With a million “Best Punk Album Ever” CDs available on the shelves aimed at ageing punks who’ve settled down, it’s easy to pigeonhole The Skids as one hit wonders with their Top 10 bothering Into The Valley being their only call to arms anthem. It would be a total disservice to simply palm the band off as the creators of a football terrace chant. Admittedly, Scared to Dance is an album I’ve not heard in a long time. It’s one of those albums that seems to get pushed to the back of the queue as other go-to albums by The Clash, The Ruts or Stiff Little Fingers take turntable priority from that era. Shame on me. With the release of this 3 CD box set, what better time for The Skids to rap my knuckles and teach me a lesson.
Housed in a clamshell case with each disc in a cardboard inner with original artwork and a 24 page booklet packed with photos and lyrics, it’s a slick package that will make fans of these Scottish outlaws more than a little bit moist. On spinning disc 1, the album proper, for the first time in God knows how long I’m instantly reminded of the amount of big riffs and venom they had in their arsenal. Testiment to that being Integral Plot and the awesome Melancholy Soldiers.
Arguably, The Skids bridged that gap between ‘77 punk and New Wave, but for me it’s their Celtic roots that show the band were something different to what else was on offer at that time. Hope and Glory is proof as it showcases a primitive take on what the late Stuart Adamson would take forward onto 80s pop prominence with Big Country. The same can be said for The Saints Are Coming. I cringed when hearing the unlikely combo of U2 and Green Day tackling the track in 2006 and making it a global smash, but I can’t hate too much as that was all for charidee, mate. Nine bonus tracks follow the debut album with single versions of Charles and Of One Skin included.
Disc 2 entitled The Virgin Demos 1978 is a twelve track affair of previously unreleased material. Even with its rough, raw and ready production (or lack of), this would pass as an album in its own right in my humble opinion. Then again, I’ve always favoured the spit over the polish. At one minute and forty five seconds long, Zit hits the spot with frantic Chuck Berry double stops. The disc is an excellent foresight into what was to follow and shows the evolution of the band.
Live at The Marquee 1978 graces disc 3 in the finale of this extended edition series. One thing’s for sure, the band were one tight outfit for a bunch of punk herberts. Thankfully, there appears to be minimal (if any) studio overdubs and the loud and proud bum notes are present to add to the grit. A translator may be needed for in-between song patter, especially on the introduction to “new song” Into The Valley; incidentally the first time the song would be played live. For all the chanting, The Skids show how they didn’t shy away from any subject matter as the harrowing introduction to Night and Day details the rape of a woman.
This collection rates as essential for both Skids completists and those youngsters who want to trace the roots of their favourite pop punk band. With a reformed version of the band hitting the stage in 2017, the shows rated highly amongst my old punk-head friends on social media. I raised an eyebrow but on reliving this album I can see why the diehards would want to hear these anthems live and loud once more. I definitely won’t be leaving it that long before spinning this seminal 1979 album again. Ginge Knievil