Monday, November 12, 2007

Jock & Roll

In 1981 the BBC made a TV programme about the Scottish pop scene, Jock & Roll. Among the Bay City Rollers footage and Midge Ure interview, there is a fascinating interview with Alan Horne and Edwyn Collins, followed by a film of Orange Juice performing Poor Old Soul live in a club (trend watchers may be keen to learn that Edwyn was wearing braces as part of his stage outfit). Better still, the latter features James Kirk – this is the only film of Orange Juice with Kirk that I’m aware of.

We are first treated to a tour of the Postcard Records office in Glasgow, or more accurately the building’s communal areas and then cut to Alan Horne (fashion watchers may be keen, as the cameraman was, to focus on Alan’s red leather sandals and argyle socks) in a tiny office, who opens a wardrobe revealing a few A4 folders, essentially the workings of the record label.
“This is Orange Juice fan mail [one folder of letters, which he tips on to the floor]. This is Postcard Records here in the wardrobe. These are accounts [shows a ledger]. They’re not really sorted out and the tax man will get us for this. This is Postcard’s publishing [another folder, which he drops]. All of the press is here, too. We get lots of press, but not as much money.”
Alan then shows each Postcard release, dropping each casually to the floor. The last he describes as “Orange Juice’s lp”, although it is clearly the Velvet Underground and Nico.

The show’s presenter was BA Robertson, a man for whom the term “quite a character” would be perhaps the politest description. For the interview with Alan and Edwyn, Robertson is sat between them on a sofa; a female mannequin, replete with blonde wig, short dress and gash of red lipstick sits on the far left, next to Alan, who feels free to caress the prostheses beside him.

To appreciate why both Alan and Edwyn – and Edwyn in particular – seem to treat the interview as a joke, and laugh barely controllably behind their hands much of the way through it, it may help to know that BA Robertson was a contemporary Scottish singer-songwriter, then known for hits such as Kool In The Kaftan.

EC: We’re also tentatively signing some other groups, too, who are secret. Are they, Alan?
AH: Er, no, not totally secret. We could give their names away on TV. The first one might be called The Bluebells and if that one works we’ll have a go at The Jazzateers and finish it off with The French Impressionists.
BA: They could record Give Me Monet, I suppose.
AH: (heavily sarcastic) Oh yes, that’s funny.
BA: I’m rapidly turning into the Jenny Hanley [presenter of children’s TV show, Magpie] of pop here. Would you say you had to start this cos the rest of the people in the UK were blind to what was happening in Scottish pop music?
AH: No, no. We just started it because we wanted to start it ourselves and it was just fun to do. We knew eventually that we’d have to find a way of getting Orange Juice onto records. It seemed a lot easier than going round talking to major companies who seemed really funny at the time, just running after anything new wave.
EC: There’s no reason why we shouldn’t operate from Glasgow. There’s no reason why if we want a major record contract then the major record company shouldn’t come up here and bring the coals to Newcastle and the fish from the fire. [Both EC and AH collapse into giggles]


Anonymous said...

I'll hear nothing against old BA after his fabulous Scotland World Cup song!

Fire Escape said...

I present for the prosecution writing The Living Years for Mike & the Mechanics! And then there was his work for Cliff Richard...
Do you still "have a dream"?

Anonymous said...

You win! Sheesh ... you should be a lawyer. I didn't see that double whammy coming! That World Cup record is forever tainted now ... gives me the creeps just thinking of 'The Living Years' ... ugh

Tom said...

More Jock and Roll at the Sound of indie-pendent Scotland:

Be good to see you there!

Fire Escape said...

I'm in Sweden that weekend...but it looks like a great night you've got planned...