At the Apollo: A Postcard From Roddy Frame

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Guests on our Music Mile tour love hearing and sharing stories about the late, great Glasgow Apollo, and we’re re-running Roddy Frame’s guest blog on the fabled venue in case you missed it first time around.

Although he decamped many years ago, Frame will always be linked to the town: partly, because he gave the city an unofficial anthem in the yearning bus-station epic “Killermont Street”; but mostly due to his years as Postcard Records’ prodigious post-punk boy wonder. Signing with Alan Horne’s fabled DIY label aged 16, Frame’s Aztec Camera put the young into The Sound Of Young Scotland, yet shared with labelmate Edwyn Collins’s Orange Juice a preternatural knack for writing songs that seemed simultaneously to reference every record he’d ever loved – in Frame’s case, from Wes Montgomery to Motown via Bowie, The Clash and Joy Division – while sounding unique. From wiry, charging acoustic jangle to gorgeous plastic soul, a restless, mercurial spirit has remained constant across his ever-changing career.

We’re beyond delighted to have a few words from the man himself. We asked him to cast his mind back to his own early gig-going memories in Glasgow, and a favourite venue. Over to Mr Frame:

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Richard Jobson on The Skids: 1977-2017

The Skids were one of Scotland’s most successful punk exports. Formed in Dunfermline in 1997 and fronted by the idiosyncratic double act of teenage singer Richard Jobson and gifted guitarist Stuart Adamson (later to form the much loved Big Country), they scored a handful of enduring hits, including Into the Valley, Working for the Yankee Dollar and The Saints Are Coming (subsequently covered by U2 and Green Day in 2006), in their short lifetime.

The group reformed, minus the sadly departed Adamson, for their 30th birthday in 2007 and now they’re doing the timewarp again to celebrate their 40th anniversary. A new album, Burning Cities, will be released in the summer. Before then, there’s an anniversary tour, commencing this week. And before that, there’s our chat with Richard Jobson, who regaled us with tales of the band’s Fifer roots, unique worldview and Apollo memories…
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Punk was essentially an urban thing so where we came from, the landscape of rural Fife, the mining villages that we were all born out of made us slightly different. Our view of the world was non-urban. My mother sang sentimental folk songs from her Irish heritage and that was ingrained in me and also in Stuart, so there was a folk tradition there. My father was a coal miner so I knew lots of those types of songs, so mixed with where we were from with a bit of the edge of punk created something that I think was quite unique.

I remember when we first saw Johnny & the Self-Abusers [later to regroup as Simple Minds], for example, they were much more elegant, they were much more Velvet Underground-inspired, as a lot of those Glasgow bands were at the time. We weren’t. Our influences were much wider and rooted in something else, and I think that eventually came out in the music, with the things I sang about and Stuart Adamson put to music with his very particular guitar sound. And it had a toughness. The Skids were not romantic at all, they were more nihilistic.

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Glasgow Music City…the Movie!

Glasgow is a great place for music. But don’t take our word for it – listen to what some of the city’s musicians have to say on the subject.

We’re pleased to introduce the first in a series of (very) short films we’ve put together, in which Glasgow musicians talk about making music and going to gigs in town.

First up is Mr Francis Macdonald – composer, label impresario behind Shoeshine Records, and drummer with popular beat combo Teenage Fanclub

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For more on Francis, check out his website.

Huge thanks to the legend that is Scott Paterson, director, interviewer and general man behind the camera for all of these films.

We’ll be putting up another little video soon…watch this space! (Meanwhile, you can check out our other clips here.)

Guest Blog: Lindsay Hutton

A man who knows his onions, Lindsay Hutton started his seminal fanzine The Next Big Thing as a punk Xerox sheet in 1977. He went on to found the world’s first ever Cramps fan club The Legion of the Cramped along with a certain Stephen Patrick Morrissey…Lindsay keeps the garage flag flying at his splendid blog

He kindly agreed to pen something for us on his Glasgow gig memories…thanks Lindsay!

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Photo by Ruth López-Diéguez

My first memory of visiting Glasgow was to attend “the shows” at the Kelvin Hall. The “shows” to anyone not from around these parts was a huge indoor funfair, 1963-ish when I was 5 going on 6. I remember traipsing up to and from Queen Street Station. Recall suggests that we were able to take a train directly from Grangemouth in them pre-Beeching cuts days what feels at this point, forever ago.

Orbit, the record store I worked in, ran buses to gigs because they acted like a ticket agency out in the boonies. I’ve always lived equi-distantly between Glasgow and Edinburgh, 26 miles from each. The fact that these places are just a smidge over 50 miles apart seems like a way bigger chasm.

The first show I ever attended in the great city was by Alice Cooper at Greens Playhouse on November 10th 1972. It was £1.20 admission. That was forever before the dreaded booking fee was devised. A month later, I saw Led Zeppelin at the same venue for the bargain price of £1.

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Glasgow has always possessed a spirit that gives it an edge over almost anywhere else and it remains a vibrant, cultural hub. The place bubbles with an energy that has been cawed out of most major cities and one-time scenes. At this point, I’d say that it’s up there with Madrid and Berlin of places and there’s a somewhat unique non-cliqueiness about Glasgow.

I saw every act that I wanted to over the years and probably a few best forgotten. When Greens became the Apollo, this would usher in a special period that lasted all the way until the place closed. I was there once a week, sometimes three. Memories include nearly getting my heid kicked in by the notorious Apollo bouncers when I saw The Who. Jumping up and down on and breaking a seat when Thin Lizzy opened for Bachman Turner Overdrive, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first ever UK appearance in November 1974, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band Christmas shows (I had a piece of the polystyrene Vambo wall that Alex burst though for years) and however many Roxy Music residences.

One night in particular changed my direction altogether. The Cramps first show anywhere in Europe was at the Apollo on May 31st 1979 sandwiched between The Police and The Bobby Henry Band. I met Lux Interior and Poison Ivy on Union Street and from there ended up running their fan club (The Legion of the Cramped) between 1980 and 1983. A certain Stephen Patrick Morrissey was also involved at the beginning but then dropped out to take his own particular journey. My last contact with him was an invite to see his group play at Nite Moves on Sauchiehall Street. I declined because I didn’t rate his band’s debut single and never got another Christmas card.

Talking about Nite Moves, that’s where the Fleshtones played when they last visited this town in November 1983. They’re celebrating 40 years here in 2016 so I think that some aspect of that should involve a return bout. Plans are afoot for just such a wheeze.

Glasgow’s Grand Old Opry is my favourite venue in town but it’s severely underused, likely due to being located on the south side. The Dave Alvin and The Guilty Men (including the late, great Chris Gaffney) and Teenage Fanclub gigs there were something else. Laura Cantrell and Amy Allison played a blinder there too. The city has an ongoing, unfaltering buzz that is hard to beat. You can have a ball in Glasgow whatever your particular persuasion. The heart and soul of the place has always been founded on music. And please, don’t hold the fact that it’s often cited as the place a certain aberration from Manchester was discovered against it.

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Guest blog: Welcome to Michael Rooney of The Primevals

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As far as Glasgow Music City Tours is concerned, The Primevals are right up there in the pantheon of all-time great Glasgow bands. We still remember the frisson of first seeing them in the mid-1980s at this recording of the brilliant Scottish music show, FSD:

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Singer Michael Rooney exuded that potent combination of mean attitude and aloof presence that you want in your rock’n’roll frontmen, while the band were a tight-but-loose garage rocking machine, fired up with the punky, bluesy spirit of Captain Beefheart and The Gun Club.

This was around the time of their classic Sound Hole album – remastered and re-issued by Boutique Germany, so what are you waiting for? Thirty years on, the band are still in business. Check out their most recent albums, Disinhibitor and Heavy War on Twenty Stone Blatt and Tales Of Endless Bliss on Closer Records.

405253_334589049892548_894326310_nWe now have the pleasure of Michael’s acquaintance and can confirm he’s a lovely man with a clearly encyclopedic memory for classic gigs he has attended over the years as you will see from his blog. Like many of our guest writers, he mentions the Apollo but we are also chuffed to read namechecks for the Maryland and Electric Gardens – two former venues which we talk about on our Glasgow’s Music Mile tour. The buildings are still there and still in use as a bar and a club respectively – but which ones? You’ll need to come on tour to find out… Over to Michael…

Growing up in Glasgow, going to see gigs and buying records was so important for me. It got me away from gangs and delinquency. This was late ’69 early ’70.

I went to my first real gig in Blackpool back in 1966 with my late father, mother and granny—a matinee show with The Spencer Davis Group and support from Dave Berry and the Cruisers. I remember the spotlight on Dave Berry’s hand with just the mic sticking out from the side curtain at the start of the show. Continue reading

Glasgow City Music Tour Playlist

To mark the success of our first rehearsal run of the Glasgow’s Music Mile tour on Saturday and in anticipation of the maiden voyage of our Merchant City Music Past and Present tour this Friday, we are pleased to launch our Spotify playlist. It’s over there, on the right. You’ll probably need to scroll down.

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Like any good jukebox, we’ll be changing the records from time to time to keep things fresh. We’re also happy to take requests so do get in touch via Twitter, Facebook or email us at info@glasgowmusiccitytours.com with suggestions of Glasgow gems or musical themes you would like to hear represented.

Other themed playlists will follow but we are debuting with a soundtrack inspired by some of the venues we visit on our tours matched to our favourite Glasgow artists and songs. Walk and roll! Continue reading

FFS! It’s FFS

Oh, be still our fluttering hearts. Tomorrow is a big day for those of us who believe that the only thing better than a Franz Ferdinand gig or a date with Sparks is the smooshing together of the four Franz boys and the Mael brothers in the exquisite meeting of hearts, minds, musical talent and neatly trimmed facial hair that is FFS.

The Scottish-American supergroup released their debut album last week. Now they have chosen to play their first ever show right here in Glasgow at the Art School Union, scene of some of the earliest Franz Ferdinand gigs.

Ahead of this auspicious – and sold out – live debut, we asked Franz and FFS frontman Alex Kapranos for some thoughts on his old stomping ground. Continue reading