“Days In Europa” by Skids - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1979Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

The second album of the year from the young Fifers arrived in October '79, with drummer Tam Kellichan having departed due to the pressures of the heavy workload. The core three of Richard Jobson (vocals), Stuart Adamson (guitar, vocals, keyboards) and Bill Simpson (bass, vocals) are supported by producer Bill Nelson (keyboards) and Rusty Egan (drums), both of whom are key in re-positioning the group's punk sound in the new synthesized world. The LP was strikingly presented in a front-cover depicting a blonde-haired white European male being crowned as an Olympic champion by a blonde-haired European female. The rather ugly gothic script completed the uncomfortable reality - we were being confronted by an image of mid-30s German Nazism. John Peel, a big supporter of the band, played every track on the album within a week, but was moved to comment that he was uncomfortable with the image as he felt it glorified Nazism. Richard Jobson would later defend the portrayal: “People missed the irony of Days In Europa and misread the lyrics as having some kind of Fascist fetish thing going on. I hate fascists and everything they stand for… [Olympian] was about the undue pressure put on young men to be somebody in the traditional sense of masculinity. This was something we all rejected.” I'd be the first in line to shoot down racism, but I see or hear none here. Let the artists create, let the artists shock.

Opening the set is “Animation” which would be the album's third single early in the new year. Said Jobson: “It sets the tone for the new Skids. We had gone to Wales to record with Bill Nelson and we wanted to do something new and fresh. Bill encouraged me to write lyrics the way I wanted to write, which is captured perfectly here in this abstract poem on the working man. I was thinking about my father when I wrote it, he was a coal-miner. Adamson’s guitar work is brilliant and Rusty Egan helped develop a new sound through his innovative drum playing.” Raising the anthemic power “Charade” is another which is aided greatly by Rusty Egan's synthesized rhythm, giving the whole group a futuristic zest. This was the album's lead single, but didn't do as well as was justified, stalling at #31. “Dulce Et Decorum Est (Pro Patria Mori)” (It is a sweet and glorious thing to die for one's country) is next up, inspired by the poem written by Wilfred Owen during World War I, and published posthumously in 1920. “If one were to see first-hand the reality of war, one might not repeat mendacious platitudes” is the core message. Well read Punks, well well well.

Opening side two is “Working For The Yankee Dollar”, a rather more lively version of which would be released as a 45 in mid November. It's a fine song nonetheless, referencing the second world war and Vietnam; elitist lust for wealth and power is paid for by soldiers and civilians with their lives or souls. “The Olympian” (a working title for the album) is another highlight of side two, with great punky riffs to please the original Skids diehards. Closing the album strangely is “Peaceful Times”, which is a spoken word piece by Jobson, set to the album's opening track played backwards. The Bill Nelson effect! We're in the post-war period - new winds bring fresh hope: “In peaceful times, new writers flow, In peaceful times, new writers know.” Well said that man. Amazing to think he was only 18 when he wrote all this stuff.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [04:51] 7.1.png Skids - Animation (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson) New Wave
A2 [03:53] 9.2.png Skids - Charade (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson) Punk
A3 [04:08] 6.5.png Skids - Dulce Et Decorum Est (Pro Patria Mori) (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson) New Wave
A4 [03:19] 6.3.png Skids - Pros And Cons (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson) New Wave
A5 [05:05] 5.4.png Skids - Home Of The Saved (Stuart Adamson) Moodcore
B1 [04:53] 7.3.png Skids - Working For The Yankee Dollar (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson) Punk
B2 [03:32] 7.7.png Skids - The Olympian (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson) Punk
B3 [04:06] 6.0.png Skids - Thanatos (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson) Punk
B4 [03:01] 6.4.png Skids - A Day In Europa (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson) New Wave
B5 [05:05] 5.3.png Skids - Peaceful Times (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson) Post-Punk

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