Tag Archives: The Skids

ALBUM REVIEW: THE SKIDS- ‘Burning Cities’ (2018)

Thirty-six years since their last album Scottish post-punk pioneers The Skids, currently on a hugely successful comeback tour, have released their fifth album ‘Burning Cities’ and could it be the greatest comeback album of all time?

I wonder if there will be many readers here, who will never have heard of The Skids. If that is so, then that’s a sad situation. The Skids were a four-piece band from Dunfermline in Scotland. They formed in 1977 and had a very distinctive sound, mainly because of guitarist’s Stuart Adamson’s fantastic ability. This is why we at LCP are looking at this new release. Many people said that Adamson could make his guitar sound like the pipes; although he himself hated that comparison. When he left the band, he went on to form Big Country, who I’m sure most readers will have heard of and probably have enjoyed listening to. Big Country were one of the first commercially successful rock groups to incorporate Celtic instruments and themes into their music (hence our interest!). Anyway, back to The Skids, who had an all too brief impact on the Punk / New Wave scene in the late 70s and early 80s. Along with Adamson the band was fronted by Richard Jobson, who was the chief lyricist. Will Simpson and Tom Kellichan (bass and drums) completed the line-up.
Their highest charting single was the classic Into the Valley, still covered by many a band! When Virgin Records heard their self-produced Charles EP, they immediately signed them up to a long term multi album deal and perhaps this was their downfall. Adamson was a real ‘home bird’ and wanted to stay based in Scotland. Jobson and Virgin wanted the band to be based in London. This split between the two driving forces was inevitably going to be their undoing. Adamson, despite his guitar genius, was still a shy introvert. Jobson was a much more outgoing extrovert, he was getting plenty of attention from the London art and media fraternity. After three albums and a couple of line-up changes, on drums and bass, Adamson left, Jobson brought out one album (Joy), with the remainder of the group. And that was that, Jobson worked in TV presenting, acting and directing movies. Adamson, as I’ve said formed Big Country and received worldwide acclaim, until his sad passing in 2001.

Stuart Adamson- 11 April 1958 – 16 December 2001. RIP.

The reason for this little history lesson is that The Skids ‘reformed’ a couple of years ago; they went on a nationwide tour and received rave reviews for their performances. Following on from this tour they went into the studio and the result is the fantastic new album ‘Burning Skies’. The line-up of the band is, Jobson, Simpson, Baillie (he joined the original band in 79 after Kellichan left) and most interestingly Bruce Watson and his son Jamie. Whilst Watson wasn’t in the original Skids he was in Big Country with Adamson and obviously learned a lot from him. When you get these old bands re-forming, it’s usually a nostalgic trip down memory lane for most fans (witness the Rebellion festival every August) and The Skids of course play many of the old favourites when they perform. Burning Cities however is chock full of new original music. The sound is unmistakably Skids and this is where you see the wisdom of bringing the Watsons in. All the years that he played with Stuart obviously gave Bruce an insight into his playing style and sound. He’s not imitating Stuart in any way, but the ‘feel’ of him can be heard here.

(The Skids and their iconic and legendary hit single from 1979)

The album starts off with what could be called a ‘clarion call’ in the shape of This Is Our World, an up-tempo rail at the world, don’t let the opening piano fool you it soon bursts into life. One Last Chance follows and the almost bagpipe like sound of the guitar is there in all its glory. Next up is Kaputt with some choppy sounding lyrics that put one in mind of Belfast’s very own Defects (not a bad sound to make!). Jobson’s delivery over the recurring guitar riffs show he still has the cohones for a row. A World On Fire is next and this one has the anthemic lyrics in the chorus for everyone to sing along to. The kind of track you could imagine a football crowd belting out!

The title track is another anthemlike offering, the pace is a bit slower, but all the power is still there, a track that (if you’re anything like me) you’ll have running around in your head all day. Up On The Moors comes next speeding things up again, it sounds quite lively like some of the early Skids offerings, a catchy number that would have made a good single back in the day! Refugee is a much slower paced almost reverential track. There is a sound that brings Clannad or Enya into my head which just sounds daft, but listen to it yourself and then try to categorise it!! Subbotnik brings you out of the Celtic misty meanderings into another punky typical Skids tune. The intro alone into Kings Of The New World Order is worth the price of the album. The guitar work makes such a unique sound and is a joy to listen to. Into the Void is a fast-paced track with edgy sounding guitars and lyrics from Jobson that will make it another ‘earworm’ of a track with its “down and down and down we go“ hook.

The final track is like a ballad, Desert Dust tells the tale of someone signing up for the army. It has wonderful fiddle work weaving through it and will definitely be many people’s standout track. For me there are at least 6 standout tracks and 0 duff tracks. Although I have gone on at length about the guitar sound here, I don’t want to take away from the rest of the band, they sound tight and certainly contribute to making a unique all-round sound. This album was released in January and is already a contender for the album of the year slot. It really is that good, old fellas like me will revel in the feelings it brings and those who have never heard The Skids are in for a real treat!

Ger Mellon

Discography

Scared to Dance (1979) * Days in Europa (1979) * The Absolute Game (1980) * Joy (1981) * Burning Cities (2018)

Buy Burning Cities

Amazon  Amazon-DuluxeVersion  iTunes

Contact The Skids

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