Saturday 31 October 2009


I remember going guising twice.
First attempt there was a big squad of us and so once the money was split we only made a few shillings each.
Next year, there was only 2 of us and we ended up making a few quid!!
The second year was the most interesting too because I took my guitar along with me. Although it was only me and my mate, we weren't a double act, we both sang different songs separately.
I chose a pop hit that was in the charts at the time - "Zabadak" by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. This was in 1967 when I was 9. The song started with a percussive intro, so to do that I played "bongo style" on the back of my guitar, and when the time came to burst into the music bit I quickly flipped the guitar back over to its normal position and proceeded to strum along!
My mates party piece was "Nobody's Child", going for the sympathy vote there!!
Anyway, a couple of hours around the block in Craigie and all that loose change became pounds by the end of the evening.

Should anyone be curious, here is a link to Zabadak -

And if anybody wants to hae a wee greet, here's a version of Nobody's Child -

As regards the night shot photo, well that's a view from my old bedroom window - 1973ish. It's Kemnay Gardens in Craigie looking over to Huntly Place.

Friday 30 October 2009


If there are any old pen pushers out there, you may remember this product - Quink.
The one in the photo is an original I bought out of Burns & Harris in the Nethergate in the mid 80's. I've had it all that time and it still has loads of ink in it. I got it for doing BLOOD SPATTER in my cartoons, but me not being much of a gory person probably explains why the pot today is half full yet!
You can still get Quink these days, but this particular jar & packaging above is now considered "vintage"..!!

Thursday 29 October 2009


These were good fun. You used to be able to get Action Transfers from city centre shops like John Menzies and RS McColls. The packs came with a sheet of transfers and a gatefold card that opened up into a large landscape. There was a variety to choose from - battlefields, under water, sports, outer space and so on. The fun was being able to place the transfer images anywhere you fancied onto the backdrop, usually accompanied by, as kids do, doing all the sound effect noises along the way, guns, explosions, engines etc..!!
This ad is from 1969 and that's the era I'm familiar with, late 60's/early 70's, but later in the 70's they introduced Star Wars and probably a few other new ones, to the set.
Click the image to read the large version.

Wednesday 28 October 2009


I used to get Bazooka Joe bubble gum out of my local shop, Stan's, in Craigie. This was in the mid/late 60's when I was primary school age.
The appeal of the sweet, apart from the chunk of bubbly, was that when you removed the outer wrapper, there was a second wrapping inside that had a cartoon strip on it, featuring the wee BJ kid in various adventures.
It was always good to get things at that age that were free and you could collect.

Tuesday 27 October 2009


One of the more offbeat products to come out of Dundee in the early 80's was the Nimslo 3D camera. Timex manufactured them, with the project financed by Fred Olsen. However, the novelty camera never really generated much interest with the general public and it wasn't too long before the Nimslo was chucked onto the consumer goods scrapheap!
The name came from the 2 American guys who invented it, Jerry Nims & Allen Lo.

Sunday 25 October 2009


The photo featuring the front of the Ferranti factory at Dunsinane dates from the early 80's.
They made hi-tech instruments like transformers, microwave components, lasers and circuit board connectors. Their Dundee factory made the transformers for the Ariane satellite launcher.
The ad under it is from the 70's and they've used 2 connectors to make it look like the bridges on the Tay.

Saturday 24 October 2009


One of the factories at Dunsinane was for Levi's. Here's a wee nosey at the interior taken in the early 80's with some local lassies slaving away!

Friday 23 October 2009


A shot of the Dunsinane Industrial Estate area taken in the early/mid 80's.
Not much remains of it these days, but in the 60's, 70's & 80's, it was a busy place with factories belonging to the likes of Ferranti - Timex - Wright - NCR - Levi and a few others.
If you click onto the image and view the large version, you will also spot a few nearby football pitches, schools etc.

Thursday 22 October 2009


This picture was taken when the Wellgate waterfall had just been newly installed into the middle of the shopping centre in November 1978.
It looks pretty bare at this early stage, but as time went by, plants were added to it's surroundings until it eventually ended up looking like a wee oasis.
You can get a reminder of how it looked in 1986 with all the greenery attached, in the Retro December 2008 Archives.
Photo by DC Thomson.

Wednesday 21 October 2009


On this night 30 years ago, Ian Gillan was on stage at the Caird Hall.
In the mid 70's he made a couple of decent jazzy funk-rock albums that took him away from the heavy metal sound of Deep Purple. However, by the late 70's he was getting back into that heavy rock mode he is normally associated with and this show in Dundee was the "let's rock this joint" variety!
By the way, the special guest supporting was Randy California, the guitarist from legendary USA band, Spirit.

Monday 19 October 2009


This photo was taken in November 1972, when the new Craigie High School subway at Monymusk first opened for use.
However, after a wee bit of detective work, I reckon these kids are not from Craigie High. Here's the clues -
1- I don't actually recognise anyone (I was at CHS in 72).
2- That's not a CHS blazer.
3- The boy on the left is wearing short troosers (highly unlikely at secondary).
4- They have carrier bags which I'm guessing contains wet towels.
So my theory is that they are from a primary school in Douglas on their way back from a swimming session at the CHS pool.
Hopefully, someone may be able to spot which school/class they are from.
To help with the face ID, click on to view the large version.
Incidentally, easy to see the subway is brand new - no graffiti.!! By 1974 the whole place was covered!!
Photo by DC Thomson.

Since writing this caption above, the mystery has been solved. The class is from St Andrews Primary School in Banchory Road, Craigie. You can read some of the pupils names in the comments.

Sunday 18 October 2009


I have 2 Dundee school photos coming up next, both needing a bit of extra information to make the pictures complete. I've got some of the details, but will require some assistance from you knowledgeable ones out there to help piece them together. 1 photo each from the 60's & 70's, starting with this one from the 1960's.
The info I have so far is that this is Kirkton parading the "Top Of The Form" trophy.
Most of you should remember the Top of the Form quiz show, where 2 secondary school teams battled it out. There were 2 versions of the show, one on radio and one on TV. The BBC TV archives have an episode listed - a Quarter Final round featuring Kirkton v Tavistock (Devon), dated December 1967. This photo is dated 1968, so I guess it could be the same team having just won the final of that particular series. Anyone got any definite facts to accompany the photo?
To jog your memory, below is the TOTF theme tune.
Photo by the Scotsman.

Since writing this caption above, the mystery has been solved. The photo is indeed Kirkton with the "Television Top Of The Form" trophy.
The tall guy parading the prize is pupil, Gordon Cobban.
The other teamsters are - Michael O'Rourke, Fiona Anderson & Morag Smith.

Friday 16 October 2009


The Arctic Bar goes waaaaaay back to Dundee's old whaling days. The photo above, however, doesn't go quite as far back as that, but is a wee reminder of how it looked in the 60's. It did still look kinda like that when I ventured there on my one and only visit to the pub, sometime in the mid 70's. It was as bare and as basic as it could be, befitting the reputation it had as being a bit of an old-timers drinking den. Not quite the youthful setting for our "blaring music" requirements!
These days, it seems to have gone in the opposite direction (Antarctic Bar!?) and is now quite a lively venue for local bands.
More wailing than whaling..!!

Thursday 15 October 2009


Located beside the Keiller Centre, 2nd Base was the place to go in the 80's for a game of snooker and to try your luck on the slot machines.
Not sure if they had "next to the Keiller Centre" as their postal address, but it was to be found roughly around the back of Reform St/Meadowside area, 2 flights up...I think!

Wednesday 14 October 2009


This is what it looked like when they cleared the area in readiness for the building of the Keiller Centre, in the late 70's.
The surveyor is standing at the Commercial Street/Meadowside corner area. The picture looks over to the back of the buildings in the High Street, in the middle distance.
Photo by the Scotsman.

Tuesday 13 October 2009


Not sure how many other cities had a newspaper street vendor as a cult figure, but Tommy Small certainly left his mark on the Dundee art community. He's been painted, sculpted, sketched and here, turned into a doll. It was made by Hilary Elder from Broughty Ferry and was displayed in a craft exhibition in the Marryat Hall in 1983. Tommy was then presented with the model after the show.

Monday 12 October 2009


This is the area outside Boots where Tommy Small sold the Tele. You can see him "in action" in the photo, taken in January 1974.
When you went to buy a paper from him, he would use a swift flick technique to remove the Tully from under his arm, which would catch you by surprise sometimes. Not sure exactly how long he stood at this spot, but it must have been a couple of decades.
His other patch was, The Phoenix!
Photo by The Scotsman.

Sunday 11 October 2009


Here's an ad from the late 80's for Sound Control, the music shop in Castle Street.
The store is a thing of the past now, the premises presently being the location of the Academy of Music.

And on that note, I will bring to an end the recent music theme, which has been running for 3 weeks. There will definitely be another music themed run in a few weeks time because I'm still loaded with stuff. For now though, it's time to have a wee breather and a change of subject.

Saturday 10 October 2009


I remember this particular event very clearly because this was the first ever Dundee University gig I went to.
None of my mates were into jazz so I ended up going to this one on my own.
It also turned out to be the only time I've ever had a "sneaky in" at University!
My uncle was the caretaker there and we had arranged to meet at 7.00pm on the night.
So along I went on this dreary Sunday evening in November 1976, and sure enough my uncle came to the main door as arranged, let me in, then locked it again. I was unaware that the doors didn't officially open until 8.00pm and so I had the University all to myself for an hour.
When the main guy turned up at 8.00 to open the doors, he clapped eyes on me already inside and wondered what the hell was going on. I then explained to him about my uncle and he was ok about it, although he did say it was a bit naughty!
All the University gigs I went to after that were done properly - getting signed in at the door.
Anyway, National Health put on a good show. They were a very technical band of musicians, using complex structures in their compositions, typical of the prog-jazz associated with the Canterbury scene in fact.
Dundee's jazz-rock outfit, Europe, were the support act.

The tour dates above are from an old NME I have from '76.

Friday 9 October 2009


Michael Marra's career is very well documented on the net, therefore, I won't indulge too much in repeating info that is already available.
So, some lesser known details about Michael go back to when he was school age in the 60s. Coming from a musical family, Michael got hooked on music around the time his old man bought a piano. When Michael was 13, he teamed up with his school band called The Saints, (playing guitar not piano) and used to perform at the Gaumont Saturday Morning Club. Becoming a bit of a rebel at school now, he was eventually booted out of Lawside at the ripe old age of 14 and he never went back! Being too young to start an apprenticeship, he got a job as a message boy with a local printers. After a year running around Dundee, he took a job at Burnett's (bakers) in the Cleppie, then a wee while later got work as a sparky with Kilpatrick in Albert Square. When he reached 17 he decided to move to London and did a few odd jobs around the city, however, in addition, he also started singing occasionally in pubs. Enjoying performing, he next had a go at busking in Holland for a short time before coming back to Dundee where he formed his first proper band, Hens Teeth, featuring his wee brother Chris, and Arlene Gowans. This then lead to, after a couple of tweaks to the line-up, the formation of Skeets Boliver in the early/mid 70's, the band going on to record and tour right up to around 1979. In 1980 he moved back down to London to concentrate on his solo career and he has been doing the biz in a multitude of ways ever since - song writing, solo albums, tours, collaborations, theatre, tv, film and even art.
He still manages to slip the odd Dundee reference into his themes - for example, the Taybridge Bar crops up in one song, and he even recorded one about Dundee United goalie, Hamish McAlpine!
Michael these days has a worldwide fan base and there are many websites that have plenty info about his work. The best place to start would be his own site where you can find lots of music to tune into and catch up with all the latest news. Here is the link -
He also has a "My Space" page, not forgetting the usual Wiki & Youtube kind of sites.
All well worth dipping into.

Thursday 8 October 2009


Here's a shot of Skeets Boliver in full swing, which was quite a familiar sight around Dundee in the mid/late 70's.
And below is the band's debut single, dated 1976.
For the younger ones among you who haven't heard it, let me just say that it was called "Streethouse Door" in print only - you'll find out what I mean when you tune into it! It was produced by Mick Green, guitarist in The Pirates.
I've seen them perform this a couple of times back in the day, one was a show upstairs at the Bothy (Breadalbane) in the Conshie. A regular hangout for 1 or 2 band members.
This song, of course, was the one that started Michael Marra off on his recording career - and MM will be the topic of tomorrows post.

Wednesday 7 October 2009


From the Dark Side Of The Haggis label comes this track by The Wildhouse called "All Of Her Men", released in 1987.
The DSOTH label was a subsidiary of Groucho's and it actually has their Marketgait address printed on the disc.
It being a flexi disc rather than vinyl the quality isn't quite there and mine is a pretty poor pressing. Anyway, give it a wee listen and see what you reckon.


The 2nd song on the DSOTH flexi disc is by The Sandflowers and titled "Spiral". A bit more boisterous than the other track, and lot of surface noise on my recording, but well worth tuning into.

Tuesday 6 October 2009


Another one of my old ticket stubs - and exactly 30 years ago today, the Boomtown Rats were the band on stage at the Caird Hall.
Quite a lively gig I recall, because by this time they had notched up a few chart hits, and so got a good response from the audience.
The support band on the night were fellow Irishmen, Protex.
After the gig, Bob Geldof was spotted in the Chinese take-away in the Nethergate.
Fast forward a few more years to 2002 and Bob was back on the Caird Hall stage, only now it was a Dundee University ceremony, where he received an Honorary Degree.

Monday 5 October 2009


From the pages of Dundee's "On The Street" magazine, here's a few Dance Factory gigs listed for end of March to end of April 1989.
Although you can read the ads ok without needing to enlarge them, I'm gonna type out the content for "search" purposes.
And playing at the Royal Oak - THE RAINMATES.
Perhaps some of you remember popping along to catch 1 or 2 of these shows.

Sunday 4 October 2009


Making one of their earliest raids into the Dundee music scene is, Clarks Commandos, seen here invading the stage and taking control of the situation. The crowd were hostile at first but the unit did eventually manage to win the hearts and minds of the locals.
In charge of Operations was Major Gary Clark. 2nd in command was Officer Ged Grimes. Assisting manoeuvres were Sergeant Derek Thomson and Corporal Brian McDermott, who saw some rear guard action.
After this successful mission, certain members from this 80's Battalion went on to become involved in further sorties such as, Operation Spencer Tracy, and their greatest triumph, Operation Danny Wilson.
One of Clarks Commandos original documents became declassified last year and made available to the public for viewing, and you will find this previously top secret item in the October 2008 archives.
Thanks to Mike Gallacher & Billy Graham

Saturday 3 October 2009


The Snap-On Brothers were not the only Dundee act to name themselves after a consumer product brand. Around the early 80's there was local outfit called ERASMIC SUPERFOAM, named after the commodity in this ad from the 70's.
But were they the clean shaven babe magnets the ad suggests?!

Friday 2 October 2009


When talking about the Snap-On Brothers, it's usually accompanied by words like - crazy, mad, loony, mental - not depicting a problem mind you, but rather, describing their humour & antics.
The other thing is, as far as I know, they didn't entertain on stage via organised gigs, they just "slipped into a performance" after a few bevvies at parties, pubs and so on.
The main men were - STEVE SMITH aka Zeek, DAVE MANN aka Giz (pic above) and a sporadic MURRAY TOSH. There was also quite a large squad who hung out with them, and more often than not, all ended up in the Bowling Alley on Fridays, circa mid/late 70's. In fact DJ Brian Wilson gives a detailed account of one of their performances in the comments of the Bowling Alley item in the Feb 2009 Archives.
I remember Zeek mentioning back then that he had some of his own material down on tape, (there was a song about Hitler..!!) but I'm not sure if it ever saw the light of day.
There was also a short-lived splinter outfit who came from the Snap-On's who called themselves The E-Types. I remember they rehearsed up at the Bowling Alley but don't think the combo took it any further than that.
Steve and Dave moved to Holland in the early 80's, with Zeek forming a collective of like-minded freakazoids who DID perform on stage. Murray, who played bass in Dundee band, Street Level, went to live in Australia in the early 80's and has continued to keep his bass guitar active.
Giz, who used to work in Bruces, recently celebrated his silver wedding anniversary, and needless to say one or two Snap-Ons were in attendance. The urge to perform took hold, only this time it was videoed. So here is the return of the Snap-On Brothers, as sloshed and as mad as ever, with a song called "Policeman Blues".
Click link -