status for Collins diehards, and is still played live today.

23. THE DRAGSTERS I'm Not An American
(Union City  SNICK 2   7/87)
The Dragsters formed in Greenock with a line-up of, ahem, Vince Van Yak on vocals, guitarists Roky Mountain and Lestat, bass player Fabian McDonald and drummer Marvyn Rampp. Their power-punk guitar pop was honed in live sets featuring covers of Boys by The Shirelles and Blitzkreig Bop by The Ramones, and fitted in perfectly with an Edinburgh scene of DIY bands who had more line-up changes than a football team. In keeping with this, The Dragsters’ first single, Albino, was co-produced by Shop Assistants guitarist David Keegan, with backing vocals provided by Margarita Vasquez Ponte of Jesse Garon and The Desperadoes/Fizzbombs fame. By this third effort Van Yak and co were doing it for themselves, but they still sounded as if they’d been transplanted from a 1960s cellar bar.

(Rough Trade  RT 210  9/87)
The bastard offspring of what happened when Meat Whiplash met Shop Assistants, The Motorcycle Boy looked like they’d stepped out of Kenneth Anger’s leather-jacketed biker film, Scorpio Rising. With vocalist Alex Taylor adding vocals, the B-side of the band’s debut single, Big Rock Candy Mountain, may have taken its title from John Braine’s kitchen-sink novel of working-class ambition, but it sounded much sweeter than its source. With several Motorcycle Boy singles following on Chrysalis offshoot Blue Guitar, a long player called Scarlet never saw the light of day, though promo cassettes are known to exist. While The Motorcycle Boy roared off into the distance, bassist Eddie Connelly went on to manage Creation Records band Adorable, and provided backing vocals on Girl Power, the second album by 1990s wannabe teen-brat sensations Shampoo.

25. THE THANES Hey Girl (Look What You've Done)
(DDT Records  DISP 008  9/87)
Once Lenny Helsing dismissed his band’s post-Green Telescope’s delusions of grandeur as The Thanes of Cawdor, The Thanes embarked on a lengthy run of ‘60s-styled bubblegum garage that lasted far longer than the decade that inspired them. This debut single was released in 7” and 12” formats, and was produced by Jamie Watson, former vocalist with Persian Rugs, whose Chamber Studio and Human Condition label did so much to foster Edinburgh’s indie underground. Helsing and co released the Thanes of Cawdor and Better Look Behind You albums and several singles, with a Rev-Ola compilation, Evolver, taking stock of Thanes material up until 2001. A reformed line-up joined real-life Scots 1960s beat combo, The Poets, and continue to play a thriving European psych-garage circuit.


1. SHAMEN Happy Days (2/88)
2. MACKENZIES Mealy Mouths (9/87)
3. McCLUSKEY BROTHERS She Said To The Driver (11/87)
4. BABY LEMONADE Jiffy Neckwear Creation (1987)
5. BACHELOR PAD Girl Of Your Dreams (1987)
6. CLOUDS Jenny Nowhere (1987)
7. ROTE KAPELLE Marathon Man (1987)
8. JESSE GARON & THE DESPERADOES The Adam Faith Experience (1/88)
9. ORCHIDS Tiny Words (11/88)
10. GROOVY LITTLE NUMBERS A Place Is So Hard To Find (1988)
11. VULTURES Good Thing (1988)
12. THIS POISON! The Great Divide (1988)
13. SUBMARINES Take Me Away (unissued at time; recorded 9/85)
14. CHURCH GRIMS Think Like A Girl (circa 1989)
15. VASELINES Teenage Superstars (1989)
16. PRAYERS Head Start (1989)
17. CATERAN Traffic Drone (1989)
18. NYAH FEARTIES Hills O’ New Galloway (1990)
19. DOG FACED HERMANS Miss O’Grady (1989)
20. STRETCHHEADS Groin Death (1989)
21. CINDYTALK The Beginning Of Wisdom (1988)

1. THE SHAMEN Happy Days
(Communion Label  COMM 4  2/88)
Beginning musical life as the Love-referencing Alone Again Or, Colin Angus and brothers Derek and Keith McKenzie released a couple of records of ‘60s-influenced psych-indie before morphing into the even more trippy-sounding Shamen. With Angus discovering sampling following the band’s debut album, Drop, the McKenzies departed, with Angus drafting in bassist Will Sinnott, aka Will Sin. Happy days was the final track on Shamen’s six-track What’s Going Down? 12” EP led by Christopher Mayhew Says. As the band delved deeper into Acid House culture, Shamen eventually signed to One Little Indian records. With Sinnott tragically drowning in Tenerife, within a year, the band’s Boss Drum album  was released, and, with Mr C on vocals, Ebeneezer Goode was ripping up mainstream dancefloors across the globe.

2. MACKENZIES Mealy Mouths
(Ron Johnson Records  ZRON15  9/87)
Absolutely no relation to any other Mackenzies on this record, this Glasgow-sired quartet released two singles and a remix EP of spikily angular punk-funk urgency on the Manchester-based Ron Johnson Records. A 7”, New Breed, was followed by 12” EP, A Sensual Assault, which was led by Mealy Mouths. Taking their studio collage dance moves from The Pop Group, Mackenzies somehow managed to fuse pretty much every genre going into one low-slung five-minute mix designed to subvert late-night avant-indie club-night in-crowds. Bassist Graham Lironi and drummer Paul Turnbull went on to form The Secret Goldfish with ex Fizzbombs chanteuse Katy McCullers before Lironi reinvented himself as electronic explorer Mongoose inbetween writing three novels, The Bowels of Christ, Candyfloss Martyrs and Oh Marina Girl.

3. THE McCLUSKEY BROTHERS She Said To The Driver
(DDT Records  DISP15T  11/87)
With the demise of the Bluebells, vocalist Ken and drummer David McCluskey took a folksier direction on their debut album, Aware of All, on Thrush Records. A 12” EP on Edinburgh’s DDT Records led with She Said to the Driver. While the song later appeared on the Housewives’ Choice compilation released on Linn Records, two follow-up McCluskey Brothers albums kept up the birdspotting theme of their debut, appearing on the band’s own Kingfisher imprint. With David McCluskey moving into music therapy, Ken became a lecturer at Stow College, and was instrumental in enabling an exhibition of photographs by former Sounds photographer Harry Papadopoulos, whose canon covered the Sound of Young Scotland era.

4. BABY LEMONADE Jiffy Neckwear Creation
(Sha La La Ba ba Ba-Ba Ba 003  1987)
Not to be confused with the American band led by Mike Randle who went on to be Arthur Lee’s final backing band after Love’s frontman began touring again in the early noughties. Like them, this Glasgow-based quintet named themselves after a Syd Barrett song. The Glasgow Baby Lemonade, made up of Joan, Graham, Gary, Mark and Martin, released the Douglas Hart produced single, A Secret Goldfish/Real World, on Eddie Connelly’s Narodnik Records and shared a flexi-disc with The Bachelor Pad given away with the Are You Scared to Be Happy? fanzine. While an album, One Thousand Secrets, was released on DDT, all three Baby Lemonade single efforts were compiled as 45 RPM on Egg records in 2003.

5. THE BACHELOR PAD Girl Of Your Dreams
(Sha La La  Ba Ba Ba-Ba Ba 003  1987)
The other track on the Sha La La flexidisc shared with Baby Lemonade, this followed The Bachelor Pad’s previous guise as the Wee Cherubs, with the same songwriters Tommy Cherry and Martin Cotter in charge. The first Bachelor Pad single proper, The Albums of Jack and its follow-up, Do It for Fun, appeared on the Warholasound label, with a new version of Girl of Your Dreams showing up on their 1990 Tales of Hofmann album released on Imaginary records. Several singles followed on Jim Kavanagh’s Glasgow-based Egg Records, with The Bachelor Pad’s final gift to the world being Meet The Lovely Jenny Brown, a 7” homage to the then presenter of Scottish TV books programmes, now a literary agent of note.

6. The CLOUDS Jenny Nowhere
(Sha La La Flexis  Ba Ba Ba-Ba Ba 001   1987)
Unlikely to be confused with 1960s proto-prog Edinburgh band Clouds, the 1980s Clouds revolved around Glasgow-based brothers Bill and John Charnley, who were active among a burgeoning DIY scene. Such was its incestuous nature that the Bring Back Throwaway Pop flexi-disc that Jenny Nowhere appeared on was shared with Birmingham’s Mighty Mighty and came free with a consortium of fanzines, including Egg Records boss Jim Kavanagh’s Simply Thrilled. A single proper, Tranquil/Get Out of My Dream/Village Green, was released through The Subway Organisation, and featured a five-piece version of The Clouds that included Boy Hairdressers and Teenage Fanclub vocalist Norman Blake on guitar.

7. ROTE KAPELLE Marathon Man
(In Tape  IT 44  1987)
Andrew Tully and Margarita Vazquez-Ponte, both of Jesse Garon & The Desperadoes, formed the vocal core of Rote Kapelle, with Vasquez-Ponte also playing with Fizzbombs and Shop Assistants. Having released The Big Smell Dinosaur EP on their own label, Rote Kapelle followed up with These Animals Are Dangerous, the first of two 7”, two 12” and an album, No North Briton, on In Tape, the label set up by former Fall guitarist and future BBC 6 Music torch-bearer and musical conscience, Marc Riley. The opening song on the six-track It Moves…But Does It Swing? 12” EP, Marathon Man was originally recorded for a John Peel session. Rote Kapelle members other than Tully and Vasquez-Ponte joined various bands, including The Offhooks, The Stayrcase and The Thanes.

8. JESSE GARON & THE DESPERADOES The Adam Faith Experience
(Velocity Records  Speed 001  1/88)
The core of Jesse Garon & The Desperadoes was formed by Andrew Tully, Angus McPake and Margarita Vasquez-Ponte alongside vocalist Fran Schoppler and numerous guitarists. Having released their debut, Splashing Along, and 12” EP Billy The Whizz on Eddie Connelly’s Narodnik label, the band released a series of singles and a compilation LP, A Cabinet of Curiosities, on their own Velocity label. All these were produced by Douglas Hart, with The Adam Faith Experience featuring John Robb and Bruce Hopkins on guitars. A new Jesse Garon & The Desperadoes single, Grand Hotel, and album, Nixon, were released on Avalanche Records prior to the band splitting up in the back of a van in Liverpool.

9. THE ORCHIDS Tiny Words
(Sarah Records  SARAH 11  11/88)
Following a Sha La La flexi disc shared with The Sea Urchins, The Orchids slotted in neatly with the heart-on-sleeve DIY aesthetic based around Sarah Records. The band formed in the Glasgow suburb of Penilee, with vocalists James Hackett and Pauline Hynds Bari, guitarists John Scally and Matthew Drummond, bassist James Moody and drummer Chris Quinn sometimes augmented by producer Ian Carmichael, later of One Dove, on keyboards. Tiny Words appeared on the Underneath The Window, Underneath The Sink EP, with three albums following. LTM Records released the entire Orchids back catalogue in 2005, before the band returned in 2007 with their Good to Be a Stranger album, with two more albums following. A compilation, Who Needs Tomorrow…A 30 year Retrospective, was released on Cherry Red in 2017.

(53rd & 3rd  AGARR 21T  1988)
Joe McAlinden had been part of Bellshill supergroup in waiting The Boy Hairdressers, who also featured future Teenage Fanclub members Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley and Francis McDonald, plus visual artist Jim Lambie. The band’s sole record, Golden Shower, was released on 53rd and 3rd before the band scattered to change the world. The Groovy Little Numbers revolved around McAlinden and Catherine Steven, whose debut single, You Make My Head Explode, was followed by the Happy Like Yesterday 12” EP, from which A Place Is So Hard To Find is taken.

McAlinden released several albums as Superstar with a band that included ex Soup Dragons guitarist Jim McCulloch, As Linden, in 2012 McAlinden released Bleached Highlights on Edwyn Collins’ AED label, following it up in 2015 with Rest and Be Thankful on Slumberland. Both featured cover paintings by Lambie.

11. THE VULTURES Good Thing
(Narodnik  NRK 006(T)  1988)
Forming at Edinburgh College of Art, and named out of a desire to sound tougher
than many of their contemporaries, The Vultures’ quartet of Janie Nicoll, Allison Young, Anna Watkins and Ian Binns released a four-track 12” EP on Eddie Connelly’s Narodnik label. This was produced by Jamie Watson following demos recorded respectively by Angus McPake and Douglas Hart and captured the band’s spiky brand of post-punk girl-pop. Sharing equipment and rehearsal space with Jesse Garon and The Desperadoes, Rote Kapelle and other regulars of the Onion Cellar club, The Vultures ended up supporting My Bloody Valentine. Torn between the pressures of impending art school degree shows and life in the back of a transit van, they called it a day not long afterwards. Nicoll is now an artist of note.

12. THIS POISON! The Great Divide
(Breaking Down Records – break lp 1  1988)
Formed in Perth by Alistair Donald, Derek Moir, Scott Taylor and Steve Grey, This Poison! released two singles, Poised Over The Pause Button/I’m Not Asking and Engine Failure/You; - Think! on The Wedding Present’s Reception label. The Great Divide first appeared on the Airspace! compilation on Breaking Down Records, which also featured the likes of Close Lobsters and The Field Mice. The three-and-a-half minute slice of crunchy indie-pop also appeared on Magazine, a compilation of This Poison! recordings released in 2004 on Egg Records. The band Magazine, incidentally, recorded a song called This Poison for their 1981 album, Magic, Murder and the Weather, although it sounded nothing like This Poison!

(Egg Records  eggrest007   unissued at time; recorded 9/85)
Not to be confused with the Los Angeles-sired band of the same name who’ve been on the go since the mid-noughties, The Submarines were a quartet made up of Paul McNeil, Brian Kane, Craig Keaney and Scott Blain. Their solitary single, Grey Skies Blue/I Saw The Children was released on Head Records. Two different versions of Take Me Away top and tailed Telegraph Signals: Recorded Artifacts 1986-1989, a CDr compilation of mainly unreleased material on Egg Records, compiled in 2004.

14. THE CHURCH GRIMS Think Like A Girl
(Egg Records  eggrest 006  circa 1989)
The chiming urgency of five-minute epic Think Like A Girl first appeared on Plaster Saints: The Church Grims Basement Tapes 1987-1988, a CDr compilation EP on Egg Records’ essential series of archive releases. An unlisted track 7 repeats all songs on the record over and over for an hour. Think Like A Girl is track 6. During their existence, The Church Grims shared a promo cassette with Change of Seasons, while their song Mr Watt Said appeared on A Lighthouse in the Desert, a 12” compilation EP on Egg Records, which also featured a track a-piece by The Prayers, The Bachelor Pad and the Josef K-referencing Remember Fun. Much later, Single 1991 was somewhat confusingly released in 2004 on CDr, also through Egg Records.

15. THE VASELINES Teenage Superstars
(53rd & 3rd  AGAAF17t  1989)
Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee formed The Vaselines after Kelly had been in The Famous Monsters, with McKee a member of The Pretty Flowers alongside Douglas T Stewart, Norman Blake and Sean Dickson. Teenage Superstars appeared on the 12” version of their Stephen Pastel-produced single, Dying For It, which followed the band’s debut, Son of a Gun. A sole album, Dum-Dum, marked their swansong. The 12” also featured Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for A Sunbeam and Molly’s Lips, both covered by Nirvana after the Vaselines reformed to support them in Edinburgh. The result saw Kurt Cobain take Scottish DIY indie to the world. Following assorted adventures with Eugenius and Suckle, a regrouped Vaselines released two albums, with their current line-up a supergroup of several generations standing. Kelly and McKee’s on-stage sparring remains a headline act in itself.

16. THE PRAYERS Head Start
(Egg Records  EGG 004  1988)
The Prayers have the honour of having been the first band to release a record on Egg Records following label founder Jim Kavanagh’s adventures running Simply Thrilled fanzine and being part of the Sha La La flexidisc network. Sister Goodbye/Under The Deep Blue was followed by Fingerdips/Head Start, with a 12” EP, also called Fingerdips, later compiling both singles alongside a bonus track from an Egg Records sampler. When Kavanagh reactivated the Egg name in the early noughties, a series of archival CDr compilations included The Prayers, who included Head Start on Everything But The Rubber Cat. This featured the five Fingerdips 12” tracks, plus five demos, and is now as rare as hell’s teeth.

17. CATERAN Traffic Drone
(What Goes on Records  GOES ON 30  1989)
The Cateran were formed in Edinburgh by way of Inverness by vocalist Sandy Macpherson, guitarists Cameron Fraser and Murdo MacLeod, bass player Kai Davidson and drummer Andy Milne. Davidson had previously been in a band called Reasons for Emotion alongside Craig and Charlie Reid, who who would go on to become The Proclaimers. Traffic Drone appeared on Cateran’s third and final album, Ache, the same year the band supported Nirvana on their UK tour. An EP, Die Tomorrow, followed, before McLeod and Davidson formed Joyriders, who were responsible for Nirvana playing an impromptu set at a charity gig in Edinburgh indie-rock pub The Southern Bar. Davidson sadly passed away in 2007.

18. NYAH FEARTIES Hills O’ New Galloway
(Brockwellmuir Broadcast  Lung 001  1990)
As pop turned glossy, the likes of Nyah Fearties got back to their roots with a raucous Celtic cow-punk folk stramash that sounded like a feedback-drenched ceilidh. Revolving around brothers Davy and Stephen Wiseman, Nyah Fearties released their first album, A Tasty Heidfu’, in 1986, the same year they toured France with kindred spirits The Pogues. An EP, Good Bad and Alkies, followed. Hills O’ New Galloway appeared on the follow-up to A Tasty Heidfu’, Desperation O’ A Dyin’ Culture. A Keech in a Poke and Skud followed. Nyah Fearties final album, Granpa’ Craw, was released in France featuring a picture of Fife-born darts player Jocky Wilson on the cover, while the record itself used samples of Kilmarnock FC supporters giving it laldy.

(Calculus  KIT 003  1989)
Formed out of punk-skronk combo Volunteer Slavery, Dog Faced Hermans featured vocalist/trumpeter Marion Coutts, guitarist Andy Moor, bass player Colin McLean and drummer Wilf Plum. Their debut Unbend EP was released on their own Demon Radge imprint, with a 12”, Humans Fly, and the Miss O’Grady/Bella Ciao single appearing on music journalist Everett True’s Calculus label. Hooking up with Dutch avant-punk band The Ex, Dog Faced Hermans moved to Amsterdam en masse, with their final records released through Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label. Moor continues to play with The Ex, McLean is a sound engineer and Plum drums with Orchestre Tout Puissant Marcel Duchamp. Coutts is a renowned visual artist, and her book, The Iceberg, a memoir of her time caring for her partner, art critic Tom Lubbock prior to his death from a brain tumour, was published in 2015.

20. STRETCHHEADS Groin Death
(Pathological Records  PATH 1  1989)
Calling their debut EP Bros Are Pish and leading with a cover of I Should Be So Lucky was quite a calling card for the Erskine-sired quartet of vocalist Phil Eaglesham, aka P6, guitarist Andy Maconald aka Dr Technology, bassist Steven MacDougall, aka Mofungo Diggs and drummer Richie Dempsey. Sporting gas masks and balaclavas for live shows, Stretchheads took their moves from the American hardcore scene, and followed Bros Are Pish with several records on Blast First. Groin Death appeared on Pathological Compilation, the first release on Pathological Records, the label founded by Kevin Martin, better known these days as The Bug. Continuing their way with a title, Stretchheads released the Pish in Your Sleazebag album and Barbed Anal Exciter 10” before Eaglesham and Dempsey joined DeSalvo, whose album, Mood Poisoner, was released on Mogwai’s Rock Action label.

21. CINDYTALK The Beginning Of Wisdom
(Midnight Music  CHIME 00.27/28 CD  1988)
Gordon Sharp has come a long way since forming The Freeze with David Clancy, who joined him in Cindytalk’s far more exploratory early adventures. Having guested with the Cocteau Twins on a John Peel Session, Sharp subsequently appeared on three tracks on This Mortal Coil’s debut album, It’ll End in Tears the same year as Cindytalk’s debut album, Camouflage Heart, was released. The Beginning of Wisdom comes from the follow-up, In This World, released over two separate albums. Since then, Sharp has pursued a deeply personal path of musical discovery accompanied by an ever-changing cast list of collaborators. 2014 album, touchedRAWKISSEDsour, coincided with a rare live appearance at the 2014 edition of the Glasgow-based Tectonics festival of experimental music. Another album, The Labyrinth of the Straight Line, appeared two years later.

Unedited and amended notes for Big Gold Dreams - A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989, a 5 CD box set released by Cherry Red Records, February 2019. Amendments were made to The Rezillos text on Disc 1, originally written for (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures, and for the Twin Sets text on Disc 3, which misattributed the origins of the song.



Skippy said…
So, this might be an odd question. Did "Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989" comes with lyric for the songs? The reason I asked is because I have been trying to discover the lyrics to "Jenny Nowhere", one of the songs included, without much success.
Neil Cooper said…
Sadly not, alas, no. It was a big enough package as it was. I can't see the lyrics online anywhere either, but if I find anything I'll post them here.

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