With a new album, Burning Cities, out on 12 January, a three-disc reissue of their seminal debut Scared To Dance (opens in new tab) out now, and a UK tour (opens in new tab) that kicks off from 10 January, Scottish punks the Skids are going through one of their busiest periods since their hey-day.
In a two year period in 1979-80, the Skids hit the UK top 40 four times, with singles like Into The Valley (a top 10 hit), Masquerade and Circus Games. Guitarist Stuart Adamson left the band in 1980 to form Big Country, while singer Richard Jobson went on to form The Armoury Show, before becoming a poet, TV presenter, writer and film director, with six features films to his name.
Adamson took his own life in 2001. The Skids first reformed in 2007, with Adamson’s former Big Country band mate Bruce Watson, and Watson’s son Jamie, on guitars. The current line includes original bas player William Simpson and drummer Mike Baillie, who appeared on their 1980 album The Absolute Game. Here, Jobson choose the Skids tracks that mean the most to him…
“The opening track of [second album] Days In Europa. It sets the tone for the new Skids. This was our second album. We had gone to Wales to record with Bill Nelson and we wanted to do something new and fresh. Bill encouraged me to write lyrics the way I wanted to write, which is captured perfectly here in this abstract poem on the working man. I was thinking about my father when I wrote it, he was a coal-miner. Adamson’s guitar work is brilliant and Rusty Egan helped develop a new sound through his innovative drum playing.”
The Saints Are Coming
“So many bands have covered this song, small and huge. The lyrics are about a kid trying to connect with his father. It’s biographical.”
“People missed the irony of Days In Europa and misread the lyrics as having some kind of Fascist fetish thing going on. I hate fascists and everything they stand for. The song was about the undue pressure put on young men to be somebody in the traditional sense of masculinity. This was something we all rejected.”
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Into The Valley
“The Skids’ anthem was born from Alfred Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade – its anti-war sentiments are still relevant today. People seem to remember it more for my daft dancing rather than the themes we were exploring. That’s the price you pay for doing a daft dance on TOTP.”
“Another anti-war themed song that was brave enough to use paintings like Guernica as an influence. I love Adamson’s swirling guitar line and the chant and answer nature of the verses. The chorus feels anthemic with a touch of melancholy. So much of the early material was born from reading the war poets from WW1.”
A Day In Europa
“A backwards version of Animation with a spoken word poem about the crumbling fabric of Europe after WW2. It was a brave thing to do at the time and critics were always looking to shoot anyone down who dared rise above their station. Fuck the critics.”
“A blistering, ferocious song that always seemed to work better live than on record. It sits well on Days In Europa. We still play the song today as part of our live set and it still works. A song about Death called Death. I think I must have been going through a difficult period with my health at the time which has dogged me all my life. I’m epileptic.”
“Great memory of recording in the manor studios in Oxfordshire. We were working with Mick Glossop who focussed on Adamson’s guitar work and the band’s love of big choruses. We weren’t sure of how to make this song ignite until we decided to try kids singing the chorus. Its a song about people making mistakes and somebody paying the price, which is normally kids or the next generation.”
Blood and Soil
“The gospel/choir version still make me shiver. A comment on the horror of Nazi ideology. It relates to The Olympian in that the chorus inverts the idea. We played it live once but people were always a bit scared of the title.”
The Skids’ new album, Burning Cities, is out on 12 January. A three-disc reissue of their seminal debut Scared To Dance (opens in new tab) is out now Their UK tour (opens in new tab) kicks off from 10 January in Glasgow.
Into The Valley: The Story Of The Skids, the forgotten heroes of Scottish Punk