martes, 20 de octubre de 2009

The Skids - Joy (1981)

Joy is the final album by the Scottish band The Skids. It was the fourth studio record and their first after the departure of signature guitarist Stuart Adamson, who then founded Big Country. As such, it represented a change of direction from rock to folk music, amplifying the traditional Scottish element already hinted at in previous releases.

The band line-up featured Richard Jobson and Russell Webb, with J. J. Johnson (on drums & percussion), Paul Wishart (on saxophone, flute, keyboards, percussion and vocals) featuring a collection of musical friends. They all went to Britannia Row Studios in London for rehearsals and song development. Sessions in July 1981 led to the release of the first single from the upcoming album.

The single Fields (Virgin VS-401) was released in August 1981, with Kenny Hyslop on drums. The song also featured Billy MacKenzie (vocals), and Alan Rankine (guitar), who were the core members of the band The Associates. Guesting, early in her career, was Virginia Astley (flute). The strummed guitar and marching band elements (bagpipe emulation, percussion) signalled a change in direction, though the rabble-rousing melody and football pitch vocal delivery were standard Skids fare.

Sessions continued through September 1981 and produced a second single, the harmonically rich Iona (named for the Scottish island). It was the only song on the album to be recorded at Highland Studios in Inverness, Scotland. Released in October 1981 (as Virgin VS-449) this was the last Skids track to feature Adamson, alongside Mike Oldfield, who collaborated with the computer keyboard Fairlight CMI. At 3:24, the single edit is significantly shorter than the epic to be found on the album.

This album was issued November 1981 (as Virgin V-2217). It marks a concerted effort to update traditional Scottish music into the age of modern rock recordings. The sound is fundamentally more pastoral than previous Skids efforts. Gone are the layers of harmonically treated electric guitar. However, elements of this style were hinted at previously, particularly on the Strength Through Joy mini-album. The lyrical concerns of strife, war and brotherhood are Jobson staples.

With Paul Wishart on saxophone, "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" is a cover of the song by Eric Bogle.

Though the band recorded a BBC Radio 1 session and shot a music video for "Iona", promotion problems at Virgin forestalled a tour. With patchy coverage, no live support and a difficult change in musical direction, the record sank without a trace. Critical reception was mixed at best. For example Trouser Press wrote "To call it bad is curt but realistic." However The Guardian greeted it happily.

The album bore fruit in several working relationships. For example, Virginia Astley was to record her debut solo releases with Russell Webb and also guests on Jobson's poetry album "The Ballad Of Etiquette".

Later, The Skids split up and the remaining members Richard Jobson and Russell Webb formed The Armoury Show, with Magazine's John McGeoch and John Doyle shortly afterwards.

This album remains unreleased on CD and it's only available as long-play through second hand shops and auction-sale pages like eBay.

Label: Virgin Records
Catalogue n.: V-2217 (UK original release); 204167 (France).
Release date: November 1981
Genre: Rock, electronic folk.

Track listing:

Side A:

01. Blood and Soil (3.58)
02. A Challenge (The Wanderer) (6.10)
03. Men of Mercy (1.11)
04. A Memory (5.05)
05. Iona (feat. Mike Oldfield on Fairlight CMI) (7.15)

Side B:

01. In Fear of Fire (0.42)
02. Brothers (3.11)
03. And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda (5.39)
04. The Men of the Fall (6.04)
05. The Sound of Retreat (instrumental) (3.13)
06. Fields (4.32)

All compositions by Richard Jobson/Russell Webb, except:
- Iona by Russell Webb, original title Richard Jobson.
- And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda lyrics Eric Bogle, music traditional, arrangement Jobson/Webb.

Visit The Skids website.

Post update: Actually incorporated to Spotify.

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