Some memories and an Introduction
Note - this introduction was written at the time that the site was re-launched back in April of 2007. A lot has changed, so some of my comments about the site are bit out of date. You get a sense of the site's purpose though. Check out the "News" section for all that's changed.
I'm not exactly sure when I'll ever get round to re-writing this section, however this little Youtube clip is maybe a small substitute for an update. I've been toying around with a video project related to the website. Due to loads of other things happening in my life, this project has not gone anywhere yet, it's only result so far is 2 hours of "test footage". We had to do something to test the technology, so we recorded two hours of me talking about stuff. Towards the end of this session, we got talking about the Kirkcaldy bands website and it's birth as part of the now (sadly?) defunct www.pooheads.com.
Whenever asked to name the favorite time of my life, I have to go back to my late teens in Kirkcaldy. I had just moved to a flat in town, 2 Sang Place - it was pretty basic and I had all kinds of flatmate issues, but it was mine and I could have friends round and have parties, (there is a pic of this flat at the very very bottom of this page). We had a great scene in those days. It seemed a lifetime ago to us then in the mid '80's, but the beginnings of the whole Punk Rock movement was only nine years before. So the whole "anyone can be in a band" thing was still alive and full of life in Kirkcaldy.
For those of you outside of Scotland (there must be some) Kirkcaldy is a little town in the South of Fife - it's that bit that all Americans think is France when you look out over the water from Edinburgh.
There seemed to be just loads of bands at the time. My mate Ian and I used to go so see most of them. As we got more involved in the scene, we realised that everyone knew everyone else. We went to see most of the bands, even the heavy metal bands from Glenrothes (why is it that the heavy metal bands always seemed to come from Glenrothes, they used to grin at each other as they played guitar solos - not cool!). The best bit is that we were best friends with most of them. Went to the same parties, drank in the same pubs, borrowed the same equipment, went to each others gigs (even pretended to enjoy most of them) and sometimes borrowed each other's girlfriends.
As I started to build this site, I was knocked out by the amount of material that had survived from those days, the oldest material here is going to be 23 years old this year. So I wanted to preserve as much as I could of the happiest days of my life, before time and memory decayed the archive.
This was 10 years before even the beginning of the "digital age". By the mid '80's portable cassette recorders had been around for about 15 years and these were pretty plentiful. I had a nice portable "Superscope by Marantz" machine, which recorded in glorious mono, but it had the benefit of manual record level - essential for recording loud bands! I used to sit in the corner of whatever bar we were watching the band in, and light matches (everyone smoked in those days) so I could see my little record meter was not straying too far into the red. Later I got more savy and fixed the record level at the sound check, so I didn't have to worry about it later.
Now we are in the internet age, how strange it is that all these bands we used to go and see at this time can now reach a potential audience of the whole world. Getting a gig outside of Kirkcaldy was always a bit of a challenge in these days! So this is the final resting place of the Kirkcaldy bands of the 1980's and it's dedicated to everyone who lent each other money, drugs, cigarettes, equipment, song ideas, beers, their floor to sleep and their flats to have parties in on from these days. It's a kind of love letter to my own past, and I hope it brings back memories for as many of those of you who were around in those days and who enjoyed it as much as I did.
It mainly represents the collected tapes, vinyl, photos, album covers and memories of Tom and Ian. As I got into making this site, I realised that we were perhaps the unusual ones, in terms of our interest in recording this material at the time and the fact we both independently preserved what we had for 20 years. I came to discover that most people who even had recordings made at the time, had lost them many years ago. So this website became even more important - as a way to capture and preserve what now feel like relics and fragments from a time long ago.
As this is very much our collections, at this stage, the site makes no pretense of being properly representative of the bands of the era. The material on the site is, at the moment, hugely skewed towards the Surgical Wars and the Crucified Brains. This is not because we thought that these were the most important bands, it's just that as we were in both bands, we have the most material available from those bands to put on line. I would love to hear from members of the other bands that are represented here, the material on most of them is really just bits and pieces. As everyone who was around at the time will remember, the Gimix were a huge band at the time - very influential, but the amount of material I could lay my hands on of them was minute - I was probably too scared of them to tape them at the time!
I'm also kicking myself now, that I was at many many more gigs than I taped, but it's getting increasingly difficult for me, as a 40 something, to put myself in the head of my 19 year old self. I think the truth is that tapes were expensive, and you also had to by stuff like fags and beer! Also the huge amount of drinking and drug taking at the time, probably meant that we were not always coherent enough to imagine that we would need tapes of the Ghost Train at the Cunzie Neuk in 21 years time!
So this website is designed, in part, to see if there is other material out there that can be added. The Gimix material is the holy grail of the kirkcaldybands.com treasure hunt. Also the Ghost Train are very underrepresented here, they were such a great live band - surely there are more tapes of their gigs out there? I'd also like to get my hands on any more decent Twist live tapes, my little Marantz was getting past it's best by the time the Twist were around, so the sound quality of the only live stuff I have of theirs is pretty bad.
As I have no idea where most of the people who made this music are now, this material has been reproduced here without the permissions of the various people involved. I took the view that, as even the newest recordings are over seventeen years old now, no one would mind the material being used (I don't suppose anyone is going to sell any more records now are they?) However, if anyone seriously objects to their performances being used, I will take their views into account.
On a more positive side, it's be good if any of the various bands involved wanted to contribute any material, to improve the quality of some of our recordings. You could also change some of the things I may have got wrong, or add song titles where I just have "track - 1" etc. In any event, if you just want to say "hi" or let me know what you thought of the site, please get in touch.
If you have stumbled over this site and have no idea where Kirkcaldy is (this is the wonderweb after all!) give's a mail and let me know what you thought. Which band would you most like to reform?
It's fair to say that the sound quality of the MP3's is variable! Some of the Twist material is extremely good quality. However, quite lot of the MP3's were originally recorded at various gigs in Kirkcaldy by me on my mono Marantz tape deck (originally purchased in 1981 to record Blakes Seven). I say the Marantz was mono, but it's tape heads became slightly miss-aligned, so, when played back on a stereo machine, it always sounded a bit off centre! I have tried fixing this when I translated these recordings to MP3, but somehow that process made the recordings sound a bit flat - so the original Marantz off centreness is still present in these recordings. The MP3's are not bad when they are copied to electronic files from first generation tapes. Unfortunately, some of the first generation recordings were lost or borrowed and not given back about fifteen years ago, so there are some that are from second (or even third) generation copies. So there may be a bit of hiss and loss of treble on some of the MP3's. Please do adjust your computers.
It goes without saying that we would love to get hold of more material for the site. If you contact me on the e-mail address below, I can easily make MP3 files from originals and scan in any photos or memorabilia that I can get hold of. Top of my hit list is Gimix material, followed by the tape of "Who Cares?" at the Abbotshall that was loaned to Cameron Campbell (on this site with All Days Fade) in 1990, come on Cameron, it is the only tape after all! Also I am only aware of one band photo of the Surgical Wars, which was taken by Angela of my college course (organiser of the 1986 charity gigs - of which more about will appear on the Surgical Wars page.
For all those who take everything literally, there are of course bands that just nudge into the 1990's here. Some of the bands represented are also from as far away as Methil and Edinburgh! However most of the bands here centred around Kirkcaldy and are from the 1980's.
So lets once again dive back into the days of the Skittle, Day's of 29, Bentleys, the 101 Chip Shop, Tech Discos, annoying the Bouncers at Bentleys, paying just over a quid for a beer and one and half quid for twenty fags, spiky hair, black clothes and the musical revolution that was the Kirkcaldy Music scene of the mid 1980's.
Tom Reid, March 2000, revised April 2007.