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, became 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 around 1970. Then in 1977 the building was destroyed by fire and so was eventually demolished.
The first ad above was published in the local press in November 1965 and is for well known entertainer, Norman Vaughan.
Remember he had the short "ooh!" catchphrase.
Second is dated February 1966 and is for a show by famous comedian, Tony Hancock.
It snowed when Tony was in Dundee and he said it was so cold he had to run from the dressing room to the stage to get some heat from the lights..!!
April 1966 is the date of the third ad and on that occasion, crooner, Frankie Vaughan, was the entertainment on offer.
The fourth ad was published in November 1969 when Billy Fury was the main attraction.

Saturday 25 October 2008


A snap of inside the Palais, captured in 1970.
Taken from the stage, it looks over towards the balcony, bar and entrance area.
This was a private function, which is why they were all in evening-wear, rather than the fashion of the day.
The band in shot was the Emerald Showband, who later morphed into Wichita, the Palais resident band during the 1972-74 period.

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.

Thursday 23 October 2008


To coincide with the opening of the Tay Road Bridge in 1966, Dundee duo Peter & Alison, released a single called "Highway O'er The Sea".
It came out on Andy Lothian's ALP record label.
For the record cover photo-shoot, it seems they got the brand new bridge all to themselves!
The advert for the single was published in a national music paper in August 1966.
To read a bit about them and the record, you can click onto the article above which dates from September 1966.

Wednesday 22 October 2008


The Seagate Gallery & Printmakers Workshop opened in 1986.
I remember visiting an exhibition by David Mach they put on in 1986.
This was David's first major show in Dundee and the exhibits were all installations.
It had a kind of local industrial theme with Jute, Jam & Journalism being represented, but in David's unique contemporary style of multitude sculptures.
Jute was depicted in a piece using 4000 jute bobbins.
Jam was portrayed using 2500 jam jars, some filled to form an image of a shark and man (as seen in the photo above).
The Journalism artwork was a massive swirling sculpture made out of thousands of magazines, with office equipment scattered in amongst them.
Davids work has since gone on to be known around the globe.

They also used to put on shows regularly by local amateur artists.

Although it opened its doors in summer '86, its official grand opening event didn't take place until November 1986 - with local jazz act Havana Swing providing the entertainment.

A few years later, I managed to snap a couple of photos (above) at an exhibition there around 1989.
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.

Wednesday 15 October 2008



These photos are of the Civic store in Reform Street taken in 1975.
As you can see they sold a variety of electrical goods - TV's, hi-fi's, fridges and suchlike.
The guy standing in the shop entrance area was the manager, Dave Balfour.

Photos by Brian Perrie

Tuesday 14 October 2008


Here's a batch of local rail related images taken in the late 70's / early 80's.
Top to bottom...
Broughty Ferry signal box.
Camperdown Junction, Dock Street.
Lady Diana Spencer loco.
Dock Street view.
Invergowerie accident.
Exact date to all aren't known but the Diana loco came into service in 1981 and the Invergowerie accident was in 1979.

Photos by Brian Perrie

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 a choice of contrasting entertainment - and just a few steps away from each other.
On one corner of Marketgait it was The Sex Pistols.
On the other corner of Marketgait it was Frankie Vaughan.
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 guide at the top showing the Sex Pistols gig date was published in NME, however, it was printed 3 weeks too early on 22 September 1976.
That actual date of the gig was 12 October 1976.
There was no advert in the local press for the Pistols event that night, but Frankie's show was advertised locally on 12 October 1976 as his cabaret act was running for a few days that week.

Saturday 11 October 2008



The Swing Club didn't follow local music trends, they took their own path, even although it seemed to lead to a kind of time-warp destination.
The sound they created was a bit like Aztec Camera's styling but trapped in the Savoy in 40's London!
The Swing Club line-up... Forrey Rosscraig (ex Quick Spurts) lead vocal - Martin Lowe, guitar - Roberto Soave, bass - Ewan Parry, drums.
They played at the places like the Tayside Bar, Barney's in St Andrews and their gig at Teazers was actually as support to Aztec Camera.
At the end of 1983 however, Martin and Roberto had trial workouts with Billy Mackenzie, with Roberto then ending up joining The Associates going onto record and tour with them.
Roberto, after that, even landed a job as bass player for The Cure for a short while.
The track below is a 1983 demo, and it's not as polished as a proper big production would be, but it's good enough to hear how their own unique approach sounded.
The song is titled "All I Ever Do (Is Dream Of You).

Friday 10 October 2008



At the tail end of the 80's, Mike Kane, Gerry Mitchell and co, formed Novus, a kind of post punk free-form trippy experience.

They released a single in 1989 and the track "Desire" is the one you can tune into below.

Thursday 9 October 2008


The Little Chef opened on the Arbroath Road near Claypotts in 1974.
I recall popping in there a few times in the 70's, usually after a bit of fun in Dawson Park or on the way back from Broughty Ferry.
My choice was nearly always their pancakes with maple syrup. Very nice!
In March 1977, this Little Chef was visited by a couple of rock bands, namely, Graham Parker & The Rumour and Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes.
They were on tour at the time and had played in Glasgow the previous day, so when passing through Dundee on their way to the next gig in Aberdeen, the Little Chef was chosen for a stop-off for the bands to have some grub!

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.

Sunday 5 October 2008


This comic strip is actually an advert.
It's for Clarks Commandos, a range of shoes made by Clark, and was published in 1972.
They are described as "action shoes for tough assignments" and the various styles came with added extras such as a mock ammunition box, Commando I.D. card, wall charts, badges etc.
The shoes also had a little recognition symbol in the heel.
Kids like all that kinda stuff of course, and no doubt, many mock battles were fought around town wearing them - just like Kit Carter and chums in the advert strip.
A small group of Dundonians, however, took it a step further a few years later, when in 1980, a band cropped up on the local music scene and were called, yep you guessed it - Clarks Commandos..!!
Give it a click to read the large version.

Saturday 4 October 2008


Many of us know about Dundee's early punk gigs that took place at The Ambassador Hotel in 1977, but here's a gig list that was published in Cripes in October '77 showing that the Ballinard Hotel were trying to get in on the act too.
The Jolt playing on a Saturday night followed by a punk disco on Sunday!

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, the nightclub was transformed into the Barracuda in 1975 after £1/4 million was spent on it's conversion, and had a new look design that was extremely eye catching.
Both the outside & inside were "sculpted" to resemble cave-like structures.
The interior's theme was based around Jules Verne's submariner adventure "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea"
There were alcoves, recesses, cubbyholes and bay areas all over the place. Lots of stalactites and submarine parts too - riveted girders, periscope, portholes etc.
To go with this tropical underwater look, it also had aquariums containing piranhas!
There was also an upstairs balcony area with a desert island look, a shack, palm trees, totem pole, bamboo and such like.
The Barracuda was then sold to Rank Leisure in April 1980 and £35,000 was spent on their new lighting system.
Boss, Murdo Wallace Jr, went onto be a soul band promoter and the new Barracuda manager was now John Muir.
Barracuda then got another £1/4 million face-lift in January 1984 and re-opened in March '84 as Coconut Grove.
For a glimpse of the Barracuda interior, have a wee nosy at the slideshow below.

Photos by DC Thomson.Tints by GG.

Thursday 2 October 2008



Inca Rhodes were part of the local music scene in the mid 80's.
Line-up - Colin Knight, vocals - Kenny McIntosh, bass - Grant Laing, guitar - Frank Smith, keyboards and drummer, Doug Hopton, who isn't in the photo above.
Other members have included Dave Dawson and Colin Stewart.
Played local venues such as Fat Sams & Duck Slattery's and out of town gigs in Aberdeen, Glasgow & Glenrothes, with the Glenrothes one having been captured on video.
Inca Rhodes then split in August 1987.
They did record a single which came out in summer 1986 and below you can tune into the main track called HideAway.