Richard Jobson and Stuart Adamson founded Scottish punk band the Skids in 1977 – and if that second name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you know Adamson’s more famous combo, Big Country.Â But years before, Adamson honed his songcraft and guitar playing on three Skids albums, even charting with a few singles in the U.K.
The Skids are probably best known for two songs:Â “The Saints Are Coming,” which was remade for a charity team-up single by Green Day and U2, and “Into The Valley,” a Top Ten hit in the U.K. that featured a near-unintelligible chorus.Â But my favorite Skids tune is the follow-up to “Into The Valley,” “Masquerade,” (download) a more New Wave than punk song with its marching beat and distinctive synth line in the chorus.
“Masquerade” was added to a remixed and re-released version of the band’s second album, 1979’s Days In Europa, which was originally pulled due to its controversial cover art depicting what looks like a scene from the 1936 Olympics.Â Some felt it had “Aryan overtones,” so while the art was being replaced, the band took the opportunity to beef up some mixes and add “Masquerade” to the mix.Â It was a savvy move, since the single hit the Top 20 in the U.K., and got the band a slot on “Top of the Pops.”
You can really hear the Big Country sound gestating in “Masquerade,” especially when you hit that guitar solo at 1:22 – the chiming, bagpipe-like sound is instantly familiar and a sure sign of things to come for Adamson.
Adamson left the Skids after their third album, The Absolute Game, founding Big Country soon after.Â The Skids continued for one last album, then dissolved.Â Sadly, Adamson committed suicide in 2001, reportedly due to depression compounded by alcoholism.Â Co-founder Jobson went on to become a TV presenter and more recently, a film director.Â The Skids live on, though, as the remaining Skids reformed on their 30th anniversary as a tribute to Adamson and played a few dates, and this month sees the re-release of The Absolute Game and the band’s final album, Strength Through Joy as a CD two-fer.
“Masuquerade” did not chart.
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