Tuesday, 18 August, 2020 in Book Reviews, Books, Culture, Music

Into Books Review: 16 Years: Gigs In Scotland 1974-1990

Book: 16 Years: Gigs In Scotland 1974-1990
Author: Chris Brickley

16 Years: Gigs In Scotland 1974-1990 is a new book pulled together by Chris Brickley covering the live music scene in Scotland during the period 1974 through to 1990.

The book runs to over 550 pages and includes 2,000 photographs spanning a 16 year period, covering 120 venues, 32 towns/cities from Dumfries to Skye and over 500 different bands and artists. Make no mistake, this is a serious player from a music perspective but also as a historic look back on a diverse and important time in Scotland’s cultural past.

There is a great mix of professional photography but importantly, many contributions from fans who attended these gigs taking photos on small cameras, way before i-phones become de rigueur. The venues covered range from small bars and community halls through to more familiar and established venues such as Edinburgh Playhouse and Glasgow Barrowland. The bands involved cover a wide musical range from prog to punk, garage to goth, psychobilly to postcard pop and a multitude of other genres, as well as a foreword penned by Ian Rankin.

Into Creative caught up with Chris for this exclusive interview on the book.

You’ve managed to cover so much ground in the book (venues, gigs, towns etc) which runs to over 500 pages and over 2,000 photographs. Can you tell Into Creative a little bit about the “journey” to make this book happen, what hurdles you encountered and how these were eventually overcome? 

The Journey. Well, it’s a book I wanted to buy for myself and I thought it if didn’t exist then I ought to try and put it together myself. I had some memorabilia, couple of photos, friends who are a little older had more of the same and we went from there. I wanted it to start pre-punk, and finish in 1990 when I lose interest in the scene. Principally, the aim was to capture the amateur/unpublished crowd shots, which are so easily lost, damaged or mislaid. Otherwise it was a case of asking select professionals to contribute, and finally compiling an amazing selection of ephemera.

The main challenge was that when I asked for material virtually nothing came in so I had to go and look for it. Then it was a case of messaging and seeking permission from copyright holder. Mostly, people loved the idea and were very magnanimous. The other main obstruction was the huge cost of producing a book of this scale and scope to the design spec I wanted. I found a fantastic group of 8 other co-sponsors, and made the balance up with crowdfunder.

From your own perspective, what took you by surprise and perhaps delighted you as your research into the book developed and you began to receive contributions? 

I was delighted that I managed to ‘cover the bases’. I didn’t want gaps. As I saw it, there were key gigs/tours in each year and I had to find something for each. Everything else was a bonus. 1976 was the Sex Pistols only Scottish date, at Dundee Tech. 1977 White Riot Tour. 1978 Clash/Suicide/Specials. 1979 Buzzcocks/Joy Division. 1980 Cramps/Fall. Some things I really had to wait for, others came easily.

In many ways, the book provides a fitting legacy to a period in Scotland covering gigs across the country from Dumfries to Skye, towns to cities and many venues which are now sadly gone. Accepting that we currently have no live gigs due to Covid-19, what are your views on the current live music scene in Scotland? 

I reckon that artists/performers/creative people are very resilient and adaptable. They will always find a way. Most of these venues (in the book) are gone, or repurposed, but live music will return I’m sure in new contexts/arenas. The audiences will be there with them.

Lastly, thinking back to all the gigs you’ve attended, which one stands out as the most memorable and why? 

Hard to say. I was too young for the ‘peak period’ of creativity, as I see it ie 1979-81. However, standouts would be acts like The Cramps, Ramones, Johnny Thunders, early Sonic Youth. I loved the ‘gothy’ scene, too, as a lad.

The initial launch event for the book will be held in McChuills, High Street, Glasgow with sessions from 5-6.30pm and 7-8pm on Thursday 20 August 2020. To reserve a table (2 to 8 people) please contact the venue at barmcchuils@gmail.com

16 Years: Gigs In Scotland can be purchased here.

John Welsh



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