Friday 30 September 2011


Boo Hooray have made a couple of appearances on Retro already, those tracks having been taken from the early 80's Dundee Compilation Cassette, a local unofficial homemade product.
This record here however, called "G.I.G.O McGurk", was the bands official release, recorded at Wilf Smarties studio in Edinburgh and brought out as a 12 inch single in 1984.
Boo Hooray didn't exactly pander to pop chart formulas mind you, so this is probably the band at their most commercial.
Line-up on this recording were - Gerry Mitchell, bass + talk - Alison Mitchell, singing - Scott Gowans, guitars - Brem, sax - and the drums were of the programmed variety.
Quite an offbeat mixture stirring around in the blender - Magic Band style guitar - Manhattan Transfer sounding harmonies and Byrne "Once In A Lifetime" fashion talkover.
A captivating little cocktail!!
Boo Hooray were also collaborators on a variety of projects that became part of Dundee's Attic Archive. Included in the Archive are Boo Hooray live recordings, Erasmic Superfoam audios and various Mike Kane related artifacts, all of which have recently been passed on to the Dundee Central Library Social History Dept.
In fact, this record came courtesy of the Attic Archive, more of which will be dipped into over the next few days.

Thursday 29 September 2011


As the recent music theme on Retro nears an end, this is the perfect time to inform you of a new book that's about to hit the shelves, on the same subject.
It goes under the funky title of "Take It To The Bridge" and covers the history of Dundee's music scene from the 1960's to the present.
It documents quite a broad spectrum - for example, the various styles of music the locals indulged in - pop, rock, soul, punk, jazz, alternative, folk and so on, with plenty of name-checks, interviews and anecdotes from some of the musicians involved. It also gives the lowdown on the variety of venues around town, as well as touching on other aspects such as the record shops and music stores. The book will also provide lots of images and memorabilia too - all part of the local infotainment!
Those of you who fancy a copy, better take note of the official release date - 12th October 2011.
There will no doubt be ample publicity about it nearer the time, so keep your peepers on the local press and book shops.
Those of you who want to avoid the mad rush or now live out of town, can get the book via the usual Internet outlets - Amazon, EBay etc.
Well worth grabbing a copy, and you should be able to pick one up for around a tenner.
You'll also be pleased to know the book was written by someone who knows what they are doing - Lorraine Wilson, who has been connected to all things journalistic for the past 25 years or so.
As well as an author, she has also been an editor, radio broadcaster, scriptwriter, lecturer, to name just a few.
Music has also played a major part in her life, from working on teen music magazines, to being one of the Beaver Sisters, up to more recent projects such as organising the Beatles Weekends in Dundee.

Wednesday 28 September 2011


Street Level were a band who emerged on the local music scene at the start of the 80's.
Their style of energetic pop combined with a good sense of humour had the band generally well liked. They certainly played plenty gigs around town anyway, as well as do their fair share of shows elsewhere around the country.
Line-up was - Callum McHardy, guitar - Jackie McPherson, vocal and occasional keyboard - Murray Tosh, bass - Bob Butler, drums.
After a good run, they called a halt in summer '81, with Jackie cropping up a short while later in an act called Just Little Boys, before she then went on to become more well known as the TV presenter/newsreader AKA Jackie Bird.
Meanwhile, Murray headed off for life down in Oz around that time too - and both Callum & Bob have since gone on to play in an ABBA tribute band.
Reversing back to the 1981 period, the photo above is of Jackie doing her thang on stage, and you can just catch a glimpse of Murray as well.
Also around this time, Street Level managed to get some tracks down on cassette, a sample of which you can hear below.
The track is called "Security City", a lively wee tune that may very well take some of you back to the old Tayside Bar & Galleon days!
Big thanks to Derek.

Tuesday 27 September 2011


This is a good example of the transformation that can take place when a person not only departs from a band, but makes a total departure from a music genre.
When singer, Gordon Band, exited Dundee prog-rockers Colossus in the early 80's, he joined another bunch of rockers called Hologram, an Edinburgh band who ironically were managed by former Colossus manager, John Maguire, for a period. Anyway, although they had a record deal and recorded a full album, as is what often happens with bands, they split soon after.
Gordon, by this time however, was losing interest in rock, especially the way the scene was going with its spandex & hairspray look, and his musical leanings were becoming influenced more and more by sounds from such bands as The Cocteau Twins, The Associates, acts in that kind of alternative territory.
So in 1983, Gordon formed a band called Midnite Masque, which included bassist, Keith Grant, who used to be in punk band, The Freeze.
Below is a demo track from a cassette they made back then, a song called "Back To The Flame", a rather luscious creation with a memorable hook - and quite a giant leap from Colossus!
Big thanks to Gordon Band.


Friction weren't a full-on ska band, as their previous track up on Retro Dundee demonstrates, but on some of their songs, they definitely had one foot in ska while keeping the other one firmly in indie.
However, this amusing track below - "Aircrash" - which was recorded in November 1979, has the band almost in total 2-Tone mode. It also throws some light on why they were often categorised as a ska band.
So make sure you don't envisage Friction bopping about wearing pork-pie hats and braces - they weren't like that at all!
Big thanks to Scott.

Monday 26 September 2011


From the plettie to the plateau - so is the story of Gordon McPherson.
Gordon was born in Dundee in 1965 and studied composition at the University of York in the 80's.
His particular take on composition isn't the kind of cliched material you'd normally associate with in the world of classical music. No highbrow themes such as Greek mythology cropping up in his work, instead, Gordon prefers to have his compositions reflect ordinary real life experiences, or as he puts it - "Never write about Brazil if you've never been to Brazil". So as a consequence, his works are based around subjects such as cars, computers, getting drunk, relationships, and so on. Musically he can be inspired by such diverse sounds as country & western, Bavarian herding calls, punk, chamber music, all sorts of genres of music absorbed. This mixture of ingredients filtering through into his compositions has the end product as much humorous as they are discordant. You can get an idea perhaps from some of his titles - "Handguns" - "On E" - "Impersonal Stereo" - "Cash" name just a few. They don't exactly conjure up a comfy night out at the Proms!
Gordon's music is often heard in Scotland, with his work performed on his home turf too. For example, some local references - he composed the music to celebrate the 200th anniversary of The Battle of Camperdown. He also wrote the music for the opening of the DCA. There have been collaborations with other Dundonians such as for Don Paterson's play "The Land Of Cakes" at the Rep, and with guitarist Allan Neave, for the Dundee International Guitar Festival.
Then there are the commissions from the BBC, festivals and ensembles all around Europe, and if that's not enough, he also teaches at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama, as well as lectures at St Andrews University.
That brief insight into Gordon McPherson, I think confirms, that he is indeed, on a higher plane!

Sunday 25 September 2011


On the 17th March 1971, this budget-priced concert was on offer at the Caird Hall for 50p.
The bands involved were prog rockers, Beggars's Opera - Arc, who were another prog rock outfit - and top of the bill, Stone The Crows, who were more blues rock based.


Prog rockers, Yes, were on stage at the Caird Hall on 10th October 1971 - along with support act Jonathan Swift.
The artwork on the poster would appear to confirm that this would be before they teamed up with their long time collaborator, graphic designer, Roger Dean.


This picture of Cliff Richard on stage at the Caird Hall, probably dates from around the 1972-74 period, judging by the clothing being worn anyway!
He has been to the Caird Hall a few times, but on one of his early 70's tours, he had Olivia Newton John as his guest - not sure if this photo is from that particular show.


Here's an ad for Sparks tour dates which includes a visit to the Caird Hall on 20th November 1974.
No idea what happened, but I missed out on this gig - gutted!
The 2 Sparks albums released that year ("Kimono My House" & "Propaganda") were two of the best albums of 1974 - I played them to death!
Anyway, a wee side note - Billy MacKenzie & Steve Aungle recorded one of their songs later in life - "Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth" off Propaganda.


The unique sounds of Supertramp were to be heard in the Caird Hall at a gig that took place on 25th November 1975.
Special guest was Joan Armatrading.


I didn't even realise Showaddywaddy were still on the go in 1977, but here's an ad for a gig they did at the Caird Hall on 2nd December that year.
I've absolutely no idea who Tickle was!
Thanks to Yvonne


Darts were in town, throwing down a bit of doo-wop at the Caird Hall on 9th October 1979.
Did they have a No1 hit? I was just thinking, that is the lowest score you can get on a dartboard!


Jute, The Jam and Journalism - here's an article from the NME mentioning the tour dates for The Jam.
Included on the list is their gig at the Caird Hall which was on the 9th December 1979.
There is a recording of this show doing the rounds, but I haven't been able to get my mitts on it yet!


Perhaps a show that would attract a more conservative, sensible audience than a crowd of teenage rabble-rousers.
Barbara Dickson performing at the Caird Hall on 3rd August 1981, with guest, Tony Capstick, who was a folk singer/comedian.


Maybe an evening your parents went to. The Syd Lawrence Orchestra on stage at the Caird Hall on 15th August 1981.
Syd's lot were basically a Glen Miller tribute band!


This item from Deadbeat fanzine, is a review of a Billy Connolly gig that took place at the Caird Hall on 30th November 1982.
No shortage of laughs it seems - the only thing lacking during the evening, according the the reviewer - was alcohol!

Saturday 24 September 2011


Elsewhere on Retro Dundee I have mentioned the various musical escapades of 2 local musicians who often worked together - keyboard player, Mike Fraser, and drummer Robbie McIntosh.
Well R&B pop outfit, The Primitives, was one such band in which Mike & Robbie teamed up with, this being after their stint in The Senate. Although The Primitives were a British act, it was in Italy where they were best known and where oor twa spent their time with them, the band having an alternating residency at the fab & famous Piper Club in Rome, a venue visited by top name bands.
It was during this groovy time in their life that Mike & Robbie ended up in a movie, an Italian film made in 1969 called "Pensiero d'amore", footage of which I have below.
But before that, a quick word on the above photos...
Top one is a film shot of The Primitives.
Next one down with all the dancers is another film shot.
Third image was taken at a live gig.
And the last picture is a general publicity shot.
So, settle down, cut yourself a slice of pizza and enjoy this rare movie scene below.
To see Mike on keyboards and Robbie on drums, you'll need to ignore singer Mal, all the dolly birds, as well as the Mafia, and just concentrate on the background action!
I don't recall this movie showing at The Gaumont!!
Big thanks to Mike Fraser and Mac.

Friday 23 September 2011


List-D cropped up on the local music scene in the late 70's.
The band kinda started off as teenage punks, music-wise, and their gigs had a bit of a reputation for often ending in fights!
Later in 1980, they tried to develop a more mature sound.
They played locally at venues such as the Tech (Bowling Alley), Tay Centre, Marryat Hall, and they sometimes ventured out of town too.
The above photo was taken in 1980 in the spare grounds near the Grey Lodge in the Hilltown area. The Grey Lodge being where they rehearsed. Spot the nifty piece of graffiti in the background!
Line-up, L to R...
Jim Grieves (Sykes), drums.
Mark Stuart (deceased), guitar.
Eddie Harrington, bass.
Dek McHugh aka Zippy, vocals.
This was the band's strongest line-up but a couple of other members came & went - Colin Ramsay, Gordon "Fanta" Walker for example.
Zippy was only 17 at the time of the photo, and then he left Dundee before he was 18.
The photo was published in the Dundee Standard, and while they were at it, Dek was asked to supply his Top 5 records.
Many thanks to Dek.


I've scoured every page of every issue of Cranked Up looking for a live review or some other article about pub rockers, Misbehavin', but to no avail. They did get a couple of name-checks in the passing, but the band's brand of rock covers didn't invoke anything substantial written about them when they were doing the pub/club circuit in the early 80's.
In the line-up we have - Bill Higgins - Chris Taylor - Nigel Brodie - Pete Sillars - Scott Martin.
Chris Taylor, who was a painter, illustrator & caricaturist, died earlier this year.

Thursday 22 September 2011


Below, is a rare live recording of a gig that took place at the Bowling Alley - AKA the Students Union in Marketgait.
This was the first of 4 visits by Supercharge, captured on reel to reel on 21st April 1978.
Supercharge were a decent funky disco band, but this track here called "She Moved The Dishes First" is something completely different to the rest of their musical output.
For some reason they thought it a good idea to include a comedy cabaret routine into their set, but I really don't think they did themselves any favours with this mix of soul doo-wop, laced with student rag mag humour. I suppose after 12 pints it might have been amusing - it seems to have gone down well with the crowd anyway - and the band did return to the venue 3 more times after this.
Anyway, after playing all those shows here , there's bound to be someone who can recall something of their visits to Dundee.
We'll wait and see..!!
Thanx to Brian Wilson - Bowling Alley DJ.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

4 MYSTERY ACTS - 1980's

Here we have a sequence of photos that were taken at various venues in town around the mid/late 80's period, the acts of which managed to slip through the net undocumented. So I thought I'd throw this one open to you lot out there to see if you can identify any of the above - whether from memory or by research.
The top one featuring somebody sporting the cowgirl look - both the act and the venue needs to be known. Any ideas?
Next one down with the female trio, was taken at Sessions. Were they backing singers or the main act?
Third image is also at Sessions, this time featuring a jazz quartet. Recognise any of the musicians?
Lastly, this picture of another group of jazz musicians was snapped at The Rep. Difficult to tell from the back but I was wondering if the saxophonist on the left might be a young Tommy Smith? Can't say for certain though because of the camera position. Do you know who's in the line-up?
See how you get on anyway.
Photos by The Bear.

Tuesday 20 September 2011


In July 2010, I put an article up on Retro about the "Peoples Festival" that took place at Baxter Park in 1981.
This was coordinated by a group of Anti-Nuclear organisations who went under the banner of No Nukes Music.
The review I posted back then came from Cranked Up fanzine, but it didn't really contain much info about the bands who were playing.
The review above, however, was published in the Courier and gives an account of the same event, including naming some of the acts who were performing.
So there was - RB's - Gypsy Joe - The Shoplifters - Alternative - Toxic Effects - Blaise - plus a few others.
There are also a couple of words from those in the crowd who give their opinion of the event - which appeared to get a thumbs up in general.
The other item is for another Baxter Park festival, this time celebrating International Youth Year - which was 1985.
Some of the bands taking part in this do were - AAGA - Chilli Peppers - Life Support - Plastic Surgery - plus others.
This article appeared in Deadbeat fanzine.
You'll need to give the Courier item a click to read the enlarged version.

Monday 19 September 2011


Recently unearthed photos have surfaced of Dundee alternative band - Severed Arm.
The images all come from around the 1982 period.
Top picture was taken at the Tayside Bar.
Middle shot has the guys striking a pose in the street.
Bottom image is the band on stage at an outdoor festival in Baxter Park.
A reminder of the line-up....Jim Low, vocals - Dave McDonald, guitar - John Anderson, bass - Cass, drums.
And a reminder of their below is a nifty little number captured at Ardler Community Centre, recorded around the same time as the photos.
A nice bit of chainsaw guitar powering its way through the tune - a song called "Leave Me To My Own Devices".
Big thanks to Dave.

Sunday 18 September 2011


The advert from December 1977 is one that cropped up in the Tele on a regular basis back then.
It was for local soulsters, Susan Childe & The Flamingoes, the band who got everyone up on the Barracuda dancefloor.
Hidden away under all the nosh details in the ad, you may be able to spot the Barracuda slogan - "The Good Life".
You will also be able to see the same slogan on the t-shirts the two Barracuda babes are wearing - the lassies posing for the camera in the nightclub in 1978.
Thanks to Yvonne and Marky.

SANDS ADS - 1977

Those of you who liked to boogie on down at the Sands, had this typical disco action to choose from back in 1977.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights were straight forward disco stints.
You may recall that you got in at half price on Sundays if you reached the doors before 8:30 - an offer we often took advantage of regularly!
Not sure what the Wednesday event in the top ad was though - Discorama with DJ Charlie Chuckles? Sounds more like a circus act than a night of clubbing!
The other ad mentions a new Friday resident - DJ Alex Soutar, with regular, DJ Ed Sweeney, doing Sunday nights.
And of course, Saturday lunchtimes had the jazz sessions in full flow with Jimmy Deuchar.
These changed in the late 70's to Sunday lunchtime sessions.
For the more serious jazz fan, the Sands was the chosen venue for a performance by legendary saxophonist, Dexter Gordon.
This gig was on 28 Feb 1977.


Here's some of the entertainment that was going on at the Ambassador during the course of 1977.
March saw ex Ivy League singer, Paul Edison, doing a 2 night stint one weekend, and was supported by a band called McDonalds Farm.
In stark contrast, November had punk band, Eater, who were no doubt creating a more chaotic scene in the hotel rather supplying an evening of cabaret!
December in the Cabaret Suite featured local band, Mafia - a pretty familiar act with Dundonians by then.
But Samantha Shay? Glamorous recording star?? Who she???!!
Thanks to Yvonne.

Saturday 17 September 2011


In March 2009, I put a record up on Retro Dundee by Andy Lothian. This was a traditional Scottish tune that featured his violin skills.
Andy, however, was equally known for his big band sound, his orchestra being the resident band at the Palais for over 3 decades. In fact, he ended up owning the venue!
We are talking ballroom dancing music styles here, the orchestra supplying the tempo for the dancefloor with a mixture of latin, jazz and pop.
In 1946, his band was heard all around the UK when his orchestra was broadcast live from the Palais on BBC radio a few times.
Andy kept the big band going in the Palais up to around 1970, then bowed out to make way for the start of the disco era.
Below is a rare recording live at the Palais itself, from the mid 60's and showcasing the full orchestra sound - no lead violin.
The line-up includes - J. Couper - D. Gold - J. Croft - R. Bronson - G. Cully - B. Cooper - C. Fotheringham and C. Coats.
So go grab your partner and swirl around the room to this track below - Duke's classic..."The A Train".
Many thanks to Carolyn.

Friday 16 September 2011


There is already a track by The Blush up on Retro Dundee which was taken from the "Dundee Compilation Cassette" and so was not really considered an official release, technically speaking.
This one above, however, was the band's "official" release, recorded at Wilf Smarties studios and came out in 1982.
It is a double A-side - "A Look From Outside" & "Skipping", and when it was out it became a Radio Tay "Toe-Tapper", that is, it got played on the station, twice a day for 2 weeks!
In previous items about them on Retro, I have The Blush line-up as - Jeff Doran, vocal & guitar - Eddie Robertson, guitar - Steve Duncan, bass and Steve Aungle, drums.
If it's still the same team on this recording then most have adopted pseudonyms on the cover, and they have also recruited a keyboard player.
Should this be Steve Aungle we're hearing on drums, then just like yesterday's band, there is a connection with Billy Mackenzie because later, Steve went on to record with Billy.
Coincidentally, The Associates also recorded a track called "Skipping" in 1982, appearing on the "Sulk" album, but a totally different song.
This is the track I've opted for to tune into, it being a bit edgier than the flip side.
Quite a lengthy robust intro, but it does break into song...eventually!

Thursday 15 September 2011


Parades were a new wave/alternative pop act on the go in Dundee in 1981-82.
Line-up : Steve Knight, bass - Mike Knight, guitar - Sandy Chisholm, drums - Angus McFarlane, vocals.
They had a really good reputation at the time, almost everyone in agreement that they were a top notch band.
The 2 Cranked Up reviews were both caught live at the Tayside Bar - top one being their debut gig in 1981, and the lower one from 1982.
Parades sound was compared to The Associates, and there is probably a very good reason for this, because bassist, Steve Knight, used to be in The Associates. That's a picture of Steve I've put up to accompany the reviews.
There is also a mini interview with the guys when they all met up in the Tav for a chinwag.
As far as I know, Parades split later in 1982 after Steve set sights on a move to London.
You'll need to click on the top sheet to read the enlarged version.