Friday, August 11, 2006

Scottish punk timeline (part 5)


May 6
May proves to be a busy month for The Skids, who officially sign on the dotted line with Virgin May 6. Ten days later, the act will do a Peel session on the legendary deejay's BBC Radio 1 show.

July 4
The Clash's On Parole tour arrives in Glasgow to play at the Apollo. The show becomes infamous for the disturbances that take place during and after the band's performance. The venue's bouncers battle with concertgoers for much of The Clash's set. Later, Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon are arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct, and spend the night in a Glasgow clink. This leads to the legend that at one point The Clash members joined their detained fans in singing a version of their song "The Prisoner." As far as we know, it was all bullshit. The bouncer-on-fan crimes are also re-enacted for the film Rude Boy.

July 6
The Jolt, now in full-on mod mode, appear decked out in 1960s era Decca LP jackets on the cover of their eponymous album, which is released today.

July 21
The Rezillos become the first of the U.K. punk/new wave bands to record an album in America. The LP is recorded at the Power Station in New York City. Titled Can't Stand The Rezillos, it's released on July 21. Five days later, the first single is issued: "Top Of The Pops." The song hits No. 17 on the single charts and the band is invited to play on the long-running BBC music program of the same name. The song, of course, lampoons the television show, a joke obviously lost on producers. In the fall, The Rezillos will capitalize on their burgeoning success by going on a tour of the U.K. with The Undertones in support.

July 28
The Zones, now with Arista, issue their second single: "Sign Of The Times"/"Away From It All."

September 1
The Skids' first release on Virgin is officially out: the single "Sweet Suburbia." The band's debut album will not hit record stores for another five months (Feb. 23).


March 20
The Scars cut one of the last (and best) Scottish punk singles, "Adult/ery"/"Horror Show." The record is issued on Fast Records. The band is also in the midst of winding down an English tour supporting The Human League.

April 12
The day Scottish punk unceremoniously gave away to post-punk? Maybe. On April 1, Scotland's oldest punk band, The Rezillos -- who officially called it quits weeks before -- release Mission Accomplished, a live recording of their final show, which took place at The Glasgow Apollo.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Horrorshow" by The Scars.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Scottish punk timeline (part 4)


December 12
Johnny & The Self Abusers cut their only single: a seven-inch on Chiswick Records, "Saints And Sinners"/"Dead Vandals." As the stories go, the band splits the day its record hit the shops. And from the ashes emerge two new acts: Simple Minds and another group that will proove to be significantly less successful, The Cuban Heels. According to stories, Johnny And The Self Abusers contact Chiswick to have Simple Minds printed on the singles, as Jim Kerr has grown weary of the sophomoric moniker. ("I began to feel Johnny And The Self Abusers sounded like Big Dick And The Four Skins," he says. "I can do without that kind of toilet humor.") However, it's too late; the singles have already gone to press.

Bruce Haggerty retires the Silver Thread Hotel in Paisley, which has reigned as the Glasgow area's offical punk headquarters since September. Haggerty begins promoting punk shows. One of his first takes place in Glasgow: a gig featuring The Backstabbers that famously degenerates into violence.


February 17
Scottish punk fans double their pleasure: two releases on the same day. The Zones -- who are essentially PVC2 without Midge Ure -- release their debut single on Zoom: "Stuck With You"/"No Angels." Meanwhile, The Exile issue their follow-up to last June's EP: "The Real People"/"Tomorrow Today"/"Disaster Movie."

February 24
The Stiff/Chiswick challenge series -- designed to highlight the U.K.’s top, unsigned acts -- hits Edinburgh’s Clouds Disco. Among those Scottish performing are The Skids, The Subs, The Monos, The Cuban Heels, Groper, The Freeze, and The Scars. Thanks to the event, The Subs will ink a deal with Stiff's One Off label and release "Gimme Your Heart"/"Party Clothes" March 3.

March 14
The Skids, who are currently in the process of being courted by Virgin Records, issue their EP Charles on their own No Bad label. The Dunfermline group formed out of a David Bowie cover band regrettably dubbed Tattoo. The release also touches off a five-month flurry of tartan punk releases, as Scotland is now officially a player in the U.K. punk scene.

March 23
The Cuban Heels' debut single hits record shops: "Downtown"/"Do The Smok Walk," on Housewive's Choice. The release isn't a smash, but the band can take solace in the fact that it released a single before Simple Minds.

April 25
The Jolt have taken the first steps down the mod revival path, releasing a cover version of The Small Faces' "What'cha Gonna Do About It."

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Charles" by The Skids.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Scottish punk timeline (part 3)

August 3
The Rezillos release their first single, "I Can't Stand My Baby," on Edinburgh's Sensible Records. The B-side is a cover of The Beatles' "I Wanna Be Your Man." Recorded at Barclay Towers, it's the first release for Lenny Love's Sensible. Also this month: The Jolt ink a four-year, 90,000-pound deal with Polydor. This, coupled with a move down to London, leads to the inevitable backlash from both the press and musos alike.

Aug. 14
Glasgow's ongoing battle with punk continues as the city levies yet another ban. This one comes as a result of an Aug. 3 television special that aired on the movement.

Aug. 30
Bruce Findlay's Zoom Records releases its first single: The Valves' "Robot Love/For Adolfs Only." It's a smash success, selling over 15,000 copies.

The Glasgow District Council's insistence that punk be prohibited in the city has led many to take matters into their own hands. One such individual is Bruce Haggerty, a local record shop employee. He helps make Glasgow's official punk headquarters the Silver Thread Hotel, an establishment eight miles away in Paisley. There, avid punk fans gather every Wednesday night to hear bands like Buzzcocks and The Saints.

September 30
The Jolt's first single is released on Polydor: "You're Cold"/"All I Can Do." Unlike acts such as The Rezillos and The Valves -- who eschewed the common practice of heading to England in search of a record deal and instead, signed with fledgling Scottish labels -- The Jolt are fulltime residents of London and fully immersed in the city's punk scene.

The Stranglers and The Clash both play at the Glasgow Apollo (the former on the 16th, the latter on the 25th), as the city's punk ban is lifted once again. The Rezillos serve as the opening act for The Stranglers.

November 18
The Rezillos leave Sensible Records to ink a deal with Sire. The band's second single, "Flying Saucer Attack/(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures," was at the plant being pressed for Sensible, but then was shelved following the deal with Sire (today, those singles are regarded as collectibles). It will eventually be released for Sire Dec. 2.

Bob Last founds Fast Product. Last is an Englishman studying in Edinburgh and his label -- unlike Love's and Findlay's -- has an English tint to it. Fast Product will go on to release material from notable post-punk acts such as The Mekons and Gang Of Four.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "For Adolfs Only" by The Valves.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Scottish punk timeline (part 2)


One Saturday evening at Glasgow's Doune Castle, Alan Cairnduff meets with two lads named Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill. Cairnduff tells the pair about the group in his head that's going to "blast all those fucking bands here off the stage." Kerr and Burchill are now on board with Cairnduff and the next morning, find themselves wheeling an amp down to the home of one of Cairnduff’s punk acquaintances: John Milarky. Johnny And The Self Abusers are born. One week of rehearsals later, the band takes the stage at Dounce Castle with one original song (Milarky's quasi-cover of The Modern Lovers' "Pablo Picasso." Johnny And The Self Abusers aren't, however, the first Glasgow punk band to play live; The Jolt beat them to this distinction by two nights. The act's second gig takes place at Saints And Sinners on St. Vincent Street in Glasgow (today it's King Tut's Wah Wah Hut), and quickly descends into pint-glass-smashing and furniture-breaking chaos. The punk movement has officially arrived in Scotland.

March 12, 1977
By many accounts, the first English punk band to play in either Glasgow or Edinburgh is The Damned, when they support Marc Bolan at the Glasgow Apollo in March. The Damned will headline their own show at the same venue roughly nine months later.

May 7, 1977
The White Riot tour rolls into Edinburgh. Some of the biggest punk acts of the day perform: The Clash, The Jam, Buzzcocks, Subway Sect, The Slits, The Prefects. A young Edwyn Collins is in attendance, along with future Orange Juice members Steven Daly and James Kirk. The gig unofficially kicks off what turns out to be a wild summer of punk madness in Scotland.

June 9, 1977
Lenny Love signs The Rezillos to his Sensible Records, which is the first punk/new wave label in Scotland (it's based in Edinburgh). Love was formerly a promotion rep for Island Records.

June 22, 1977
Glasgow's ban on punk acts (following the Saints And Sinners incident) is lifted, as the city gets its first proper gig courtesy of The Stranglers. Predictably, the Apollo show descends into violence and the following morning, the city's papers are abuzz with the previous night's ruckus. The Evening Times reports: "Punk rock will never again be heard in any of Glasgow's theatres or halls." The movement has been forced out of the city a second time.

June 23, 1977
Scottish punk gets its first rightful D.I.Y. release as Glasgow's The Exile issue the Don't Tax Me EP on their own Boring Records. The four-song album is recorded in three hours at Thor Studios; only 500 copies are released.

July 11, 1977
Bruce Findlay -- who recently sold his highly successful, 13-shop record chain to Guinness -- starts up a record label: Zoom. The label releases just singles, with finance and distribution coming from Arista. One of Zoom's first big signings is Edinburgh's The Valves (nee The Sale), who are fresh from an opening gig for The Saints in Edinburgh. Like many other Scottish punk acts, The Valves initially dabble in other rock genres (in this case, pub rock) before gravitating towards punk.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Saints And Sinners" and "Dead Vandals" by Johnny And The Self Abusers.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Scottish punk timeline (part 1)

Simply put, the mid- to late-70s Scottish punk scene rarely attracts the attention it rightfully deserves. In response to that, I've put together a timeline (which will be posted in installments throughout the week), chronicling the short-lived movement's most significant events. This timeline, together with a recent story I did for Stylus, should serve as a good primer for those looking to get into the scene.

And away we go . . . .


Rising from the ashes of the party band The Knutsford Dominators comes Edinburgh's first punk group (though they've often labeled themselves otherwise, usually new wave ): The Rezillos. The eight-piece group forms at Edinburgh Art College, and features members named Hi-Fi Harris, Candy Floss, and William Mysterious. The Rezillos’ first official gig comes later in the year, however, on Guy Fawkes Night.

Copies of The Ramones' self-titled first album start to appear at record shops in Glasgow. Three months later, one of the songs on the LP, "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue," touches off a firestorm in the city, on account of the recent rash of Scottish teenagers inhaling solvents. MP James Dempsey of Scotland calls for the record's outright banning in the country.

There's considerable debate over just who was the first punk act from Glasgow: Johnny & The Self Abusers or The Jolt. According to Self Abuser vocalist Jim Kerr, it was his group, seeing how The Jolt are comprised of four blokes from Wishaw and Shotts, two small towns located outside Glasgow. Also, worth mentioning: When The Jolt come together in September of '76, they were initially a '60s-style rhythm and blues outfit. Punk came later.

October 12
The Sex Pistols make the first of what will be just two trips to Scotland (the other comes during the group's reunion tour: July, 16, 1996, at the S.E.C.C. in Glasgow.) The venue: Dundee Technical College. The band gets pissed on 10-pence pints, and is convinced to due an encore by fans, who pepper their dressing room door with beer cans.

The Sex Pistols announce plans for a UK tour. Two of their stops will be in Scotland. On the 26th of the month, the group's landmark single "Anarchy In The UK" is released.

December 1
"What a fucking rotter." These, and a few other choice words are uttered during The Sex Pistols now legendary interview with Bill Grundy on Thames Television's "Today" program. In the days to follow the band is skewered in the tabloids. The resulting fallout reaches all the way to Scotland, as Robert Gray, chairman of the Glasgow District Council licensing committee, announces he will close the Glasgow Apollo for the Dec. 15 Pistols show. The tour's other Scotland date (Dec. 16 at Caird Hall in Dundee) is also cancelled.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "I Can't Stand My Baby" by The Rezillos.