Members:K-Y McKay - Vocals, Guitar
Robert Strain - Guitar
Dusty McSheffrey - Bass, Keyboards
Jonnie Kilometer (Jonnie Miles) - Drums
Nick C. Ash - Keyboards, Guitar
Andy Hamilton - Sax
VIDEO:"Could This Be Love"
LIFE AFTER DEATH IS ON THE PHONE: THE BEST OF ALBANIA (1996)
Don Wershba (http://www.solid-state-logic.com/), Gareth Jones (http://www.garethjones.com/), Gary Edwards, Harvey Goldberg (http://www.greatcityprod.com/?page_id=836)- Engineer
Paddy Moloney (from The Chieftains, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paddy_Moloney) -Uillean Pipes
Nicola Kerr (New Seekers and Chips, see: http://www.lynpaulwebsite.org/NS-Kerr.htm)- Back. Vocals
Ed Deane (http://www.eddeane.com/discography.htm) and Dougie Gough (Rodeo, Mighty Shamrock) - Guitar
Artwork By [Design] - Chris Popham , Dusty McSheffrey
Compiled By - Roger Armstrong
Producer - A Guba (tracks: 11) , Albania (tracks: 12, 13, 16) , Mike Thorne (http://www.stereosociety.com/thorne.html)(tracks: 14, 15) , Robert Ash (he also produced/engineered B52's, Brian Eno, Steve Winwood, Bob Marley etc.) (tracks: 1 - 10)
All songs are composed by K.Y. McKay,
Transfered from original master tapes.
Post production by Nick Robbins at Sound Mastering Ltd.
(p) Ace Records Ltd except tracks 14 & 15 (p) Stiff Records
Track 13 is previously unissued.
Tracklist:01 So - Ok!
02 Albania (Are You Mine?)
03 Addicts of the First Night
04 Take It Away
05 French Farewell
06 Cold Light of Day
07 The Great Zambesi
08 Kaytie King
09 Men in a Million
11 Word Is Out
12 Today & Tomorrow
13 I Told You So [#]
14 Little Baby
15 Could This Be Love
16 Go Go Go
Link to download:http://rapidshare.com/files/338261974/albania.rar
My review:Though it is came out as a best of album, it contains the full 1981 LP "Are You All Mine" with some bonus tracks which are those singles that Albania released in the end of 1980 and during 1981. Among them is my favourite "Could This Be Love".
There is an excellent German review, where the reviewer analyses the whole CD track by track. Im trying to follow him at least at some points.
His first thought was Madness after listening to the album. Yes he is right as there are sax and keyboards and excellent rhythms with strong melodies running on the album through. Apart from it, do not expect a clear ska album here. To me their style is rather new wave pop than ska (or at least between pop and ska) . Another bands come into mind are Fisher-Z, and in a very little way -as they play a faster music- The Boomtown Rats and of course Dexy's (Andy Hamilton, the saxophonist played with both bands in the early 80s, perhaps his unique style is what i feel here too.). Allmusic.com has a third opinion as he compare them to Roxy Music, David Bowie and David Byrne (Talking Heads). So you can decide who is right.
Already the midtempo first song set the ton for the whole album as it creates a very good and enjoyable atmosphere. McKay has a charismatic , energetic and expressive voice quite punky but also gentle at the same time and can superbly supportive to the musicians around him. It is true for the whole album. Madness or not Madness, i never play this song after or before Madness, rather after Perfect Zebras - Fascination. Yes try it:)
The second song "Albania" as its title suggests too, is indeed a balkanesque new-folk-ska-wave a kind of pre-Les Negresses Vertes and of course Madness which is totally good for dancing.
In the next slower songs (tracks 04-06) you can enjoy the brilliant method as the sax, organ and bass playing with each other in a very fine way. And as usual McKay strong and suggestiv voice "enthrone" the whole production.
The sixth track is perhaps the fastest on the album ,and if you are looking for something can be similar to an extasy ska song with punky vocal, then this is yours. Its title is "Cold Light Of Day" but it is a very warm, hot song so get up and dance!:)
Just to continue this party feeling, after we made a trip to Albania (track 02) and France (track 05), we have just arrived to Africa to see "The Great Zambesi". Anyway there is nothing african element in this song , but heavy guitar, organ and sax dominate it. Though it is not too fast , somehow the vocal remind me -in some parts- The Stranglers' fame Hugh Cornwell's voice as he sings in some of their faster songs. And indeed, this song is a kind of mix of The Stranglers and Fischer Z in a slower way.
It is followed again by a faster punky-reggie-ska theme "Kaytie King". One of the highlights to me on the album.
The next song enters in a darker teritory. It reminds me two songs as it starts: Emerson, Lake & Palmer's famous cover "Peter Gunn (written by Henry Mancini)" (if you like this try also The B-52's "Planet Claire") and "School Mam" from The Stranglers' 1977 "No More Heroes". The organ is crying , the sax is crying..."nuclear war" and "Hiroshima here we come" is in the text. The song is dedicated to E.P Thompson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._P._Thompson) who was an English historian, writer, socialist and peace campaigner, and was also the leading intellectual light of the movement against nuclear weapons in Europe.
The last track of the original album was a midtempo and slightly monotone -but pretty good-balkan folkesque ska "Deatwatch". It is inspired by the film "Death Watch" and it dedicated to Romy Scheinder (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romy_Schneider) the Austrian actress who played the main role in it: "In 1980 she starred in Bertrand Tavernier's Death Watch (La mort en direct), based on David G. Compton's novel, playing a dying woman whose last days are watched on national television via a camera implanted in the brain of a journalist" (strange is that Romy died quite soon after this film)
And as for the bonus songs, i like especially the last four. And among them is the first song i have ever heard from Albania, the Cars influenced "Could This Be Love". Say what you want, this is Cars!:) (yes The Cars also has a song called "This Could Be Love" but this is not that song i think about here, rather about their 1984 album)
"Little Baby" is good long enough to be loaded with solos and the strong use of mouth harmonica which makes it bluesesque.
And finally in the last song Albania trying something unsusual, they use only violins and piano principally, but sometimes the drums also step in for shorter periods. If you wanna something similar, try Sparks' masterpiece "Lil' Beethoven".
So all in all here is a dynamic, well composed, and splendid album where one thing is pretty sure, these musicians CAN play music. I read somewhere: "Slightly arty new wave pop, not strong enough to be a standout." I think totally the opposit and hope that this post can conduce to get more and more people to like this diamond of 80's popmusic.
"This English quintet's strength was prolix, interesting lyrics about winning and losing at romance, delivered over multinational-styled rock with guitars, keyboards and saxophone providing the basic sound and K-Y McKay's songs and vocals adding personality. The album's sound stretches from polka to punk — like Deaf School and other demi-theatrical outfits — but it's really the words that made the band."
"Who Were Albania?!
A unique and constantly in catalogue collection of songs, as timeless as the ocean.who came together in 1978 in Glasgow, Scotland..and whose singer songwriter frontman K.Y. Mckay is about to release this summer some of the 1000 songs he has composed and recorded over 30 years of comparitive anonymity. To some artists.."the sincerity of their music really is the abiding thing they are creating for. Driven artists know what this means in terms of the sacrifices required to be true to your mission to the very end of the road. Mckay has these qualities, I would propose. His day may yet come for recognition I believe."
"While this Scottish group could accurately be called new wave, the kind of new wave they played would have probably happened even if punk had never existed. They favored danceable, lightly funky tunes with arch, eccentric lyrics. The presence of a saxophone in the lineup made it all the more easy to draw comparisons with some of Roxy Music's material; the electro-blip of some of the rhythms were akin to some of David Bowie's work in the latter part of the '70s; and the clipped vocal delivery sounded David Byrne-influenced. But, frankly, Albania weren't nearly as interesting as any of the artists mentioned above. They produced one album and a few singles for the Chiswick label in the early '80s, and did a dance single for Stiff in 1982 before calling it a day.
All 16 tracks the band recorded, taken from their 1981 LP Are You All Mine?, a few non-LP singles, and the previously unreleased "I Told You So." "Go Go Go," with Paddy Maloney on Uilleann pipes, is the clear highlight."
"I bought this album (Are You All Mine) in a second hand record shop in 1984, for 50p, purely because I liked the cover and it was very cheap. Then began a five year love affair with the band Albania. Their sound is unique, and incomparable. The vocals, by K Y McKay (! ) sounded great, especially on So - O K !, the lyrics were one of the first I actually paid attention to; (Addicts of the first night being my favourite). It probably enhanced the enjoyment because nobody else had heard of them. All singles were sourced and bought (are they rare now?) but Go Go Go was definately the best Albania song. If you've never heard of them you'll never buy this this CD, but if you want a slice of late 70's/early 80's 'new wave' at its most inventive, then try it; better still, find this CD for L1.99 somewhere and then buy it; the pleasure will be all the greater. Incidently, I saw a band called Albania at the Mean Fiddler (Harlesden) in 1985 and they were GARBAGE - I presume they were the same band but even to this day can not be sure. If they were, then they'd certainly deteriorated."
"This CD is presumably a reissue with extra tracks of the "Are You All Mine" LP from 1980. A one-off jazz influenced rock album, excellent sax and fretless bass work. [Saltyka added: a good example here if you want to know what does "fretless bass playing" means: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XpDOzDNLtc and browse also this great page: http://www.fretlessbass.com/) ]but with some decidedly punk overtones (check out the into to "The Great Zambesi"), and even a TINY hint of Albanian folk melodies.
Excellent original lyrics "Kaytie King" based on genuine reports about a ghost from the 19th century, some very witty word play.
A quirky, unique album. But who were Albania, and what became of the members? And was the "Jonnie Miles" credited with the (LP) sleeve photos the same as the "Jonnie Kilometer" on percussion? "
"This is an fun and entertaining album. The music is energetic, witty and a great listen to lift the mood. If you want an unusual but good CD in your collection and one you will listen to often then go for it. Lyrics are worth listening to and is full of good musicianship and quality performances"
German review (what i mentioned in my review):http://www.rockzirkus.de/forum/thread-413.html
While this Scottish group could accurately be called new wave, the kind of new wave they played would have probably happened even if punk had never existed. They favored danceable, lightly funky tunes with arch, eccentric lyrics. The presence of a saxophone in the lineup made it all the more easy to draw comparisons with some of Roxy Music's material; the electro-blip of some of the rhythms were akin to some of David Bowie's work in the latter part of the '70s; and the clipped vocal delivery sounded David Byrne-influenced. But, frankly, Albania weren't nearly as interesting as any of the artists mentioned above. They produced one album and a few singles for the Chiswick label in the early '80s, and did a dance single for Stiff in 1982 before calling it a day.
The members came form different local Glasgow bands. Robert Strain and saxophonist Andy hamilton played in Croppa, where they met two ex-Kelvinators member Jonnie Miles and Dusty McSheffrey. But before all of this happened some Albania members played together in a country rock band Rodeo (http://www.errolwalsh.co.uk/bands.html) between 1974-1978: Andy Hamilton, Jonnie Miles, Nicky Ash and Dusty McSheffrey
If you wanna more details:* Croppa (final line up) = Tommy Jackson (Vocals), Robert Strain (Guitar), Paul Karnowski (Guitar), Dusty McSheffrey (Bass), Jonnie Miles (Drums), Damian ? (Hammond), Andy Hamilton (Sax), Mark Goldinger (Sax). This was the 'Saints and Sinners' line up.
Dusty, Jonnie and Damian all came out a local band called the Kelvinators, who were begat by the Irish band Rodeo (http://www.errolwalsh.co.uk/bands.html).
* Dusty, Jonnie and Andy Hamilton were enlisted by one KY McKay to record an album under the name Albania. KY was a Saints and Sinner attendee and, as a yoof, determined that one day he would have Croppa as 'his' band. After Robert Strain joined them on guitar, Albania effectively became 2/3 Croppa, 10 years after the event. Now who says dreams can't come true Kenneth Younger ;-)
"At one time Albania as reported as a Portrush based band with one Dougie Gough (pre Mighty Shamrocks, see (Albania is also mentioned in the article): http://www.jstor.org/pss/25547008) on guitar. [Saltyka added: Dougie Gough also played in Rodeo (1974-78) and i have even seen him mentioned as ex-Albania member here: http://www.irishrock.org/ipnw/bands/mightyshamrocks.html]
According to a Bill Graham piece in an old issue of Hot Press, Albania are the descendents of Rodeo, Errol Walsh's mid-70s country rock band, who emigrated to Scotland. Its certainly not unusual for N.IRL bands to have Scottish links.
Jonnie Miles added:
"Jonnie Miles, also known as Jonnie Kilometer, is a drummer/songwriterwho has maintained a career as a creative musician in the field of rocksince 1969. Miles was a member of the country/rock/alt outfit Rodeobased in Northern Ireland in the early 70´s during a time of politicaland religious unrest known as `The Troubles´. Rodeo was one of the fewrock bands living and touring in Ireland at that time. Subsequently,Rodeo came to the notice of Dave Robinson, the founder of Stiff Recordsand took up residency in London at the Hope & Anchor as part of theUK`pub-rock´ movement in1976. In 1978 Miles formed The Kelvinators withex-members of Rodeo and performed at The Fringe Festival in Edinburgh,Scotland. Miles met K.Y. McKay at a recording studio and was drawn tohis eccentric songwriting style, The Kelvinators and McKay becameAlbania in 1979."
The lineup on Albania's sole LP is listed as K.Y. McKay (vocals, guitar), Nick C.Ash (keyboards/guitar), Andy Hamilton (saxes), Dusty [Dusty McSheffrey] (bass) and Jonnie Kilometer [Jonnie Miles] (drums). Dusty and Jonnie came out of a Glasgow band called the Kelvinators, who originated in Ireland as Errol Walsh's Rodeo. Hamilton, Dusty & Jonnie were later in another Glasgow band called Croppa (a corruption of Steve Cropper) who were familiar to K.Y. McKay from their live shows in Glasgow. I don't know exactly how K.Y.McKay hooked up with Albania but he must have enlisted the services of the ex Croppa players.
Albania were signed in London in 1978 but didn't release anything until 1981, by which time Dougie was in the Mighty Shamrocks. However, he is credited with rhythm guitar on 5 of the albums tracks. Also among the guest credits are Nicola Kerr (New Seekers and Chips) and Ed Deane (Woods Band among others). A best of CD was released a few years ago (the amusingly titled Life After Death Is On The Phone: The Best Of Albania). If anyone's read the liner notes, do they say any more about Albania's pre-history and it's possible Irish roots?
The producer is listed as Robert Ash. Andy Hamilton went on to play sax for the Boomtown Rats, Duran Duran, Dexys, Wham, etc"
K.Y McKay added:
"Hi Saltyka & Friends. K.Y. McKay , the writer, singer, and spokesman for Albania. Like Jonnie (kilometer) I have just stumbled upon your insightful blog about our past endeavors. The writer who commented on my disappearance from the limelight by saying that "for some artists it is artistic integrity of the music itself that is the over-riding motivation " is bang on the currency!!
I'm impressed he could deduce that from the music itself. He is absolutely right.
I am not and never was an attention seeking, show business , sociopathic type.
I have lived a private life for over thirty years in one of the hubs of British, contemporary music. ie Camden, London. My daughter Flora Mckay, has a voice like an angel, and is building her own musical world with musical friends as I write. Watch that space, music lovers.
I have indeed a back catalogue of over 1,000 songs, non of which I have even attempted to publish, or offer to the Cyber World. There are a few tracks on Sellaband.com under my name K.Y. McKay. But that is all that's out there. I am wary of Cyber Plagerists. I have suffered in the past from "Idea Theft". In order to stay real to myself I have lived a more or less impoverished life. Earning enough so that my partner and child did not suffer. I am not a particularly materialistic person, fortunately. I suppose I just see and feel things that often go unnoticed. I am truly who I am. And at long last I know in depth who I really am. That is the creative journey. If you express that to others, that is the talent and the magic. And it is magic that makes music.
And music is one of the few good things that human society has achieved, in my opinion. I am grateful for your interest in our work. You are right in that I have never received much comeback for my devotion of 30+ years, either financial or spiritually. Yet still I continue into my 60th year. Why?? I don't know? Any wealthy people out there interested in publishing 1000 unique, original, relevant anytime songs!! Now is your chance. I won't be around for too much longer. Would be good to realise 30 years of consistent song/writing and singing.
ps how I came across your blog was kinda spooky. I was investigating an add for a singer in the Starnow website, it was for a storybook iPad app. company. I googled the address and out of nowhere your Blog appeared!!! Don't know how??? Magic indeed. you can contact me direct through an address I use for music..ie.. .email@example.com. Shalom for now
He added on Albania:
"I am K.Y. McKay..the original who named Albania, Albania. The band consisted of 5 Scotsmen, 1-3 Irishmen (depending) and a Prussian. !!
We formed in late 78/79 in Glasgow, and found ourselves in London late summer of 79, after being summoned by a young Music Manager, Richard Griffiths (http://www.modestmanagement.com/about-modest.php), who was stationed at Island Records old Basing Street Studio in Nottinghill, who liked our 3 track demo enough to pay to put us immediately into the studio, to rerecord the tracks up to 24 track standard whilst trying to find us a deal to record an album of songs, which I had already written, fortunately.
That became the album "Are You All Mine". Richard Griffiths got interest from Virgin, Island, Chyrsalis, and Chiswick/E,M.I. We went with Chiswick because although they didn't offer a alrge upfront advance, which 2 of the others did, they did offer to complete recording our album without any interference from them, and at their expense.
It seemed fair at the time. Even though later a bill of lb18,000 + appeared at some point, whose existence I am still reminded of every year when the sales figures come in. I have to say they have never once harassed me, and of that I'm extremely grateful. Not many unknown artists have there work still available on catalogue 30 years after its first appearance.
Richard Griffiths went on to become managing director of the American Label "Epic Records". Also someone claimed that I am K.Y. McKay..aka Robert Strain!!?? This is quite wrong. Robert Strain was a guitar playing member of Albania in the studio, and on the road. Also the comments about a band called Albania playing in London in 1985?? It was definitely NOT our Albania, as we had more or less disbanded by 1983. So don't blame us for the bad gig. I do remember hearing long ago that someone had heard of a new band called Albania, but I know nothing about them.
Lastly, on the blogs songwriting credits it says all songs were written by Mckay/Albania except track 6 where it mentions the names of Denison and Kimball. I have no idea whose these people are. Never met them..also tracks 12-15 mention the name Keene, and I've no idea who he is either. I would appreciate these amendments in the name of accuracy. The songs ie tunes and lyrics were all written by me and it was my choice to split half my royalties between Dusty on bass, and Jonnie Kilometer aka Miles simply in appreciation of the input in arranging the compositions. I thought that was only fair.
Anywho, thanks for your interest, and do get in touch at the email address of my last blog... adios"
Finally an article about Albania:
"ROCK outfit 'Albania' were at Flixs Roller Disco - but only 50 people turned up to see the show in July 1981.
The concert, complete with a giant light display, should have been a sell-out but the youngsters, who labelled Lurgan a social wilderness, stayed away in their droves.
The night was a total disappointment for all - apart from the teenagers who didADVERTISEMENTbother to look in and even they were reluctant to dance to Albania's unique sound.
A band like Albania should have pulled in more but the tragedy of it all was that the stay-aways missed a new music experience.
One member of the crowd who was there said: "I enjoyed every minute of it - so too did the meagre crowd - who found it a fresh exhilarating sound."...
....When the band arrived in Lurgan they reckoned they were in for a tremendous gig - the scenery impressed and so too did the layout.
Manager Ross Graham said: "The band is called Albania, because that country is a mystery.
"We have a reputation as something of a mystery outfit - particularly in London where we appear - do a few gigs and then disappear for a few months."
The concert could hardly have made Albania a household name, but the band could have expected a better turn-out.
Lead singer, Kenny 'KY' McKay reluctantly admitted that he too was disappointed : "We have been a bit disappointed. We have come up against apathy, although Downtown has been giving us a lot of air-time."
Their record was good and, on the strength of it, Albania were set for big things - whether or not the kids of Lurgan agreed."(http://www.lurganmail.co.uk/lurgan-yesteryear/Wheels-come-off-at-the.5418888.jp)
Are You All Mine (1981)
Life After Death Is On The Phone -Best Of (1996)
"I am a Scottish born, writer, singer, singer/songwriter, and instrumental self produced composer. I fronted a band in the early 80's called 'Albania', and we were signed to both Chiswick & Stiff Records. I've been writing and recording music ever since, and my first album and early 80's recording are still available through Ace Records excellent back-catalogue..www.acerecords (http://www.acerecords.co.uk/content.php?page_id=53&searchtype=1&searchterm=albania). I have lived in Camden, North London for 30 years. Proper Old School !!"
Currently he is active again and released an album "In The Purple" few years ago as you can see below (http://www.z360.com/mckay/credits.htm):
"K. Y. McKay is the former lead singer of Albania whose album "Life After Death Is on the Phone: The Best of Albania" on Chiswick Records is rated 4.5/5 stars by All Music Guide.
Good Lookin’ Baddies (http://www.z360.com/vj/4good.htm) is the first solo single from K. Y. McKay featuring his distinctive celtic vocals and a rockin' garage band..."
Percussionist/Songwriter/Photographer. He played in Hokus Poke (1972), Kala (1973),Rodeo (1974-78), Kelvinators (late 70's), Croppa (late 70's), Baby Jenkins (pre The Travellers), The Prostitutes (1996), Buffalo Bison (2006),
and currently plays in John Plenge and The Tonefactory, The Travellers (since 2005),Sterling Peirce (since 2007)and Allen Gogerty Band.
He also worked with -but i dont know when- The Huge Bastards, The Noyzmakers, The Cool Jerks, Lisa Lost, Carol Grimes Band, Antony Stanford Quartet, Earth & many others.
For further info:
played in Croppa and in the soul-funk band McCalla (1995)
Andy Hamilton went on to play sax for the Boomtown Rats, Duran Duran, Dexys, Wham, Aétered Images, Corey Hart etc
"When I moved to London in 1979/80...the truth is I got lucky.
I worked with The Boomtown Rats with whom I played at Live Aid...The Pet Shop Boys...Dexy's Midnight Runners....played solos on some of the Wham! records and then started a long association with George Michael with whom I've recorded and toured.
I remember seeing Duran Duran on Top Of The Pops doing their first single ‘Planet Earth’.
The New Romantic image may have raised a few eyebrows at the time......but I thought the track was great.
The next day I was in the studio with them.They wanted to do a 12’’ version of ‘Planet Earth’ and add some horns.
With the help of a friend who played trombone we put a big overdubbed brass section on the track.
l still really like what we did.
A while later I did a solo on the ‘Rio’ track.
I’ve played with them on and off since then.
A couple of weeks later I remember making some derisory remarks about Dexys Midnight Runners who were also on TV.
Next day I was on tour with them.
Similar thing happened with the Boomtown Rats."
"Hamilton has composed theme and incidental music for television and film in both the US and the UK.
In May 2008, he came together with the temporarily reformed 1970s jazz funk band, Kokomo, with Tony O'Malley, Mel Collins, Neil Hubbard, Mark Smith, Adam Phillips, Bernie Holland, and Glen Le Fleur, which also included performances by Eddy Armani and Franke Pharaoh."
DUSTY McSHEFFREYplayed in Rodeo, The Kelvinators, Croppa and he toured with Wilkie as well.
He also ran a market in the Barras Market in Glasgow. He was one who made the artwork (design) for the Albania album. Perhaps is he a designer now? (I found indeed a designer with the same name.)
NICK C.ASHApart from that he was a member of Rodeo, i have only one info, he (or somebody with the same name?) guested on Bad Brains 1983 mini album "Legends From The End Of Time"
If you have any more stuff /info send me please!!!
Im happy to report that few weeks ago Croppa/Albania guitarist Robert Strain got in touch with me to share all of his treasures incl. rare live records and photos of Albania and Croppa! I am very grateful for his help and support, hope you will also enjoy all of that you can read/listen to below.
Photo: Albania promo flyer
Did you play or you've been still playing in any other bands other than Croppa and Albania? And as for Croppa, just wonder wether there's a place on the web to listen to it and if not how would you describe their music, is it maybe similar or comparable at all to what we known as Albania?
"My local band history, in Glasgow, was Smiles (http://www.kinemagigz.com/'s'.htm#Smiles), Hotdog, Fagin (http://www.kinemagigz.com/'f'.htm#Fagin) (all 'covers' bands), Croppa, Jackson-Strain (songwriting duo), Albania, Holidays, Backline, then local session work and a few one-off gigs before parking my guitar under my bed for 10 years!."
"After Croppa, the singer Tommy and I got a songwriting deal, we went to the US for a bit, but nothing really came of it":
"After Albania, I returned to Scotland and formed The Holidays as a tongue in cheek, retro 60s style, 3 piece band with my best mate Bobby Paterson. Bobby went on to play with Set the Tone (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Set_the_Tone_(band)), Love & Money (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_and_Money_(band)), and many others.
Here's The Holidays' one and only fan (apart from our respective mothers)":
I then joined a local, largely instrumental 'jazz-funk' band in the 80s (well it was the 80s!), called The Backline who were largely made up of this lot (minus the singer)": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viiz2BXtasQ
Bobby was a founding member of the original band. As you noted, he was also in Fagin but that was long after I'd left and well before I knew him (small world).
I did quite a lot of studio sessions in Glasgow as a guitarist but wasn't interested in gigging. These tailed off though and eventually I never touched my guitar for 10 years. I got the bug again in 2000 and have been playing for my own amusement ever since - guitar, bass, drums, keyboards. No gigs - a lifetime of waiting for drummers to turn up is not life ;-)."
Long before Albania, I formed Croppa with singer Tommy Jackson who now runs a studio in Switzerland: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Daylightstudios-Tom-Jackson/185804741460566?v=info
We were a soul/funk band - I will try to send you a rare studio recording that I think Jonnie played on (but not Dusty or, bizarrely - myself!). KY apparently used to come and watch us at gigs and later told me he was determined to get 'Croppa' as his band. He effectively did :-).
Jonnie and Dusty joined Croppa after our original drummer left. My mate Bobby was lined up for the bass slot but we couldn't find a good enough drummer. Dusty and Jonnie effectively came as a ready made and terrific rhythm section, so I had to tell my best mate he was fired - before he'd even played a note! We remained friends :-). Damian joined on Hammond organ for a while (he used to play with Dusty and Jonnie)
Here is a photo of Croppa from the late 70s I guess, on the Isle of Arran, between gigs:
Jonnie took the photo (precursor to his current job!), and the singer Tommy is missing.
A 'favourite' live number, late 70s studio recording, Damian on keyboards, I think it is Jonnie on drums, def. not Dusty on bass (he didn't use 'slap' bass technique), and I am missing too (all keyboard, no guitar) - I think I may have been on holiday! Gives you an idea of what KY heard and liked at the time."
Croppa - South Side of the City
Yesterday I finally managed to listen to Croppa. And before putting it onto the player somehow i felt that something very special would come and I was right. I was totally smitten by 'South Side' immediately. Since then keep listening to it over and over.
The tune is amazingly brillant, not only full of energy but embraces all different kinds of musical genres i like from funk to jazz . It made me want to go back in time to watch the band jamming- a pity i have no time capsule at hand:)
All in all i promptly became a sort of Croppa fan :)
As to Croppa, I wonder was it a local band or had been demand to see it on a broader basis?
As regards to the fans, how do you remember, had Croppa's fans followed Albania too?
And since the song is so good, did Croppa got any radio play on local or major radio stations?
"Thanks for the Croppa appreciation. Glad you like the track. It was our most popular live song I'd say - never released (we had no record deal) so no airplay, nothing. We were a local Glasgow band, and mainly played gigs in the city itself. As that photo shows, we did also regularly play Arran, the Scottish isle.
Croppa had a sizable local following but few of them would have known about Albania as they were London-based and came about a good while later.
Albania was really KY's songs married to the musicality of Dusty and Jonnie. It was their band really, at least at the start. KY had the songs and vision but not the musical means, and it just so happened that ex-Croppa guys supplied those means, with the added input of Nick. I was a later addition to the band as I have said - primarily as they wanted to tour.
On which point, your blog mixes me up with KY - something he noted - I was merely the guitarist. Also I never played on the original album. It was when they decided they wanted to do gigs that KY contacted me in Glasgow. I had never met him, and the demo cassette he sent (I assume the LP) was a little strange to my ears! Indeed, some of the songs still are :-). But I agreed and left Glasgow for London to join my former band mates + KY and NIck, in the great Albanian adventure. (The Romans called Scotland 'Alba', so I suppose that did make most of us 'Albanians'! )
I played only on Go, Go, Go + Today & Tomorrow + I Told You So, and was the band's touring 'live' guitarist. Both Andy and I were offered full-time 'membership' of the band, but opted to remain 'session' players, if that makes sense. It was more for financial reasons that artistic ones - we got a wage which we sorely needed at the time, and KY, Jonnie and Dusty relied on record sales and royalties (which could never have amounted to much!). Not sure about Nick"
Albania Live Radio Clyde 1981:
Guardian newspaper review April 6th 1981 of debut gig at Herne Hill (warm up for The Venue gig)
you've made my day with those awesome live songs, i love them! I wouldn't have thought there's any other stuff than the album is still around!
Frankly these fast paced live versions sound even better than those slower ones on the original LP and they purely demonstrate how great band were you then and also have to add that Kayte King would had been a mega new wave hit.
By the way what is Kayte King about? I've been listening to many times that short interview at the end of the song but still unable to get it due to my poor english.
"Glad to make someone's day! I agree - there is a certain edginess to those live versions. Tight and FAST - probably because that day Nick, the keyboard player, had to catch the last ferry to his home on the island of Arran :-). We duly obliged!"
Yes, Kaytie King is very catchy, and atmospheric. And one of the few songs to ever feature the word 'ectoplasm' in it I suspect! No idea what it is truly about (I never listen to lyrics :-). Only KY McKay could say and, in that short interview, even he doesn't seem overly sure... perhaps prompting Jonnie the drummer's wisecrack about a Ford 'transit' van (in which we moved our equipment around) rather than the more deep and meaningful 'transient'. A review of the Albania LP at the time stated something like: "KY McKay - not a man to use one word when ten will do". Witty and true - just like Kenneth Younger. (Fear not, your English is excellent.)
1981 Scottish; Irish tour schedule
Albania 1981 tour dates - Scotland, Ireland, London
JUNE - Scotland
Tues 23 - (Glasgow rehearsal)
Wed 24 - Aberdeen: Valhalla's
Thurs 25 - Wick: Rosebank Hotel
Frid 26 - Peterhead: RAF Buchan
Sat 27 - Glasgow: Leon's Waterfront
Sun 28 - Glasgow, Rock Garden
Mon 29 - Faslane: Trident Club
Tues 30 - Greenock: Victorian Carriage
JULY - Ireland
Frid 3 - Belfast: DB's
Sat 4 - Portrush - Kelly's
Mon 6 - Lurgon: Flicks (as per that review: http://www.lurganmail.co.uk/community/nostalgia/wheels-come-off-at-the-roller-disco-1-1777846)
Tues 7 - Limerick: ?
Wed 8 - Waterford: Showboat
Sat 11 - Dublin: Magnet Bar
Mon 13 - Dublin: Oscar Theatre
AUGUST - London
Frid 7 - Half Moon, Herne Hill
Sat 8 - Angel, Lambeth Road
Sun 9 - Old Queens Head, Stockwell Road
Wed 12 - Fulham Greyhound
A photo during the 1981 Irish tour. No idea where exactly. Andy pulling a double 'goofy' grin especially for the occasion. Dusty, KY, Andy and Nick outside a Bed and Breakfast we were staying in:
The tour schedule seems to be pretty long, just wonder how'd the reception been for the band/gigs since the tour was going in three different countries?
Which was the most memorable concert among them, and as for the concert attendees, what differences did you notice between the countries you were playing during the tour? I mean where did Albania get the biggest support from the public?
And how do you remember having such a long tour was rather a bit rough on you or was more fun?
Also would be interesting to know which bands were you played with?
"That tour was by no means hectic, indeed good fun as I recall. Ironically, I travelled down to London to join the band only to find myself back in Glasgow playing Albania gigs!
The audiences were no different - the Scottish-Irish connection is so close anyway (my father's family all came from Ireland, for example). There were never huge numbers watching Albania but those that did seemed to 'get' us - lots of dancing everywhere we went!
No particular gigs stand out, although the Dublin one was memorable if, for nothing else, being in a small theatre rather than a pub or club. That was the one reviewed in Hot Press. The Venue was a huge place and the minimal audience was visibly lost in its vast space.
Despite this a girl decided to clamber onstage and dance right in front of me - and that was not the first time that had happened to me... WHY ME?!
All of the other Albania gigs were in fairly small venues, so we were the only band as far as I can remember, certainly in Scotland and Ireland. The London gigs may have had other acts - such as Bim, in that review - I can't honestly remember.
And I discovered personal diary entries I had written during the Albania Scottish & Irish dates. Sadly they are threadbare! However, it does state that the Oscar Theatre gig in Dublin was also broadcast live on 'Big D' radio. And apparently I played my last Albania gig at the Greyhound Fulham on Wed12th July 1981, and was back in Glasgow - never to return to Albanian duties - the very next day, Thurs 13th. This was largely due to finances - I couldn't afford to hang around London one minute longer than necessary! Ah, the glorious rock'n'roll lifestyle..."
And whyyy ooh why the hell did Albania dissolve??:) I mean with all the talents the band were blessed with it is just unbelievable you made only one album!!!
"We kind of just fell apart - I can't remember why. More than likely the small record label Chiswick (who were great) couldn't afford to keep the full band together..."
Photo: Irish 'Hot Press' 13th July 81 gig review
It is good to see that you, Jonnie Miles and KY McKay speak affectionately about Albania and clearly seems to me as you all preserve great memories of the time you spent together.
So the question that is arising with increasing frequency:
do you or your bandmates feel the desire/intend to reassemble the band for at least some gigs or at best for a reunion tour?
Actually i should say that im overtly hoping for some new songs as well but if it is not possible now, to see you having some fun on the stage would be also fantastic:)
"Given the time gap, old age (!) and the fact we are all on different continents, the chances of a reunion are slim to non-existent I am afraid. I appreciate your enthusiasm for the idea though! There was no demand to see us then, even less now. I think we should all just enjoy the moment as it was."
What's been your most memorable/funny event happened to you by the time you'd been with Albania?
"Nothing in particular. It was all good fun as I recall - we certainly never took ourselves seriously; just the music"
Robert:"You are not alone - everyone assumes the two Andy Hamilton's are the same. In fact, almost every tenor sax player I have seen on TV for the last 10 years looks a bit like 'my' Andy - they all look similar. Must be a sax thing :-)."
The end of the interview.
Thank you once again Robert !