The History of AGOFRock Vol II

By Dr.Mungo Portcullis

The two schools of thought.

The musical content of most Scout Rock Bands can be divided into two main schools of thought. The earliest school, that of Avante Gaelic Obscurist Folk Rock, developed between October 1979 and July 1983. Its philosophy started out being 'make music no matter how crap, and make sure the crack is high' (not a drugs reference). This particular philosophy stood many bands in good stead throughout the period of its existence and almost certainly set the foundations for future bands.

The second school of thought was perhaps initially influenced by Avante Gaelic Obscurist Folk Rock, but slowly and steadily took on a life of its own. This particular school was not called anything, yet proved to be more radical in form and more resilient. It flourished between 1983 and 1988 and concentrated its existence on doing what 'real' bands did, except in a Stornoway type of way.

The Venues

But before that, this thesis would not be complete without a mention of the venues where these musical meanderings took place. Of all the venues, surely the most influential must be the Valtos Outdoor Centre, in Uig. It was here that many of the bands formed, first performed, wrote the songs and then fell out and split up with great acrimony.
This hallowed venue saw most of its performances take place in its two main dorms. These dorms were given many names throughout the years, including The Hammersmith Odorm, the Royal Albert Dorm, and the Valtos Bowl.
The stages used for these gigs varied enormously too. Some were of a rather (makeshift nature) which resulted in band members disappearing though the stage in mid-guitar solo. Others were of solid construction that had come about after months of planning and design.
Old chairs with matresses lying on top, bunk beds with wooden flooring, each stage had its own character and lent it to the band in question.
As the bands increased in size and technology, the stage had to become the floor, with the audience sitting on the bunk beds. This gave the venue an arena-like quality and gave the audience and band more room for manoeuvering - for the bands a solid foundation for antics and for the fans a raised platform for falling/jumping off.
The Scout Hall in Stronoway also played host to a variety of bands. The first concert ever was the Midges of Rock 1981, held in August of that year. Headline act was Zing Pop, supported by Cyclefoot. The most recent event was the triumphant Dunringhills concert in April 1993.
Ardroil Beach has also featured strongly in the history of Scout concerts and gave an interesting flavour to them in the form of outdoor gigs. These open-air gigs also varied in size, ranging from ramshackle stages to van-loads of generators and equipment.

The Instruments

Like so many things, the budgets and technology improved as time went by, enabling a wider range of instrumentation to be used, which in many cases recreated the sounds normally associated with professional bands. From the early Avante Gaelic Obscurist Folk Rock days of upturned waste paper bins and kazoos, the equipment used has slowly caught up with time. By the late 80's most bands were all electric and amplified. By the 90's, high technology was being used in the form of drum machines and MIDI equipment. Cheap tape recorder microphones gradually transformed into high-spec mikes, and broom handle stands became proper mike stands. The musical talent (sic) has also improved through time as new equipment both inspired and set goals to reach. This also had an effect on the next section, that of the song-smith.

The Songwriting

Naturally enough, the music and musical arrangements improved through time. From very basic three-chord songs (and occasionally one-chord songs), the music grew to take the form of musical suites (e.g. the prog-rock epic of Moonlight Parts 1-4). Complex timing and polyrhythmic patterns (it says here) now gave the tunes structure, and rare and obscure (and sometimes invented) chords are sprinkled throughout. The lyrical content of the songs has always remained high (sic). The social statements of The Poster Song, (a scathing indictment of fickle musical tastes) and Bucket of Mud, (a cry for help for the plight of mud flats), set the genre off. Witty observations of life in Stornoway have also been common throughout, such as 'At the trading post' (about underage drinking) and 'Glen Valtos By Night' (an epic tale of Scouting exploits). Works such as 'Lord of the Zings' show how cultured and mature the songwriters were, and pwerful yet poetic words such as Rabs 'Farewell Oh Snakes' have set the genre above all others.

The ABC of the Bands

Andromeda Crisis

Grassy=vox; Jason=guitar; Robin=keys; Womble=drums.

Formed from the ashes of Rab Kuartski. Dominated Scout gigs between 1984/85 at both Ardroil and Valtos. Famed for special effects including Grassy vomiting spaghetti over the audience and also using hot ashes instead of dry ice. (Unfortunately the stage caught fire). Famed for writing 'Mealisval', later done by the Dun Ringhills. Rab Kuartski returned as a special guest for the 1985 gig at Valtos and played drums. Wattie also guested singing 'Smoke on the Water'. Had a special reunion at Valtos in summer 1987.


Ardroil Beach

One of the most famous venues in the Western Isles, this picturesque location has seen several earth-shattering performances in its times. One of the earliest to take place was Zing Pop's renowned open air tour of 1982. Playing to an audience of none, the band went through some of their finest tunes, urged on by the cheers of Wee Guy, who had driven them over. In summer 1984, Andromeda Crisis stunned the assembled crowds at the 2nds summer camp. With imaginative use of special effects, this gig went down in history as one of the first to use pyrotechnics. Vocalist Grassy vomited vast amounts of Spaghetti over the audience and the 'smoke machine' (hot ashes sprinkled with water) set the stage alight just after the band took to the stage. The most recent gig was the near-legendary Rampant Thrust show in July 1992. An impromptu band put together for the show borrowed the moniker of the mid-eighties band, and stunned the audience (and several unsuspecting holiday-makers) with a loud and electric blast of rock music. The logistics of this gig have never since been equalled.


Black Stan(1981)

Eddie=vox; Pennies=vox; Wilbur=guitar; Eedjit=keyboards; Seorus=drums.

Formed in 1981 to become leading exponents of Kuart-Rock, which involved dressing up in Kuarts' clothes and throwing rubbish at the audience. Performed at the 1981 Midges of Rock festival and pleased the crowd with their versions of 'The Wrangler Song' and 'Child in Time'.


Chastity in Motion (1983)

Rab=vox; Eddie G String=drums.

Fronted by Rab, the charismatic crap, and featuring Eddie G String. Performed only once, at the Midges of Rock 1983, where Rab premiered the famous 'Rab Rap' (written by C.J.). This was recorded but sadly destroyed when Roddy Rev got the curam. Rab later went on to form Rab Kuartski and the Bohemian Crapsodies.


The C90s (1979)

Haybags=vox; Haggis=vox; C.J.=vox; Wattie=vox.

Formed in October 1979 at Valtos, as a protest against the Mod which was being held in Stornoway at the time. The band recorded such songs as 'Cailleach O'Reilly' and 'Johnny can you hear me', which were really Who songs playing in the background, with the band shouting/singing over it.


C.J.'s Attic

This location was where all the Zing Pop recordings were made, between June 1981 and June 1982. The acoustics proved to be very suitable for upside down waste-paper bins.


Crap (1992)

Hossack=vox; Kiwi=guitar; Gigs=guitar; Wattie=bass.

Put together at short notice to perform for the Scouts. Wattie was over visiting the Scouts when the band turned up minus a bass player. Played the usual stuff, with Gigs wah-wah peddle going into overdrive in every bloody song.


Cyclefoot (1981-83)

Eddie=vox; Rev=vox; Seorus=vox; Eedjit=keys; Pennies=vox; Wilbur=guitar; Huggan=guitar.

One of the most consistent of AGOFRock groups. First formed by Eddie, Rev and Seorus and then immediately split up. Eddie and Seorus left to join Black Stan but Rev carried on and recruited three of the members of Black Stan, namely Wilbur, Pennies and Eedjit. This second line-up appeared as headliners at the 1982 Midges of Rock , where they performed such classics as 'Not quite smoke on the water' and 'Conceited'. The concert also featured the classic dialogue 'What tune is this one?', 'Oh sod the tune,just do this one.' Roddy Huggan, Bod, C.J. and Wattie helped on several sessions, and then the band performed at the 1982 Winter Feis in the Scout Hall. Trouble set in at this show and Wilbur and Rev left, leaving Eedjit and Pennies to carry on. They decided to give up and gave the name back to Wilbur and Rev. Huggan joined full-time. As they recorded their first album Wilbur got fired (or left), but all three featured on the album 'One more from the Trading Post'. Also had two bootlegs, namely 'Ossian at the Controls' and 'Careful with that Pneumatic Drill.'


Dampened Rust

This name came about due to Skippy Laing, the owner of the Hammersmith Odorm, deciding to change the name to protect the innocence of the young Scouts. He did not think it appropriate that 20 Scouts should be yelling out 'Rampant Thrust' while punching the air, incase it was taken to be suggestive. He surreptitiously changed the poster to read 'Dampened Rust', and there you have it. (See also Rampant Thrust).


The Dun Ringhills

Jason=guitar,vox; Jon=guitar,vox; Robin=keys,vox; Wattie=vox,bass.

Perhaps the greatest of all Scout bands and the one with the most potential. This band slowly evolved from several other old Scout bands. Wattie coming from Zing Pop, Jason and Robin from Hieronymus Bosch and Jon from the even older Electric Blue (see entry in the Doomsday Book). Originally coming together to record the Funky Peatstack concept in July 1991, with Jason,Robin and Wattie, assisted by Hossack, Grassy and Simon the Ghillie. The Funky Peatstack concept was written by Wattie in the winter of 90/91, and was to have been a film and Town Hall concert. As it was, only three tracks were laid down. The next year, spurred on by having played several live gigs, in one form or another, where the Funky Peatstack tracks were well received, the group began to compose. By Xmas 92, the first album 'Vom Your Sproggans' was released and the band premiered it at a triumphant Scout Hall gig in December. The DRs were supported on this occasion by E.C.T.C. (who later evolved into Enoxia). A live bootleg of this gig exists called 'Boot Your Leg'. By Easter of 93, Jon had joined the band full-time, and the four of them had rattled of the excpetionally good album 'Boke Your Drarsh'. They then headlined yet another triumphant gig in the Scout Hall, which was recorded on video. Managed by Grassy, the DRs have just embarked on their third album which explores the realms of folk-rock and ancient myth.(1994)

Pay a wee visit to the official Dunringhills Croft Page if you're so inclined.


E.C.T.C.

Mike Sharkey=drums; Neil Sharkey=guitar; Simon MacLeod=guitar; Dorian Griffiths=guitar; Duncan=vox; Ben Emerson=bass.

Formed to support the Dun Ringhills in December 92, this band slowly evolved into Enoxia. Their name was rumoured to stand for 'Even crapper than crap'. Their forte was tuning up and playing the start to 'Sweet child o Mine'.


Enoxia.

See above.


Ethnic Tractor Clan

Wattie=everything.

Formed by Wattie after Zing Pop had split up for the first time. This group was to perform songs about tractors in a folk-music style. Nothing came of this, as Zing Pop reformed soon after.


Feis

This took place in Jan 83 and became known as the Winter Feis. Held in the Scout Hall as a celebration of Avante Gaelic music, it featured Cyclefoot, Zing Pop and the Guireans. Immortalised for ever by Cyclefoot with their song about it, with the line 'They all laughed at the Winter Feis'. And indeed we did. Zing Pop, true to form, only performed with three members, as Wattie was sick. Cyclefoot couldn't agree whether to perform acoustically or electrically, and the Guireans decided to have 15 minute solos in all their songs.


Free Calculator.

Jason=guitar; Grassy=vox; Kari=bass?.

Yet another of the Valtos bands. Performed nearly once and took their name from the first thing they saw, which happened to be an advert for a free calculator.


Girnur

Wilbur=pipes,guitar; Stumpy=guitar; Wattie=whistle; Gonze=drums.

Formed in 1984 to become a folk rock sensation, but split up after one rehearsal in the Boatshed. However their version of 'Tha mi sgith' was good (sic).

Glebban Ollack

Rab=vox; Jason=guitar; Grassy=vox; Wattie=whistle; Helen=keys; Janet=vox.

Formed in 1985 to become a folk-rock sensation, but didn't. Heavily influenced after seeing Ossian in the Town Hall, this band had several rehearsals, but never quite reached the recording or performance stage. Famed for their version of 'Trouble' interspersed with 'The Campbells are coming'. Actually they sort of performed to a group of German scouts in the Scout Hall.


Hieronymous Bosch.

Grassy=vox; Jason=guitar; Robin=keys; Mark Foolish=drums; (Tony=bass;Kari=bass).

Took over where Crisis left off, but with a real drum kit, and being the first ever electric Scout band. Used a 'borrowed' Hereema flag as their backdrop. Held several memorable gigs at Valtos. Sadly missed.


Jason Laing Experience.

Jason=guitar

Jason deecided to give a solo performance to the plebs. And lo, he did.


Jefferson Tractor

Wattie=vox; Rev=vox.

Put together in 1984 in order to perform and compose the first ever Avante Gaelic Rock Opera. Wattie and Rev were responsible for coming up with the concept, but the idea was to recruit people from every AGOFR band to perform. There was even an advert put in the Sounds for this. However, Rev got the curam and it became no more.


Knock Studios.

Legendary home of the D.R.s recording studios. One of the most high-tec studios ever ever ever. It even has a sign up on the door.

The Lochan

Alastair aye aye = vox;

A brilliant solo artiste, Alastair supported Andromeda Crisis at their '84 Valtos concert. His act consisted of wearing lots of Scouts' kneckies and singing Gaelic songs and being very quiet.

Midges of Rock

In 1981, the Monsters of Rock festival first saw the light of day at Donnington. That year, the wondrous Rainbow headlined. In honour of this occasion, Tape Records decided to hold a festival in the Scout Hall. On the bill were Black Stan, The Props, and the headliners Zing Pop. This festival proved to be so successful that it was repeated in 1982, where Zing Pop supported Cyclefoot. ( Cyclefoot wouldn't come unless they were headliners, so in order to have an audience, Zing Pop agreed to og on first).
In 1983, the final and perhaps the most impressive MOR was held. On the bill were Chastity in Motion, Cyclefoot, Zing Pop, The Guireans,and special guests, Swedish T.V.
In 1983 the hall had been closed down for repairs, so during Zing Pop's set, all were surprised to find the architect walking in to make some measurements. Luckily he had no musical taste and left quickly. All three festivals were recorded but unfortunately only some of the 1982 performance survives.


Mungo Portcullis Event

Wattie=keys; Gonze=drums; Stumpy=guitar.

Short-lived and not much talked about band formed in early '82 by Wattie, after C.J. had been fired from Zing Pop. Didn't achieve anything, mainly as they didn't do anything.


The Props.

Stumpy=guitar, Gonze=guitar, Wee Guy=guitar, Eddie=vox; Eedjit=pipes; Pennies=vox; Clennan=vox; Guff=drums; Wilbur=guitar.

One of the most loved and yearned after bands. First performed in 1980 at Valtos. Wrote songs such as 'Down in the Park', and 'My Girl'. Performed minus Guff and Clennan at the 1981 MOR but split up soon after.


Rab's Garage

Yet another legendary location where music was made. It was here that Rab Kuartski and the Bohemian Crapsodies rehearsed and recorded their songs. This garage was also the center of attraction for visiting UFOs, which interrupted sessions on one occasion.


Rab Kuartski and the Bohemian Crapsodies

Rab Kuartski=vox; Jason God=guitar; Grassy=vox; Robin=keyboards; Kari=bass.

The very versatile Rab formed this group and rehearsed diligently in his garage on many occasions. Tried recording the album 'Chastity in Motion', but this was hindered by visitations from UFOs. Performed twice, maybe. Classic song was 'Rab is Fab' with its memorable lyrics 'My silly uncle called Garfunkel'. On splitting up, most members went on to Andromeda Crisis.


Rampant Thrust

Martin=bodhran; Gigs=guitar; Hossack=vox; Wattie=bass; Jason=guitar; Kiwi=guitar.

This impromptu group came together to perform live in the open air at Ardroil beach. Taking their name from the original legendary Rampant Thrust, as a form of tribute, they stunned the Scouts and bemused several campers and holiday-makers. Their set featured the near-famous 'Smoke on the water' opera sketch, as well as featuring several 'Peatstack' songs. This gig also saw the use of the most equipment ever for an outside concert.


Rust

Guff=drums; C.J.=bass; Wattie=keys; Pennies=vox; Wilbur=guitar; Clennan=guitar

Formed in Valtos in Oct 1980, this group mimed completely to their music, yet still stunned audiences into submission. Featured the first use of impressive stage set-ups and torches held by plebs. Rab Kuartski was lighting technician at this gig. The band were also involved with the legendary siege of the Seniors' dorm. Metamorphosed later into Swinecult.


Sabre

Eddie,Rev,Eedjit,Pertweet,Rab =all vox.

Originally formed to be the miming equivalent of the Beach Boys, they split up before ever performing. Featured someone's pen-pal from France.


Salivary Amalis

Grassy, Jason

Another short-lived band with a short entry.


Scout Hall

Yet another legendary venue. Newly rebuilt in 1979, it served as a location for many great events. Firstly, the 1980 original Venture Room Sesh, where Zing Pop first rehearsed, then later the 1981 Midges of Rock, the various Cyclefoot sessions, the MOR82, the Winter Feis in Jan 1982, and the final MOR in 1983. Later in 1985, Glebban Ollack rehearsed there. Not much happened until 1992 and the Dun Ringhills triumphant xmas gig. Then the Enoxia performance in Feb 1993, and latterly the Easter 93 Dun Ringhills concert.


Spectrum

Robin=Casio VL-Tone ; Jason=Home-made guitar.

Performed at a Scouts' parents' night doing the classic Spanish Armada.


Swinecult

Wattie=keys; C.J.=bass; Guff=drums; Pennies=guitar; Wilbur=drums; Clennan=guitar; Eedjit=guitar; Seorus=guitar.

From out of the ashes of Rust rose Swinecult, yet another of the 'miming' bands, but also the best. First performed at Valtos in Feb 1981 and again after the Scouts parents' night and finally at Lochearnhead Scout Station. A book of their history was written by Wattie, but sadly it is no more.


Tape Records

Perhaps the foremost of Hebridean record labels. Set up in the summer of 1981 and still going strong. First release was 'Zing Pop' which 'sold' 25 copies. The following year 'Lord of the Zings' went to 35 copies, and in 1983, Cyclefoot's 'One more from the Trading Post' went to 10 sales. Not much happened until 1992 when the Dunringhills brought out 'Vom your Sproggans', which sold 35 copies. The following year, 'Boke your Drarsh' went to 25 copies. The four founders of the label were C.J.,Wattie,Gonze and Stumpy.


The Thirds Concert.

Jason=guitar; Robin=keys; Wattie=bass.

Formed at short notice to perform for the 3rds Scouts at Valtos, this band did not actually have a name. The gig involved a chase round Lewis to find enough gear and also lots of wrong chords played at the wrong time.


The Three Plonkers

Jon=guitar; Wattie=bass; Jason=guitar

Yet another impromptu gig. This took place at Valtos in Oct 1992 with no rehearsal at all, at all, at all. After the band had set up their gear and sound checked, a huge flash of lightning took place, and amidst a clanging peal of thunder, all the power and lights went off.
Undettered, the three musicians retired to the canteen, where an acoustic set of campfire songs took place. During the singing of 'Lord of the Dance', the power mysteriously came back on, and the gig was able to take place.
Once again featuring lots of 'Funky Peatstack', the gig went down jolly well, inspiring the formation of the Dunringhills. Incidentally, the three had jammed before, at the Scout Hall in 1991. During the sesh, a German scout staggered in clutching his side and going 'Achtung help me'. An ambulance was called and away he was whisked. Nothing serious however.


Tom Bombadil and The Barrowwights

C.J.=vox; Wattie=keys; Stumpy=guitar; Eddie=drums; Wilbur=guitar.

Came about just before Zing Pop reformed. As the ZPs were uninspired, this session boosted their morale, and led eventually to 'LOTZ'. The rough mixes for many of the songs were laid down here, and it was a jolly productive evening.


Valtos

The Mecca for Scout rock bands. For decades this venue has seen bands and concerts come and go. Some good, some bad, and some long forgotten.
The two big dorms have on many occasions been transformed into concert venues. Huge stages have taken over the rooms, and the audiences have on occasion gone wild and smashed up the place.
At Rust's first (and only) gig, the band actually rioted, and the chairs Guff was using as drums got 'broken'. They were later disposed of while no-one was looking. However, Skip kept commenting that he was sure 'we used to have more seats'.


The Wild Thing Band

Stumpy=guitar; Gonze=guitar; Wee Guy=guitar; Guff=guitar; Wattie=keys; C.J.=vox.

Formed in 1980, again at Valtos, but never performed. Slowly changed into Zing Pop and that's about all you can say about them.


Zing Pop

Wattie=keys; C.J.=vox; Gonze=drums; Stumpy=guitar.

Formed in the Sports Centre cafe in the summer of 1981, as a protest against all the crap bands which were becoming famous. First rehearsal held in the Venture Room (which became known as the 'Venture Sesh') and later in C.J.'s attic. It was in this attic that the legendary Zing Pop album was recorded. They put music to poems by Honkas, Wattie and C.J. during their exams, and before they knew it they had a classic album. Bacame the first group to actually make a tape, complete with cover. Held a gig in the Scout Hall in August 1981, which bacame known as the Midges of Rock. Split up briefly between Xmas 1981 and June 1982, when they reformed for the 1982 MOR. Encouraged by this, they recorded 'Lord of the Zings', a concept album about Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Performed over at Ardroil Beach once, the Winter Feis and the MOR83 too. Split up soon after. Also famous for only ever managing to get a maximum of three of the band to perform at any one time.


Copyright 1995 I.Watson


About the Author...

Dr.Mungo Portcullis

Famous peat magnate and philatelist, Dr. Mungo Portcullis is regarded as the foremost authority on AGOFRock music. An eminent historian and cross-dresser, Dr.Portcullis made his fortune from the establishment of his innovative take-away fast peat chain throughout the Utter Hebrides. Despite criticism of the chain's low wages and rumours of sheep-worrying and dubious environmental and ethical practices, their produce remains popular with the natives. Dr.Portcullis funded the recently established Chair of Tractor Studies at St.Murdo's College of Lobsters and Technology.

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