Skids - 1978 - Wide Open 7''
The Skids, it seemed, picked their moment well. Comprising the songwriting axis of Richard Jobson (vocals) and Stuart Adamson (guitar), together with the rhythm section of William Simpson (bass) and Tom Kellichan (drums), they rode into British consciousness on the new wave backwash to the ebbing tide of punk. The release of their self-financed, attention-grabbing Charles EP came at the time Richard Branson's Virgin label were busy accruing an eclectic roster of post-punk hopefuls. Consequently, with almost indecent haste, the band were tethered to what was to prove an optimistic eight-album deal. On the flip side of their first Virgin single, "Sweet Suburbia" (1978), the band proclaimed themselves to be "Open Sound", which was essentially a description of the soaring histrionics of Adamson's guitar style. When married to the martial rhythms of the drumming and the bellowing, chant-like vocals of Jobson, this sound conspired to lend their repertoire a rousing, anthemic quality. It was heroic music which at its best, as on the first album, Scared To Dance (1979), seemed to capture the drama and turbulence of battle. Unfortunately, the sound was an all-too-graphic reflection of the band's own stormy relationships, a turbulence which was to settle only with the departure of Adamson in the summer of 1981. The Skids' decline was in large part due to the portentous designs of Richard Jobson, who sought to mould the band into a vehicle for his ever more convoluted lyrics. This became most evident in the recording of the second album, Days In Europa (1979). Following the departure of original drummer Tom Kellichan in the traditional rock'n'roll style (i.e. after the first album), the Skids recruited a temporary replacement in the form of ex-Rich Kids drummer and Jobson cohort, Rusty Egan, and a producer in the form of ex- Be-Bop Deluxe man Bill Nelson. Together, both Nelson and Egan contrived to free the band from the strictures of punk-pop in favour of a more polished, almost danceable sound. Ultimately it was a case of too many cooks, and the resultant album proved to be a misguided attempt at redefining the Skids' sound. This in turn alienated a great many fans, and also cost them the services of bassist Simpson during the troubled tour that ensued. For Jobson and Adamson it was back to the drawing board, and 1980 saw a rejuvenated Skids with a new rhythm section in the form of Russell Webb (bass) and Mike Baillie (drums). The resultant album, The Absolute Game (1980), produced this time by Mick Glossop, was a commercial success, giving the band their first and only British Top 10 album. Artistically, too, it heralded a return to form, dispensing with the excess baggage of the previous outing and playing to the dual strengths of Adamson's guitar stylings and Jobson's lyrical bombast. Unfortunately, this rejuvenation coincided with Jobson's increasing commitment to a burgeoning London scene. Adamson's departure had as much to do with geographical differences as to musical and personal ones; a point evinced by Adamson's eventual return to Dunfermline, from where he formed the internationally successful Big Country. Following Adamson's departure, the final dissolution of the band was soon to follow. Unfortunately, however, not before Jobson and Webb issued a dour and ill-conceived concept album, Joy (1981), which served only to illustrate that, when Adamson left, he took all of the best tunes with him. Not surprisingly the album failed to chart, and proved a sorry end to a short career which had begun with so much spark and promise.
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