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It is late 1977. Thick snow blankets Scotland. In a central belt factory town, surrounded by small villages serving the local mining community, the pubs have shut for the night. Hunched against the cold, two teenagers pick their way through the deserted streets. They thread their way past shuttered and forbidding linen mills, drift to within a few hundred yards of the last resting
place of one of their nation's great warrior kings, Robert the Bruce, and cross the
end of a street where, 500 years before, Scotland's pre-eminent man of letters, the poet Robert Henryson, lived and worked. Their footsteps take them close to the birthplace of the English King Charles 1, the house where the US steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie grew up and the crumbling, historic stones that are all that remain of the town's status as Scotland's ancient capital.

Hands plunged deep into pockets, the pair disregard the history around them, preferring instead to focus on the future. It's better that way. They are outsiders in this town, both literally, since they've grown up in the mining villages beyond, and musically, because they are punk rockers and the preferred soundtrack here is the hard and heavy approach of local heroes like Nazareth and Ian Anderson's Jethro Tull. The odds are against them. They're not from London - crucible of all that's considered vital by the music industry at this point. They don't even hail from Scotland's great central cities, Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow. Still, rock'n'roll dreams punctuate their conversation. Wide open to new ideas, new thoughts, new frames of reference, they take aim at tomorrow.

It is close to midnight when the pair - Richard Jobson and Stuart Adamson - reach their destination, a modern housing estate on the town's southern edge. It's a Caledonian version of sweet suburbia. They stumble, frozen-footed, into Jobson's room, then rifle excitedly through his LP collection. They linger over the Mapplethorpe photographs on the covers of Patti Smith's Horses and Television's Marquee Moon, quickly weigh the relative merits of Lou Reed's Coney Island Baby and the Bowie-produced Transformer, then hover over Springsteen's The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle. The new wave canon - including debut albums by The New York Dolls, Richard Hell, The Damned, The Clash, The Sex Pistols and The Heartbreakers - is well represented. But tonight Jobson and Adamson are searching for clues elsewhere. They settle on Leonard Cohen's Death Of A Ladies' Man and seconds later the room fills with music, Cohen's mournful vocals starkly at odds with producer Phil Spector's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink production.

In a vain bid to warm themselves up, they sip hot black tea - since they've run out of milk - and listen intently. A large black notebook sits on the floor between them. It is filled with Jobson's distinctive angular scrawl, ideas for lyrics (his first full set of words, for a now long-lost Skids song called Rose Street Baby, occupies a page close to the front), poetry and fragmentary prose. He scoops up the notebook and, as he flicks through pages, words - "desperation", "depersonalisation", "confusion" - and random phrases ("a woman in an injured machine", "he never liked to mix with the boys", "the red cross of agony") leap out, testifying to healthy doses of alienation and autodidactic ambition. His finger alights on a page, traces words for the benefit of his companion. "This one," he says. Adamson takes the book and pores over the words. He nods. "Great," he says, his face breaking into the slow, wide grin that is one of his trademarks. "Show me some more."

As the night turned into day, Jobson and Adamson came to a new understanding about the way they would write songs for The Skids. From that point on, Jobson would supply all of the words while Adamson would put his own, considerable, lyrical talent on hold to focus on creating the vivid sonic architecture that framed them. "What's happening now," Adamson told fanzine writer Johnny Waller, "is that Richard is writing the lyrics and I'm making up the music as we go along."

Almost all of the material that evolved from their creative partnership over the next four years - first with vital contributions from bassist Bill Simpson and drummer Tom Kellichan then latterly Rusty Egan, Mike Baillie and Russell Webb - is included in this box set. It's a unique document of the dazzling power, energy, innovation and poetry that constituted The Skids' sound during their brief but bright career. Together with session tracks (including all of their legendary recordings for John Peel's Radio One show), hard-to-find rarities, b-sides and alternative mixes, this set comprises the quartet of albums released by Virgin Records between 1979 and 1981 - Scared To Dance, Days In Europa, The Absolute Game and Joy - along with, for the first time ever on CD, the sought-after remix version of Days In Europa by Canadian studio legend Bruce Fairbairn. The Virgin Years also includes an explosive BBC Live In Concert recording from 1979 and the experimental 1980 mini-album Strength Through Joy, originally given away with early copies of The Absolute Game. Though almost all of them were written in the band's adopted hometown of Dunfermline, the songs here reached out across the world, inspiring countless others to create their own unique sounds. Among them were other teenagers in Dublin, Manchester, Caerphilly and Colchester. If you are looking for the musical DNA that links U2, Joy Division, Manic Street Preachers and Blur, then The Skids' catalogue is the motherlode.

The Skids formed in the first half of 1977 just as punk was soaring to its high-water mark. Stuart Adamson and Bill Simpson had been school friends who'd played together in a covers band, Tattoo. They specialised in hits by Bowie, Buddy Holly, Status Quo and The Rolling Stones. But by the winter of 1976, Tattoo had broken up. An ill-fated trip to Europe to experience life on the continent resulted in Adamson running out of money and returning early. Back home in the tiny mining community of Crossgates, Fife, he scoured the music papers for information on the new
sounds emerging from London and New York. Before few people north of the border had even heard what The Sex Pistols sounded like Adamson was already writing his own blistering barre-chord anthems. By the time Simpson returned home from an extended stay in Amsterdam, the new wave was beginning to crest. "We decided it would be good to get another band together and do our own songs," he remembers.

The embryonic Skids began life in Adamson's bedroom. He supplied both music and lyrics for early songs such as Sick Club or Victims Of The Weekend, which he'd play and sing while Simpson anchored them with drilling basslines courtesy of the cheap Italian-made Gherson bass guitar he'd used in Tattoo. With Adamson determined to focus on guitar-playing, they needed a frontman. They quickly found the 16-year-old Richard Jobson. "I'd seen him walking around Dunfermline," recalls Simpson. "He was a rather imposing, frightening-looking guy. His hair was dyed black and white. You could tell he had attitude ... and he had it in spades."
Jobson's first rehearsal with the band was in a working men's club in the small town of Cowdenbeath, midway between Adamson's home and Simpson's home in Lochgelly. With an audience largely made of miners trying to enjoy a quiet pint, a few old soldiers and some pensioners trying to escape the cold, the fledgling band took their first steps by tearing through a ragged version of Raw Power by Iggy & The Stooges. They also tried out an Adamson original, Nationwide.

"Stuart's lyrics were more focused on reality than my more abstract stuff," explains Jobson. "Nationwide was a 100mph Ramones-meets-The Clash kind of a thing. It was about gang culture in the area where we lived, which was a big problem in those days. Stuart's words captured the stupidity and insanity of it. The irony was, of course, that I was from that very same background..."

The trio quickly advertised for a drummer - their classified ad insistently specified "no hairies" just in case they attracted a stickman more interested in Johnny Winter than Johnny Rotten. Auditions were held at The Gun pub in Cowdenbeath. The successful applicant was Tom Kellichan - soon to be rechristened "Tom Bomb" - who, at the grand old age of 23, seemed impossibly mature to his new bandmates. In early interviews, they liked to claim that he'd clinched the job as soon as they discovered his Uncle Eck owned a van and could therefore solve the problem of transporting equipment to gigs. If so, it was a lucky break. To anyone who saw The Skids in their earliest incarnation, Kellichan's force-of-nature style - dizzyingly fast, bruisingly powerful - made a huge contribution to the band's elemental roar. In an early interview, Adamson acknowledged that fact. "Tom is great," he insisted. "He gives 150 per cent every time we play. I really appreciate him."

In May 1977, Simpson, Adamson and Jobson were in the audience when The Clash's White Riot tour pulled into Edinburgh. After impressive sets by Subway Sect, The Slits, Buzzcocks and The Jam, they watched enthralled as the Londoners - at the height of their powers - tore through a set that included era-defining classics such as Remote Control, Garageland and Janie Jones. It was an inspiring, extraordinary set. But it's a safe bet that, of all the would-be Scottish musicians who flooded out of the Playhouse that night, sweat-soaked but energised, it was Adamson's heart that was beating fastest. He had already assembled an impressive catalogue of his own new wave anthems - with Mouth To Mouth, Neckshots, My Life, Johnny Wants, Design and others - and he was eager to share them with the world.

Soon The Skids were looking for a gig of their own. A chance encounter with local promoter Mike 'Pano' Douglas landed them both a rehearsal space and their first show at Dunfermline's Belleville Hotel on 19th August 1977 supporting Matt Vinyl & The Decorators. Clive Ford, who had just returned from hitchhiking across France, was taking the tickets that night. The venue could hold about 40 or 50 people," he remembers, "but they were lined up to get into the show, so we ended up with about double that. I thought the band were fantastic. Richard had dyed his hair completely black for the gig and Tom was wearing a sleeveless denim jacket with his stage name painted on it. They were a lot tighter than I thought they'd be, with a really solid rhythm section. But what made me fall in love with their sound was the way Stuart used his guitar. He didn't rely on the usual rhythm/lead thing that most bands did, he took it to another level. I hadn't heard anything like it before. Then there were the visual dynamics between Richard and Stuart, which made them a spectacularly exciting band to watch. It was a Matt Vinyl & The Decorators gig that night, but The Skids owned it."

At the heart of that debut performance was a song that would become the cornerstone of their live sets. Drenched in Adamson's liquid guitar, Scared To Dance was built around the unique suboceanic tones of Simpson's bass, providing a brooding tense atmosphere that neatly counterpointed Adamson's lyric. While the me-too punk records beginning to flood out by then opted to template the amphetamine rush of The Ramones, The Skids - always driven by punk's central philosophy of self-determination - chose the contrary option and slowed the song's pace to a stately 108 bpm. In an era when every gig was an unrelenting pedal-to-themetal scramble for the finish line, Scared To Dance was a statement of intent like no other. Almost a year
before Magazine's Real Life announced the arrival of post-punk, The Skids were already pushing beyond.

Eager to find other places to play, The Skids recruited the only two people they knew that were remotely close to the music business - Mike Douglas and Clive Ford - to help. Douglas began hustling gigs while Ford became the band's all-purpose roadie, tour manager and stage technician, a role he'd fulfil for most of the band's relatively short, though action-packed, lifespan. "I'd seen the band in rehearsals," he says, "but I hadn't picked up on their energy - I wasn't expecting the full onslaught that the band delivered that night. From that moment on, I was hooked. For me, this was the band that was going to give us hope and set the pace for the music scene in Scotland."

After a handful of local gigs, on 24th October 1977, Douglas pulled out all the stops to land them a last-minute fourth-on-thebill slot when The Clash's Complete Control tour called in at Dunfermline's Kinema Ballroom. Since the main stage was filled with gear for the headliners, their special tour guests Richard Hell & The Voidoids and French all-girl group The Lou's, The Skids had to play on a tiny platform normally used by the venue's Saturday night DJ. "We didn't know we were playing 'til the very day of the gig," Adamson recalled a few weeks later. "We got no fucking soundcheck or anything. We got our equipment set up and played." They were still incredible. Powering through a shorter-than-usual set, to a tiny crowd - most of the audience were still coming in - they tore through blistering versions of Sick Club, Nationwide and Mouth To Mouth. And while both Richard Hell and The Clash delivered fine performances that night - with some of the Londoners' set filmed for the Rude Boy movie - next morning I was emblazoning my school jotters with a Skids logo.

A week later, on 31st October 1977, The Skids entered Edinburgh's REL Studios to make their first recordings. The bulk of their early set was captured, no less than eight songs, including Test-Tube Babies and My Life, the track that was initially slated to be the b-side of a prospective first single.

In keeping with the frenetic momentum they were already building up, The Skids had little time to reflect on the fruits of their labours. On 4th November 1977, they supported Buzzcocks at Edinburgh's Clouds. "I wanna be a rebel," yelled Adamson as they kick-started the buzzsaw midsection of New Daze, a dystopian anthem that laid down a marker for the accelerating musical ambition that became a career trademark. Like another early song, Don't Want To GO (the "GO", Adamson claimed, stood for George Orwell), New Daze drew parallels between the totalitarian regime portrayed in 1984 and the broken Britain of 1977, which saw local councils so over-awed by a rock'n'roll band they took extraordinary measures to prevent The Sex Pistols from even entering their constituencies. "Punk was the greatest thing ever," Adamson later reflected. "A lot of the groups were crap but that didn't matter. It was the feeling that was important. It was young people having the chance to say what they wanted regardless of the dictates of fashion."

Two pivotal moments in the band's career followed soon afterwards. On 10th February 1978, The Skids supported The Stranglers at a secret gig, again at Edinburgh's Clouds. Standing at the side of the stage as The Skids played, Stranglers bassist Jean-Jacques Burnet found himself captivated. He quickly communicated his enthusiasm to Ian Grant of Albior (the live agency and management team who not only looked after The Stranglers but booked for
some of London's key live venues at the time, including The Nashville, The Hope & Anchor and
The Red Cow) telling him: "I want to produce this band." Though he never did get involved in the Skids studio adventures, Albion did organise the first London shows for The Skids, just two months later, and The Stranglers extended a helping hand wherever possible, giving The Skids coveted support slots for their gigs at Glasgow Apollo in May 1978 and Battersea Park that September.

The first Skids release, a seven-inch featuring three Adamson compositions - Test-Tube Babies, Reasons and his epic broadside against the dehumanising effects of factory life, Charles - was released on their own No Bad label on 24th February 1978. The record was financed by local music shop owner Sandy Muir, who became the band's manager, while Mike Douglas continued as tour manager. On the night of the release, the band celebrated by returning to Clouds for an appearance on the Stiff Test/Chiswick Challenge tour - a kind of tongue-in-cheek battle of the bands that also featured The Scars, Cuban Heels, The Subhumans (featuring a pre-Simple Minds Derek Forbes) and The Freeze. Watching Adamson crank up his H+H amplifier and conjure steel-edged melodies from his Gibson Marauder during the soundcheck, Scars guitarist Paul Research - who was himself a wickedly original and inspired player swapped notes with Laurie Cuffe of Cuban Heels. "He can play anything, eh?" said one. "Brilliant," replied the other. But very quickly, the one thing Adamson didn't want to play was Test-Tube Babies. In the months between the track being recorded and released, the band had developed so fast they'd already left it behind. When The Skids supported The Vibrators at Clouds a week later, the song wasn't even in the set.

The quality of Reasons - a brilliant alternative love song written by Adamson when he was just 18 - and the epic Charles, meanwhile, was obvious. The latter remained a live favourite for years to come, its busy clockwork rhythm the perfect setting for a brilliantly-conceived tale of factory life taken to its logical conclusion. Radio One's John Peel instantly fell in love with it and began to champion the band.

Crime novelist Ian Rankin - who had been in the year below Adamson and Simpson at Beath High School - had first seen The Skids at Kirkcaldy's Station Hotel early in 1978. He was one of the first to snap up the now sought-after vinyl debut. "There was something there beyond the raw aggression you got with a lot of punk," he remembers. "They weren't just about three chords and no future. I thought the lyrics were very literate. They were clever and grown-up and they were relevant. Charles was about a guy who worked in a factory just like the one I worked in at the time. It was about the kind of life waiting for most people in Fife back then. This was a band that actually had ideas. The Skids really stood out. From very early on, you knew they were destined for great things."

In April 1978, when the band headed south to play a series of gigs at The Nashville, The Red Cow and The Hope & Anchor, John Peel made a point of visiting them in the dressing room. A month later, on 16th May 1978, they did their first live session for his Radio One show. The songs they played showed just how far they'd come from those early punk rock anthems. Of One Skin and Night & Day were masterclasses in rock'n'roll dynamics, sheathing Jobson's lyrical metaphors in spiralling guitar melodies and dizzying chord crescendoes. Contusion sounded jaw-droppingly radical. If you knew where to look, however, it emerged as an equally jaw-dropping synthesis of a number of Skids favourites from that era - Springsteen, Garland Jeffreys and Television among them. The inspired lyric, meanwhile, was packed with striking images that could have come from the Patti Smith/Tom Verlaine song-book. Instead they were written 3,000 miles from the buzzing lofts and dive-bars of New York's art-rock scene, in the freezing and cramped bedroom of a miner's son from Fife. In fact, the words had been written shortly after Jobson's 17th birthday, as he contemplated the all-powerful grip of the local Communist party (not for nothing was there a street nearby called Gagarin Way). Open Sound was a celebration of the band's 'Wide Open' philosophy - which was initially inspired when Adamson's caught sight of a road sign for the Northumbrian village of the same name. At the other extreme was TV Stars - a jocular chant based around a list of then-popular soap stars - which was made up in the BBC studio. "We thought the whole idea was to do something special for Peel," remembers Jobson. "So we invented a song on the day. It was part of our energy and confidence that we were able to come up with new things on the spot"

Peel's enthusiasm piqued the interest of Virgin Records. Simon Draper - who'd set up the label with his cousin Richard Branson and Branson's school pal Nik Powell - joined the DJ at one of the London gigs. He was suitably impressed and quickly arranged for The Skids to support Magazine at Glasgow's Satellite City. Knowing that CBS were also interested, the Virgin A&R team travelled north to see the band. The Skids' performance that night clinched the deal. Within a few weeks, the band were on a train heading back to London to sign their record contract.

Friend and music journalist Ronnie Gurr - who later went on to become a successful A&R man, signing (among others) The Blue Nile, Stereophonics and Kula Shaker - joined them for the trip. "There was a lot of excitement about the journey," he explains, "because we were travelling on the new InterCity 125. It was the first of the high-speed trains, cutting the journey time from Edinburgh to London in half. In those days, it was the equivalent of taking a trip on Concorde. During the journey, Richard and Stuart began worrying that people had it in for them, going through a long list of music industry types they believed didn't like them for one reason or another. I totally disagreed and we got into a bit of an argument about it. At one point, I told them it was a classic case of rock'n'roll paranoia. Months later, when their first album was released, I was astonished to see they'd used that quote, under another by Jean-Paul Sartre, on the record sleeve. They hadn't told me they were going to do that. The first I knew of it was when I got the record."

After disembarking at King's Cross station, The Skids made their way across town to Virgin's Vernon Yard Ha In reception, amidst the chaos of ringing Trimphones, blaring music and shouted conversations, they chatted to a post-Sex Pistols, pre-Public Image John Lydon before eventually being ushered into Draper's office to sign the deal.

Following the signing, on May 12th 1978, Virgin arranged a recording session with Gong bassist
Mike Howlett. He had been chosen by the label as a potential producer because they'd liked the
results of his recent recording work with Penetration. "The session was in a small studio in London's Swiss Cottage," remembers Ford. "Everything started off great but on the second day, we went out for a late lunch. We passed a TV showroom and the screens were showing
the Scotland-England match live from Hampden Park. England won and when we got back to the studio Mike bore the brunt of the band's disappointment with the football score. As a result, none of the tracks - including a couple of songs the band had written in the studio - got finished."

Dwelling on the ill-fated Mike Howlett session, Virgin's A&R department had a rethink about the kind of producer they needed for The Skids. Simon Draper invited Dave Batchelor - best-known for his work with The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - to accompany him to one of The Skids' London gigs. As well as production experience with some of the strongest characters in the music business, Batchelor had a distinct advantage: as a Scot he'd be unlikely to fall out with them over the result of a national football match.

"I loved The Skids from the moment I saw them," says Batchelor. "The thing that struck me most was the energy of it all. They had melody, rhythm, dynamics and excitement. Stuart had his sound down perfectly - ringing and so punchy - then you had Richard, the poet out front, who sold it with a real vengeance. It was a really great night. I didn't have to think twice. They were definitely a band I wanted to work with."

Batchelor travelled up to the band's practice pad on the north side of Dunfermline - where songs such as The Saints Are Coming, This Is Summer and London had been developed - and began work on pre-production. The consummate musicianship that had allowed him to survive studio sessions with the five larger-than-life virtuosos in The Sensational Alex Harvey Band was quickly deployed. "Within five minutes of meeting the band at that first rehearsal," remembers Ford, "Dave had disassembled Into The Valley and restructured it into the version we all know now."

"The songs were really fresh," recalls Batchelor. "Stuart's riffs were so melodic and he had them in abundance. His guitar pushed the tracks along effortlessly while, underneath, the rhythm section were doing exactly what they needed to do. So we were starting at a good point. I didn't have to fix anything because it was all there. And that allowed us to focus on being creative once we got into the studio. They were a gift for any producer."

With Batchelor overseeing the sessions, The Skids visited a number of major London studios throughout the summer. Sweet Suburbia, the first single to be issued as a result of the Virgin deal, had been recorded at Maison Rouge in Fulham. In an ironic twist, the studio was owned by Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson, who also hailed from Dunfermline. They'd travelled 400 miles to work in a facility owned by a fellow Fifer.

In August 1978, the band returned to Maida Vale to record a second session for John Peel. Three of the four tracks - The Saints Are Coming, Hope & Glory and Six Times - were already live favourites while Dossier Of Fallibility showed how adept they were becoming at conjuring up the kind of brooding atmospheres that would go on to influence the fledgling Joy Division.

Sweet Suburbia was released a month later. It reached a respectable but not earth-shattering No.70 in the official UK chart, earning The Skids a visit to the Top Of The Pops studio. "In those days," recalls Simpson, "after they'd filmed the main show, they'd record a couple of bands who were bubbling under - just in case they broke into the Top 40 the next week. There was us and The Knack. Their record, My Sharona, went sky high. We missed out and the Sweet Suburbia performance was never screened."

Two months afterwards, Virgin tried again with the Wide Open EP. Featuring Of One Skin, Night & Day, Contusion plus the bruising live favourite The Saints Are Coming, it was more or less a reprise of the Peel session from May, this time recorded with Batchelor and engineer Mick Glossop at the controls. "For me," says Jobson, "if I had to pick one release that captured what The Skids were about better than any other, it would be the Wide Open EP. I remember Dave Batchelor was keen to retain the energy of The Saints Are Coming but not at the expense of the song's emotional qualities. It was his idea to put the piano up front, which was very much against the grain of the times, but it worked beautifully."

"I've always come from a song-based standpoint," adds Batchelor. "The first question for me is always whether or not the song stands up on its own. That was never an issue with The Skids. The songs were already framed. But when you've got a great song, you want to open it up to as many people as possible, so that was where I came in."

On 4th November 1978, The Saints Are Coming landed The Skids inside the Top 50 for the first time. Another Top Of The Pops performance was recorded, but again never screened.
By this time they had decamped to Virgin's Townhouse Studios on London's Goldhawk Road to begin recording the band's debut album. "It was evident from early on that we were working on something very special," recalls Batchelor. "There were lots of moments when Mick Glossop and I would look over at each other in wonderment at what we were seeing or hearing. The band were just so inventive. And then there was the chemistry between Jobson and Adamson. It was a battleground at times, but they had such a special relationship and, out of it, came these great songs."

Into The Valley, the band's breakthrough hit, was tackled fairly late in the year. "By the time we came to Richard's vocal, we had been working solidly and I suppose we were all beginning to feel it," explains Batchelor. "I was a bit worried about the third verse, where he was singing 'la, la, la la', and I should probably have pressed him to write words for it. But one of the first people
I played it to was Zal Cleminson of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. He was just knocked out by the power and drive of the track but most of all, he told me, he loved the chant. I was a bit mystified until I realised what he meant was the third verse. Jobson had been right all along."

As Christmas 1978 approached, the recording sessions were thrown into turmoil when Adamson decided to walk out. "It was a bombshell," remembers Batchelor. "We were almost finished the recording of the guitar parts but there was still some work to be done. My approach played a part, I think. I was conscious that, while the band were fantastic live, a record is a different thing. We had the bare bones and it was up to us to stretch it, to make it as good as it could be. In some cases that meant embellishments, extra guitar parts or melodic ingredients that I felt needed to be there to make it the finished article. That's the job of a producer. I was conscious that in places, they needed to push a little bit further but usually if I suggested to Stuart that, perhaps he could get a little more out of an idea, he'd come up with something that would absolutely blow me away and nail exactly what we were trying to add to the track. I think we had another few days of guitar overdubs to do, when he left."

"Stuart was really concerned about doing too many overdubs in the studio," says Ford, "because he wanted to be able to reproduce the songs live. He always felt that it was his music and he'd present it as he saw fit. Not many people broke through that barrier. While Richard thrived on collaborations and was very open to outside ideas, Stuart had a very low tolerance for what he saw as interference. To make matters worse, at that point, he was very disillusioned with the music industry."

In fact, on 4th January 1979, Adamson sat down to write an open letter to the world of showbusiness, though he promised "nothing so drastic as an ultimate expose on rock'n'roll as it really is, living in the pockets of people with their eyes on the quickest bankroll available ... to me it just smacks of hypocrisy and I don't want to be a part of that". He railed against the (admittedly terrible) record company artwork for the Wide Open EP, the embarrassment of "waiting in turn behind Showaddywaddy to have your plooks covered up" in the Top Of The Pops make-up room and concluded: "Artistic control is a joke. Unrestrained rock'n'roll exists only in the minds of hopeless romantics." Unaware of the depth of Adamson's feelings, but conscious that the album still had to be finished, Batchelor turned to the Townhouse's chief maintenance engineer Chris Jenkins. "There were still holes in some of the arrangements," he recalls, "just structural parts, general colour under certain things. There were maybe no more than ten overdubs still needed at that point. But the album needed to be finished and I didn't want to short-change the end product so - since I'd seen Chris play and knew he was a great musician - we asked him to help out."

"Chris was an excellent guitarist," agrees Glossop, "but maybe just a bit too rock-oriented for what we had in mind. However, with a bit of direction and several requests to tone down the vibrato, he managed to add the missing guitar parts in a reasonable impersonation of Stuart's style."

Named after the only song that had survived in the set since The Skids first walked onstage at the Belleville, the completed Scared To Dance album was a masterpiece. "Great job," beamed Draper after listening through to the finished master. Even the music journalists were impressed. "It's full of The Skids' stage venom and attack," reported Dave McCullough in Sounds, "and crammed with the initial wave of songs that have placed The Skids leagues in front of the rest in terms of live performance." Melody Maker was more reserved, but noted that "Almost every number is tense, nervy and effusive. Intros and outros surge with saw-toothed economy... the songs are forever active and challenging."

Highlighting the band's astonishing productivity was the fact that the title track (written after Adamson had spotted the headline on a Tony Parsons review of a Smokie gig in Soviet-era Poland), was a year or more older than anything else on the record. And yet the Peel session broadcast on 19th February 1979 - four days before the album's release - featured three new songs. A cover of Lou Reed's Walk On The Wild Side, a staple of their live shows at this point, rounded off the session.

While the music press finally cottoned on to the fact that The Skids were "the most exciting and dynamic band this country's produced in light years", tangible chart success had become a reality too. Released as a single, Into The Valley soared up the charts and gave The Skids their first Top 10 hit. In Dublin, a teenage David Evans - soon to reinvent himself as The Edge - was playing
close attention. "The first Skids song I heard was Into The Valley," he recalled. "I just immediately wanted to go home and write something as good. I was blown away." While Adamson's guitar fired the hearts of countless would-be guitarists, and Simpson's bassline launched the careers of numerous players ("That Gherson bass had a sound all of its own," insists Batchelor), Jobson's lyrics became the subject of a million teenage debates.

"For me there was never any controversy," the singer confides today. "They were a mixture of the experimental with the very real, a fusion of poetry and words that were graphic and visual. A lot of the lyrics were about things that were very important to me. I just dressed them up in metaphor because that's the background we came from. Sentimentality and open agonising would never be accepted. So I dressed it up in a different way. All those songs - Into The Valley, The Saints Are Coming, Melancholy Soldiers - essentially they're about a lot of my friends and the world we came from. People who wanted to be car mechanics so they joined the army to learn a trade, then ended up on the streets of Northern Ireland with the Black Watch. So I wrote about the way those experiences changed them. The influences were from cinema and the terraces of football stadiums and the eclectic mix of artists that I listened to - from Patti Smith to The Who, from Bruce Springsteen, to Brian Eno, Television and many, many more."

Along with the obvious confirmation that they were on the right track - with a Top 10 single and a Top 20 album - one of the key developments that reconciled Adamson to life in The Skids, at least for the time being, was the welcome news that his all-time musical hero Bill Nelson had agreed to work with the band. At that point, Nelson had just released his first album under the Red Noise moniker, though it was his mercurial guitar playing with Be-Bop Deluxe that had first dazzled Adamson four years earlier. "I was listening to John Peel one night," he told me, and he played the track Maid In Heaven from Be-Bop's Futurama album. The guitar playing hit me right to the very core: I'd never heard anything like it before. It was aggressive and melodic at the same time. It was really obvious that Bill 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." When Be-Bop Deluxe played Dunfermline's Carnegie Hall in February 1976, Adamson and Simpson had been at the front of the queue for tickets. In turn, Nelson identified with the burgeoning new wave movement. "From the beginning," he explains, "I'd felt that music should be about pushing back the boundaries. What struck me about The Skids was that they weren't afraid of taking risks."

Soon Nelson and his long-time studio collaborator John Leckie were travelling up to Dunfermline to routine songs with the band. They were delighted to see Leckie - who they had first met at the Townhouse during his stint as producer for Simple Minds and slightly awed to be in the company of Nelson who was, to them, as close as rock'n'roll gets to pure unadulterated music genius. In fact, many of their conversations with Leckie at the Townhouse had been about what it was like to work with Nelson. Now they were getting the chance to find out first hand.

Nelson's introduction to The Skids, on the other hand, hadn't been so promising. "I'd seen an article on them in the music paper Sounds," he remembers. "At that time, they looked like a
gang of hooligans. Jobson was wearing a leopard-skin coat and his front teeth were missing. He looked like he'd just stumbled out of a bar in Glasgow after a fight." But then Virgin had sent him a copy of Scared To Dance and he was intrigued. "The core of it was really good," he says. "There was a lot of energy, obviously, but there was also a certain bravado that some of the other bands of that era lacked. It was obvious from the music that there was a lot of potential."

After several days in the band's chilly practice pad, they moved to London's RAK Studios in London. In the space of a week, Nelson and Leckie oversaw the recording of several tracks including Masquerade - which gave them a second Top 20 hit in May 1979 - as well as the bonus tracks Another Emotion, Out Of Town and Aftermath Dub (inspired by Leckie's work on dub versions of XTC's hits).

The Skids introduced Masquerade during a session for John Peel broadcast on May 7th 1979. The session featured live favourite Withdrawal Symptoms together with two new songs, War Poets and Hymns From A Haunted Ballroom. Incredibly, by that point, less than three months after the release of their first album, they were already rushing headlong into their second long-player.

Partly that was down to the fact that, after the positive experience on Masquerade, Bill Nelson had agreed to work on a full album with the band. "As soon as we got to Rockfield Studios in Wales," he remembers, "it seemed they were on the cusp of something adventurous and new. In particular that was because of Richard's interest in content lyric-wise and the kind of books he was reading. But Stuart was already eager to expand the guitar away from the limitations of punk."

"We went into the recording a bit underprepared," remembers Bill Simpson. "We didn't appreciate all the other stuff we'd have to do - the touring, the TV slots, the press interviews and we didn't have time to write new songs." Though they did have Charade and Working For The Yankee Dollar complete, following some demo sessions at REL, a number of tracks were written on the fly in Rockfield. The Olympian was built from a riff recycled from the mid-section of New Daze.

The band had another issue. Disillusioned with the price of fame, Tom Kellichan had vanished following the Masquerade tour, effectively resigning his commission. "When he came to the original audition," confides Simpson, "I don't think Tom was looking to be touring the UK, and further afield, within a year. At the start, we were just four lads having a good time. None of us knew that, within 12 months, we'd be recording albums and going on Top Of The Pops. It wasn't a plan. It just evolved so fast." Though Kellichan briefly formed a new band, Katyn, with long-time Skids fan Bruce Watson - and later played on Bill Nelson's Quit Dreaming & Get On The Beam album - he soon withdrew from the music scene altogether. For the recording of the second Skids album Days In Europa and the subsequent tour the vacant drum stool was filled by former Rich Kids sticksman Rusty Egan.

With Nelson at the helm, the band felt comfortable expanding their musical palette. Just a year earlier, Jobson and Adamson had excitedly pored over the sixth and final Be-Bop Deluxe album Drastic Plastic. For that record, Nelson had retreated from the blistering guitars of earlier Be-Bop albums, opting for a more modernist, synthesiser-led approach. "I'd become a little bored with conventional guitar playing," he recalls. "I got to feel that it had just become a very common
language where nobody was trying to say anything different or unusual or fresh with it. Everybody was looking over their shoulders trying to emulate somebody else and what happens when that's pursued to its ultimate conclusion is that you just get a very narrow language which is denuded of all its real content. I already had a Mini-Moog synthesiser which had made a big impact. Then, while we were making the album, I got one of the first Poly-Moogs from America. It just seemed like, suddenly, there was a lot of mileage in keyboards."

The distinctive Moog sound quickly became an integral part of the creative process for Days In Europa, with the band quickly gravitating to the instrument's infinite possibilities. "One of the original premises for the album was to have the guitars less upfront and move towards a synth-based sound," Nelson recollects. "The band were listening to a lot of Yellow Magic Orchestra, Telex and Kraftwerk - they'd moved a long way from their punk image and style. There was a real sense of artistic purpose and they were very interested in experimenting. For one of the tracks, we had the whole band creating percussion by hitting tin cans, pots and even sound screens." Rusty Egan had even come to the sessions armed with a Roland CR-78 drum machine and a prototype Simmons electronic kit.

The melancholy soldiers of Scared To Dance flickered through Days In Europa like ghosts. "Most of the songs are really about survival," Jobson confessed to Record Mirror in September 1979. The magazine was already predicting it would be one of the albums of the year, insisting: "A better collection of dilemmas, war stories, dreams and wishes you'll have difficulty finding." Just a few weeks earlier, The Skids had introduced Days In Europa with a spectacular live show at Edinburgh Odeon, deploying their most recent recruit classically-trained pianist Alistair Moore, who'd grown up not far from Adamson's old home in Crossgates - to play the complex keyboard parts. "That was my favourite gig ever," recalls Clive Ford. "The band had decided to play the whole album live and Richard had a vision of using a screen as a backdrop so they could play film to complement the message of the songs. We had a 16ft circular screen that had belonged to Pink Floyd. A week before the gig, the band set up in Dunfermline's Glen Pavilion to make sure all the lights and films were exactly right. Virgin wanted to record the show with the Manor Mobile and Bill Nelson was booked to oversee the recording. There was also talk of Tony Wilson coming to film the gig for his Granada TV show, though in the end that didn't happen. The show itself was fantastic - far more special than anyone could have envisaged. The fans never let up for a minute, even though the set was 80% new material. Bill even joined the band onstage for a version of Be-Bop Deluxe's Panic In The World."

On 29th September 1979, the album's lead single, Charade, stalled just outside the Top 30. "We didn't want that song to be put out as a single," Jobson told Record Mirror's Ryan Kelly a few weeks later. Order was restored when a reworked version of Working For The Yankee Dollar - with Scared To Dance engineer Mick Glossop taking the production reins - gave the band their third Top 20 hit. "Simon Draper at Virgin Records felt the song was a real contender as a single," explains Mick Glossop, "but he thought the version on the Days In Europa album hadn't reached its full potential and I was asked to do a new version."

A 20-date UK tour followed but Rusty Egan was keen to get back to his other life as one of the tastemakers in London's burgeoning nightlife culture. "Rusty did a fantastic job on Days In Europa and the subsequent tour," says Bill Simpson. "I don't think he gets enough credit for his contribution." In a typically gracious gesture, on the final night of the tour, in Aberdeen, Egan sat out the encore - a thunderous version of Charles - so his replacement Mike Baillie could be introduced to the fans. In a neat piece of symmetry, Baillie had once been the drummer for Matt Vinyl & The Decorators, the band who had headlined The Skids' first-ever gig little more than two years before.

A line-up with Jobson, Adamson, Simpson, Moore and Baillie played two hometown Christmas shows. But a few weeks later, when Simpson discovered Moore had been cut from the band, he decided to quit too. "I wasn't consulted," he recalls. "I was very hurt and disillusioned. We were all still very young and we'd didn't have anyone really to advise us about how to be adult about things. Maybe if we'd been a bit older we'd have handled it better but we were all evolving into different people and we were clashing a bit."

Shortly after Simpson's departure, the band severed ties with their long-time manager Sandy Muir too. A short-lived association with Be-Bop Deluxe's former management company Arnakata was replaced by a longer-lasting tie-in with the team at Albion who guided The Stranglers' business affairs.

Another profound change had taken place within The Skids too. Jobson had been spending more and more time in London. As 1979 rolled into 1980, he moved there permanently, initially moving in with Rusty Egan and Steve Strange at their place in Kensington. With the band's two key creative forces now living 400 miles apart, it was a seismic change in The Skids' day-to-day affairs. "There was no social interchange," Adamson told the broadcaster and journalist Billy Sloan, "no way to go out and just have a talk about what we should be doing."

As the pair sorted through lineup and management changes, the first months of 1980 evaporated - though Virgin did release a remixed version of Days In Europa. It featured the single version of Working For The Yankee Dollar, and swapped out the track Pros & Cons in favour of Masquerade. A number of the original tracks were remixed by Canadian trumpeter-turnedstudio-whizz Bruce Fairbairn (who went on to score a mammoth international hit as producer of Bon Jovi's 28-million-selling Slippery When Wet album). Animation was released as a single and entered the charts on 1st March 1980 but frustratingly stopped shy of the Top 40.

For The Skids themselves the first order of business was to find a bass player. There were two candidates, Jimmy Hughes from the wildly talented Cowboys International and Russell Webb from The Zones, a Glasgow-based outfit who'd plied the same circuit as The Skids in the early days before releasing the unfairly overlooked Under Influence album on Arista the previous year. Following a gruelling, but productive, 36-hour session in a London demo studio - which resulted in the songs Circus Games, A Woman In Winter and Arena - Webb got the gig. "We all got a bit of a surprise at how well we got on together," he says. "I was really just helping some mates out but it was such a joy to play with them." However, the band were so exhausted after working for nearly three days straight that they had to cancel a BBC Radio 1 session for Kid Jensen and just handed over tapes of the new tracks to the BBC instead.

With a settled line-up, pre-production work for the third Skids album began at Nomis rehearsal studios in West London that April. Mick Glossop, who'd been the studio engineer on Scared To Dance, was this time in the driving seat as producer. "The songs were generally in good shape," he says. "I don't remember a lot of rearrangement of song structures - though we might have shortened the odd verse or chorus. By that time they had a bit of experience under their belts so their arranging abilities were pretty well developed."

"We spent two or three weeks in Nomis rehearsing all the songs, going through all the arrangements and making sure things were as tight as they could be," recalls Mike Baillie. "Then we moved to The Manor, Virgin's studio in the Oxfordshire countryside. The cement was still wet in the studio's new live room when I first got there."

"The new live room was a larger version of the Townhouse stone room where we'd recorded the drums for Scared To Dance," adds Glossop. "That had a big influence on the eventual drum sound for The Absolute Game."

"The backing tracks were done in a week," explains Baillie. "It was incredibly hard work and really taxing. When you're in the studio with such a massive talent as Stuart was, it can be quite nerve wracking. He was confident and relaxed in the studio but I certainly didn't feel that way at the time."

For most of the band, however, the sessions appeared to be enjoyable and fun. At one point Adamson and Webb lined up all their guitars against the outhouse for a photo opportunity, posing either end of the collection of Yamahas, Fenders and Gibsons, with Jobson in the middle. The snap was pinned to the wall at the back of the control room, along with a collection of Polaroid photographs - a kind of pictorial document of the sessions - by Mick Glossop. Another shot captured Adamson conducting the group of children, mostly the offspring of Rockfield staff, as they learned their vocal parts for Circus Games. Jobson, meanwhile, was snapped atop a chair in the elegant dining room, doing his impression of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

What was clear was that The Skids had something very special lined up. From the blazing reworking of Out Of Town, with its trademark Adamson riff, to the haunting A Woman In Winter, The Absolute Game was shaping up as their greatest release so far. They were continuing to push the boundaries. On Goodbye Civilian, Adamson fired up his MiniMoog synthesiser to create a track that - more than three decades on - still sounds like it's been kidnapped from the future. "That was my favourite moment on the album," confides Baillie. "Sometimes when you're recording it's difficult to get in the zone. Other times you hit it peachy, and this was one of those times. I really felt on top of my game that day. The drum track was nailed on the second take."
The guitar sounds on the album were a masterful update on the trademark Adamson sound patented on classics such as The Saints Are Coming and Into The Valley. "I tried a selection of amplifiers," recalls Mick Glossop, "but I always returned to Stuart's beaten-up old H+H transistor amp. Whenever he tried a different one, something was lost. He used very few effects though we did regularly double-track guitars - as I'd been doing with bands like Public Image at the time."
"The focus of the album is all about Stuart's guitar playing," says Jobson. "We wanted to take what we'd learned from Bill Nelson and do something a bit more like the first album. Mick Glossop saw all the good things in The Skids that, by that time, we had forgotten. Most importantly, he saw that it was Stuart's guitar sound that carried the band, but also the vocals and the lyrics.

"The songs feel full of energy and positivity but if you analyse where they're going lyrically, it's quite dark. As a whole, the album was all about loss and the death of innocence. Arena was a key song - the line that's repeated at the end, 'all the boys are innocent', sums up the theme for me. But, as with all our songs, there's still a bit of hope. In the face of a violent, cynical world, you've got to have hope and that was a big feature of what we did.

"Hurry On Boys was the start of something brand new. If Stuart had stayed with the band right through the next album, it would have been a lot more in that vein. It was a very forward-thinking song and, obviously, it was a key stepping stone for him as he developed his ideas for where he wanted to go next."

Back at Rockfield to rehearse for the forthcoming Absolute Game tour, the new-look Skids decided to use the Manor Mobile, which was on-site, to do some additional recording. In their first week back in Wales, they recorded the first side of what would become the experimental Strength Through Joy album. The second side was completed almost as quickly. The album was packaged with initial copies of The Absolute Game. "It was something slightly off-centre," insists Jobson, "but beautiful."

On 1st September 1980, The Skids returned to Maida Vale for what would be their final Peel session. Adamson, however, fell ill and Magazine/Banshees guitarist John McGeoch stepped in for the recording. "He was an amazing, generous and super-talented guy," Jobson remembers. "We all used to hang out at his flat in Notting Hill where he and his girlfriend cooked amazing food. John introduced me to a lot of different art and books, which I will be forever grateful for." Another of Jobson's friends, Banshees bassist Steve Severin, helped out with vocals on Filming In Africa. Rounding out the full-on Skids/Banshees collaboration, Siouxsie Sioux even put in appearance to add her voice to Circus Games.

Circus Games was also the first single to be released from the album. It was a dazzling tour de force that showcased both Adamson's inspired guitar and a fine vocal performance from Jobson. It was followed by what is now considered to be one of The Skids' finest works, the superbly ambitious Goodbye Civilian and finally, just in time for Christmas 1980, A Woman In Winter.
Though the singles didn't immediately achieve the success they deserved, they have stood the test of time spectacularly well, still garnering radio plays and sounding as fresh as the day they were originally released.

The UK tour, which also featured the Skids For Kids series of afternoon shows, was punctuated by gigs in Portugal and Sweden. Early in December 1980, The Skids headed across the Atlantic to play two shows at the legendary New York club Hurrah. "It's hard not to be insignificant," Jobson confided to Record Mirror shortly afterwards, "yet another British band to play Hurrah... but on the second night the reception was warm and we played exceptionally well."

The band reunited some weeks later for a series of rehearsals at Dunfermline's Sound Control. Just a few years earlier, the same building had housed an under-18s club, Images, which had been the scene of one of The Skids' earliest triumphs. Three years later, it was a very different band that began working on new songs there. The close bond that Adamson and Jobson had shared (at one point they lived just a few streets from one another) was now strained by the band's fractured living arrangements. Disillusioned, Mike Baillie chose to quit in April 1981.

Plans for The Skids' fourth album, however, progressed with former Zones drummer Kenny Hyslop briefly filling the vacant drum stool. A decision still had to be made on a producer. "At the time, I was pushing a lot for Brian Eno," recalls Russell Webb. "But quickly we settled on Bill Nelson. Stuart and I were big fans anyway and Richard felt Bill had helped him pull out qualities he didn't know he had."

But after just a few days in the Inverness studio where recording was to begin, Bill Nelson bowed out. It was clear, he explained, that the band's ideas were strong enough without his input. Virgin then suggested Mike Oldfield as producer. The song lona, which both Oldfield and Nelson worked on, proved to be Adamson's final recording with The Skids. "I found that I'd lost the spark and spirit necessary to continue in the band," he told NME in June 1981. "We were pulling in different directions and we all had our own ideas." A few days earlier, he'd told Billy Sloan: "To me a group should be like a gang - everybody fighting together for the same thing. But our ideas were split all over the place. It was hopeless."

Jobson and Webb ploughed on, recruiting Billy Mackenzie and Alan Rankine from The Associates, former Wayne County and Flying Lizards drummer JJ Johnson and Endgames' Paul Wishart to flesh out the sound. Fittingly, they chose another guitar hero from Dunfermline - Cado Belle's Alan Darby - to contribute to their rapidly-evolving vision of an earthy, folk-inspired ref raming of The Skids. "We don't want to do anything that anyone else has done," Jobson insisted to Sounds writer Betty Page. "We feel capable of being unique." He added: "What we're doing is a mixture between that whole Ukrainian/Scottish/Irish thing and it just comes belting out of the mouth and the heart. It's not exactly folk... it's stirring music, laments about periods of the day, the seasons."

As much as it confused critics on its release. Joy was an ambitious, forward-thinking magnum opus that pre-dated the back-to-our-roots odysseys of both Dexy Midnight Runners and The Waterboys. Besides critic-baiting concept tracks such as A Challenge (The Wanderer) or And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda there were glittering flashes of brilliance. lona, of course, was as dramatic as any Skids fan could wish, and nobody who'd seen the band's early evolution could mistake the lineage of songs such as Blood & Soil or Men Of The Fall. But with the track Fields, Jobson and Webb created a masterpiece that more than earned the right to sit alongside classics such as Circus Games, Working For The Yankee Dollar and even Into The Valley itself.

Joy proved to be the final Skids album. While Adamson went on to launch Big Country with Bruce Watson, Jobson and Webb meanwhile parted company with Virgin and continued under a new flag as The Armoury Show with John McGeoch and former Magazine drummer John Doyle (their 1985 album Waiting For The Floods was a much-prized classic). With a burgeoning career in TV and film, Jobson bowed out of music in 1988 with his creditable solo album Badman.

And that, as they say, might have been that. Aside from a brief reunion at Glasgow's Barrowland in 2002 to pay tribute to the memory of Stuart Adamson, who passed away tragically young, on 16th December 2001, The Skids' huge contribution to the story of British post-punk was largely consigned to the history books. Then, in 2006, Jobson received a call from The Edge. He wanted to know if U2 and Green Day could cover The Saints Are Coming to raise funds for the victims of the New Orleans floods following Hurricane Katrina. "Good work never dies," he told Jobson, "it just goes to sleep for a while, until somebody wakes it up."

"Even though Green Day are from a different generation to The Skids," recalled Jobson, "as soon
as The Edge played them the song and suggested recording it, they got it first time." Across the
generations, the song's emotional power was still unmistakeable. In November 2006, exactly 28 years after its first release, The Saints Are Coming became a worldwide No1 hit.

It was a fitting epitaph for an outfit that had once been dismissed by Dave Dee (of 1960s pop heroes Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich no less) as "just another 900mph dole-queue band". The truth was that, if you hadn't been convinced by the scale of their ambition, their courage to experiment and push boundaries, their heart-swelling choruses and those ringing guitars, then you just had to ask anyone who ever witnessed Jobson and Adamson flying through the air on stage as Bill Simpson and Tom Kellichan drilled out a rock-solid foundation. We always knew they were world class.

There's only one way to classify music," Stuart Adamson insisted. "It either gives you shivers up the back or it doesn't." The music in this box set definitely falls into the former category. Play it loud.

TIM BARR - 2015




The Virgin Years

DISC 1 - SCARED TO DANCE 1. Into The Valley 2. Scared To Dance 3 Of One Skin 4. Dossier (Of Fallibility) 6. Melancholy Soldiers 6. Hope And Glory 7. The Saints Are Coming 8. Six Times 0. Calling The Tune 10. Integral Plot 11. Charles 12. Scale BONUS TRACKS 13. Sweet Suburbia 14. Open Sound 16. Night And Day 16. Contusion 17. T.V. Stars (Live At The Marquee) BONUS NO BAD SINGLE 18. Charles 19. Reasons 20. Test Tube Babies

DISC 2 - DAYS IN EUROPA 1. Animation 2. Charade 3. Dulce Et Decorum Est (Pro Patria Mori)! 4. Pros And Cons 5. Home Of The Saved 6. Working For The Yankee Dollar 7. The Olympian 8. Thanatos 9. A Day In Europa 10. Peaceful Times BONUS TRACKS 11. Out Of Town 12. Another Emotion 13. Aftermath Dub 14. Grey Parade 15. Vanguard's Crusade KID JENSEN SESSION 16. All The Young Dudes

DISC 3 - THE ABSOLUTE GAME 1. Circus Games 2. Out Of Town 3. Goodbye Civilian 4. The Children Saw The Shame 5. A Woman In Winter 6. Hurry On Boys 7. Happy To Be With You 8. The Devils Decade 9. One Decree 10. Arena BONUS TRACKS 11. Circus Games (7" Version) 12. Goodbye Civilian (7" Version) 13. Monkey Mcguire Meets Specky Potter Behind Lochore Institute STRENGTH THROUGH JOY 14. An Incident In Algiers 15. Grievance 16. Strength Thru Joy 17. Filming Africa 18. A Man For All Seasons 19. Snakes And Ladders 20. Surgical Triumph 21. The Bell Jar

DISC 4 - JOY 1. Blood And Soil 2. A Challenge (The Wanderer) 3. Men Of Mercy 4. A Memory 5. lona 6. In Fear Of Fire 7. Brothers 8. And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda 9. The Men Of The Fall 10. The Sound Of Retreat 11. Fields BONUS TRACKS 12. lona (7" Version 1) 13. Blood And Soil (7" Version) 14. lona (7" Version 2) 15. Fields (7" Version) 16. Brave Man (7" Version) 17. Brave Man (12" Version)

DISC 5 - DAYS IN EUROPA (REMIX - BLACK COVER) 1. Animation 2. Charade 3. Dulce Decorum Est(Pro Patria Mori) 4. The Olympian 5. Home Of The Saved 6. Working For The Yankee Dollar 7. Thanatos 8. Masquerade 9. A Day In Europa 10. Peaceful Times BBC IN CONCERT (MARCH 1979) 11. Of One Skin 12. Melancholy Soldiers 13. Scared To Dance 14. Integral Plot 15. Scale 16. Into The Valley 17. The Saints Are Coming 18. Night And Day 19. Walk On The Wild Side

DISC 6 - THE PEEL SESSIONS (May 1978) 1. Of One Skin 2. Open Sound 3. Contusion 4. Night And Day 5. T.V. Stars (September 1978) 6. Dossier Of Fallibility 7. Hope And Glory 8. Six Times 9. The Saints Are Coming (February 1979) 10. Summer 11. Hang On To The Shadows 12. Zit 13. Walk On The Wild Side (May 1979) 14. War Poets 15. Withdrawal Symptoms 16. Hymns From A Haunted Ballroom 17. Masquerade (September 1980) 18. Filming Africa 19. An Incident In Algiers 20. Circus Games 21. Snakes And Ladders (Instrumental)


This compilation Ⓟ & © 2015 Virgin Records, under exclusive license to Caroline International. The copyright in this sound recording is owned by Virgin Records and is licensed to Caroline International All rights reserved. Unauthorised copying, reproduction, hiring, lending, public performance and broadcasting prohibited. Made in The EU. BIEM/SDRM LC03261.


A Captain Oi! Production for Caroline International

Project co-ordination: Mark Brennan
Artwork: Daryl Smith & Viki Vortex at

Sleeve Notes: Tim Barr Mastering: James Bragg
Special thanks to: Keith Sweeney, Steve Johnson, Tom Skinner, Peter Matthews, Cary Anning, Jed Alcock, Leon Marks, Johnny Chandler, Kevin Phelan, Liam Lydon, Roger Matthews, Gary Pietronave, Ross Hampl, Simon Gurney, Daryl Smith, Jonathan Kyte, Allan Smith, Mark Woodley, Paul North, Mark Chadderton and Tim Barr

Extra special thanks to: Callum Kay (

Pic by Morris Allan / Virgin Photo Archive




01. Into The Valley
02. Scared to Dance
03. Of One Skin
04. Dossier (Of Fallibility)
05. Melancholy Soldiers
06. Hope And Glory
07. The Saints Are Coming
08. Six Times
09. Calling The Tune
10. Integral Plot
11. Charles
12. Scale

13. Sweer Suburbia
14. Open Sound
15. Night And Day
16. Contusion.
17. TV. Stars
(Live At The Marquee)
18. Charles
19. Reasons
20. Test Tube Babies

Tracks 1-12 originally released in February 1979 (V 2116) Tracks 13-14 originally released on a single in September 1978 (VS 227) Tracks 15-16 originally released on a single in October 1978 (VS 232)
Track 17 originally released on a single in January 1979 (VS 241)
Tracks 18-20 originally released on a single by No Bad Records in April 1978 (NB 1)
All tracks produced by David Batchelor except tracks 18-20 produced by Skids All tracks written by Adamson / Jobson except 11, 18 and 20 Adamson.
All tracks published by BMG VM Music Limited.



Ⓟ & © 2015 Virgin Records, under exclusive licence to Caroline International
The copyright in this sound recording is owned by Virgin Records and is licensed to Caroline International. All rights reserved. Unauthorised copying reproduction hiring, lending, public performance and broadcasting prohibited.
Made in the EU BIEM/SDRM LC03261




jump to:
(Liner Notes | Box Set Credits | Scared To Dance)
(Days In Europa (remix) | The Absolute Game | Joy | Peel Sessions)


1. Animation
2. Charade
3. Dulce Et Decorum Est
(Pro Patria Mori)
4. Pros And Cons
5. Home Of The Saved
6. Working For The Yankee Dollar
7. The Olympian
8. Thanatos
9. A Day in Europa
10. Peaceful Times
11. Out Of Town
12. Another Entotion
13. Aftermath Dub
14. Grey Parade
15. Vanguard's Crusade
16. All The Young Dudes

Tracks 1-10 originally released in October 1979 (V 2138)
Tracks 11-13 originally released on a single in May 1979 (VS 262)
Tracks 14 originally released on a single in September 1979 (VS 288)
Track 15 originally released on a single in November 1979 (VS 806) Track 16 from a BBC Kid Jensen session originally released on a single in September 1979 (VS 306) All tracks produced by Bill Nelson and John Leckie except track 6 produced by Mick Glossop,
tracks 14 and 15 produced by Bill Nelson and track 16 produced by Pete Ritzema.

All tracks written by Adamson / Jobson except track 6 Adamson, 14 Adamson / Jobson / Nelson and track 16 Bowie. All tracks published by BMG VM Music Limited except track 14 BMG VM Music Limited
Universal Music Publishing and track 16 RZO Music/ EMI Music / Chrysalis Music.

Ⓟ & © 2015 Virgin Records, under exclusive licence to Caroline International except track 16 licensed courtesy of BBC Worldwide Ⓟ & © 2015 BBC, under exclusive license to Caroline International. The copyright in this sound recording is owned by Virgin Records and is licensed to Caroline International. All rights reserved. Unauthorised copying, reproduction, hiring, lending, public performance and broadcasting prohibited.
Made in the EU BIEM/SDRM LC03261




jump to:
(Liner Notes | Box Set Credits | Scared To Dance | Days In Europa (original))
(The Absolute Game | Joy | Peel Sessions)


1. Animation
2. Charade
3. Dulce Decorum Est
(Pro Patria Mori)
4. The Olympian
5. Home Of The Saved
6. Working For The Yankee Dollar
7. Thanatos
8. Masquerade
9. A Day In Europa
10. Peaceful Times
(MARCH 1979)
11. Of One Skin
12. Melancholy Soldiers,
13. Scared To Dance
14. Integral Plot
15. Scale
16. Into The Valley
17. The Saints Are Coming
18. Night And Day
19. Walk On The Wild Side

All tracks written by Adamson / Jobson except track 5 Adamson and track 19 Reed.
All titles published by BMG VM Music Limited except track 19 EMI Music Publishing,

Tracks 1-10 originally released in April 1980 (V 2138)
Tracks 11-19 recorded at The Paris Theatre on 10 March 1979 for BBC Radio 1 In Concert

All tracks produced by Bill Nelson, additional production and re-mix Bruce Fairbairn except track 6 produced by Mick Glossop, track 8 produced by Bill Nelson and John Leckie and tracks 11-19 produced by Chris Lycett.
Ⓟ & © 2015 Virgin Records, under exclusive licence to Caroline International except tracks 11-19 licensed courtesy of BBC Worldwide, © & © 2015 BBC, under exclusive licence to Caroline International.
The copyright in this sound recording is owned by Virgin Records and is licensed to Caroline International. All rights reserved. Unauthorised copying, reproduction, hiring, lending, public performance and broadcasting prohibited.
Made in the EU BIEM/SDRM LC03261




1. Circus Games
2. Out Of Town
3. Goodbye Civilian
4. The Children Saw The Shame
5. A Woman In Winter
6. Hurry On Boys
7. Happy To Be With You
8. The Devils Decade
9. One Decree
10. Arena
11. Circus Games (7" Version)
12. Goodbye Civilian (7" Version)
13. Monkey McGuire Meets Specky Potter
Behind Lochore Institute
14. An Incident In Algiers
15. Grievance
16. Strength Thru Joy
17. Filming Africa
18. A Man For All Seasons
19. Snakes And Ladders
20. Surgical Triumph
21. The Bell Jar

Tracks 1-10 originally released in September 1980 (V 2174)
Track 11 originally released on a single in August 1980 (VS 359)
Tracks 12-13 originally released on a single in October 1980 (VS 373)
Tracks 14-21 originally released in September 1980 free with initial pressing of "The Absolute Game” LP (VDJ 33)
All tracks produced by Mick Glossop except tracks 13-21 produced by Skids.

All tracks written by Adamson / Jobson / Webb / Baillie except track 2 Adamson / Jobson.
All tracks published by BMG VM Music Limited / Universal Music except track 2 BMG VM Music My Limited and track 18 BMG VM Music Limited / Copyright Control.
Ⓟ & © 2015 Virgin Records, under exclusive licence to Caroline International. The copyright in this sound recording is owned by Virgin Records and is licensed to Caroline International. All rights reserved. Unauthorised copying, reproduction, hiring, lending, public performance and broadcasting prohibited.
Made in the EU BIEM/SDRM LC03261




1. Blood And Soil
2. A Challenge (The Wanderer)
3. Men Of Mercy
4. A Memory
5. lona
6. In Fear Of Fire
7. Brothers
8. And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
9. The Men Of The Fall
10. The Sound of Retreat
11. Fields
12. lona (7” Version 1)
13. Blood And Soil (7” Version)
14. lona (17” Version 2)
15. Fields (7" Version)
16. Brave Man (7" Version)
17. Brave Man (12” Version)

Tracks 1-11 originally released in November 1981 (V 2217)
Tracks 12-13 originally released on a single in November 1981 (VS 449)
Track 14 originally released as a re-cut single in November 1981 (VS 449)
Tracks 15-16 originally released on a single in August 1981 (VS 401)
Track 17 originally released as a 12" single in August 1981 (VS 401-12)
All tracks produced by Russell Webb

All tracks written by Jobson / Webb except track 8 Bogle, tracks 5, 10, 12 and 14 Webb, tracks 1 and 13 Adamson / Jobson / Webb and tracks 16 and 17 Adamson / Jobson / Webb / Hyslop.
Tracks 1 and 13 published by BMG VM Music Limited. Tracks 5, 10 and 14 Copyright Control. Track 8 PLD Music Limited,
All other tacks BMG VM Music Limited / Copyright Control.

Ⓟ & © 2015 Virgin Records, under exclusive licence to Caroline International. The copyright in this sound recording is owned by Virgin Records and is licensed to Caroline International. All rights reserved. Unauthorised copying, reproduction, hiring, lending, public performance
and broadcasting prohibited. Made in the EU BIEM/SDRM LC03261




John Peel Session
Ballroom (May 1978)
1. Of One Skin
2. Open Sound
3. Contusion
4. Night And Day
5. T.V. Stars
John Peel Session
(September 1978)
6. Dossier of Fallibility
7. Hope And Glory
8. Six Times
9. The Saints Are Coming
John Peel Session
(February 1979)
10. Summer

11. Hang on To The Shadows
12. Zit (May 1978)
13. Walk on the wild side
John Peel Session
(May 1979)
14. War Poets
15. Withdrawal Symptoms
16. Hymns From A Haunted Ballroom
17. Masquerade
John Peel Session
(September 1980)
18. Filming Africa
19. An Incident In Algiers
20. Circus Games
21 Snakes And Ladders

Tracks 1-5 from a BBC John Peel session recorded on 16 May 1978 and
transmitted on 19 May 1978. Recorded at Maida Vale Studio 4,
produced by Malcolm Brown and engineered by Mike Robinson.
Tracks 6-9 from a BBC John Peel session recorded on 29 August 1979 and transmitted on 1 September 1978. Recorded at Maida Vale Studio 4,
produced by Tony Wilson and engineered by Mike Robinson.
Tracks 10-13 from a BBC John Peel session recorded on 19 February 1979 and transmitted on 26 February 1979. Recorded at Maida Vale Studio 4,
produced by Tony Wilson and engineered by Dave Dade.
Tracks 14-17 from a BBC John Peel session recorded on 30 April 1979 and
transmitted on 7 May 1979. Recorded at Maida Vale Studio 4,
produced by Tony Wilson and engineered by Dave Dade.
Tracks 18-21 from a BBC John Peel Session recorded on 1 September 1980 and
transmitted on 15 September 1980. Recorded at Maida Vale Studio 4, produced by Dale Griffin, engineered by Martyn Parker and Harry Parker,

All tracks written by Adamson / Jobson except track 13 Reed and tracks 18-21 Adamson / Baillie Jobson / Webb. All tracks published by BMG VM Music Limited except track 13 EMI Music Publishing and tracks 18-21 BMG VM Music Limited / Universal Music.

Licensed courtesy of BBC Worldwide Ⓟ & © 2015 BBC, under exclusive licence to Caroline International The copyright in this sound recording is owned by BBC Worldwide and is licensed to Caroline International, All rights reserved. Unauthorised copying, reproduction, hiring, lending, public performance and broadcasting prohibited.
Made in the EU. BIEM/SDRM LC03261