“The Absolute Game” by Skids - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1980Album Chart of the Decade: 1980s

TJR says

Against a backdrop of group tensions, the third Skids album in just over 18 months arrived in September, 1980. At the turn of the year co-founding member Bill Simpson had left, feeling marginalized by Jobson and Adamson's non-democratic rule. Former Slik/Zones bassist Russell Webb from Glasgow was drafted in, and local boy and long time friend of the group Mike Baillie, then working as a docker on the Forth, put himself forward, and was accepted for, the vacant drummer's position. Perhaps mindful of further unrest, the song-writing credits were shared equally between group members for the first time, excepting the classic “Out Of Town” which gained a promotion from it's previous place on last year's “Masquerade” EP. The new look four, carved-in-stone on the very front-cover, were Richard Jobson (vocals, guitar), Stuart Adamson (guitar, vocals, keyboards, percussion), Russell Webb (bass guitar, vocals, keyboards, percussion) and Mike Baillie (drums, vocals, percussion).

The classic “Circus Games”, released as the album's lead single two months earlier, opens up splendidly and unusually, with irregular rhythm and, of all things, a children's choir grabbing your attention. Richard Jobson would later explain: “Great memory of recording in the manor studios in Oxfordshire. We were working with Mick Glossop who focussed on Adamson’s guitar work and the band’s love of big choruses. We weren’t sure of how to make this song ignite until we decided to try kids singing the chorus. Its a song about people making mistakes and somebody paying the price, which is normally kids or the next generation.” “Goodbye Civilian”, the second single released almost simultaneously with the LP, showcases the group's new catchy, synth-heavy sound, whilst still retaining a fair degree of edge; a tricky feat which they usually manage to pull off with aplomb. Not so cool is “The Children Saw The Shame”, where I find the pop brightness of the chords not to my taste. The cinematic “A Woman In Winter” gets me back onside quickly, with some excellent vocal interplay between Richard and Stuart, almost evoking some ancient Celtic theme. It was actually inspired by a film of the late Italian director, Roberto Rossellini. As Jobson explains: “It's a song about looking for something you don't find and don't get, it's a song about women which I've never ever written about before. It's probably about the most romantic thing I'll ever write”. A shortened version would be released as the album's third and final 45 just before Christmas.

Keeping us on our toes, side two opens up with a didgeridoo of all things, although perhaps this was all very clever in keeping with the aforementioned sense of the ancient. The guest player, Derek Wadsworth, does a grand job droning away for the 4 minutes duration as the group deliver what can only be described as an alt-rock piece, the sound of the big country, moving away from the Punk roots. Sad to say the album's early inventiveness is not maintained all the way, not that anything is particularly unlikeable from thereon. I find that each of their first three records have been consistently good, with different strenghts in different ways. Commercially, “The Absolute Game” was the one which gave them a well-deserved UK Top 10 success. They looked good on it too; as dapper as any of the new romantics, but with better music!

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [04:10] 9.0.png Skids - Circus Games (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson, Russell Webb, Mike Baillie) New Wave
A2 [04:08] 9.2.png Skids - Out Of Town (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson) Punk
A3 [04:15] 7.3.png Skids - Goodbye Civilian (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson, Russell Webb, Mike Baillie) New Wave
A4 [03:40] 5.6.png Skids - The Children Saw The Shame (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson, Russell Webb, Mike Baillie) New Wave
A5 [05:40] 7.5.png Skids - A Woman In Winter (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson, Russell Webb, Mike Baillie) New Wave
B1 [03:42] 7.0.png Skids - Hurry On Boys (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson, Russell Webb, Mike Baillie) Alternative Rock
B2 [03:36] 6.1.png Skids - Happy To Be With You (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson, Russell Webb, Mike Baillie) Punk
B3 [05:42] 5.5.png Skids - The Devils Decade (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson, Russell Webb, Mike Baillie) Post-Punk
B4 [03:23] 5.8.png Skids - One Decree (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson, Russell Webb, Mike Baillie) New Wave
B5 [05:10] 5.1.png Skids - Arena (Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson, Russell Webb, Mike Baillie) New Wave

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