Making a brief stop in the 80s tonight with a session by Aztec Camera, a Scottish pop/new wave band formed by Roddy Frame, the group’s singer, songwriter, and only consistent member. Formed in 1980, they released a total of six albums: High Land, Hard Rain (1983), Knife (1984), Love (1987), Stray (1990), Dreamland (1993) and Frestonia (1995).The band garnered popular success for the songs “Oblivious”, “Somewhere in My Heart” and “Good Morning Britain” (a duet with former Clash guitarist Mick Jones).
Although they were released internationally, they had only moderate success here in the U.S. barely hitting the 120’s in the charts here. Which was too bad, since they were a phenomenally good band when they first came out. They did change rather consistently over the years. Frame explaining that it was a desire to keep the band fresh and evolving – there were also a number of hiatuses over the years and that may have contributed to the U.S. audience not sticking around.
But none of that detracted from the fact that Roddy Frame was (and still) a stellar songwriter.
This session comes around the time of the release of their debut album High Land, Hard Rain. Three tracks from the album originally appeared on the Oblivious EP which reached number 18 on the UK Singles Chart in November 1983. The album itself reached number 22 on the UK Albums Chart. The majority of the album was recorded at the ICC Studios in Eastbourne.”Down the Dip” was inspired by a local East Kilbride pub located close to Duncanrig Secondary School, Roddy Frame’s high school. Originally called “The Diplomat” (“The Dip” for short), it is now called Gardenhall Inn. The album was produced by John Brand and Bernie Clarke for the Rough Trade record label, and was released in April 1983, distributed in different formats on Domino Recording Co. Ltd. in the US (in addition to Sire); WEA and Celluloid in France; Nuevos Medios, Nuevos Medios in Spain; Powderworks in Australia; MVM Records in Portugal; and WEA for a general European release. The album was successful, garnering significant critical acclaim, and peaked at number 129 on the Billboard 200. Frame later revealed that the song “Oblivious” was consciously written as a Top of the Pops-type pop song and received a corresponding degree of popularity.
Luckily Roddy Frame is still around, still gigging and still writing. However, if you want to sample what the excitement was all about in 1983, click on the player and have a listen. It was pretty exciting – still is.