>> The Bay City Rollers
The Jesus and Mary Chain <<
It’s not something that Scotia Extremis likes to admit, but once upon a time it sang shang-a-lang as it ran with the gang, doin’ doo wop be dooby do aye. Times have changed, but pop sensations come and go, and Scotland has unearthed its share over the years. Emerging from Edinburgh, The Bay City Rollers swept all before them in 1974-5 with a clutch of glammed-up rock’n’roll nostalgia hits fringed with tartan. Rollermania became a phenomenon among teenyboppers, and their cheeky demeanour and boyish looks saw them briefly succeed the Osmonds in the affections of the nation’s youth. The inevitable slide into drugs, disputes and a revolving door of replacements followed until the band crumbled in the late 1970s, resurfacing on the cabaret/revival circuit, with former members squabbling over the rights to use the once-lucrative name. Exactly ten years on from Rollermania, teenagers were seeking a more thrilling and visceral sound, and were satisfied by The Jesus and Mary Chain, a confrontational indie-rock sensation from East Kilbride. Their extremely short gigs were drug-fuelled affairs with their simple post-punk sound drenched in a scream of feedback, and they became darlings of the indie-scene for a few brief years. They too saw many personnel changes, but continue to record and perform over thirty years on from their jagged, acid-addled heyday. Both acts, though light-years apart in sound and image, traversed the calculating but cruel arc of the instant pop phenomenon as defined by rock biographer Philip Norman – wanting, getting, having, wasting.
Roads Not Taken, Trousers Not Rolled
by Eleanor Livingstone
In those bye bye bygone days, we had our own echo chambers, tribes,
ran in ‘gangs’. Their cuffs and trouser hems jumped up to greet a redder
shade of tat, while ours wore cheesecloth, maxis, too long, faded loons.
No flat whites then; we hung out in vintage style with frothy coffees
at sixpence a cup on Formica tables in Janek’s café where the jukebox
swallowed small change and played us Layla and a whiter shade of pop.
It could have been so otherwise. Before the songs, the name came first
in poster capitals in some forgotten holiday town. I see it still. Top
of the bill: The Bay City Rollers. Who? But – cool! Except I didn’t go.
Maybe the dance was cancelled. Maybe my parents said: “No.” Who knows.
It might have been a summer time sensation. Just imagine if all of me
had loved all of them. How close did I come to believing in their magic?
Within a year their name was everywhere. My tribe sneered and scorned
to hide a shameful pride. Scottish, yes, but not ours, so no quarter given.
Song leads on to prog rock concept album. I chose the less tartan way.
The Jesus and Mary Chain
by Rachel McCrum
Jangling for world domination honey
(and why do Scottish bands crave so much honey)
you tobacco bitter sugar-mouthed boys
hard boiled lemon sweet pop
the end of the fizz
but enough for the hard candy pop
waspish for the honeysweet
buzz them in
that endless buzzing them in
that dry mouthed buzz
leave them wanting with that dry mouth buzz
iron nails down that blackbird fuzz
dry white mouths
your dry white mouths
singing fieldsweet summer rain & piss & honey
snagged on barbs before the world
snagged on chemical sweet barbs before the world
bottle it, boys
you got it, boys,
for all your black & white
noise, your glorious noise,
and for all that, boys,
your favourite colour
Eleanor Livingstone is a poet, reviewer and editor who lives in Fife. Her first full collection, Even the Sea (Red Squirrel Press, 2010), now in a second edition, was shortlisted for the 2010 inaugural London New Poetry award for first collections. She is the Director of StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival which takes place annually in St Andrews (www.stanzapoetry.org).
Rachel McCrum is a poet and performer who has worked in Scotland, Montreal, Haiti, South Africa, Greece and Northern Ireland. She won the Callum MacDonald Award for her first pamphlet The Glassblower Dances in 2012; was the first ever BBC Scotland Poet In Residence in 2015 and has been awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship in 2016. She was a founding member of Stewed Rhubarb Press and the SHIFT/ Poetry Collective; was the Broad of Rally and Broad (The List Hot 100 #12 in 2015) and currently manages the cinepoems project with Glasgow poet Calum Rodger and Montreal poet Jonathan Lamy. She is working on her first collection, due out with Freight in 2017.
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