Stiff Test & Chiswick Challenge 24/02/78

The caption from this photograph said - Can you spot the one who's going to be the star? Well, we all thought we were, and quite a few contenders came close, but even at this early stage you can see that being in the middle of the photo didn't guarantee fame and fortune. It was the group of Fifers (without their singer for some reason) who had the nous to stand together like they were actually in the same group - Kellichan, Simpson, Adamson and Panno.
The idea was that Stiff Records and Chiswick Records did a tour of the country looking for New Wave bands to sign. Nobody really wanted to sign to Stiff, but it was the gig of the month, bound to be reviewed etc. The Skids and The Cuban Heels already both had singles out, and we were pretty sure we wouldn't be far behind. Only The Skids soundchecked so as usual we had no idea how good or bad we were musically. Apparently it was not a vintage performance from us, and the reviews were somewhat patronising.

During the Skids soundcheck Laurie from the Cuban Heels and I stood in the empty Clouds dancefloor watching Mr Adamson warm up his Yamaha SG1000 with an enviable display of fireworks. "He can play anything, eh?" "Brilliant, eh?". At this time I hadn't heard much of Bebop Deluxe so I did not realise how much of Stuart's stuff was very closely related to Bill Nelson. Just thought he was the coolest.

The Skids were in their van backstage at the Anti Nazi gig. I went in after our set and we had a bit of a crack - it sort of took the edge off the violent stuff.

I wrote to Kingdom Come fanzine complaining that he mentioned the Skids on 19 pages out of 42. Then the following week I met Stuart and Richard coming down the road. They just laughed about it, and we went to The Odeon to see "Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind". Afterwards a couple of pints - Stuart turned his empty glass upside down and pretended to be obsessed by the shape of the mountain, like in the film.

Stuart phoned up to invite us down to Liverpool on a Saturday, we played two sets at Erics with them. Stuart sat throughout our set on a crate by the side of the stage. Afterwards he told me he was "physically moved" by our rendition of Psychomodo. Years later, he tried to get Mac into an early lineup of Big Country.

We used to play the 12 inch e.p. Of One Skin over and over in 1978. I played it again on the 27th of January 2002. It was still great, he was still my hero.

Here you can see 3 out of 4 Skids plus Clive, all the Scars plus Sean, Guy and James, a few Cuban Heels, some of the Freeze, Shona, and a few others including my flatmate Angus. We didn't get a deal with Stiff, but we had the biggest contingent in the photo.

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