September 29th, 2014 | Features | 0 Comments
Skids were a Scottish punk band in the late 70s/early 80s who had a little success but nothing too crazy. I’ve heard their first two albums, their 1979 debut Scared To Dance, and the album of their’s that really interests me, their second, also released that year, Days In Europa.
To give one a sense of context, Scared To Dance sounds like a standard UK poppy punk album of its time. It sounds like it kept the record company happy and the average punks satisfied. Days In Europa, on the other hand, sounds like a totally different band. It’s weird, zany, peppered with a rainbow of synth sounds, and political, with song titles like “Dolce Et Decorum Est (Pro Patria Mori)” (a quote in latin from Horace‘s Odes: “It’s sweet and honorable to die for one’s country”) and “Working For The Yankee Dollar”. The original cover (pictured above) looks like Nazi propaganda.
The fact that the album was remixed and rereleased with a different cover and tracklist leads one to imagine that the label was not so crazy about the band’s newfound audacity. But of course, all this made for a really great album. Musically and vocally this is still the same average late 70s/early 80s punk band as the one on Scared To Dance, but the songs and production are not so much a huge step up as simply way more interesting. And about 30 years later Days In Europa is still interesting, though perhaps in our age of extreme and widespread experimentalism what once sounded weird now just sounds cool.
The last track, “Peaceful Times”, is both the most innovative and the best track on the album. It’s a weird dirge with backwards vocals and drums (or at least cymbals or something) and spoken word verses. It’s at once catchy, cut-up and uplifting in the way a lot of Remain In Light is, though unfortunately Skids didn’t have Brian Eno producing. I can’t imagine the ruffians at the time replaying it much, but by virtue of its fearlessness, it’s really the most punk track on the album.