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Thursday 21 September 2023

More Bands In Places They Shouldn't Be: A Vinyl Villain Guest Edition

I spent last Thursday evening in the company of JC, the man behind the long running, standard setting blog The Vinyl Villain. He'd travelled down from Glasgow overnight and we met for a few drinks and a catch up taking in two legendary Manchester pubs- The Briton's Protection (grade II listed, serving beer since 1806- the year not the time- with a mural of the Peterloo Massacre down one wall) and The City Arms (a pre- Hacienda haunt for many back in the day, situated just across the road from Fac51). Earlier this week JC sent this to me. A few weeks ago I started an irregular series of Bands In Places They Shouldn't Be including Echo And The Bunnymen on Wogan, Prefab Sprout at Alton Towers, Ice T on The Late Show and Aztec Camera on Pebble Mill. I've got a few ideas lined up for further editions in the series but in the meantime JC has stepped in with a Bands In Places They Shouldn't Be Scottish Edition. Without further ado, then, over to JC...

I was quite tickled by Adam’s previous posts in which he dug out some classic video clips of performances or appearances in the most unlikely of places.  So much so, that I’ve come up with a few more, all of which feature singers/bands from Scotland.

First up are Aztec Camera and a rendition of Walk Out ToWinter that was broadcast on Switch, a series aired on Channel 4 between March and September 1983.  It basically took over the Friday evening slot that had been occupied by The Tube, starting one week after the end of the first series and ending one week before the second series began.

Look closely and you’ll see that the normally immaculate Roddy Frame and his bandmates are wearing identical and hideous tracksuits.  That’s because the footage was from the afternoon rehearsals when they did their bit to help the camera operators and lighting technicians do their thing, returning later on for the actual performance that was broadcast.  Only thing is, the band decided not to perform the new single and thus leaving the record label a tad upset. Which is why, no doubt after much pleading with the producers of Switch, this footage was shown a few weeks later. 

Back in the days when the BBC actually were half-decent at putting out music shows, they came up with the idea of a 24-hour broadcast across BBC 2 and Radio 1, which was given the imaginary title of Rock Around The Clock.  I think there may actually have been a couple of these, with the shows being a blend of live performances from concert venues, studio performances, interviews, videos and specially commissioned film clips.   It also saw musicians dropping in for chats, as was the case when Edwyn Collins, Paul Quinn and Zeke Manyika were interviewed, from recollection around 1am, and it’s fair to say they were up for having a bit of fun.

I’ll divert for a few minutes, as the same show also had Billy Bragg and Echo & The Bunnymen in the studio at an even later hour.  They teamed up for an unforgettable cover of a Velvet Underground number.

Turning now to the first band ever to play at the Scottish Exhibition Centre, the cavernous venue on the banks of the River Clyde to which all the big names would flock after the legendary Glasgow Apollo was closed down and demolished.  History records that UB40 were the first to play in what became known as Hall 4 in 1985, but the truth of the matter is that a little-known local act called Snakes of Shake were the first as evidenced by this clip which went out on The Tube in 1984:-

OK….the building was still under construction, but let’s not split hairs.

That clip was part of a special on Scottish music that was broadcast by The Tube.  You’ll have to bear with me on the next one as I can’t find a segment where it’s just the song.  

It’s a seven-minute piece of film, in which presenter Leslie Ash turns up on a very wintry day in Dundee for a chat down in the dockside area with Billy Mackenzie.  The interview takes place on what appears to be a tug boat, while Billy then mimes outrageously to the Associates song ‘Waiting For The Loveboat’ on board the HMS Unicorn, a 200-year old frigate that operates as a museum/visitor attraction in Dundee.  The music begins around 4 mins and 24 seconds in.

You’ll have spotted by now that many of these clips are courtesy of the hard work of an individual who goes by the name of ScottishTeeVe who has taken hundreds of hours to take his VHS etc recordings and put them up on YouTube for our enjoyment.  All the clips thus far, I also have on dozens of different videotapes that are in boxes in a cupboard beneath the stairs, but I just don’t know how to now put them in places where they can be shared and enjoyed more widely.

I’ll finish off with a cheat.

It’s a clip that doesn’t feature anyone from Scotland, but it was filmed in Glasgow on 3 June 1990.

The location is Custom House Quay on the banks of the Clyde. It was part of ‘The Big Day’,  one of the centrepiece events in a year-long set of festivities to celebrate Glasgow being designated as the European City of Culture.  An all-day music festival that was free of charge across various locations, with the big-name acts performing on stages at the main civic square or in the largest of our inner-city parks.  Some more niche acts were put on at Custom House Quay, one of whom was Billy Bragg.  He didn’t let on that he was going to be joined for part of his set by some friends from America:-

You can see that the location is full to capacity, with maybe a couple of hundred folk sitting down and maybe as many again standing up at street level.  No mobile phones, so no way of letting anyone know that Michael Stipe and Natalie Merchant were singing their hearts out.  I don’t have this clip on video, for the simple reason that I was out on the streets that day, among what was estimated to be a crowd of 250,000.  Nor did I see it on the day…..I was half-a-mile away enjoying the one stage where the music was quite eclectic, watching the likes of Aswad, Nanci Griffith and Les Negresses Vertes put on great shows.  It wasn’t until the next day, reading the newspapers, did I learn about the Custom House Quay happening.  The performance has become the Glasgow equivalent of the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester in 1976 with thousands claiming to have been there.

Massive thanks to JC for this time capsule, a hugely enjoyable post. 


keepingitpeel said...

Excellent stuff. This bloke should start his own blog.

Swiss Adam said...

I told him that.

Anonymous said...

Deep performance from Stipe and Merchant. 'Hello in There', never heard that song before, what a beaut! Thanks for posting.