Reunions, Raincoats and Rock & Pop Memorabilia

A couple of Saturdays ago I got up at the crack of dawn and caught the first train south to Edinburgh. An ex-flatmate from student days had recently been back in touch – inevitably via Facebook – and she was keen to have a bit of a reunion. As one of the other girls from the flat (we’ll always be girls however old we get) was coming up to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival, a meet-up there seemed to make sense as the rest of us all still live in Scotland. As an aside, another thing that precipitated this reunion was that one of our number has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, which came as a massive shock to all of us. It’s too easy to put off these kind of reunions as it can be tricky finding dates that work for everyone, but this news certainly galvanised us into action, for obvious reasons.

There certainly was a lot going on in Edinburgh the Saturday I arrived at Waverley Station. We knew however that much of our time would be spent just catching up, as we hadn’t actually met up with the instigator of this reunion for 37 years. She’d left a year earlier than the rest of us to coincide with her student boyfriend’s departure, as he was a year older. They got married within 12 months, and wait for it, are still together! I suppose I shouldn’t be so shocked, but it just didn’t work out that way for the rest of us, so full of admiration for anyone who has gone the distance so to speak.

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After the mid-morning coffee and the boozy lunch, it had been suggested we head along to the National Museum, as the much-publicised exhibition entitled Rip It Up, The Story of Scottish Pop was currently running. It certainly did chronicle the music we Scots have been responsible for inflicting on an unsuspecting nation (world?) over the last 60 years or so, taking us right back to Lonnie Donegan and ending up with the Chvrches by way of Lulu, The Rollers, Deacon Blue, the Soup Dragons and Franz Ferdinand to name but a few.

Only the previous week however I had finally caught up with all three episodes of the BBC 2 documentary series also called Rip It Up (link here), so I was already familiar with “the story” and had seen most of the audio-visual material used as part of the exhibition. Also, there was a strict no taking pictures policy in operation so that kind of ruined my chances of creating a blog post out of my visit (but I’m still going to try). What was great however was to see all that rock and pop memorabilia, donated both by fans and the pop sensations themselves, which had been pulled together for the exhibition.

My last blog post before this visit was as a result of having been set the challenge of writing about James Yorkston (link here) which is when I found out about Fence Records, set up by Kenny Anderson (aka King Creosote). One of the items on display was the actual fence used as inspiration for the artwork for Kenny’s album, still boldly displaying the words KC RULES OK.

There were of course an awful lot of guitars, records and sheet music filling up the glass cases but for me it was the clothes I enjoyed looking at most. Considering I was meandering around these displays with people I had shared a flat with in 1980/81, a few memories invariably came to mind. Both myself and the instigator of the reunion had been lucky enough to receive little black and white portable tellies from Santa that academic year, so from January 1981 onward we took turns in hosting the viewing of TOTP on Thursdays at 7.30pm. That was of course the era of New Romanticism and the charts were littered with acts who were very prone to dressing up in elaborate frills and falderals.

POP-COMP

A band who will always be remembered for producing a highly pretentious, airy fairy video at that time was Ultravox, headed up by Scottish singer Midge Ure. The song it accompanied was of course Vienna, which became infamous for losing out on the UK Singles Chart’s top spot (for weeks on end) to an Australian called Joe Dolce with his novelty song Shaddap You Face. Along with many other iconic outfits in the exhibition, there was the very raincoat Midge wore for the video.

Vienna by Ultravox:

Other panels of interest contained a display of some of the many albums made by Scottish acts over the years – I can only identify a few of the less obvious ones, but I’m sure a fair few of the blogging buddies could identify many more. Some interesting snippets of info up there too – Did you know that in 1975, the Average White Band was the first Scottish band to get to No. 1 in both the US Singles and Album Charts simultaneously? No, me neither, but I do now courtesy of the exhibition.

Last stop was of course the gift shop, and although I didn’t actually buy this Bay City Rollers badge (because I already have one!), it was worthy of a picture. Plenty of nice new T-shirts on offer as well for those of us whose originals have perhaps seen better days (or perhaps that’s the point).

I will leave you with a link to the playlists of songs inspired by the exhibition – From Scottish pop classics to the tracks that mean the most to the people involved in creating the exhibition. Also, one last image, this time of the iconic outfit worn by Annie Lennox during her Eurythmics partnership with Dave Stewart. Considering our little reunion was the result of having once-upon-a-time shared a student flat in Aberdeen, where Annie was born and brought up, it would be fitting to include something by her. I used to find it quite amusing that during my decade of living in Aberdeen, just about every female I encountered had either been to school with her or knew her – Looking back, if you were 5 years older or 5 years younger you probably did attend school at the same time, but highly unlikely you will still be in touch. Just sayin’.

Neil Hanna Photography www.neilhannaphotography.co.uk 07702 246823

Here Comes The Rain Again by the Eurythmics:

So, “What’s It All About?” – First and foremost, if the chance comes up to reconnect with old friends, don’t keep putting it off as to my cost I have found that some of my old friendship groups are now reduced in number. Not something you really want to think about, but now that people are starting to retire, it should mean get-togethers are logistically a bit easier to organise, but it also means we are all getting older. Enough said.

As for the Rip It Up exhibition, it is on until November, and well worth a visit if you have any interest at all in the history of Scottish Pop. If like me you have already watched the Rip It Up documentary, there is a big overlap, but still lots of memorabilia to bring on a dose of nostalgia. We are used to our museum artefacts from ancient cultures presented to us in the form of pottery, jewellery and crafts. In the future, the artefacts attributed to our time on the planet will be vinyl, trousers with tartan down the sides and button badges. What will they make of us as a culture I wonder, in the year 3000AD?

Until next time…. , Shang-a-Lang!

Vienna Lyrics
(Song by Warren Cann/Chris Cross/Billy Currie/Midge Ure)

Walked in the cold air
Freezing breath on a window pane
Lying and waiting
A man in the dark in a picture frame
So mystic and soulful
A voice reaching out in a piercing cry
It stays with you until

The feeling has gone only you and I
It means nothing to me
This means nothing to me
Oh, Vienna

The music is weaving
Haunting notes, pizzicato strings
The rhythm is calling
Alone in the night as the daylight brings
A cool empty silence
The warmth of your hand and a cold grey sky
It fades to the distance

The image has gone only you and I
It means nothing to me
This means nothing to me
Oh, Vienna

This means nothing to me
This means nothing to me
Oh, Vienna

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

10 thoughts on “Reunions, Raincoats and Rock & Pop Memorabilia”

  1. I might have mentioned this on a previous comments section. Anyway, I was in Scotland in 1977, the only time I’ve been there. In Edinburgh I ate at least once at Henderson’s, which I think was famous for baked potatoes back then. I’ve googled that place and am glad to know that Henderson’s is still in business. Maybe I’ll get back there some day.
    Bye Alyson, till next time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I think you did Neil – That restaurant must have made quite an impact on you! And yes, it’s still around and serves so much more than baked potatoes nowadays. Hopefully you will get a chance to return some day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I always try and pull in a live venue or two when I’m north of the border. Two memorable nights – the Buzzcocks in Edinburgh’s Liquid Rooms and, a standout gig for so many reasons, Rocket from the Crypt at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow.

    I’m glad you had a good weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure you do – It seems that for the population, Scotland has been batting above average in terms of leaving a lasting musical legacy.

      It was the first of a couple of reunion weekends so all caught up now but yes good fun.

      Like

  3. Hi Alyson, sorry I’ve been a bit neglectful of blogging lately so whilst I’ve been reading various posts I haven’t taken time out to comment yet and could do with a good catch up! But just to say the exhibition looks excellent, I really like these kind of museum shows with links to music/modern culture etc. – they’re just so relatable on so many levels – I would have loved this. Also so pleased you’ve had your reunion weekends, they are really special when you go back a long time and with the potential for anyone’s life to take a different turn along the way (as in your friend with the Alzheimer’s diagnosis – so sorry to hear that) the more vital they seem and the more philosophical we become. We really should squeeze every last drop of happiness out of our lives while we can and enjoy living in the moment, shouldn’t we?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No need to apologise but yes, not always easy to find time to leave comments which we all understand.

      The exhibition was great although having watched the telly series there was a lot of duplication – Like with books/films, sometimes best just to have experienced one and not both. Struck me that these are the kind of artefacts that will be on display when our great, great, great grandchildren visit the past, via some weird ethereal medium that hasn’t even been invented yet!

      As for the reunions, also great. Funny how we could meet up with someone we hadn’t seen in 37 years and it was just like old times, instantly. Lovely that her husband came along too although a bit disarming that he looked just the same whereas I have a feeling we had all changed a fair bit. We’d kept putting it off which was wrong of us as good fun was had by all – Got to get our act together so that new friends can then become old friends in due course, if you know what I mean.

      Look out for the full moon tomorrow night – I’m going to try and get a post in before then but it will be tight now.

      Like

  4. Thanks for the reminder about the Rip It Up documentaries. Unfortunately, by the time I was organised enough to sit in front of the tv, only the third and final programme was available. But it was hugely enjoyable!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I managed to catch all three on the iPlayer but watched it back to front I’m afraid – Really enjoyed it and brought back lots of memories. Bound to be repeated at some point though, probably on BBC4.

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Like

    1. Not that extensive as I couldn’t take many pictures at all – The “no photography” police where out in full force. Was fun being there with ex-flatmates though as we could reminisce about that particular era.

      Like

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