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.