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Skids - Scared To Dance (Expanded) album review

Scottish art-punks 1979 debut, now as a three-disc box set

Cover art for Skids - Scared To Dance (Expanded) album

Heading south from Scotland to London just as punk became new wave, singer Richard Jobson was still in his teens and guitarist Stuart Adamson just 20 when Skids crashed the Top 20 with their 1979 debut Scared To Dance.

Once derided by critics, Jobson’s more pretentious artpunk leanings have aged rather well, especially the yelping Brechtian waltz-rocker Dossier (Of Fallibility) and discordant, Kraut-ish ear-bashers like Zit. Adamson’s jagged post-punk guitar style, raw yet disciplined, still resonates almost 40 years later, from U2 to the Manics; indeed U2 later covered one of the finest tracks here, the impassioned Celtic war cry The Saints Are Coming.

The nine bonus tracks on the main disc have all been released before, and they include minor classics such as the dystopian sci-fi oddity Charles and the staccato yob-punk rant Test Tube Babies. A second disc of demo recordings and a third featuring a live show from London’s Marquee in late 1978 (tickets priced at 85 pence) are more interesting historically than musically. Even if the boogie-woogie pub-rock demolition of Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side is abysmal, Jobson’s live ramblings about Vic Godard, Albert Tatlock, Annie Walker and Kenny Dalglish are strangely evocative snapshots of a lost era.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.