Thursday, 30 October 2008


The 3rd in the wee series of demo's from Dundee is taken from a 10 inch ep conveniently called "The Dundee Demo's", by local band, Danny Wilson. This was a limited edition released in the late 80's, each one individually numbered. There is 1 remix on it and 3 original demo recordings, and I've chosen the demo track "Steam Trains To The Milky Way" to accompany a little video I stitched together featuring some old moody footage from around the city.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


Before it became the polished piece of pop that appeared in the charts in 1982, here below is how "Club Country" sounded in its raw demo format. A much rougher and edgier performance. Singer, Billy Mackenzie even changed the wording from "Glad to see that you're suffering" in the demo, to "Sad to see that you're suffering" in the finished version. Although it was a pop tune that everyone used to sing along to, most people probably didn't realise how dark the subject matter was. The lyrics are in fact about Liff Hospital, which was a large psychiatric institution on the outskirts of Dundee.

Monday, 27 October 2008


This tidy wee tune on demo disc is by Dundee beat outfit, The Poor Souls. Recorded in 1965, it is a good example of the kind of pop music that was around at the time, most being strongly influenced by the Mersey Sound.
This particular track (photo above) is actually the flip side to the main song "When My Baby Cries", which, in my opinion, isn't as catchy as "My Baby's Not There", written by Hudson & Lothian.
The Poor Souls line-up was : Johnny (Hudson) Moran - vocal, Doug Martin - guitar, Chick Taylor - bass, Johnny Casey - drums. Co writer of the song, Andy Lothian was a local music promoter who used to run the Top Ten Club on Sundays at the Palais in South Tay Street in the 60's, and needless to say this was also a venue The Poor Souls played regularly, along with the Chalet and other places further afield.
Although the combo appeared on pop TV show, "Stramash", and got a thumbs up on the local circuit, they didn't really break into UK's main pop scene and sadly became a 60's group that slipped through the net.
Here below, is The Poor Souls with "My Baby's Not There".

Sunday, 26 October 2008


There were 3 "Theatre Royal's" in Dundee.
The first 2 being 19th century affairs in the main, means they won't get a mention on Retro.
The 3rd one being active in the 60's, means it will get a mention.
The building itself (located in the Nethergate) was originally called the People's Palace and had gone through quite a few changes over the decades. However, in 1965, Scottish entertainer, Calum Kennedy, was the new owner and it was he who gave it the Theatre Royal name.
It was rather short-lived under this name mind you, the theatre closing down in 1968. Then in 1977 the building was destroyed by fire and so was eventually demolished.
The ad above was published in the local press in April 1966 and on that occasion, crooner, Frankie Vaughan, was the entertainment on offer.

Saturday, 25 October 2008


This photo of the Overgate was taken in the mid 70's. Where the old guys are sitting, Dixons shop would be behind them. Behind the bush above the guy on the right is the Great American Panthouse, a fashion boutique who's shop front design had Stars & Stripes.
The footage of the Overgate below was taken around the same time as the photo - 1974ish.

Friday, 24 October 2008


The Record Rendezvous was basically a wee counter in the British Relay store in the Overgate that sold singles and albums. Vinyl only of course. This photo was taken in September 1965 and some of the records on display are - The sound of The Shadows - Mary Poppins soundtrack - Ella Fitzgerald - Alexander Brothers - Gene Pitney's big sixteen - Sound of Music soundtrack - Beatles help - Acker Bilk's acks back and Andy Stewart. Quite a mixed bag! There are also some record racks along the top for storing those precious 7 inch singles. The main shop itself sold electrical goods.
Photo by DC Thomson.Tints by GG.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


The Seagate Gallery & Printmakers Workshop opened early/mid 80's.
I remember visiting the very first exhibition they put on, which included work by David Mach. They also used to put on shows regularly by local amateur artists.
I managed to snap a couple of photos (above) at an exhibition there in the late 80's. The pieces are by Francisco Cabral, an artist from Trinidad.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008


The CHS subway at Monymusk Road was constructed in 1972, 2 years after the school opened. The photo above of the pupils painting it was taken in June 1974. The object of the exercise was to fight fire with fire in an attempt to camouflage the graffiti being daubed on the walls. I remember we each had to design our own individual graphic in art class first for the teacher to permit it being painted full size. Each class involved was given it's own patch of wall.
This picture of the 4th year pupils was taken around the time of the O Levels which meant there was quite a bit of spare time in-between exams. This was probably one of the last things this lot did together as a class before leaving Craigie High School for good in July. Most of the faces are hidden, but I do recognise some in the class - Graeme Morrison, Ally Stewart & Gail Phillips are there, and that is the art teacher in the pink jumper, however I can't recall her name. If anyone can identify any of the others feel free to drop it in the comments.
Photo by DC Thomson.Tints by GG.

Monday, 20 October 2008


Even at primary school age, I was always interested in all things arty, whether it be a visit to Dundee Museum's galleries, or a wee read of the Dundee comics. One of the highlights as a school kid was to be found in the Beano. It was called "Teaser Time" and it featured puzzles & word games sent in by readers around UK. The section I looked forward to most was the "Strange Object", a simple optical illusion graphic you had to solve.
You can give the one above a go before moving onto some more examples below that I recall from the mid 60's.

Thursday, 16 October 2008


The McGill's Sports department was in a seperate building from the main McGill Bros store. Both were located in Victoria Road but their sport shop was on the bottom corner of Hilltown. I used to visit this shop quite a lot in the early 70's when I was secondary school age, mostly for futba gear, but I can also recall buying a pair of Speedo swimming trunks, when their new "nylon" material made it's first appearance. I remember being really chuffed when I got a pair of Adidas Samba trainers from there too. Classics!!
The image above was taken in 1976.
Photo by DC Thomson.Tints by GG.

Monday, 13 October 2008


Back in the 60's, the bus routes around Dundee had time-card clocks placed at terminus stops. This was also the era of bus conductors, and their routine would be to lift the lid on the body of the clock, put in his time-card, and pull a lever to stamp the time on it. Sometimes when a bus was early, it meant having to hang around one until it was the right time to depart, which passengers always moaned about, especially when the driver joined the conductor for a natter & a fag!
I remember there being a clock at Keith Place/Ballindean Road terminus, and us being primary school kids would lift the lid up to pull the lever because it used to go "DING", and then we'd scarper.
The clocks became obsolete when one-man buses became the norm around 1970.
For a reminder of the green Corporation buses, here's some footage from the 60's below.

Sunday, 12 October 2008


32 years ago today, Dundee had the choice of contrasting entertainment this particular evening, and just a few steps away from each other.
On one corner of Marketgait, The Sex Pistols were trying to grab the limelight whilst having bottles thrown at them from the crowd.
On the other corner of Marketgait, Frankie Vaughan was given the moonlight and had gals throw themselves at him.
Despite the obvious conflict of music styles on offer, they did cross paths at one point.
Pistol, Glen Matlock, has documented the time when The Sex Pistols booked into their Dundee hotel, and corny crooner, Frankie, was in the same dining room as the punks at breakfast time.
There's also a local story has it that Johnny Rotten and co were seen trying to get into the Frankie Vaughan gig that very evening, but needless to say, never got passed the door!
The Sex Pistols gig took place at the Tech College Students Union (aka the Bowling Alley), and the Frankie Vaughan gig was at the Barracuda nightclub.
The ad at the top showing the Sex Pistols gig was published in NME, however, this was the wrong date - the one here being for Wednesday 22 September 1976.
That factual date of the gig was Tuesday 12 October 1976.
There was no advert in the local press for the Pistols event on the night, but Frankie's show was advertised locally on 12 October 1976, and as you can see on the ad, he was doing cabaret for a few nights there.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008


The top picture of the Littlewoods entrance area was taken on a rainy day in the mid 70's.
The Overgate store stretched from the Old Steeple area to the Boots corner zone.
The ground floor sold clothing, household goods and food, while upstairs there was a café/restaurant whose tables I remember had sugar kept in large glass shakers instead of bowls, which folk often mistook for salt. Many plates of chips were ruined as a consequence!
Next to Littlewoods on the photo is the small yellow & blue baker shop of Andrew G Kidd, and just out of view with its red shop sign glimmering behind the trees, is Dixons, who sold TV's, audio equipment, cameras etc.
Then for some reason, in the mid 80's, Littlewoods store changed its colour scheme from blue to orange.
Anyway, the reason for the crowds hanging around in the second picture was because it was Rag Day.
Students floats, pipe band and so on.


I think most people will look back at visiting Gussie Park with fondness, despite it's rather ramshackled appearance. I certainly recall having fun there as a schoolboy in the 60's & 70's during the 7 weekies. I also remember a few skirmishes as well when there were matches on up the road!
This image of the carnival was taken in September 1965.
Photo by DC Thomson.Tints by GG.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008


This book, written by Gary Robertson, gives a terrific insight into Dundee's gang culture which was rampant in the 1960's/70's/80's. Detailing the background behind the rise of the first fully formed mobs in the 60's, recounting the bloody battles of the mental 70's and discovering the new casual crews of the 80's.
The book is loaded with city references from that era, the shops, pubs, football and of course the housing schemes, as ex gang members give graphic accounts (in broad Dundee lingo) of their involvement, such as the scraps at the Palais, the rumbles at Gussie Park, the futba violence and the turf wars. Plenty information on the cult clothing that was worn too...even a guide to jersey colours.
So whether you want to reminisce or learn about what the hell the Huns, Fleet, Toddy, Shams and the rest got up to, this is where you'll find out. It will make you cringe and laugh in equal measure as it uncovers this unique period in Dundee's history.

Friday, 3 October 2008


The location of The Barracuda in the Marketgait was probably the most well known and most visited disco spot in Dundee.
Previously called the J.M, it was transformed into the Barracuda in the mid 70's with a new look design that was extremely eye catching.
Both the outside & inside were "sculpted" to resemble an exotic cave.
There were alcoves, recesses, cubbyholes and bay areas all over the place, not to mention lots of stalactites too!
There was also an upstairs balcony area with a desert island shack.
Just in case you still weren't aware of this tropical sea world theme going on, to remind you, it also had aquariums containing piranha's!
After 10 years or so, it then changed again to become known as the Coconut Grove.
For a glimpse of the Barracuda interior, have a wee nosey at the slideshow below.

Photos by DC Thomson.Tints by GG.