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TRK 1006CD


© 1980 Virgin Music (Publishers) Ltd/Arnakata Music Ltd.
Except ‘Out of Town’ © 1980 Virgin Music (Publishers) Ltd
Lyrics used by kind permission. All rights reserved.

STUART ADAMSON: Lead+Rhythm Guitars, Synthesizers, Vocals+Percussion.
RUSSELL WEBB: Bass Guitars, Synthesizers, Vocals, Percussion.
MIKE BAILLIE: Drum-Kit, Percussion, Xylophone+Vocals.
RICHARD JOBSON: Lead Vocals+Guitars.


Jude Nettleton
Julius Newell
Andrew Sigsworth
Alison Pipkin
David Pipkin
Hannah Yeadon
Esther Marshall
Chloe Dymott

Marlis Duncklau
Gracie Benson
Sally Nettleton
Harriet Bakewell
May Volke

PRODUCED AND ENGINEERED BY: Mick Glossup for Dukeslodge Enterprises Ltd.
ASSISTANT ENGINEERS: Marlis Dunklau, Brett Kennedy
MANAGEMENT: Paul Bailey for Nearly Normal Music Ltd.
THANKS TO: Derek Wadsworth (Didgeridoo)

Dedicated to the big boys who did it and ran away.
Three down five to go

© 1980 Virgin Music (Publishers) Ltd/Arnakata Music Ltd.
Lyrics used by kind permission. All rights reserved.

he copyright in this recording is owned by Virgin Records Ltd Licensed from Virgin Records Ltd.
This CD Ⓟ 2001 Track Records Ltd.
Track Records c/o Po Box 107, Redhill, Surrey, RH9 8YS
Distributed by Plastic Head Distribution
Unit. 15 Bushell Business Estate, Hithercroft Wallingford, Oxon OX10 9DD, Tel: +44 (0) 1491 825029 Fax: +44 (0) 1491 826320





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"A staggering achievement, a perfect progression for a band who must be numbered amongst the most innovative and refreshing in the country. It's one of the finest and most forward-thinking albums you'll hear this year."

(Garry Bushell, Sounds, September 13, 1980.)

FLASHBACK. It's the early hours of December 25, 1977. A silver saloon car threads its way through Edinburgh's deserted streets. Beside the driver is a schoolkid who's somehow hitched a lift. In the back seat are three of the four Skids, frontman Richard Jobson, bassist Willie Simpson and — crammed in the middle — guitar hero Stuart Adamson. The faint smell of sweat lingers, legacy of the explosive gig they've just played at a city centre venue called Nicky Tam's. The show had been front-loaded with self-penned but now long-lost classics like Rose Street Baby, New Daze, Don't Want To Go and Sick Club.They'd also squeezed in covers of 35mm Dreams by Garland Jeffreys and in an extended encore — it'd been Christmas Eve after all — a bad-tempered Johnny B Goode. Now, with the gear packed up and freighting homewards elsewhere under the watchful eye of drummer Tam Kellichan, the talk is desultory — records, half-remembered jokes, a guitar someone's seen. Suddenly the car hits open road and the driver floors the accelerator. The speedometer ticks steadily upwards until Stuart leans forward and breaks the silence. "Slow down," he pleads, a note of panic edging his voice. "I hate going fast..."

The irony, of course, was that around The Skids everything seemed to move fast. Initially it was just their 100mph punk-rock anthems like My Life, Victims Of The Weekend, Mouth To Mouth or Johnny Wants. But the rapid pace of the band's musical development quickly outstripped even those. By the time they released their first self-financed single Test Tube Babies on February 24, 1978, they were already moving forward and metamorphosing at an incredible rate. By May i6 that year, as they recorded their first radio session for John Peel, they'd unveiled a newer, more challenging sound. By then Adamson had ceded lyric duties to Jobson, framing his words with an architecture of glittering guitar work that was becoming increasingly unique. While the bands that had initially inspired them —Sex Pistols,The Clash,The Damned — found themselves facing a musical impasse by that point, The Skids were blazing a trail towards post-punk, mining new seams of creativity with dazzlingly innovative anthems such as Of One Skin, Withdrawal Symptoms and Contusion.

The latter was one of the key moments in the evolution of a sound that had begun in Adamson's bedroom at home in the Fife mining village of Crossgates just 12 months earlier. "Contusion was quite important to me," recalls Jobson. "It was the first time I wrapped a lyric up in a metaphor. The song itself was about Communism — Fife was something of a red state back then — but, where we came from, sentimentality and open agonising would never have been accepted. I had to dress it up in a different way. But the revelation that I could do that was really crucial to what came later." As Adamson explained at the time: "The lyrics are the drawing and the music is the colouring." Within weeks of the session being broadcast, The Skids had inked a deal with Virgin Records, travelling down to London for the signing on the new highspeed Inter-City 125 train. "It was as quick as we could get our hands on the pens," Adamson later told NME. "We were just young boys down from Scotland, not expecting anything. To come by a record deal was like being the conquering heroes returning home with the FA Cup."

Their first single for the label, Sweet Suburbia, was in the shops by September 1978, rapidly followed by the Wide Open EP, which reached the ears of a fledgling U2 in Dublin. "It was a big inspiration to us at the time,"The Edge confirmed years later. By the time of its release, the band had shifted gear yet again, sloughing off almost an entire set of powerfully individual songs — A Question Of Style, London, It's The Summer, Zit — in favour of the dense, full-bodied sound that would characterise their debut album.

Scared To Dance emerged early in 1979, its release flagged up by the success of Into The Valley, which entered the charts on February 17 and climbed to No.10. Yet the band's relentless creative momentum was already pushing them forward. By May, a new recording, Masquerade, had been issued. Significantly, for production on this single they had drafted in Bill Nelson, whose extraordinary guitar playing and songwriting with Be Bop Deluxe was a crucial part of The Skids' musical DNA.

Adamson got his introduction to Be Bop Deluxe in 1975, on John Peel's radio show. "It was Maid In Heaven from the Futurama LP," he told me later, "and the guitar playing hit me right to the very core. I'd never heard anything like it before." In a glowing testimonial that could just as easily have summed up his own style, he added: "It was aggressive and melodic at the same time. It was really obvious he was a technically brilliant guitarist, but his playing wasn't just a technical exercise. There was a point to it. Every guitar part either illustrated something in the song or created a melody in its own right. It
wasn't just a run around the fretboard for the sake of it."

"The thing that struck me about The Skids was that they weren't afraid of taking risks," says Nelson. "I had heard Scared To Dance and the core of it was really good. There was a lot of energy, obviously, but there was also a certain bravado that some of the other bands of the era lacked. It was clear that there was a lot of potential."

The success of Masquerade — which gave the band their second Top 20 hit — led quickly to further recording sessions with Nelson at Rockfield Studios in Wales. "As soon as we got there," he remembers, "it seemed they were on the cusp of something new and adventurous, partly because of Richard's interest in content, lyric-wise, and partly because Stuart was already eager to expand the guitar away from the limitations of punk."

Working at a speed scarcely conceivable in the modern rock industry, they completed the ambitious follow-up to Scared To Dance in record time. Released on October 12 1979, Days In Europa expanded the band's sonic palette with range of synthesisers — including Nelson's Yamaha CS80 and Adamson's Minimoog — pushing the boundaries, as Nelson suggests, beyond the horizons of many of their contemporaries. "A better collection of dilemmas, war stories, dreams and wishes you'll have difficulty finding," declared Record Mirror journalist Ronnie Gurr.

"It was a sort of adventure," reflects Jobson. "Working with Bill was an inspired move in some ways and it became a catalyst for many things."

By November, the album's second single Working For The Yankee Dollar was scaling the charts. But The Skids were facing another dilemma as former Rich Kids sticksman Rusty Egan — who'd taken over the drum stool for Days In Europa after Kellichan's departure — had other pressing commitments. As the tour wound on, a replacement was quickly earmarked in the shape of one-time Matt Vinyl & The Decorators/Insect Bites drummer Mike Baillie. "I guess I was being groomed as an understudy," he explains. "I had rehearsed with the band a few times and when they played the Capitol in Aberdeen at the end of the tour, Rusty motioned me onstage and I took over on drums for the encore. Shortly after, I got a call from the band's manager at the time — Sandy Muir asking me to take over permanently. I flew down to London a few days later to record a Top Of The Pops appearance. I have to admit though, it felt quite strange miming to Rusty's drum parts on Working For The Yankee Dollar."

That wasn't the last of the personnel switches. The dizzying speed of the band's ascent was beginning to fracture other, more long-standing, relationships. Keyboard player Alistair Moore — another Crossgates native who'd come onboard to flesh out the sound for the Europa tour — moved on following two special hometown shows at Dunfermline's Kinema Ballroom. Simpson resigned his commission soon after. "At the start we were just four lads having a good time," he says now."Little did we know that a year and a bit later we'd be recording albums and going on Top Of The Pops. It wasn't a plan. It just evolved so fast. We were all kids. Maybe if we'd been three or four years older, we'd have handled it better. But we were all evolving into different people and we were clashing a bit."

By April 1980, however, the third Skids album was already on the horizon. After one exhausting 26-hour session in a demo studio in London's King's Cross, they found themselves with some new songs — including Circus Games, Arena, and A Woman In Winter— plus a new bass player. Russell Webb had previously played with Glasgow outfit The Zones who'd fabricated an under-rated new wave classic with their 1979 album Under Influence before dissolving. Touring to promote it, they'd supported both Iggy Pop and The Skids. "I didn't know what to make of the band the first time I saw them," Webb remembers. "It was almost like sensory overload. Jobson was larger than life and Stuart, of course, had this very distinctive guitar style. But we got to know each other well enough that eventually, when they booked that demo session, I felt I was just helping some mates out. We all got a bit of a surprise at how well we got on together. Mike had a very sophisticated touch as a drummer and we developed an instant musical rapport. Stuart was blown away. I'd never really played that way before The Skids but I was very sonically charged at the time."
"This is like a new band for Richard and I really," Adamson told the NME later that year. "The first time the four of us were in the studio together it just seemed like we were able to work together easily without any problems. No ego tripping or anything like that."

The band decamped to Nomis rehearsal studios in London's Hammersmith for three weeks of intensive pre-production with Mick Glossop, who had worked as engineer on Scared To Dance and guided them through the chart-friendly remake of Working For The Yankee Dollar. "I don't remember a lot of rearrangement of song structures," he explains.

"We might have shortened the odd verse or chorus, but the songs were generally in good shape. By that time, they had recorded an EP and two albums so they had developed their song arranging abilities."
"Stuart and I had talked about what we liked from all the previous work," recalls Jobson, "and we both wanted to take what we'd learned from working with Bill Nelson and do something a little bit more along the lines of the first album. Mick saw all the good things in The Skids that we had forgotten."

Work began in earnest on The Absolute Game at The Manor Studio in Oxfordshire in May, 1980. The rhythm parts were laid down initially and Baillie's drum kit was the first to be set up in the studio's new live room. "It was so new the cement was still wet on the floor," he recalls."It was a larger version of the Townhouse 2's stone room where Scared To Dance had been recorded," Glossop adds. "That had a large influence on the eventual drum sound, but I remember we spent quite a lot of time tuning the drums to create the impact we needed."

Glossop also focused on ensuring the glittering metallic sheen of Adanison's live guitar sound was perfectly replicated. "We tried a selection of amplifiers but always returned to Stuart's beaten-up H+H VS Musician, the amp he'd used since the band's earliest days. He'd fine-tuned his sound using it and whenever he tried a different one, something was lost. One of the loudspeaker cones had a tear in it, which no doubt contributed to that signature sound. He used very few effects, though we regularly double-tracked his parts."

As the album began to take shape it quickly became evident that The Skids were within touching distance of their finest hour. The quality of the playing, the songwriting — still marvellously innovative — and the production aligned to create something infinitely superior to the standard rock'n'roll of the era.

"It was odd for me because Stuart and I had really started to go our separate ways," remembers Jobson."But somehow we managed to find a common thread one last time for what I think was our best work together. I never managed to replace the special writing bond I had with Stuart in any of the work I made after we split. That's proof of the deep understanding we had, which was not something we ever spoke about much.

"In essence the music captures everything great about Stuart as a musician — his energy, showmanship and incredible talent. Mick knew how to bring out the best in him and I think the standout tracks are pure Adamson. Circus Games, for example, is a full-on testament to The Skids — intricate guitar lines, fast, catchy and with a big chorus chanted by a group of kids shouting their lungs out. It also captures the major theme of the album, the loss of innocence. I felt I had gone through some kind of rite of passage over the previous two years and the lyrics reflected that."

"There's only one way to classify music," Adamson later told his friend Johnny Waller. "It either gives you shivers up the back or it doesn't." It's no surprise that he packed The Absolute Game with spine-tingling moments. But while the music was stirring, anthemic and uplifting, the lyrical themes on Circus Games, Hurry On Boys and Arena had a bleaker side. "The high energy of the songs gave off a sense of positivity and hope," explains Jobson, "but my mood at the time was dark, as was Stuart's.That was reflected in a lot of the words."

The album completed, the band went their separate ways. Adamson and Baillie back to Dunfermline. Webb and Jobson, still only 19 and by now relocated, to London. They reconvened to prepare for The Absolute Game tour at a farmhouse next door to Rockfield. But with the Manor Mobile parked outside this most creative of outfits couldn't resist turning their backs on the chore of rehearsals in favour of some sonic experimentation. The result was Strength Through Joy, an eight-track album given away free with the first 20,000 copies of The Absolute Game and included here on CD for the first time."We had the opportunity to do anything we wanted," recalls Jobson. "So we put together something slightly off-centre and beautiful."
Initially the band wanted the haunting A Woman In Winter — a track so special to Jobson he went on to name one of his feature films after it — to be the album's lead single but that honour fell instead to
Circus Games in July 1980. It was followed in October by Goodbye Civilian, which came with a floridly-titled jam on the flipside. Monkey McGuire Meets Specky Potter Behind Lochore Institute also included here on CD for the first time — referred to two semi-legendary local characters. Monkey was an old acquaintance from Jobson's home village of Ballingry, not far from Lochore itself. Specky, meanwhile, played blistering lead guitar in a Dunfermline-based heavy metal outfit called Abnormal Load. Two and a half minutes in, it's Adamson's voice yelling: "What did you stop for?"

The Absolute Game was to become The Skids' most successful album. But after a UK tour and two well-received nights at New York's Hurrah, they were once more moving forward. Conceived at Sound
Control's rehearsal studio in Dunfermline, Blood & Soil and lona were the first two tracks prepared for the band's final LP, Joy. Baillie didn't stay to see it through. He quit in April 1981. After finishing his parts on Iona, two months later, Adamson quit too, going on to form Big Country with Bruce Watson."I'm sure it's for the best," he told Record Mirror journalist Billy Sloan a few days afterwards. By the time of Joy's release
some months later, Jobson was preparing to fold the band. It had lasted just four years, but few acts have left as fine a legacy in such a short space of time.

"The Absolute Game was all about Stuart's guitar-playing," concludes Jobson. "He had an absolute confidence when he strapped that instrument on that he didn't carry into normal life. The guitar gave him a voice and right from the very first day we played together, that voice was special."

TIM BARR — 2008


Into The Valley / Scared To Dance / Of One Skin / Dossier / Melancholy Soldiers / Hope And Glory / The Saints Are Coming / Six Times / Calling The Tune / Integral Plot / Charles / Scale

Charles (Single Version) / Reasons / Test Tube Babies / Sweet Suburbia / Open Sound / Night & Day / Contusion / T.V.Stars (Live)

Animation / Charade / Dulce Et Decorum Est (Pro Patria Mori) / Pros & Cons / Home Of The Saved / Working For The Yankee Dollar / The Olympian / Thantos / A Day In Europa / Peaceful Times

Masquerade / Out Of Town / Another Emotion / Aftermath Dub / Grey Parade / Working For The Yankee Dollar (Single Version) / Vanguards Crusade



Ⓟ 1980 The copyright in these sound recordings is owned by Virgin Records Ltd. and licensed courtesy of EMI Commercial Markets.
Special thanks to Denise Black, Mark Woodley, Michael Jobson and all the people who wrote asking us to release this album.
This compilation © 2008 Captain Oil Records. Mastered by Tim Turan at Turan Audio.
Captain Oil c/o PO Box 501 High Wycombe, Bucks, HP10 8QA. Made in England.