Big Country and the guitar bagpipe sound


This was Big Country performing on Channel Four’s Tube programme.  Every week, Paula Yates and Jools Holland would ramble pretentiously or incoherently with cues between presenters either deliberately fumbled or they were creating an edgy feel, who knows?  Paula Yates no longer with us of course and neither is the front man of the band, Stuart Adamson.  I adored this album at the time with the whining bagpipe sound on the guitars and it was an era when Scottish pop seemed to be everywhere.

Richard Jobson – from singer to presenter


I remember being in Our Price on Oxford Street and seeing a huge poster of a rather Teutonic figure in athletic pose advertising a Skids album.  Lest we forget – here’s their most famous number.

As we all know, Stuart Adamson is no longer with us – very sad – I loved Big Country in the 80s but clearly he wasn’t a happy man.  Jobson though went on to present this London arts show which I’d nearly forgotten called 01 for London.  That’s when the dialling code was 01 before going through umpteen changes in the 90s.

Jobson had a presenting career at Sky when I was working at Sky News in the mid-90s.  Saw him in the canteen a few times along with Terry Christian who from memory was presenting the Pepsi charts at the time.

Oi! skinhead bands clean up their act


Sounds
Sounds magazine was a cheerleader for Oi!

The riots of 1981 and a spate of racist attacks weren’t helped by a small number of bands whose political views were to the right of Hitler and the entire high command of the Third Reich.  One Oi! gig in Southall led to the pub they were performing in being burnt to the ground by Asian youth.

So, in the months that followed the inner city riots of that year, Oi! had its work cut out improving its public image.  The media was branding skin bands as fascist and racist and in part to blame for the violence that had been seen on the streets.

With these accusations ringing in their ears, some skin bands decided to show their anti-racist credentials by taking to the road which would include two anti-racist gigs and an appearance at the Right To Work campaign march.  The Business, Infa-Riot, the Blitz and Partisans duly went off on tour.

Sheffield’s George IV saw the Blitz join the Mo-Dettes for an anti-racist gig while all the bands played an Oi Against Racism concert in the same city a little later on.

Birmingham in 1981 – postcard from a long lost world


BrumThe British city of Birmingham has been spruced up in recent years but thirty years ago, it was a mix of post-industrial destruction, 1960s flyovers and underpasses and sky high unemployment.

Let’s see what we can remember from Birmingham in 1981:

Spaghetti Junction – an interchange of eight roads layered one over the other where the Expressway leaves the M6 motorway to take drivers who could figure out where they were going in to the centre of the city.

Opposite Lock – centre of Brum’s pub rock circuit.

Holy City Zoo – the club that bravely put on new romantic nights in the middle of heavy metal country.

Rum Runner – similar to Holy City Zoo.  Owned by Paul Berrow in 1981 – Brum’s answer to Steve Strange.

Crown and Cushion – which hosted the ‘Sounds of the Future’ night.  The man behind this was John Tully who had been the driving force behind the legendary Barbarella’s – a punk venue that had launched The Beat and Ranking Roger on the world.

St Martin’s Rag Market – where new romantics went to buy their clobber.

Kahn and Bell boutique – another haunt for new romantics and futurists.

Bingley Hall – huge cavernous venue where the likes of Roxy Music entertained Brummies.

Frighted Horse – reputedly a pub where Handsworth rastas and local cops rubbed shoulders on friendly and distinctly unfriendly terms.  Or so the story goes.

 

 

The movie Times Square – 1980


TimesYou know the kind of movie you’re ashamed to say you like and for some reason need to watch on DVD with the curtains drawn every three or four years – like Sliver or 13th Warrior for example.  Well, Times Square also fits the bill.  I mean, the story line is so arch that it’s hard to imagine how this got past the pitch stage.

Basically, two girls from a loony bin escape to New York though they are very different – one tomboy and one not – they form a punk band and start to enjoy success until the powers that be close in on them.

Bonkers film about bonkers people.  But the soundtrack, which I remember having at the time, included some classics including the lovely Patti Smith singing ‘Pissing in the River’ – which I adored.  Robert Stigwood was the brains behind it, having produced Saturday Night Fever which might explain the rather incongruous presence of a Bee Gees track in what’s otherwise a punk/new wave soundtrack for the movie.

 

Siouxsie Sioux says pop is rubbish…


…back in 1982.

I’m afraid the death of pop has been predicted for longer than some people realise.  Back in 1982, in the tour programme for that year, Siouxsie Sioux stuck her stiletto heel in to the face of bubblegum pop.

“Current pop music is depressingly safe and shallow and complete disposable.”

Well, that certainly sounds familiar.  She went on to say that it was shallow, boring, lacking in aggression or sex.  It was all too “calculated”.

…”It lacks the emotion and the lunacy of the pop of the sixties.”

The glory years of punk were well and truly over and the political pop of the late 70s was giving way to Thatcher-era throwaway hits. In a few short years, Stock Aitken and Waterman would start manufacturing pop stars with saccharine hits that punks would have despised.

Here is Siouxsie Sioux and the Banshees appearing on the 1978 pop programme Revolver. It was presented by Peter Cook, a well known comedian, who seemed to struggle in his role as master of ceremonies. Although his delivery was like a middle aged Johnny Rotten.