Now here’s an old trouper that’s taken me through some happy times from being a 15 year old in a group of lads all into one thing. New wave and punk music. My old mate Simon was the owner of this album when we were kids. We all owned different albums back then and listened to each others to keep variety alive. Again I had it on tape for years and never got round to buying it until about 3-4 years ago again buying it for pennies.
The Skids were a ‘new wave’ band from Scotland who hit the airwaves with ‘Into the Valley’ in 1979. A school disco favourite with us boys all in a row kicking our Dr Martens high in the air whilst singing ‘Ahoy Ahoy, Land Sea and Sky’ as Richard Jobson had demonstrated on Top of the Pops. By the end of the year the had released there first album ‘Scared to Dance’ (which is well worth your time and is probably the better of the two although I continue to waver on this point to this day) and this one as well as 8 singles in the 78-79 period. That’s hard work!
Richard Jobson was a wandering, stylish poet minstrel type and became more ludicrous as he progressed through the eighties becoming if I remember rightly a TV presenter. However back then (although this album is chock full on pretension) he made a great energetic front man. Ira Robbins puts it perfectly ‘Jobson’s hearty singing sounds like an eighteenth century general leading his merry troops down from the hills into glorious battle’. Precisely
Stuart Adamson as you will all remember was the man behind Big Country fondly remembered, for he died tragically young, for his anthemic guitar riffs and er…bagpipe solos. Why do so many Scottish bands sound like that?
These two are joined by original bassist William Simpson and Rusty Egan on drums Formally of the Rich Kids; later of Visage. They are also helped out by ex Bee Bop Deluxe member Bill Nelson who produces and plays keyboard.
Hey, check out this cover art. It is really gorgeous to look at. Yep, look how muscular and blond the gymnast on the front is, look how blond and fit the lady presenting the prize is. Oh yes and er… study the writing why don’t you. It does feel a bit Teutonic doesn’t it. Well that’s what a fair few of the press thought too and they accused Jobson of being a bit Nazi-ish. Where would they get that idea….the Eagle has Landed?
Anyway, the tragedy is that this fabulous piece of Art Deco cover work (no not this one above) was withdrawn and replaced by the most boring cover in vinyl history
So, into the contents.
Splat goes the first electronic snare accompanied by big (country) riffs and what’s that? Is that lots and lots of synthesiser? Yes, Bill Nelson is so in the house rail-roading the Skids towards the eighties. This sound was met with a mixed response I seem to remember. It was thought that the Skids had sold out; that they were too polished. Actually with hindsight it sort of works and for some reason I just love this album. There are some great tunes on the record. Animation, Charade, Olympian and Working for the Yankee Dollar are dead catchy and the riffs are massively solid. Charade and Yankee Dollar were both big old singles both of which I bought at the time. There are big ‘ohh ohh’ sing-a-long chorus’s (although you can barely understand a word Jobson sings most of the time). I shall try to transpose. Try it. Its a hoot
ya baby paid to the interverse, capo wha and the few were there, go in fwer copa jerse, a ve the far bah for la jerse…..CHARADE…..CHARADE
Right, listen up! Time for pretension. There is a song with a latin chorus ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ based on a Wilfred Owen poem (actually rather touching concerning life in the trenches) and on the second side there is a song from Greek mythology ‘Thanatos’ meaning death. Oh Please Mr Jobson, behave. On Olympian he sings ‘Look at this man….an Olympian’ Could that be you Richard.
There are a few duller moments. ‘Thanatos’ and the title track both appear to be a mid to end album dip and Home of the Saved is a bit lumbering but then right at the end I think they come up with a little gem although most will probably disagree because it could be seen as another of Richard’s vanity pieces. ‘Peaceful Time is a backwards track. All sort of Waterfall/Don’t stop (Stone Roses) vibe with Mr Jobson reciting his poetry. All in all its actually rather beautiful.
Oh for sure this is a flawed record but it first of all takes me back to teenage and gives me a great slew of memories. Its a good Skids album. I should know I have 3 (the first 3). I wouldn’t bother to look any further than that. Of course Richard Jobson went entirely nonsense and Stuart Adamson continued the Skids but called them Big Country and became stadium huge. But it all started with Doc Martens and the Youth Club.
Try ‘Peaceful Times’ put together with another art deco classic
And here’s the whole album with dull cover!