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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.