THEY have called it the Glasgow Miracle, a research project that is delving into the archives of the city's Third Eye Centre and discovering contracts and correspondence, still photography, film and video work that documents the key figures who performed at the venue at 350 Sauchiehall Street, now home to the Centre for Contemporary Arts.
In August and September, CCA director Francis McKee presented a gallery show of the first fruits of this archeology under the title What We Have Done, What We Are About To Do. It featured major players in the story, including Tom McGrath, Jimmy Boyle and John Byrne, and important visitors like Allen Ginsberg, Michael Craig-Martin and Keith Tippett, and sparked memories of other important events in the Third Eye's calendar.
Between October 21 and November 1, 1986 the Third Eye hosted a season entitled Glasgow Style that marked the first time those two words were yolked together, and denoted a flowering of creativity some distance from the current use of the phrase to denote the Buchanan Street retail experience.
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Administered by Phyllis Steele, a pivotal force in much grassroots arts work in the run-up to and during the city's year as European City of Culture in 1990, Glasgow Style brought together fashion, product design and music in a celebration of youthful enterprise.
There was a fashion show, directed by James Runcie, then a young theatre-maker, now better known as a writer. It was designed by Minty Donald, now an artist and academic at Glasgow University. It featured clothes by Lex McFadyen, Spencer Railton, Joanie Jack, Gillian Cowie and Jan Nimmo. Running alongside was an exhibition of radical new designs in lighting, with work by Stephen French, Derek Brown and Janice Kirkpartrick, who would go on to co-found the Graven Images studio in the Merchant City.
The season culminated in three nights of music, from bands selected by The Herald's music writer David Belcher to represent the sound of young Glasgow. I had yet to join the staff of this august organ, but was present in the line up of one of those groups, The Beat Poets. Our instrumental rock'n'roll opened proceedings on the Thursday evening in the company of guitarist and graphic artist George Miller's beat combo, The Styng Rites. On the Friday the sonic invention of Fini Tribe was paired with The Boy Hairdressers, who included the recently revitalised Joe McAlinden and Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub. The Saturday night stars were BMX Bandits and The Pastels.
A quarter of a century on, Duglas T Stewart is still at the helm of the good ship BMX Bandits and has just released one of the band's best albums, BMX Bandits In Space, with a clutch of new songs written with former Soup Dragon Jim McCulloch. George Miller co-leads a new beat combo The New Piccadillys with Keith Warwick and that 1960s aesthetic is still intact, now often applied to great punk tunes to make them sound minted 15 years earlier. And guitarist Tom Rafferty and myself still regularly resurrect The Beat Poets, marking our own quarter century with a gig at the silver jubilee of Glasgow Jazz Festival last year.
Those three bands will be rolling back the years, and proving that Glasgow Style has always been in fashion, on Friday of this week when the spirit of the old Third Eye Centre will be recreated in the more refined architecture of the CCA. We have called it What We Did Then And Are Pleased To Do Again, and perhaps some of those Herald readers who were there then will be there again, including the man who picked the bands, playing some of his own favourite records from the era between the live acts.
Back then one Tom Morton, writing in the Melody Maker, enjoyed the BMX Bandits throwing sweeties into the audience. Duglas T Stewart remembers a beer being hurled back – and catching it, mid song. And one of the groups was described by Morton as "the only perfect band in Glasgow," but modesty forbids me naming them.
Glasgow Style presents What We Did Then And Are Pleased To Do Again at CCA, Glasgow on Friday from 7.45pm