Saturday, 19 December 2009


Time to have a festive break now.
I'll be gone from Retro Dundee for about 3 weeks but I'll still be beavering away behind the scenes getting things ready for 2010.
Thanks once again to all of those who have been in touch to contribute material, much appreciated. Thanks also to those who have supplied info & opinions in the comments. Apart from the odd bout of hair-pulling, they have been a joy to read.
Anyone new to Retro Dundee, you can catch up with all the previous posts (over 500) by clicking on the dates in the Archives down the left-hand side of the page layout. Or if you are trying to find something in particular, you can use the Retro search box.
Meantime, hae yersels a belter of a Christmas, and if any of you ever want to contact me, I'll still be around to reply to your messages.
So feel free to use the RD address above, and just like the Johnny away!


Just like selection boxes, the giant tube of Smarties was something you only saw at Christmas time.
This is how they looked in an ad from 1966.
You probably all did that thing with the ordinary sized tube, when the contents were finished, you'd put the lid back on the empty tube, give it a hard wallop with your fist, and the lid would shoot off across the room like a pop gun!
Well you couldn't do that with the giant one because it was too robust, so you'd have to put it on the ground and stamp on it, then it would go off like a grenade launcher!

Friday, 18 December 2009


Most of you retro tech heads will recognise the items featured in these 2 ads from December '83. They were on sale in shops such as Dixons, John Menzies and a few others scattered around town.
Product names listed are - CASIO - COMMODORE - SINCLAIR - ORIC - SHARP - TEXAS.
Click images to enlarge.

Thursday, 17 December 2009


The last of the ads from '65 is this one for Justice, the housefurnishers store who used to be on the corner of Whitehall Street and Whitehall Crescent.
I have no memory of visiting this place, but I do like their ad with the piece of festive string tied around the finger reminding you that it's present time!
Click image to enlarge.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


2 Christmas ads from '65 for 2 shops that were next door to each other.
Cairds providing Gift Vouchers and Meldrum's offering gifts for all the family.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009


Furry baffies...just like gran used to wear!


I always wanted a pair of Georgie's side lacers, but never did get them.
Boo hoo..!!
They just seemed so modern and different to what else was in the shops at the time. I can remember only about 2 guys in all of my primary school owning a pair, but I'm not sure if it was because they were more expensive than your ordinary boots or if they were just more difficult to find in Dundee shops.
Anyway, the Stylo Matchmakers ad comes from a 1969 Rover comic, and if you need to read the small print, just click the image.

Monday, 14 December 2009


When Dundee FC won the Scottish League Cup in 1973, some of the players went on a wee tour of the Timex factories, flaunting the trophy and signing autographs.
Above is Bobby Wilson & Dave Johnston doing the biz in the canteen at the Milton of Craigie factory in December 73.
Not sure whether the ladies are from a particular dept or if they are the canteen girls, but hopefully someone may recognize a face and pass on the information.
There are also a couple of photos on the Timex Reunited website gallery of Jocky Scott & Gordon Wallace visiting one of the other factories.
Photo by DC Thomson.

Sunday, 13 December 2009


The top Timex ad is from the late 70's and is for a Quartz - the watch that didn't need winding!
The ad below is from the late 60's and reminds you how water proof & shock proof Timex watches were!
The Timex factories in Dundee used to have sales on around Christmas time, which had employees queuing up to grab last minute bargain stocking fillers!

Saturday, 12 December 2009


Arnotts was the large department store located on the corner of Commercial Street and the High Street, taking over from DM Browns in the early 70's.
This ad shows some of what was on offer in their store in December 1973.
Bit of a mixed bag really, clothing, kitchen equipment, home accessories and electronic goods.
The 2 items illustrated are the Ronson Rapide hair dryer and the Jones Carousel cassette recorder, a fine piece of kit for it's day, responsible for many a home recording session, not to mention the occasional live bootleg album!!
Click image to read the large version.

Friday, 11 December 2009


From the same Sunday Post as yesterdays books advert comes this price comparison test featuring 4 of the top selling dolls of 1973.
The dollies involved were - TRING A LING TRUDY - ACTION GIRL - WANDA - BUSY MISSY.
The 3 Dundee shops on trial were Cairds, Arnotts and Boots, with Boots offering the cheapest prices and Cairds being the expensive store to avoid!
Click image to enlarge.

Thursday, 10 December 2009


This advert for DC Thomson products appeared in the Sunday Post on 16th December 1973.
The four 1974 annuals are - DIANA - BUNTY - MANDY - JUDY.
And I didn't get any of these in my stocking that Christmas!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


Here's a place that would be doing a roaring trade this time of year - the Draffens Perfumery and Cosmetics Department (it's posh title).
The photo was taken in 1968, so lots of Coty and Yardley on display no doubt.
Of course, not being a regular visitor to this part of the store, I've not got much to say about it - shopping for Christmas gifts probably the only time I was there.
I can remember being there in December 1973 when all the counters were lit up by candles because there was a power cut! That was during the 3 day week period, industrial disputes and strikes galore!
Draffens is also the only place in town that I can remember having revolving doors.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


Probably my favourite toy from the 60's was the Spiro-matic, a psychedelic art machine for kids. I got one for Christmas the year they first came out in 1969 and made many a masterpiece on it!!
I actually have the original toy (that's mine above) and it is still in perfect working order with all the bits & pieces that came with it.
Much to my amazement, however, when I was looking to see how much info there was on the net about the toy, I could hardly find any references to it, and absolutely no images. So, because I thought there ought to be some kind of source on it readily available on the net, I decided to start my own wee blog dedicated to it a few weeks ago, called SPIRO-MATIC GALLERY. That has lots of images of the toy itself as well as examples of the artwork.
Some of you may know that in recent years, Spiro-matic artwork inspired Damien Hirst and David Bowie to do large scale versions of the idea. They were called spin paintings and I ventured along to the Saatchi Gallery in London a few years ago to see the Hirst display. Huge they were and they did bring a big smile to my face, especially with the thought that I was dabbling in this form of art way before Damien!
Anyway, if anyone is interested in viewing some original 60's efforts, here is the link

Monday, 7 December 2009


I'm not sure how long The Toy Shop was at this spot in Whitehall Crescent, but I do have a photo of it there in the 1940's and the above picture was taken in 1982, so it had been on the go for around 4 decades at least.
The decade that was of interest to me though as a primary school kid, was the 60's, the age of Scalectrix, Lego, Action Man and a whole heap of other classics. Having said that, because we usually got our major toys at Christmas, my only visit to The Toy Shop, apart from window shopping, would be to get small items like a Corgi car or suchlike. I do remember getting a Gyroscope from there. Once you got one of them spinning, you could get it to balance on anything. It was like having magic powers!!
Photo by DC Thomson.

Sunday, 6 December 2009


John Menzies moved out of their Commercial St/Murraygate corner position in 1983, and relocated further along Murraygate to the empty premises that was once Woolworth. This is a shot from the new location of their record department, taken in December 1983. The record racks were placed diagonally at first, as above, but by the next year they changed the layout of the racks to run parallel with the wall (see December 2008 Archives for comparison).
It's quite interesting to see the large display above the door advertising the very first "Now That's What I Call Music" album...the series being on volume 74 at present!!
And so, with this image, I will now fade out from the recent music theme and crack on with a couple of weeks of retro Christmas shopping!
Photo by DC Thomson

Saturday, 5 December 2009


Influenced by the punk DIY fanzine craze that began in '76, Bruces Record Shop started up their own in-house publication called CRIPES, given away free at the shop counter. The contents consisted of blotchy xeroxed graphics, record info, gig updates and ads.
So what we have here is a page from Cripes showing their top twenty singles for week ending 27th August 1977. What might surprise some of you is the sight of Dundee's NRG outfit, The Drive, up there at #3.
Bruces back then was at 33 Reform Street, with Jim Stewart running it.
The shop was always buzzin'!
Click image to enlarge.

Friday, 4 December 2009


A new release by The Scrotum Poles has arrived. The album called "Auchmithie Forever" is a collection of rare and previously unreleased material from 1979/80. The tracks, taken from stoory old tapes, have been given a wee clean and can now be heard in all their original D.I.Y glory. The homemade lo-fi sound is part of their allure of course (a bit like slipping into your favourite old grungy jeans), with the tracks on it done in a bedroom in Balunie Drive and at rehearsals in the Coffin Mill.
The fact that the Scrotes original recordings are pretty impossible to track down these days, makes the album good value, being able to have a large batch of their songs at not too much expense. And that's not hype...I watched a copy of the SP "Revelations" ep fetch a price of £134 on Ebay 2 weeks ago.
There is a vinyl LP version (which has almost sold out) and an MP3 version available, with no plans for a CD. 
The LP, having a gatefold cover, has the added bonus of lots of photos, notes and lyrics.
The Scrotum Poles are particularly popular with the present generation of young American dudes, making main man, Craig Methven, in demand with the music press in the States right now!
Yes, the retro sound of punky Dundee is selling very well, and a track from it called "You Can't Say Anything Nowadays" is one for you to tune into.
Don't forget to crank up the volume!!
Big THANX to Smeg.

Thursday, 3 December 2009


Although Dundee trumpeter, John McLevy, was of the older generation, he was still very much active in the 60's, 70's & 80's, a period I'll get back to shortly.
Before that, he first began playing trumpet as a teenager, soon finding work locally, and around other parts of UK. His early work consisted mostly of hotel bands, and mostly in London. He did venture back home to play too, teaming up with the local Joe Gibson Band, then nipping over to Glasgow for some casino work.
London called again though and not before long he was in the line-up of the BBC Show Band lead by Cyril Stapleton. Included in his London years was a lengthy stint at the Savoy Hotel with bandleader, Francisco Cavez. JM also found time to record numerous albums with Max Bygraves...well they do say he did have a good sense of humour!!
The 70's was probably John at his peak, an era that had him play alongside jazz legend, Benny Goodman, and tour all over Europe.
He still continued playing right through the 80's, albeit in smaller bands and smaller venues, but eventually deciding to retire in the 90's.
John McLevy died in 2002.
Here is a link to one of his performances with Benny Goodman, taken from one of the 70's European tours

The track is called "My Dear Mr Shane", a number which, after many decades, Dundee's present top jazz outfit, Havana Swing, play as part of their repertoire!!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


In contrast to the bright and breezy AAGA track I put up a couple of weeks ago, on this outing AAGA take us all on a trip to the dark side.
The CELL cassette was done in 1983, and although all the material is untitled, I think I will call this one "Council Scheme Nightmare" ...for rather obvious reasons.
It's not a tune you're gonna be whistling along to, oh no, in fact you better go find some health & safety gear for protection.!!
It starts with a piercing shrill, a noise that undulates throughout the full 7 minutes like somebody grinding a piece of corrugated iron in a manic workshop. The pace is kept at a slow steady pulse by a menacingly hypnotic rhythm created on a drum machine, and then slicing their way through it all like a circular saw on overtime are the scathing lyrics, dissecting the ugly scenes encountered.
A bit of a tour de force I reckon. Dare you check it out?
Thanks to Mike Kane.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


25 years ago today, the Bonar Hall was the venue for an evening with John Martyn, singer, songwriter and guitar maestro. His laid back singing style and the things he could do with effects pedals were a joy to behold. He had released a few classic albums by the time this gig came about, so there was plenty material to dip into from his back catalogue.
He kept his career going in fact, right up to his death in January this year.

Monday, 30 November 2009


In my April 2009 Archives there is a track by The Smiths recorded at Dundee University in 1984. You may recall, Morrissey took a tantrum and had a pop at certain members in the crowd who were throwing beer onto the stage.
Well a year later, a change of venue, and all is well between the lead singer and the Dundee audience again. In fact, on this recording from the Caird Hall gig in September '85, at the end of the song "Hand In Glove", he let's it be known what "great people" there are in Dundee!!
The b&w multi image on top comes from an old Face magazine I have from the 80's.

Sunday, 29 November 2009


You may remember the 2 photos I put up previously of The Other Record Shop in the Overgate. One was an exterior shot and the other an image of the interior. Well here is a close up of their window display which was taken on 23rd May 1984.
So if you were window shopping 25 years ago, you'd spot product by Duran Duran - Womack & Womack - Mel Brooks - Fad Gadget - Kiri Te Kanawa - Matt Fretton - Simple Minds - Wang Chung - Wham - Phil Fearon & Galaxy - Break Machine - The Smiths and probably the one with most street cred, Keith Harris & Orville!!
There are 3 items I can't identify, the female trio above the number 40, the record sleeve under the words "ALL TOP" (it looks like Bruce Springsteen with a beard), and the one with the 2.43 price tag is a mystery.
If anyone fancies doing a bit of homework on these, I'll let you be teachies pet!!
Click on image to enlarge.
Photo by DC Thomson.

Saturday, 28 November 2009


This is the Flux "In Flux" cassette from 1987.
The guys involved in the recording were - KL Guthrie - M Kane & E McDougall.
There are 10 tracks in total, and the one here below for you to sample is a number called "So Clear, It's So Clear", a short trippy ambient offering. This is the mellowest track on the cassette compared to the rest of the material, which is rather abrasive, but thought I'd ease you gently into their sound with this piece first, and I'll put one of their contrasting tracks up sometime later.
Although the track here was recorded in '87, it does hark back to the mid '70's in an Eno/Krautrock kind of way.
Thanx to Mike.

Friday, 27 November 2009


The Palais ad at the top is dated Feb 1964 and displays a typical couple of months of acts that played at the Top Ten Club.
The Top Ten Club attracted some of the UK's best bands in the swinging 60's with the likes of Manfred Mann, The Kinks, Bee Gees, Yardbirds, Spencer Davis Group, Fortunes, and so on.
You may even be surprised to know that in 1966, David Bowie played the Top Ten Club too with his newly formed band The Buzz!
Along with well known visiting acts such as the ones featured in the ad (The Hollies, Dave Berry, The Paramounts etc) the venue also hosted resident bands, the ones showcased here being - Tommy Dene & The Tremors, Mark Dayton & The Honours and Johnny Hudson's Hi-Four.
The Top Ten Club was also the venue that was used when it was Dundee's turn to present Radio Scotland's Clan Ball. The photo above was taken at one such Clan Ball in May 1966, and captures the enthusiasm the locals had for the rave up.
It's not just Dundonians who had a good time at the Top Ten Club, the bands too thoroughly enjoyed their visits.
The snippet under the photo is taken from a 1966 interview with Ric Rothwell of The Mindbenders, who rated it as the best place in Scotland!
Going back to its early days, in 1963, Rolf Harris performed at the Top Ten Club, this being the date of the final item above.
It would have been very early in his career too, so not quite sure what his show would have consisted of, but for Dundee lass, Ann Jaskluska - she was sent!
Strange to see the word "sent" being used for Rolf. This was a hip jazz term similar to the hippies "far out" expression.
Perhaps it was the hypnotic drone of his didgeridoo that did it!!

Thursday, 26 November 2009


Rewinding back to October 1988, and a little glimpse into what was on offer in town music-wise. This schedule is taken from Street Life magazine, the local what's on guide for then.
Venues listed are - Fat Sams - Bonar Hall - Cafe Club - Chamber Music Club - Bar Chevrolet - Caird Hall and De Stihl's.
Music provided by - The Silencers - Frank Chickens - Pasadena Roof Orchestra - Love & The Gun - Hanson String Quartet - Quad - Le Hot Club - Barbara Dickson - Deacon Blue - Beaver Sisters and New Tinian.
Spark any memories?
Incidentally, I put "plop plop dada" into Google search and got nowt!
Click image to enlarge if blind as a bat!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


This short lived fanzine was a precursor to Cranked Up.
Le Sinistre #1 (the top one) appeared like a shooting star in 1981, then disappeared out of sight just as quick. The reason for this was that the debut mag published an article on the dodgy band contest at Tiffany's, which was then considered potentially libellous! So with a hasty revamp after issue 2, Le Sinistre was transformed into the longer lasting Cranked Up.
I really do like these covers mind you!
Big thanks to Craig.


Formed out of the spare ribs of The Scrotum Poles, Pigs Are Cute became part of Dundee's alternative music scene around 1982. Ditching the Scrotes punky sound they opted for a fresher, new wave presentation, both musically and in appearance. The 4 chaps hogging the limelight were - Craig Methven - Glen Connell - Neil Smillie & Kevin Devlin.
Typical gigs would be the Tayside Bar with Persian Rugs, or further afield in Arbroath with Pulsebeat Plus, a show that had Sounds music journalist, Johnny Waller in attendance.
They also managed to get 3 of their tracks recorded at Inner City Sound Studios, one of which you can hear below, called "Our Father", a tune that hints at the early 80's sound of moody Manchester.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


Here's a bundle of tickets featuring heavy metal bands who paid a visit to the Caird Hall in 1979 & 1980.
The UFO tickets at the top reveal that the band played there on 3 different dates in a period of only 20 months - that must be some kind record for the Caird Hall!
UFO don't normally spring to the top of your list when recalling heavy metal bands from the 70s/80s, but a wee reminder that in 1980, UFO were the main headline act at Reading Festival, above the likes of Iron Maiden!
Dundee band Colossus was the support band on one of the UFO shows.
The other 4 tickets are for - IAN GILLAN - MOTORHEAD - SAXON - OZZY OSBOURNE.
Support band on the Gillan tour was Quartz. Ian Gillan was another who played the same venue in a relatively short space of time, his band having played the Caird Hall in October 1979. There were, however, 3 more Gillan appearances in Dundee - 1981 & 1982 both at the Caird Hall again, and then in 1989 when he played at Fat Sams! 
By the way, Ozzy was wearing his white tassels outfit on stage I seem to remember.


Blind Pew were on the go in Dundee around the late 70's to early 80's period. There were alterations made to the band line-up along the way, but the main guys involved were - Graeme White, Dave Peddie, Paul Reaper, Neil McLaren, Gregor White, John Blair & Barry Yule.
Their sets were mostly their own material with the occasional cover version thrown in, in other words, a mix of pop/rock guitar workouts.
The amusing piece of work above was written by Jock Ferguson, and tells the tale of when he met up with the band in some downtown drinking den! (click image to enlarge)
And below you can tune into one of Blind Pew's self penned tracks, "Vampira".
Although BP called it a day around 1982, the band have recently reformed and are gigging regularly around town again.

Monday, 23 November 2009


This rare advert is for a Boo Hooray gig that took place at Laings on 3rd Oct 1981.
I don't think I was at this one but I do recall seeing them live at the Tayside Bar.
The band line-up changed periodically but included the likes of Gerry Mitchell, Neal Mitchell, Scott McKinlay, Scott Gowans, Bob Phillips & Paul Smith.
Below, you can have a sample of Dundee's post-punk rebels who dared to be different.
The track is called "This Work".


Another gig review, this time from the pages of Voice fanzine and featuring Hot Chocolate who were playing at the Caird Hall on 11th Sept 1982.
I never went to this particular show but I did see them live way back in 1976 over at the Apollo in Glasgow, and they were great. Throughout the 70's & 80's they just kept pumping out the hits in their own funky soul pop way without jumping on any passing music fad, and judging by this write up, they appear to have went down very well in Dundee.
The support act on the night was Zen, a band I know nothing about.
Click the image to read the large version if required.

Sunday, 22 November 2009


"Jerkin" was the debut single release by local act, The Drive, which came out on Dundee's NRG record label in 1977.
Although the single sold well in Bruce's record shop, the only place I can remember hearing it played back then was on the jukebox in the Oriental pub.
The same single was also chosen for a compilation album that came out on Beggars Banquet record label in '77, the front and back cover of which is shown above.
This is the 2nd NRG track on Retro Dundee, and if you want a reminder, you can listen to a track by The Visitors in my July 2009 Archives.
Meanwhile, here's a blast of The Drive single below.

Saturday, 21 November 2009


Here's a couple of amusing items about Dundee punk act - Bread Poultice & The Running Sores.
The top article describes the band presenting their rather unique performance, which is a slightly different take on punk. This is from a book about Billy MacKenzie (who became a friend of the band) and titled "The Glamour Chase".
It also mentions the time when Billy stood in for BP&TRS frontman, Steve Falconer - after Steve dropped some acid and went AWOL!
Well it makes me chuckle anyway.
Keeping the amusement going, I've accompanied the article with a couple of old gig listings I have from 1977, and in it you can see that Bread Poultice & The Running Sores had a couple of shows through in Edinburgh at the end of '77.
The November one asks the question - "Are they as loathsome as they sound?" - while the other describes them as "Those gangrenous punks".. Ha!
At least they were in similar company anyway as both The Sex Pistols and Sid Vicious & The Vicars are on the same list (although I doubt these 2 gigs took place because of their USA tour).
Incidentally, BP&TRS guitarist, Steve Reid, a few years later went on to replace Alan Rankine in The Associates.
Click the top image to read the large version if need be.

Friday, 20 November 2009


The photo above captured the moment Dundee lass, Kathie Connelly, became the Twist world record holder after having twisted her way through a 100 hour dance marathon.
The contest took place in Aberdeen in May 1964.


The dance hall, Robies, located in the Hawkhill area, held Scotland's first ever twist marathon in the early 60's. The contest attracted around 20,000 spectators over the 4 days it went on for. Dancer, Bobby Cannon eventually won it after having twisted himself dizzy for almost 95 hours! Runner up, Cathie Connelly later went on to become World Twisting Champion in 1964 down in Manchester, dancing for 102 hours and achieving a spot in the Guinness Book of records.
One of the local bands who entertained during the rest periods at Robies, was Johnny Hudson & the Hi-Four (above), a group that featured a young Dougie Martin on guitar (far right).
Below contains some footage of the actual twist contest.
Photo by DC Thomson.

Thursday, 19 November 2009


In the late 80's when DJ's, rather than band's, ruled the music world, "live" music at nightclubs would often have to take a back seat, but De Stihl's in South Ward Road, as you can see, managed to accommodate both.
This is a review of Dundee band Wilderness Children who performed there in October 1988, the same month as the previous acid ad.
You may need to click the image for the large version, to read it.
You can also rewind back to the July Archives to get a couple of other items on the band, including a music sample.


An ad from October 1988 inviting you along to De Stihl's acid night.
This was at the height of the rave scene, with acid house being a particularly intoxicating brew of dance beats & synth patterns.
It wasn't just great music to dance to, it was also great to cycle to.
I remember being out on my bike regularly during this era and would be plugged into my Walkman with acid house pounding in my ears. It could be so mesmerizing, I often ended up going much further than I had planned without realising because I was so immersed in it.
I just kept going and going and going.
I could have won the Tour De France on that stuff!!
I'm still a bit like that today with Chicago Footwork tracks!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


This old cassette by The Junkies dates back to the early 80's and has 3 demo tracks on it. The Junkies played a kind of raunchy, American influenced 70's rock & roll, with a touch of punky trash glam thrown in!
It doesn't have the band details on the cover but I'm guessing Vince, Al, Steve, Alison & Maggie were in the line-up for these recordings.
The 3 tracks are - "Subway Love" - "Pretty Boys" & "Why Don't You Listen To My Heart", and it's the last track I have here for you to tune into. It's a wee bit more downtempo than the other tracks but a song that I'm sure Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers wish they had written!
The quality of the recording does suffer from old age, what with tape hiss and magnetic phasing encroaching on at the start, but you soon get caught up in the melody and you don't notice the poor sound quality after a short while.
See what you reckon, jury..!!
Thanks to MK.