With support from The Bikini Bottoms and Dissenter …
In 1976, three boys from Greenock, Laurie Cuffe, Davie Duncan and Paul Armour grew tired of the flabby loon-panted musos, polluting the air with their soulless, note perfect, impersonations. Energised by Gene Vincent’s primitive longings and the breakneck sound of 76, they formed the Cuban Heels.
Crashing through each self-penned song before the minute hand had time to circle twice round the dial, they emptied many a Glasgow dive but there were others out there searching for the same sublime minute-thirty.
Before long they had a loyal following filling out the city sweat boxes. Changes came in 77 when John Milarky, recently split from Johnny and the Self Abusers, joined as vocalist. Spending more time in Edinburgh hanging around punk friendly Hot Licks record shop in Cockburn St, they became friendly with Mel, a millionaire who worked there part time. Independent labels were springing up everywhere and Mel decided to start his own, “Housewives Choice”, with the Cuban Heels being the first and last Artist. One thousand copies of “Downtown” were pressed and sold within weeks.
Paul left soon after and was replaced on bass by Nick Clark, Davie returned to Rockabilly, his first love and formed the legendary Shakin Pyramids. Ali McKenzie not only took over the backbeat but became a driving force, pushing the band forward. The next single “Walk on Water” was released on Ali’s own label, Cuba Libra and, after it was named NME’s single of the week, record companies began to take notice. Before long the band were signed to Virgin. Several Peel and Richard Skinner sessions were recorded, followed by major supports with the Jam, Comsat Angels, Graham Parker, the Scars and Stranglers.
Working with Nick Launay (Killing Joke, Steve Hillage, (Simple Minds) and Mick Glossop, (Public Image) , they settled on producer John Leckie (The Stone Roses). The single Sweet Charity was released in early 1980 followed by “My Colours Fly”. Both were received well and the band went on to record their first album, “Work Our Way to Heaven”, released to uniform praise. They toured the album extensively but sales didn’t match the enthusiasm of die hard fans. A reworked version of Walk on Water was released, once again receiving rave reviews but failing to chart.
Rather than being disheartened, Laurie used the adversity to write some of his best songs, Call of the Wild, Primitives and Innocents but Virgin were already clearing out the bands signed in 1980 and replacing them with the shiny, all new singing and dancing acts of 1981.
Like many other before them, the Cuban Heels grew tired and disillusioned. Realising the end was nigh, they took their fate into their own hands and split.
Although the Cuban Heels never managed to hit the heights, they are still warmly remembered almost forty years later, holding a pivotal position in the history of the Scottish new wave that paved the way for others to inherit.
The Bikini Bottoms are an idiosyncratic rock n’ roll duo from Glasgow in the UK, playing a signature mix of surf-rock, garage, punk, psychobilly and rock n’ roll at breakneck speed.
The band produce music creatively driven by nostalgia, with subject matter including spooky movies, 60’s tv shows and childhood cartoons, as well as combing a love for heavy punk and psychobilly with colourful 50’s rock and roll, and have played with a range of prominent artists in the genres including King Kurt, Messer Chups, Legendary Shack Shakers, The Creepshow and The Blue Cats.
The duo released a 5 track EP Monster Surf and Rockabilly! in 2016 and then a sci-fi-surf-rock single Living in a Twilight Zone in 2017, the former receiving positive critical response, notably from Louder than War Magazine: “the EP is a hellzapoppin’, reverb-drenched, twang-fest of tremolo and trouble and is a huge amount of fun. “
Dissenter is a Grunge ukulele artist with a roaring passion to bring new colour to music .. Honest words from an honest Glaswegian, pass on the passion …