Edinburgh was a hotbed of musical creativity after punk struck. A fertile mix of places to practice, places to play and bands unbound by previous preconceptions meant that bands like the Rezillos, Scars, Josef K , the Fire Engines, TV21 and many more could all make their mark. 35 years later there’s still a busy underground scene of young up-and-coming bands – mainly centred around Henry’s Cellar Bar, but along the road at the Citrus Club is where all the punk bands who are still touring play and bigger local bands like Opium Kitchen (featuring a Rezillo, a Scar and a Fire Engine) tread the boards.
Last November some other stalwarts from the late 70s Edinburgh scene found themselves sharing a stage.
First up was TV21, formed in 1979 they released one album – A Thin Red Line, produced by Ian ‘Lightning Seeds’ Broudie (with a bit of help from Steve Brown) – supported the Rolling Stones, and then split.
They got back together to play a John Peel night at the Citrus Club and haven’t stopped since, releasing a new album Forever 22 and re-releasing A Thin Red Line with a stack of bonus tracks. It’s the original line up with a “new” drummer (who’s now played with them longer than either of the two previous drummers….)
Next was the legendary Ettes. Edinburgh’s own all girl band; eagle eyes may have seen two of them singing backing vocals with Viv Albertine last time she was in Edinburgh supporting The Damned. In their original incarnation they managed 11 gigs in their brief lifetime, the last one supporting Mike ‘Waterboys’ Scott’s band Another Pretty Face at what is now the Citrus Club (then Aquarius). Their one available release so far is a demo which surfaced alongside a lot of other great tracks from lost bands on the CD ‘MESSTHETICS #105: D.I.Y and indie postpunk from Scotland: 1977-1981’ which came out in 2007. They got togetherfor a one off tribute to scene creator Fritz VanHelsing who died last year and enjoyed that so much that this was their first full gig – the original line up of Anne, Trash and Teen with the addition of Steve Fraser on guitar (who also played in Another Pretty Face and Mike Scott’s later band Funhouse).
Last up was a comparatively new band The Cathode Ray also featuring Steve Fraser on lead guitar and TV21 bassist Neil Baldwin, but the leader of the band is Jeremy Thoms who’s got a list of previous band convictions longer than I can type going back to the late 70s in Aberdeen and passing through the ranks of the Revillos and Jesse Garron and the Desperadoes when he moved to Edinburgh 30 years ago as well as backing Paul Haig (who was in the original line up of the Cathode Ray). They’ve had five singles and an album out already and are recording the follow up this year.
If it all sounds very incestuous – well, maybe it is, it’s a small world. Check out what it sounded like in a free live 3 track digital download here