Sunday 19 December 2010


Time to shut shop at Retro Dundee for a bit of festive fun.
The door will be locked but you can continue to have a nosey at the window display.
Once again, it's been another thoroughly enjoyable dabble into the past.
Thanks too to those of you who took time to dip into your own treasures to share on Retro. It's amazing what you find when ye hae a wee rake!
Although I wont be posting any new material for 2 or 3 weeks, I'll be keeping an eye on the comments and the Retro Dundee email IN-box.
If anyone wants to contact me, or send any goodies for inclusion next year, the contact address is along the bottom of the groovy graphic.
Now that I've turned over the door sign to show the "CLOSED" side, I'll away and call for my horse & carriage to take me back to my castle.
I've got a smashing log fire burning, warming up my baffies on the hearth.
So as soon as I get home, I'll prise the lid off a tin of Creamola Foam, burst through the paper seal, stir some magic strawberry crystals into my tumbler and drink to your health.
A very Merry Christmas to one and all, and may you still be able to scoff the entire contents of your selection box, all in one day!


Last year I put an item up on Retro about the time I got involved in the national "Plant A Tree In 73" campaign at Craigie High.
Well here's another tree from 1973, our family Christmas one.
It was a bit on the puny side compared to today's standards, but at least my brother managed to make it look brighter than it was with the aid of lens filters on his camera. You may recall we had power cuts in winter 73 during a period of industrial disputes, so there may have been a bit of topicality behind the reason for the photo in the first place.
Our corny wallpaper seems to be rather Christmassy too, with what looks like baubles incorporated into the design. Never noticed that back then mind you!
So what did I get for Xmas that year? Well I can't recall with precision accuracy but being 15 I was too old for toys, so it would have been mostly made up of clothes, albums, art materials, books and if all went well, a couple of selection boxes!

Saturday 18 December 2010


Without the aid of safety gear, here's Santa just after completing an Xtreme chimney descent!
Back in the day, before setting off around the globe to deliver toys, Santa would first stop off at Cox's, because knowing they were the world's biggest jute mill, he liked to stock up on sacks.
This picture captured him before he departed after filling up a fresh sack with gifts.
Not a lot of people know that!
Toys made in the North Pole.
Sack made in Dundee.

Friday 17 December 2010


On this day 39 years ago, Emerson, Lake & Palmer brought their show to the Caird Hall.
Not a gig I was at, so can't pass on any info as to how the evening went.
ELP are probably just as well known now for being the band who's name crops up most when used as an example of how prog-rock went way over the top in the mid 70's to earn the tag "pomp-rock", a term which derided this kind of music as being overlong, overplayed and overbearing!
This Dundee gig being a week before Xmas in 1971 reminded me that a little later on in 1975, Greg Lake's solo project released THAT Christmas song, which has since gone on to be blasted out every year since!
Santa's little hELPer.

Thursday 16 December 2010


These two ads from 1966 reminded me that I wasn't very keen on Meccano.
We had a big box of it at home in the 60's too which belonged to my brother, but I never felt the urge to have a go at it.
This was the era of slick E-Type Jags and space rockets, but to me Meccano just seemed to be stuck in an age of old steam tractors.
There was also an element of Frankensteins hideous monster creations about the concept that was a bit off-putting. Why would you want to make your own ugly sub-standard vehicle when you could get a stunning Corgi ready-made?!
This aversion to it however is more a fault with me than the toy I suspect because I also didn't take to Metalwork at school, and the only time I've ever been sent to the back of the classroom by a teacher because I showed no interest in a subject, was for Applied Mechanics!
Meccano - nah, sorry, not for me.
Click onto the ads and enlarge to read the wee bits.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

DINKY v CORGI - 1960'S

See if I was forced into a darkened room when I was a kid, then tied to a chair and had electrodes clamped to my ears by some assertive market researcher who, while turning the current up higher & higher, asked me if I preferred Dinky or Corgi cars to play with?
I think I'd choose Corgi.
I suppose size-wise you got more car for your money with Dinky but I reckon the quality of finish on a Corgi was just a touch more superior.
Having said that, I sometimes had problems with Corgi's rubber tyres slipping off the wheels when cornering. Dinky, who had a harder rubber compound would tend to stay on when put through similar rigorous tests!
Notice the car from "Joe 90"? Well some of the "celeb" cars I had in my collection in the 60's were - James Bond's (bullet proof screen & ejector seat) - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (which I hung "flying" from the ceiling) - FAB 1 from Thunderbirds - The Green Hornet limo, and a couple of others.
One I always wanted but never got, was the Batmobile. Possibly the best of the 60's cars, but unfortunately for me, proved too elusive!
Top ad is 1966.
Mid ad is 1969.
Bottom ad is 1969.
Click on the ads to read the larger versions.

Tuesday 14 December 2010


Another 2 DC Thomson Xmas parties, this time a decade later in 1976.
The top one captures some of the throng at the festivities at Kingsway.
Still wearing tank tops in 76?!
Underneath are the Xmas celebrations going on at their West Ward Works.
Looks like they even made a grotto for that one. 

Monday 13 December 2010


Many companies organise kids Xmas parties each year.
Some hire rooms, and some are put on at their own work premises.
DC Thomson's having a few properties dotted around town, end up having a handful of parties spread across various locations.
The 3 examples above all took place in 1966.
The top photo is one of the parties held at Kingsway. I say one of because they actually had to split the '66 do into 2 parts. The one above being the 5 to 14 year olds section.
The middle picture is the party gathering at Lindsay Street.
The bottom photo is the kids tucking into their Xmas banquet in Bank Street, with one of the invites having a bit of trouble with their hat!

Sunday 12 December 2010


The photo was taken at our house in Kemnay Gardens in December 1973. I'd be 15 at the time so still at Craigie High.
I can at least tell you what was physically on the telly anyway.
The Xmas decoration is a red reindeer with a wicker sleigh filled with baubles. It used to belong to my gran. We still have it in our family to this day, and it gets put out on display each Xmas.
Our groovy fibre-optic light wasn't part of the Xmas decor, it was just one of the everyday house items. It was very modern at the time of course, but now it looks quite kitsch!
We were on our 2nd colour tv by '73 but I haven't got a clue what programme is on in the picture. Wouldn't mind knowing after all these decades. Anybody think they know what it could be?
To help you drag your mind back to that era, underneath the photo is the tv listing for Sunday 16th December 1973. It's from the Sunday Post. You may need to click onto the image to read the larger version.
No 24 hour tv back then, BBC 2 not starting till middle of the afternoon!
There are quite a few of these shows on Youtube. For example you can relive the intro to Elephant Boy...(KALAAAA!!)... or catch Barbara Streisand singing a song from her show.
One programme which would be of interest to many Dundonians that day was Scotsport. This hour & a half edition featured highlights from the Scottish League Cup final - Dundee winning the trophy beating Celtic 1-0.
Not only was I at this game, I now have some footage from that very edition of Scotsport in my own personal collection!

Saturday 11 December 2010


Elena Mae had shops in Reform Street and Castle Street.
The top ad from 1966 is typical of the kind of stock they'd have on offer - in this case an Asahi Pentax Spotomatic.
The full page ad under it appeared in the Sunday Post in December 1973.
Although the shop specialised in photographic equipment, by the 70's they also sold items such as binoculars, calculators and cassette recorders.
My old man used to favour Elena Mae's when he did photography in the 60's and when my older brother took it up in the 70's, he also shopped there.
I have no memory of myself ever having been in their shops so don't know much else about them.
Click on the ads to enlarge if you want to read the small details.

Friday 10 December 2010


Don't know much about this Christmas Crackers publication, the issue here which cropped up in the early 80's, being the only example I have.
The content isn't the usual youth fanzine subject matter - no music, no theatre, no fashion, no cinema, instead it takes a dip into local politics using a mixture of satirical humour and seedy tabloid style tittle tattle. Dundee Council type personalities get the boot put into them, eg Gowans, Fagan, Bowman, Wilson, just some of the charming characters who get a mention.
They touch on topics like Nablus and Thatcher, the topical talk at the time.
Not very Christmassy come to think of it!
The team who put it together were - Archie Smibert, Tommy Dees, Dan Dare and Nick Duncan.
One of the quirkier items in this particular issue was a parody episode of Oor Wullie.
The wee man runs out of dosh and so decides to open a sex shop to try get a bit of cash for himself. Not all goes to plan however- but it is quite funny!
You'll need to click onto the image to read the large version.
Perhaps Oor Poly, Craig, may be able to give us the lowdown on the rag, he being who supplied this one.

Thursday 9 December 2010


An amusing postcard from Greenieland...or is it the North Poly...either way, it's aroond the backies at my old hoose in Craigie, 1973.
The main feature is the snowman my wee brother made which, if you look closely, ended up with a polar bear's head! Pot luck by the way, but quite appropriate.
This was taken from Kemnay Gardens looking over towards Douglas Road. The fir trees are the ones on Douglas Road at the Electricity Sub Station.
Back then, most of the back greens still had an open plan look with "imaginary" borders. These days however, everyone has their own individual space partitioned off and so the area in the picture doesn't bear any resemblance to how it looks now.
You can see at the corner of the house on Douglas Road the old style metal bins we all had - remember the corrugated design with rattly lid!
Why they should have THREE coal bunkers is a bit odd though. Maybe winter that year was quite a severe one and they decided to stockpile their fuel!
Having said that, the son of the family who lived there may have been inspired by the snow because he went on to live in Norway, and the last I heard, still lives there with his own Scandinavian family.

Wednesday 8 December 2010


The Thomson-Leng Amateur Musical Society staged "The Wizard Of Oz" panto in 1966.
Not many amateur societies had attempted to do the Wizard Of Oz on stage back then but Dundee's lot made a big effort for their production at the College Of Education. A total of 7 set changes took place during the 3 hour show, much to the enjoyment of the public and critics.
In the photos, starting at the top, we have the Tin Man, James Graham, being squeezed into his metallic attire by Innes Dalgety.
Next are Mary Ralston & Irene Dand in the good witch - wicked witch costumes.
The middle image is Roger Buist being made up as the Scarecrow, with a little help from David Henderson & Jean Baillie.
Not sure which part the next 4 lassies played - Munchkins? Anyway they are - Sandra Bruce, Noeleen Hogg, Vivien Wood & Janet Ferguson.
Finally, a selection of the cast in full costume making quite a kaleidoscopic eyeful on stage!
By the way, I have all the names of those in the final shot, so if anyone thinks they may recognise someone, point them out and I'll let you know.

Tuesday 7 December 2010


The picture above is a screen shot taken from a rare piece of footage below which was filmed in Dundee in December 1968.
The location of the church is a bit of a mystery. I haven't been able to identify it, but perhaps one of you may recognise it. Is it still on the go, has it since been demolished?
Another wee mystery is the camera doesn't move, it just stays with the same shot the whole time. You can detect a bit of slow movement in the clouds with some change in light going on. I suppose the cameraman was trying to achieve an atmospheric feel to it, but it just looks a bit eerie to me!
A third puzzling aspect to it is that it captured the church bells ringing, however, these don't sound like the kind of thing you'd normally hear on a Sunday in my opinion.
Anyway, see what you reckon...

Monday 6 December 2010


At least there's nae messin' with their name - BOOZE.
May not be subtle but they must have been doing good business as they had 2 places in 1987, one in Perth Road and one in Blackness Road.
Here they are trying to entice you with a rather nice case of wine, to get you to put in an order for Christmas!

Sunday 5 December 2010


3 local ads from the 70's.
Top one is dated 1973 and is for Drydens, the frozen food specialists. They were located in Allan Street at the time, which now no longer exists, it being the A991 these days, connecting Seagate to Dock Street where Allan St used to be.
In the middle is an advert for the Post Office from 1979, telling you all about how they can put a package deal together for your business requirements. Expresspost - Direct Bag Service - Datapost and so on.
And so what can I say about the final ad in their defence?
Well it's dated 1978 and this was still the era of non PC jokes, Carry On films & Benny Hill, so I suppose it reflects the times!
Harrison & Reeve down in East Dock Street was a wholesale fruit market - veg, flowers and fruit - juicy pears and ripe melons a speciality it seems!

Saturday 4 December 2010


No fake snow needed for this wintry scene from the 70's.
Locals get their skates on and take advantage of the Swanny Ponds being iced over.

Friday 3 December 2010







A big avalanche of photos to finish the sequence.
So, 1st photo - February 1983 and the film crew roll into the city centre to paint the town red, Kennedys Caterers providing the vodka no doubt!
Picture 2 I think may be in Commercial Street. 87 is on the door, which was insurance & finance offices at the time. Alan Bates with the brolly is being filmed in his role as spy, Guy Burgess. Director John Schlesinger is the guy in the furry hat & chunky anorak standing at the back of the car. Playwright, Alan Bennett, is the specky chap in front of the window, to the left of Schlesinger.
The 3rd image was taken in Euclid Crescent with DC Thomsons in the background. Schlesinger rehearsing a scene with a camera clamped to a Russian car.
4 is Coral Browne who portrayed herself in the film, she being the woman who met Guy Burgess in Moscow for real in 1958. Your guess is as good as mine as to which snowy (salty) corner it is.
Take 5 - the team catch up with some reading during a break. Alan Bates on the right. Possibly Exchange Street wall?
Finally, Coral Browne gets a bit of embroidery done during a rest between filming. Alan Bennett's face reflected artistically (or by fluke) in the car window.


Thursday 2 December 2010


Brrrrrrrr - all that salt!
Dundee High School became a 1950's Russian barracks in this short scene below.
This was just a panning background shot. The building didn't feature in the storyline.

Wednesday 1 December 2010


I put a few items up in 2008 relating to the time when the BBC filmed the Alan Bennett play "An Englishman Abroad" in the early 80's, with Dundee being transformed into Moscow.
Well I have a really good bundle of photos which were taken behind the scenes when all this was taking place.
So, in the 2 pictures above, we have shoe shop Peter Lord, on the Murraygate/Commercial Street corner, being modified into it's Russian equivalent.
Across the road on the other corner was John Menzies, who also got the Moscow name change treatment.
It was actually forecast for snow around the time of filming but only a tiny flurry dropped, not nearly enough for what the director, John Schlesinger, had in mind. So the decision was made at 4am to use salt instead. 14 council workers were brought down to the city centre to spread 80 tons of the stuff around town in order that filming could commence at 8:30am pronto.
I was there. They did a really convincing job.
Below is the part of the film where you see the Commercial Street scene.
The actress is trying to find someone who could give her directions to an address she had been given. She then ends up searching around Exchange Street.

Tuesday 30 November 2010


July 1988 saw another installment of the annual Dundee Jazz Festival.
Here is the events list published in Street Life magazine.
There were 3 parts to the festival - the main big acts with the likes of Remmy Ongala, Donald Byrd, Humphrey Lyttleton etc. Then there was a secondary late night line up featuring local acts such as Dougie Martin and Jimmy Deuchar. Finally there was the Jazz Village which was basically lots of gigs taking place around the city pubs.
Being spoilt for choice was courtesy of the reliable Platform Jazz team.
If I was still in Dundee back then, I'd have been along to the Rep like a shot to catch Donald Byrd!

Monday 29 November 2010


This rather clear-headed account of a Vex gig, appeared in an issue of Voice fanzine in 1982.
You may recall in an earlier item when they played in Newport they decided to call themselves Mass on the night, well for this do down at the Tayside Bar they opted to be The Death Cult.
The line-up had Ewan on violin, Gary Kidgell and Gail doing vocals, Mike Kane playing bass, and the good old drum machine providing the beats.
There seems to have been a touch of performance art type of behaviour to their show, some of which didn't go down very well!
Anyway, still sounds like a better evening than Tiffanys!
Unfortunately, as you can see by the grainy images, the Xerox machine was a bit hit & miss for this issue, and manages to cut off the final sentence in the review.
It reads - "Last word goes to Al of Waiter Waiter who said it's still one of........." then it fades out at that bit, which is annoying.
In fact, maybe it wasn't the Xerox machine, it might have been the work of Vex!!

Sunday 28 November 2010


Here's a candid domestic scene caught on camera in 1984.
Filmed in Mike Kane's kitchen, it features Mike and Steve Grimmond having a bit of a blether about AAGA, while tucking into some nosh.
Serving up some tasteful tunes in the background is Bob Phillips, adding to the ambiance with a touch of classical guitar.
A few years earlier (1977) Bob supplied slide guitar on The Drive's single. He was also one of the participating guitarists in Boo Hooray.
You may remember he was advertised as Boab Philips in the Soul Kiss Club feature on Retro, when he was playing down at the Tayside Bar.
The Tayside Bar crops up during the chinwag by the way.
Those of you who are knowledgeable on classical music may enjoy playing "Name That Tune" while all the chatting is going on. One tune you will get is the "World In Action" theme!
Unfortunately, Bob is just about to give us a rendition of Joaquin Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez" when the video fades out after only 3 notes!
The scene was captured by Kevin Guthrie of Altres.
Thanks to Mike.

Saturday 27 November 2010


This is the time of year a lot of oldies go for their winter jab, so I thought I'd get involved and inject a Boo Hooray track into your circulatory system!
Boo Hooray were sonic fidgets. Personnel-wise and music-wise. There was never really a settled band line-up. There was main man Gerry Mitchell, and a cluster of others who weaved in and out.
This cool image above is Scott Gowans, one of the guitarists who teamed up with them for a spell. The photo would have been taken around 1981ish, roughly the same era as the record.
I suppose whether you like Boo Hooray's output or not, could depend on how musically aware you are. If, for example, your taste lies solely in the Top 40 Pop Charts and your record collection was purchased in ASDA, then there is a good chance the track will go in one ear and out the other.
Should you be the more adventurous type who liked to delve into music's more vibrant underground scene, then you may be able to identify a few influences in the mix.
The guitar intro on their track "For Example" attacks you like a bout of pins & needles, but as it subsides it then administers a fragmented funky groove into your body, which, providing you're not one of the living dead, ought to give you a good wee buzz!
Much better for you than any corporate rock placebo..!!
Thanks to MK & GM.

Friday 26 November 2010


This is a picture of Dundee band, The Poor Souls, photographed in 1965.
It's a typical kind of publicity shot, which cropped up in a national music magazine - and at the time of the photo, the band were promoting their debut single released on Decca, which I have already featured on Retro.
Under it, is a typical gig the band would be playing at that time too - this one at the Masonic Hall, Crieff, in September 1965.
However, this show was not your typical night out with the band, because during their performance, and incident happened in which main man, Doug Martin, ended up later, being fined for assault!
Their van was also vandalised after the gig.
No encore that night then!
Anyway, I thought I'd take this opportunity to play another track of theirs, this time from 1966 and on Dundee's own label - ALP Records.
So here's Thi Pare Sowls with the B-side of the single, a track called "Please Don't Change Your Mind".

Thursday 25 November 2010


I reckon the graphic at the top of the page on the first item is based on a Gibson Firebird, and so from that you may guess Dundee band No Fixed Abode was a guitar based rock outfit, in which case you'd be bang on. Being a trio, however, they weren't full-on heavy metal merchants, but they did like to rock the joint!
NFA members were - Lloyd Anderson, drums & lead vocal - Jed Ward, bass - and doing all the guitar work was Lyle (or Lyall?) Osborne.
This live review is a positive one, the gig having taken place at the Tayside Bar in 1981. They played for an hour & a half, the majority of which was their own material, but they did slip a couple of covers in the set as well. It doesn't say so in this particular write-up, but to give you an idea of their musical leanings, cover versions they've indulged in have been Thin Lizzy's "Dancing In The Moonlight" and David Bowie's "Stay".
The second item is also a fairly positive review of a gig NFA played up at the University in January 1982. This one appeared in the national music press.
There's a bit of advice in the write-up, but all 'n' all it's a general thumbs up for the performance.
Despite the band's ambitions, as far as I know No Fixed Abode's recording output never got past the demo tape stage.
You may need to enlarge the top item to read it, so just give it a click.