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  • Alistair Braidwood

You Exhibitionist: The Best of Glasgow’s Galleries…

It’s that time of year where every penny seems to count, and when there are still gigs to try and get to, films to see and books to buy then having a cheap day out is always a bonus. Well, here is Scots Whay Hae’s suggestion for a day of culture round the streets of Glasgow that won’t break the bank. It takes in three exhibitions which, as long as you don’t mind a walk, will cost you the grand total of two quid, £1.50 for concessions. How, what, why and when for this fiscal miracle? The place to start is the Street Level Gallery at Trongate 103 on Argyle St.

For this is the place to find a terrific exhibition of the photography of Harry Papadopoulous, the man who chronicled the Sound of Young Scotland before going on to become one of the most influential rock photographers of the 1980s. The photographs on show range from ABC to Zeke Manyika with nearly every significant band in between. There are some terrific shots of Marvin Gaye, David Bowie, The Specials, Bryan Ferry, Madness, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith and many, many more.

But of real interest to me is his early work which captures a time when Scotland was producing some of the most lasting and influential music around. The myth that there was only Postcard Records in the early 80s is busted on the gallery walls where there are some evocative pictures of musical legends such as Davie Henderson, Stephen Pastel, Alan McGhee and even Peter Capaldi when he was the lead singer of The Dreamboys (which featured one Craig Ferguson on drums). For anyone who is interested in Scottish music this is essential social/cultural history.

When people talk about the music of the early 1980s it tends to revolve around the boys from Postcard such as Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, Josef K and those in near orbit such as The Scars, The Fire Engines, The Bluebells, The Armoury Show and The Associates. The women often get overlooked so here are two of the great female fronted pop bands of the time. First off are Rose McDowell and Jill Bryson who made up Strawberry Switchblade, one of the best band names ever. This is Since Yesterday:

Altered Images were seen by some as too twee for school, but they wrote some of the best pop songs of the day, which considering the competition is really saying something, and in Claire Grogan they had a near perfect front of stage. Strike that, she was perfect. While I head off for a wee lie down here they are with one of their later songs Don’t Talk To Me About Love:

Next up was a trip to the Gallery of Modern Art where they have an exhibition of Alasdair Gray’s original work depicting various Glasgow scenes and characters from the late 1970s, as well as prints of the covers for the original four books that make up Lanark.

The Glasgow pictures are from the time when Gray was employed as the ‘artist recorder’ for the city. There are paintings, sketches and collages of Bridgeton, Tollcross and Arcadia Street, the inside of famous Glasgow institutions of the day including the BBC newsroom and Sweeney Todd’s hairdressers, and some of the more famous denizens of the city; Edwin Morgan, Alexander Hamilton, Archie Hind and the infamous Pastor Jack Glass (left).

Finally, after a brisk walk through town, the AC/DC exhibition is still on at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. This is where you’ll have to dig into your pocket, but if you’re a fan of the band (am I right to think that’s most people?) then it is money well spent and more. Lots of rare memorabilia and personal items, particularly from their early days, lend a fascinating behind the scenes look at this most unassuming of bands as they moved from bar rooms to stadiums. It’s a testimony to them that they can make songs that were originally played to a room full of larrikins reach the back seats at Hampden Park as they did last time they were on tour. For full evidence of this there is lots of amazing live footage; from early days on Aussie TV shows, excerpts from their legendary 1978 Glasgow Apollo gig (where they are resplendent in full Scottish footie kit), to the large screen showing highlights from recent tours. For that alone I would have paid my £2.

Here they are in the salad days of the legendary Bon Scott playing Let There Be Rock at the aforementioned Apollo. Let’s rock:


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