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Monday, July 20, 2015

Slik

 
Arguably one of the best British Teen pop acts of the mid-'70s, Slik was originally called Salvation - a Glaswegian group that had been around since the very early '70s.  But it wasn't until a youngster named James Ure, immediately nicknamed Midge, joined that the proverbial wheels started turning.


The band at the time comprised of Billy McIsaac (Keyboards); Kenny Hyslop (Drums); brothers Jim (Bass) and Kevin (Vocals) McGinlay, as well as young Midge on guitar.
After Kevin left because he felt too old for the band (He was 28!) Midge took over lead vocal duties as well.  Consequently Salvation became Slik.  And after producers/writers Bill Martin & Phil Coulter, the men who put the Bay City Rollers on the map, entered the picture, Slik's future became clear.
Nonetheless, "The Boogiest Band in Town", their 1975 debut single, flopped.  Having it turn up in probably one of the decade's dodgiest music movies, "Never Too Young To Rock", didn't help matters much either.
 
 
 
A couple of years later The Arrows also recorded the song and released it as a single, albeit with similarly underwhelming results.
 
 
"The Getaway", an unremarkable slice of funky disco-pop, became the second Slik single, and was for some reason issued only in Germany.
Truth be told, an image makeover was due.  The long hair had to go ("I looked like Suzi Quatro", remarked Midge Ure much later), as did the flares as well as a moustache or two.  Instead our lads got James Dean haircuts, via Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry, and matching baseball shirts. 
 
 
The third single, "Forever and Ever", originally recorded by another Martin/Coulter act - Kenny, fared, shall we say, slightly better.  However, its conception wasn't entirely painless.  Says Midge: "As we walked into Mayfair studios in South Molton Street we heard what sounded like a Bay City Rollers B-side coming out of the speakers, all these bells and jingling and stuff.  We thought it was something left over from the session before, and our recording was about to start.  Then Phil Coulter came out of the booth and said, Do you like the track, boys?  It's done."
Funnily enough, ex-Roller Eric Faulkner once told me, "We were being offered some of these same songs that Kenny and Slik did later."
But in spite of the fact that Slik had precious little to do with "Forever and Ever", aside from singing on it, it became a massive success, hitting number one in the U.K. in early 1976.
 

 
Follow-up single "Requiem" and sole album "Slik" both arrived in the summer of '76 - the summer that punk rock really started to make its presence felt.  Thus the lowly chart peaks of both releases can be easily explained; the single peaked at no. 24 in the U.K. charts while the album stalled at no. 58 for one measly week.
 

 
It was the beginning of the end.  The Teen pop thing had run its course - in Britain at least - and it was time to either bow-out or blend-in.  Slik bravely opted for the latter.  Their next single was "The Kid's a Punk", although it had very little to do with punk musically speaking...
 


This was Slik's last official single release in the U.K.  Several more singles where issued elsewhere in Europe over the next few months.  Silly dance tunes like "Dancerama" and "Bom-Bom" seemed rather misguided musical attempts at fitting in someplace.
"It's Only a Matter of Time" was the final release anywhere to bear Slik's name.  Typically, by this stage in their career, it was only issued in Germany.  Hidden on the B-side was an interesting piece of punky power pop called "No Star", which gave some indication as to what became the next chapter in the short history of Slik.
 

 
Bassist and family man Jim McGinlay having left the band for the somewhat more steady and reliable income of backing cabaret acts (the British version of Las Vegas, I guess), he was replaced by one Russell Webb. 
Consequently - and all too briefly - Slik became punk band PVC2.  Their sole release was single "Put You in the Picture", a gradual continuation of what the band had started with "No Star", which was released on Scottish indie label Zoom Records in 1977.
 
  
 
That, however, was it for PVC2.  Midge Ure, disillusioned and distraught, left the band.  Like he says: "So there I was at 23, all washed up.  I should have disappeared".  Which he most surely did not since soon thereafter he joined ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock in Rich Kids.  Their sole LP "Ghosts of Princes in Towers" is a minor pop-punk masterpiece, and includes a version of "Put You in the Picture".  But bigger things awaited Mr. Ure: Visage, Ultravox, Band Aid, a lucrative solo career and all that which is way better documented elsewhere. 
Meanwhile PVC2 had morphed into New Wave act Zones.  Willy Gardner was roped in to fulfill lead singer/guitar duties.  Only McIsaac (Keyboards) and Hyslop (Drums) remained from the original Slik line-up, while Webb played bass.
Debut single "Stuck With You" appeared on Zoom in 1978.
 

 
It ignited some major label interest and the band was quickly signed by Arista Records - ironically enough the very company which had devoured Bell Records, Slik's old label, a couple of years earlier.
On Arista Zones issued three singles and an album, "Under Influence" in 1979.  Unfortunately this material failed to live up to the band's initial indie promise.
 
 
By the early '80s Zones had broken up.  Briefly, McIsaac and Hyslop soldiered on as Science, while Russell Webb joined The Skids.  Gardner, meanwhile, went solo before becoming a teacher.  But not before he produced Billy McIsaac's 1985 soft-pop solo single "Love Me Like You Did Before".  McIsaac later formed the Billy McIsaac Band, reportedly the best wedding band in Scotland, before retiring from music in 2012.
Kenny Hyslop briefly joined Simple Minds and played the distinctive drum pattern on one of their earliest hits, "Promised You a Miracle".   For the past twenty years he has run a successful drum studio and tuition in central Glasgow.
Although Slik may be primarily remembered today as merely Midge Ure's first successful band, for some of us sad old '70s teenyboppers they were - and remain - so much more than just that...



SLIK Discography:
 
45’s:

“The Boogiest Band in Town”/”Hatchet” (Polydor 2058 523.  U.K. 1974) (Re-released:  Bell 1414.  U.K. 1975)

“The Getaway”/”Again My Love” (Early version) (Bellaphon BF 18367.  Germany 1975)

“Forever and Ever”/”Again My Love” (Bell 1464.  U.K. 1975)

“Requiem”/”Everyday Anyway” (Bell 1478.  U.K. 1976)

“The Kid’s a Punk”/”Slik Shuffle” (Bell 1490.  U.K. 1976)

“Don’t Take Your Love Away”/”This Side Up” (EMI Electrola 1C 006-98 503.  Germany 1976)

“Bom-Bom”/”Dancerama” (EMI Odeon, S.A. 10C 006-98.196.  Spain 1976)

“Dancerama”/”I Wanna Be Loved” (EMI Electrola 1C 006-98 824.  Germany 1977)

“It’s Only a Matter of Time”/”No Star” (EMI Electrola 1C 006-99 344.  Germany 1977)
 

 
 
As PVC2.:

“Put You in the Picture”/Deranged, Demented & Free/Pain (Zoom Records, Zum 2.  U.K. 1977)

 
LP:

 
 
“Slik” (Bell, SYBEL 8004.  U.K. 1976)

“Slik” (Arista, AL 4115.  U.S. 1976.  Different sleeve + different song selection)
 
 

CD’s:

“The Best of Slik” (Repertoire, REP 4721-WG.  EU 1999)

“Forever and Ever” (Rotation, RBX 460-2.  Netherlands 2000)

“Slik” (W/12 bonus tracks) (7T’s, Glam CD 28.  U.K. 2007)
 

THE ZONES:

45’s:

“Stuck With You”/”No Angels” (Zoom Records, Zum 4.  U.K. 1978)

“Sign of the Times”/”Away from it All” (Arista, ARIST 205.  U.K. 1978)

“Looking to the Future”/”Do it All Again” (Arista, ARIST 265.  U.K. 1979)

“Mourning Star”/”Under Influence” (Arista, ARIST 286.  U.K. 1979)

LP:

“Under Influence” (Arista, SPART 1095.  U.K. 01 June 1979)
 


Billy McIsaac solo:

45:

“Love Me Like You Did Before”/”Love is Forever” (PRT, EDIT 3302.  U.K. 1985) 
 
 
Midge Ure quotes taken from his excellent bio "If I Was..." (Virgin Books Ltd. 2005)

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