What I said back then:
What I think now:
I lived in Edinburgh during the brief heyday of Postcard Records. I was aware of their work, troche as they say, and I think I was mildly attracted to names like Josef K and Aztec Camera, because I was also nurturing a fondness for the surreal. However, I think, given my other musical obsessions at the time, I found them somewhat thin and in my mind associated with the likes of Haircut 100. Again, I find myself wondering what might have been, because once I allowed myself to listen…
I have put this one roughly in the early months of living in Edinburgh period, because I vividly remember the posters proclaiming ‘the sound of young Scotland’ – being in a place where bands like this played and wonderful, mysterious record stores stocked their singles was like living in a dream world for an impressionable youngster. I cannot figure out how to convey this impression on the boys; if we went to Edinburgh now (I know – I was there in May), they would find it lacking in the things which made it so special to me then.
Back then, almost every street had an independent record shop – Listen in the New Town; my own favourite, Phoenix on the High Street; Ripping Records on South Bridge, the ineffably mysterious GI on Cockburn Street, which was the place to go for obscure Arthur Lee and Spirit bootlegs, but surely never did anything like enough business to justify the enormous floor space – I always wondered what else was going on in there.
And that doesn’t even scratch the surface – no mention of Ezy Rider in Greyfriars Market, or (I found it at…) Bruce’s and I could even be found perusing the mainstream bins at Menzies, WH Smith or HMV on Wednesday afternoons, while the rest of the University was playing some kind of sport or catching up on essays.
At some point, which I’ll come back to, my tastes began to widen and vary, and one of the first things I bought was ‘High Land, Hard Rain’. Even then, I fancied myself a guitarist of sorts, but I could never get anywhere near Roddy Frame’s effortless ability, even with the sheet music in front of me. Enough to make anyone give up.
Aztec Camera and Roddy Frame have been with me ever since – in one form or another, I have owned pretty much everything he’s ever recorded, and there’s something about his writing and playing which resonates with me; even songs which might otherwise be overlooked cause me to go into odd raptures.
I’ve never seen them or him (I’m not sure when Roddy finally came clean and stopped pretending Aztec Camera was anything other than just him doing his thing with whatever musicians might be around), play live, and I have a sinking feeling I never will. Not because of advancing years (I’m pretty sure Roddy’s younger than me – he certainly used to be), but because no-one out in the back of this particular beyond has ever heard of Aztec Camera, so the chances of a spontaneous visit are pretty much zero. Thank goodness, and not for the first time, for YouTube.
I remember watching ‘Wogan’ or some such with my parents in the mid-Eighties; my mother was fond of the early evening chat-show, but not so much of the inevitable popular music interlude in the middle. One evening, we were all watching for some reason, when ‘Working in a Goldmine’ was announced. Mum’s reaction was a little sniffy, as expected. Until she actually listened to it. Proper songwriting, good enough to even cause my mother to proclaim it ‘actually quite good’.
There’s an epitaph anyone would be proud of.