>> The Majestics
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band <<
Not for the first time (nor the last), Scotia Extremis visits that most fertile field of Scottish endeavour – popular music. This week we feature two bands – one fictional, one real – who refused to die even after the loss of their lead singers. The Majestics were the fictional ’60s rockers at the centre of John Byrne’s late-‘80s drama Tutti Frutti, described by Tom Morton as ‘by a long shot the best Scottish-made TV series ever’. A wonderful ensemble cast including Richard Wilson and Emma Thompson bring to life the seedy existence of a band riven by disputes out on the road, with Robbie Coltrane shining as Danny, brother of deceased lead singer Big Jazza McGlone. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band was a bunch of hard-rocking but theatrical glam rock-tinged musicians lead by their eponymous Glaswegian frontman, enjoying several moderate hits in the 1970s. Their stage performances were electric, and they developed a devoted following in the UK based on the magnetic presence of the unkempt, rocket-fuelled Harvey. When he left the band in 1976 they continued, incredibly, for several years as The Sensational Alex Harvey Band…Without Alex. His early death in 1982 at the age of just 47 cut short any possibility of a Majestics-style return to the road, with or without a replacement at the microphone. Both acts stand for the dirty-fingernailed realism and feverish creativity that lie at the heart of Scottish art, as does the refusal to go quietly at the end of the show.
by Jenny Elliott
Think you know me, right?
Think yuv seem ma face afore?
Maybees a freend o a freend,
one o the guys proppin up the bar
in biker boots an leather jaekit?
Or whit aboot on the telly, or in a band?
Aye, ah’v got that kinda mug, but naw,
ah’v niver made it intae the limelight, no me,
but ah’v aye bin wan o the chorus
tae the lucky yins that huv.
Dennis Sproul is whit they crie me,
transport an aa that, roadie tae the Majestics
fur as long as ah can remember – rock ‘n roll,
hud a sorta hit single in sixty-two
wi No Particular Place to Go.
Ah did the sound checks, lugged the gear
an dropped Big Jazza’s yella suit
intae its final restin place. A grave day
that wiz, wi me huvin been lookin at
four precent gross on that Silver Jubilee tour
– an ah’m still owed fourteen quid
fur wee bro’ Danny Boy’s taxi fare. Aye, an Eddie
hud me tryin tae fit him intae the big guy’s boots,
wi Bomba, an Fud an Vinnie none too pleased!
Y’ see, thur’s three outfits where blood ties
dinnae count – the Mafia, the Magic Circle,
an the Majestics! Naw, it wisnae easy,
an made worse by aa the dolls taggin along,
but ah said nuthin. See no evil, hear no evil,
speak no evil, me. Ah jis made the coffees
an kept drivin. Och, but it wus headin
fur tragedy, no so much fur Danny an his chick,
but Sufferin God, Vincent an aa his wemmen!
A wife whit couldnae hae wains, a wee burd
wi a phatom yin, an a big lassie fae Buckie
claimin to be the fruit o his loins wi a knife!
Lost everythin in the end. Hud his skull splut open,
his motor burnt oot, his clobber turned tae ash,
an then tae tap it aa the wee munchkin goes an
chucks hersel aff the Clyde Street bridge…
You could say he had it cummin,
wi his black leathers an aa his crowin,
but it got me richt here.
Collective culpability’s whit a think.
Doused hissel wi cheap vodka
an torched hissel at the Pavillion,
the Majestics’ final gig. Gie us a Pepsi Jim,
got an audition masel the night.
Steppin awa fae the bar, me,
Tutti frutti, all rootie …
by Andrew J. Wilson
For Ralph MacGillivray
Goose-stepping onto the concert hall stage,
Long hair slicked back and parted at the side,
A cardboard moustache taped under his nose,
Alex Harvey makes the Nazi salute.
The great performer plays great dictator:
A rabble-rousing pantomime villain
Who wants his audience to boo and hiss
As he shouts “Sieg Heil!” again and again.
Shop-soiled glam rockers playing twelve-bar blues,
Punk rock apostles with nothing to lose,
Each with a weather eye on their leader,
The band keep strumming the first bars of “Framed”.
The crowd start aping Alex’s actions,
As if this is a Nuremberg Rally
Being restaged in ’70s Scotland
With a theme tune by Leiber and Stoller.
Harvey stops it with a chop of his hand,
Brings the music to a resounding halt;
Dropping his act, sounding broken-hearted,
He growls: “That’s how it fucking well started!”
Jenny Elliott lives on a farm in North-East Fife where she runs The Shed Press, a small press producing handmade poetry pamphlets and other poetry related bits and pieces. Her pamphlet Makkin-wires won the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award in 2016 and previous pamphlets were shortlisted for the award in 2014 and 2015.
Andrew J. Wilson is an Edinburgh-based writer, editor and spoken-word performer. Recent work has appeared in: Double Bill: Poems Inspired by Popular Culture; Professor Challenger: New Worlds, Lost Places; Shoreline of Infinity; Dystopia Utopia Short Stories; and Umbrellas of Edinburgh. With Neil Williamson, he co-edited the award-nominated anthology Nova Scotia: New Scottish Speculative Fiction.