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Thread: Thurso Music Scene: 1986-1996

  1. #1

    Default Thurso Music Scene: 1986-1996

    From 1986 to 1996 - in my opinion anyway - was Thurso's, if not Caithness's (yes, there was some excellent groups from around the county, too) most fruitful musical period.

    From Home & Beyond to Vitriola, from Barracuda to Stentching Mr. Stanley, from Biscuits Are Lovely to Gamma V Delta - yes even Discrepency - etc., said bands could have made a name for themselves had geography not had the last laugh.

    Pubs, clubs, and hotels were always buzzing with bands that were both colourful, entertaining, and, sometimes, original.

    If anyone has any memories from this period - no matter how interesting or dull - please leave them here...

    Cheers!

  2. #2
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    Default Guilty as charged

    As one of those who contributed to the music scene during those dates (from 'Home & Beyond' - 2nd time around, 'Call Us What You Like' and finally 'Frame') I'd like to recount a little-known tale.

    As Frame we played a gig at the old Weigh Inn which was, at the time, one of Thurso's best venues. Glen Campbell (now 'famous' as an MFR DJ) was backing us with his mobile disco, Shindigs.

    Anyway, the dance floor was heaving, the atmosphere was great and we were playing the last song of the first set - a cover of Erasure's 'A Little Respect'. Glen was already standing behind the disco ready to take over when suddenly the power to all the keyboards went off (FYI Frame were all electronic - just 2 lots of keyboards & an electronic drum kit)

    Unpreturbed, and professional (!) to the end, we continued to sing with just drums as backing and our lead singer goading the crowd into clapping in time. Glen, god bless him, realised what had happened and started singing another harmony through the disco PA which padded out the song nicely!

    We finished the song to rapturous applause and took our break, discovering that I had overloaded a cable reel causing the cutout to blow.

    I can honestly say that my time in the above bands were some of the best of my 'old' life - even having to pack up at the end of gigs and haul the gear home! I've given up on live music now in favour of computers & my kids, but every time I find myself in the vicinity of a keyboard I find it hard to resist a little reprise of Michael Sembello's 'Maniac', the aforementioned Erasure track or the classic intro to Van Halen's 'Jump'.

  3. #3

    Default

    Quality Bobinovich, quality. I enjoyed that little anecdote. Please - keep 'em coming. And yes, I can remember 'Call Us What U Like' - wasn't the name along the lines of: You, Me, And A Drum Machine? However, I'm sure a few locals referred to it as: You, Me, And A Fag Machine.

    I liked Frame. Probably Caithness's only all-electric band. That Simmons kit, huh? I've played today's electric V-8 drums, but I'd be tempted to buy a Simmons off eBay.

    Now, where's that Blonde Brothers album...?

  4. #4

    Default Thurso music scene 86-96

    I was 14 in 1986,a good time to be growing up.I remember lots of gigs in Thurso some good some bad,but hat's off to everyone i've seen ,some great memories.Open air gigs at the viewfirth,youth club and even the riverside.Some good marquees at millbank the tents were bouncing on lots of occassions.The humff family played in a marquee down at Scrabster 1 night,they were very good ,only problem the place was empty.Seen Kevin McDermott and Gun in Flicks, top night.I've Supported most local bands . that played around the bars,Howling Gales,Fats to name but a few......

  5. #5
    Stormblast Guest

    Default

    Frame


    Unplugged in the Weigh Inn


    Top gig

  6. #6
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    Default

    Then there was the time "Frame" arrived at the Halkirk riding School to play at a Barn dance that evening - only to find one power socket...

    Being totally electronic we needed about 30! Considering the number of extension leads we ended up with - it's amazing we didn't burn the place to the ground!!

  7. #7

    Default

    I love this stuff.

    Please, keep the stories coming.

  8. #8
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by The Pepsi Challenge
    Quality Bobinovich, quality. I enjoyed that little anecdote. Please - keep 'em coming. And yes, I can remember 'Call Us What U Like' - wasn't the name along the lines of: You, Me, And A Drum Machine? However, I'm sure a few locals referred to it as: You, Me, And A Fag Machine.

    I liked Frame. Probably Caithness's only all-electric band. That Simmons kit, huh? I've played today's electric V-8 drums, but I'd be tempted to buy a Simmons off eBay.

    Now, where's that Blonde Brothers album...?
    The first "Home & Beyond" were, IMHO, a brilliant band - worthy of going much further. Their very talented guitarist, Raymond Reid, was tragically killed in a car accident while at their peak.

    To this day I don't know why I was asked to join the band (answers in a PM please anyone who knows!) - I didn't know any of the guys directly, had never played in a band before and hadn't even been playing keyboards forthat long. However one evening lead keyboardist, Craig Mackay, turned up at my house and asked if I wanted to play in "H&B". Dumbstruck, I agreed and, after some tuition from Craig, could maintain a solid bass line and fill with chord pads. This left Craig to perform bass, chord or lead lines as required. Surprisingly it worked well as our first gig (at the old Weigh Inn no less) proved.

    The only real gripe within "H&B" was that both the keyboardists and the drummer had a lot of kit to set up, which took quite a while with multiple stands, cabling, volume level matching, etc. 2 minutes before we were finished, Stuart (the singer) would saunter up, set up a microphone stand and plug in his mic and that was it! Enought to make you swear - repeatedly!

    "Call Us What U Like" was a stupid name - I'm first to admit it. However, the aforementioned Craig Mackay & singer Stuart McGregor had already used the much worthier "You, Me and a Drum Machine" a few years earlier before they left the area to pursue career & uni (I think). Stuart had come back up (summer holidays?) and I asked him if he'd like to play a couple of similar style gigs and the name was an afterthought! It was less important than actually playing and having some fun - hence why so little thought was put into it. In hindsight we could have used "Me, Him and a Drum Machine" or some other play on the original, but that's how it goes, eh!

    We played just 2 gigs - consecutive Saturday nights at Stevie's Bar (where the ground floor of Elizabeth's shop is now - next door to Skinandi's) on a 4ft square stage! Both were great fun and the crowds appeared to enjoy themselves too and it was a shame Stuart didn't stay up longer so we could have done more.

    However, as much of the backing music was pre-programmed into a sequencer (unlike "You, Me and a Drum Machine" which was totally live) we had quite a few curious stares because we were making the kind of sound only a 4 or 5 piece band would have been able to make.

    In case you hadn't guessed "Frame" too had pre-programmed backing music - it would have been impossible to get that quality of sound - especially all the creative background effects, latin percussion, and complex bass-lines, etc. - with the line-up we had. Most of the pre-programmed tracks had a 4-count click intro so we could synchronise with them and because of this we quickly had to learn to be tight - otherwise it would have fallen apart fast. We must have practised weekly for 9 months or so to get things right!

    BTW, the name "Frame" was not the first name which came to our collective minds, but one of the sillier names discussed (for all of a fraction of a second) was "Meat & Two Veg" on account of two members being vegetarian at the time!!!

    There you go, a few facts & history to keep you chewin'

  9. #9

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    Excellent. A nice story there. I'll come up with my own once I rack my brain for them. Funnily enough I always remember Donnie Williamson as H&B's drummer. Wasn't that the case? Seen them perform (open-air) at Mount Pleasant school once. And hey, I'm just getting to the Moonshine Rock Bar days... Yes, remember that?

    Back soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Pepsi Challenge
    Excellent. A nice story there. I'll come up with my own once I rack my brain for them. Funnily enough I always remember Donnie Williamson as H&B's drummer. Wasn't that the case? Seen them perform (open-air) at Mount Pleasant school once. And hey, I'm just getting to the Moonshine Rock Bar days... Yes, remember that?

    Back soon.
    Nope, the drummer for H&B, Frame, Roadworks and many more bands both before and since was the multi-talented Duncan McLachlan.

  11. #11

    Default

    [/quote]

    Nope, the drummer for H&B, Frame, Roadworks and many more bands both before and since was the multi-talented Duncan McLachlan.[/quote]

    Really? Wow! I've got a photograph of Donnie playing with Raymond, Stuart Mac and Craig Mackay in my photo album. Least it looks like Donnie. I even spoke to him after their performance that day. I must be imagining things.

  12. #12
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    Nope, the drummer for H&B, Frame, Roadworks and many more bands both before and since was the multi-talented Duncan McLachlan.[/quote]

    Really? Wow! I've got a photograph of Donnie playing with Raymond, Stuart Mac and Craig Mackay in my photo album. Least it looks like Donnie. I even spoke to him after their performance that day. I must be imagining things.[/quote]

    Now you've got me wondering!! I only really knew Duncan when I joined H&B so I may very well be wrong about him being the drummer when Raymond was in the band. However I'm pretty sure I remember talking to him about it. It may be that he wasn't their first drummer, or that he couldn't make that particular gig and Donnie filled for him. I've tried phoning him but there's no answer so I'll try and confirm ASAP.

  13. #13
    morayfirthaudio Guest

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    First of all thanks to Robin for dropping me a line to let me know about the website and the postings
    Shindigs ran for quite a number of years but I didnt buy it over until January 1989 but I was still a regular at the Weigh inn before this time.

    I was really lucky in a sense as I have seen most of the Thurso bands play in the Weigh inn, my memory is a bit vague but heres a few names I remember and lets see if you can put names to these....Mr McKenzie?(they used to play a song 'Good bye Mr McKenzie'),

    The big band at the time that had Jamie Sutherland as front man ( they did U2 and the like) and they went far a field, no matter where they played it was packed but I cant remember the name..it may come back to me!!!! (they even had a limo to take them to the gig in Orkney, so they told me!) also as mentioned Frame etc what happened to Frank that played the keyboards, guy with a moustashe! the same guy the fronted a campain ' bring back Elderado' (my memory is going mad now) who was in the Thurso band that played with a Roadworks sign behind the drummer?

    Does anyone remember the blinding nights at the orange room??? one in particular after a very heavy day of rain on a Saturday, Fair Warning were playing open air at a playing feild in Thurso, the whole thing got abandoned by tea time and we all went to the Orange room, I have never in my life seen so many people in one small venue, there were people sitting on my drums!!! and holding the cymbals!! so i could hit the dam things, one of the best nights I have ever had!!

    Does anyone remember the guys from forse navel base who used to play ZZ top style suff and covers, I remember one coloured guy one was just the nicest bloke ...any names???? God bless the owner guy of the Orange room? Name..?? Aaahhh gone again!

    Now Im trying not to forget the Wick bands at the time, Fast Forward Fiona Sutherland on lead vocal, Lee Nightingale on Guitar, Gordon Michelle lead guitar, Kevin (Chicken) Henderson on bass and Me (Glen) On drums. Koda ( they were my heros!!) Stu Shearer on vocals, Andy Webster on Drums, Colin On Guitar, Jonny Gunn on bass( now in america) Mariot Wier on Guitar. Fair Warning had Billy Munro on vocals, with the remainder of fast Forward.

    Radio City just scraped into this period, Robin Murray Guitar & Vocals I think? , , Wullie Olifant keyboards, Did Trusty Play Guitar with these guys?? or was it Wullie Michelle??, memory has almost gone here...Comunicae (wrong spelling) Calum Reid Drums, Cala (Wullie Ollifant) Keyboards....memory has gone!!!!

    Please fill in the blanks....my mind cant take the not knowing!!!

    But the one thing that stands out, all these guys may not have been the best in the world ( and to be honest I never new why some never made it any bigger) but one thing you could never take away from all the bands metioned in this post and more....they all played with passion, and that alone could make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and I have been there many times

    Thanks for the memories!!!!!!

  14. #14
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    Well Glennie I can fill in a few blanks for you...

    Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie was the name of the first band you mentioned - they wrote and played a mega stompin' catchy number called..."Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie", along with some other lesser crackers including "The Rattler" & "Knockin' on Joe". They played up here but I can't remember when. FYI Shirley Manson - keyboard & vocalist with the band - went on to form none other than Garbage!!

    The band who had James Sutherland as their frontman was Z-Rox - one of Caithness' best known and most travelled music exports outwith the country genre.

    I think you're getting 'Frank' mixed up with 'Jamie'! Jamie was Frame's frontman and yes, had a moustache and fought to bring back Eldorado! However he was not in Roadworks - they were the same James Sutherland as above (Vox - although they went through a few vocalists before settling with James), Tommy Robertson (Bass), Davie Craig (Guitar) and Duncan McLachlan (Drums), although I also seem to remember that they were a double drummer setup with the late Pete Keddie on the other kit. This may have been later and/or under a different name - the way my memory is going this may all be a load of tosh but I think it's right.

    The Frank you mentioned may have been Frank Gunn(?) who played keyboards for another local band with James Sutherland (a different one from above - now owner of the Shearer's Music Shops in Thurso & Wick) and others who I can't remember at present.

    Other than that I'm not sure of the other bands mentioned.

  15. #15

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    [quote]Does anyone remember the guys from forse navel base who used to play ZZ top style suff and covers, I remember one coloured guy one was just the nicest bloke ...any names???? God bless the owner guy of the Orange room? Name..?? Aaahhh gone again![quote]

    I think his name was Steve Lewis. Played a left-handed strat - the first real lefty I ever had the opportunity to play. He played with another black (bass player) Marvin(?) with Marty Sutherland on drums. I think; I can't be too sure. But it's plausible. I'm sure they also played stuff by Billy Cobham and the like. Far as I know Steve is living in Chicago.

  16. #16

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    [quote] But the one thing that stands out, all these guys may not have been the best in the world ( and to be honest I never new why some never made it any bigger) but one thing you could never take away from all the bands metioned in this post and more....they all played with passion, and that alone could make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and I have been there many times[quote]

    I've been writing about bands in Scotland now for over 6 years (check out today's Scotsman's Asian Dub Foundation review by-ra-way) and I still maintain: Caithness had some of the best musicians/groups I've ever heard. For them, sadly, geography had the last laugh. And more's the pity. However, there's one Thurso band doing so-so in the capital - Gamma Vs Delta. If you've ever heard The Meters, Little Feat and the Blues Explosion, you'll have an idea as to what we sound like. We're even supporting BX on Monday 18th April at the Edinburgh Liquid Room. If any ex-pats are in Auld Reekie, drop me a PM.

    Best!

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Pepsi Challenge
    Excellent. A nice story there. I'll come up with my own once I rack my brain for them. Funnily enough I always remember Donnie Williamson as H&B's drummer. Wasn't that the case? Seen them perform (open-air) at Mount Pleasant school once. And hey, I'm just getting to the Moonshine Rock Bar days... Yes, remember that?

    Back soon.
    Pepsi, your right! Donnie was the first drummer with Home & Beyond. I was the second one. If I recall Donnie decided to concentrate on singing and Harmonica. I think it was at a gig in the 'Rod & Line' (Remember this one? Now a medical centre near Thurso Bridge - how sad), that I was asked to join. Great band at the time. Very, very sad what happened to Raymond. Anyway, just thought I'd correct the record.

    Deemac

  18. #18
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    Just my luck that I'm remembered for the "Save Eldorado" campaign - lol

    I came across a tape of of a project that we were lucky enough to be part of, back in 1993. Local bands at the time contributed to a collection of some of Raymonds Hendersons songs called "Dance Hall Daze". Twelve tracks in all, featuring the following:
    Radio City, Cheorge, Innuendo, Barracuda, Silver, Roadworks, Blonde Brothers, Frame, Z-Rox and Howlin Gael Williamson & the Brims Boys

    A nice memento of the time and (I hope) a nice tribute to Raymond.

  19. #19

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    Radio City: I once heard a, pardon me, 'demo' of theirs in the mid-90s. I remember immediately liking what I heard, though haven't been able to track a copy down. If anyone has a contact - or a copy of it, and would like to send me a burned-off CD - please let me know. It would be much appreciated.

    And wasn't there a Blonde Brothers album kicking around - on vinyl?

  20. #20
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    Guys,
    Small world indeed. In fact I was the producer and engineer of the 'Dance hall Daze' recording project. I still have a quantity of cassette copies of this album of local bands doing their finest tribute to Raymond that I can think of. A proud moment. If you want a copy email me (admin@studiograff.co.uk). Nice to know that past projects are still remembered.

    Deemac

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