The Skids. Scared To Dance. Released – 1979.

THE AA’s official route planner lists the distance from Dunfermline to Glasgow as 38.2 miles.

For Simple Minds the journey must have seemed never ending. They had set off on a fact-finding mission across the Kincardine Bridge simply to confirm their suspicions.

“A punk band from Fife! They’ll be a bunch of farmers’ boys. We’re not having that,” said Jim Kerr.

But what they saw at the Kinema Ballroom in 1978 stopped them in their tracks.

This punk-band from Fife were fuelled by the raw power of bassist Willie Simpson and drummer Tam Kellichan.

While the edgy, melodic riffs of Stuart Adamson showcased the skills of a bona fide guitar hero in waiting.

They were led by Richard Jobson, whose youthful aggression and sheer braggadocio would later establish him as one of Scottish rock’s most unlikely frontmen.

“They were on fire. Absolutely incredible. We couldn’t believe it,” recalled Kerr.

“Nobody said a single word on the way home … there was total silence in the back of the van.”

Within 12 months, The Skids would release Scared To Dance, an impressive debut album whose lyrical content and musical ambition belied their working class background.

“I’d always written little bits of prose or poems which I felt had a real quality about them,” said Richard.

“When the band started, all the words were Stuart’s. They were very social realist comments on what was going on in new towns like Glenrothes and the kind of macho element we didn’t really like, but were brought up in.

“But when I showed him some of my words – which were a bit more surreal and abstract – he really loved them. So the person who encouraged me to write was Stuart Adamson, nobody else did. He said, let’s do more.”

The foundation for The Skids was laid in 1977 when school friends Adamson and Simpson began working on songs together.

They needed a singer and found 16 year old Jobson, described to Skids’ biographer Tim Barr as “a rather imposing, frightening-looking guy … you could tell he had attitude in spades.”

He was well known locally, not for any obvious musical talent but more for his appearance.

“I had black hair with a white stripe. I wore an evening suit – with no shirt – and had winklepicker shoes,” he said.

“Every single person in the town wanted to kick the s*** out of me.”

Kellichan was recruited after he’d responded to an advert that specified “no hairies”.

In May 1977, Jobson, Adamson and Simpson saw The Clash tear Edinburgh Playhouse apart on their iconic White Riot tour. It helped galvanise their ambitions.

They played their first gig at the Bellville Hotel in Dunfermline on August 19 supporting Matt Vinyl & The Decorators, and made an instant impression thanks to the stage dynamic between Jobson and Adamson.

A few months later they supported The Clash at the Kinema and Buzzcocks at Clouds in Edinburgh.

As the punk explosion spilled over into 1978, two key moments shaped The Skids’ immediate future.

They played Clouds again on February 10 opening for The Stranglers, whose bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel was so knocked out by their energy and power he asked them to open for the band at Glasgow Apollo and Battersea Park.

“We played two nights at the Apollo and the first was one of the most violent gigs I’ve ever been to in my entire life,” recalled Richard.

“J.J. jumped off the stage – probably the highest of any venue in the world – and chased a bouncer who’d been beating up a kid in the audience. Even though he was a karate expert I remember thinking … oh no, you shouldn’t have done that.

“We were terrified. The police escorted them out of the building. But they had to come back to the Apollo the next night to do it all again.”

On February 24, The Skids released their first EP whose key track was Charles, an Adamson composition with lyrics which were a scathing critique on working in a dead-end factory job.

It was financed by Sandy Muir, a local record shop owner who became their manager.

“To suddenly have a single with our pictures on the sleeve was beyond our wildest dreams,” admitted Richard.

“We sent it to John Peel thinking, he’s never gonna play it. But he did, and for the next two months.

“We went to Sandy’s shop to sign some copies but he said, I’ve not got any left. Kids had queued from first thing that morning to get them.

“We knew then that something was in the air. It was an extraordinary feeling.”

The band caught the attention of Simon Draper of Virgin Records who arranged for them to open for Magazine at Satellite City in Glasgow. Their performance clinched a deal.

They were paired with Mike Howlett of Gong as a potential producer after his work with Penetration.

But when the sessions were unsuccessful Dave Batchelor – a fellow Scot and producer of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – was drafted in.

Sweet Suburbia, their debut single for Virgin, stalled at No. 70. The follow-up, the Wide Open EP - featuring The Saints Are Coming - fared better reaching No. 48.

They began recording Scared To Dance at The Townhouse in London.

The combination of Jobson’s vivid lyrics and Adamson’s incendiary guitar proved a potent mix.

Early songs such as Into The Valley, Melancholy Soldiers, Of One Skin and Scared To Dance remain classics in their catalogue.

“If you listen to Six Times which is about masturbation or Integral Plot written about my own paranoia, they were really quite fragmented and ambitious,” said Richard.

“Dave was very clever with us. He knew it would be a disaster to work slowly. It HAD to be fast. He was trying to capture the real essence of the band, then he’d start building on that.”

But the sessions hit a bump in the road when Adamson walked out when he thought his music was being compromised.

“Stuart must have left the band on ten occasions over the years,” revealed Richard.

“He was much more idealistic than I was as far as the music went. I’m not really a musician. I go with the flow to whatever is the best outcome.

“But Stuart wanted to record Scared To Dance in the same way we’d done our first EP with no overdubs. He was influenced by Joe Strummer from the point of view he felt you should only record songs you can play live. He really believed that.”

With the clock ticking, Batchelor turned to Townhouse maintenance engineer Chris Jenkins to overdub guitar parts to complete some recordings.

“There are overdubs on Scared To Dance itself and Stuart really hated that. So he stormed out in the middle of the recording,” recalled Richard.

“This wasn’t unusual. I was so used to it. He didn’t like where some songs were heading, but I did.

“But the overdubs on the album are really beautiful. They give the songs an almost Bill Nelson-esque melodic quality. Chris did tiny bits that Stuart took great exception to. By the time he decided to come back it was too late. We were under a lot of pressure to get the thing done.”

The album was preceded by Into The Valley, which gave the band their first Top Ten single.

Scared To Dance hit record stores on February 23, 1979, and reached No. 19.

To celebrate the album’s 40th anniversary it’s being re-released by Last Night From Glasgow in 2022.

That could provide Jobson with an incentive to revisit it.

“I don’t think I’ve listened to the album since we made it. I never look back on work, only forward,” he said.

“So there are songs I’ve not really heard since we recorded them. God knows what they sound like now.

“Sometimes I hear my voice and I just want to stick my head in my hands and scream … what were you thinking about, ya big daft b******? Other times I’ll hear something and say, that’s okay.

“But my memory of the album is nothing but good. When The Skids started we weren’t what would be regarded as a punk or post-punk band. We were much more interesting than that.

“The music was really quite ambitious. We weren’t trying to be The Ramones, The Clash or The Sex Pistols. We were fans of all of those people

but we had our own little identity.

“In retrospect, while Stuart took real umbrage about the guitar work on it, his own playing is phenomenal.

“So think of all the bands you’d put The Skids alongside and their albums sound exactly how you’d expect them to.

“But Scared To Dance doesn’t. It wasn’t ten versions of Into The Valley or The Saints Are Coming.

“The songs all had their own unique identity and ambition. From my own position in the band, which is the words, I was reaching beyond myself.

“I’m still trying to do that.”

RICHARD Jobson was standing on the touchline watching his daughter play hockey when he received what he thought was a prank phone call.

“A guy with an Irish accent was on the line and said - I’m The Edge from U2,” recalled the singer.

“I was like yeah, of course you are mate. F*** off. I thought it was somebody having a laugh at my expense.”

But it WAS the legendary guitarist and as Jobson stood in stunned silence, he explained that U2 and Green Day were in Abbey Road Studios – with ace producer Rick Rubin – recording a new version of The Saints Are Coming.

Both bands had joined forces to cover The Skids’ song to raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.

“The Edge said … we’d like you to come down to Abbey Road,” revealed Richard.

“When I got there U2 and Green Day had their gear set up in Studio 2 where The Beatles recorded all their classic albums.

“They were playing a song whose lyrics I’d written when I was 15 years old in Dunfermline Library.

“When I listened to what they’d done it was amazing. I was in a state of shock.

“I tried to sit quietly in a corner. But Bono of U2 is not like that at all … he’s a very inclusive guy. So he really wanted me to be part of what they were doing. It was nice to tell him about a period of my life I thought was dead and buried.”

The Edge was influenced by Stuart Adamson who died in 2001 aged 43.

And Jobson also has a great affection for his former songwriting partner.

“I miss Stuart, but he’s not gone really … he’s still with me in the music,” he said.

“My relationship with him was as a guy who was a firmament of my life. We did everything together, and then that ended.

“Obviously he’d gone on to bigger and better things with Big Country.

“But I think the stuff Stuart did with The Skids was probably his best work. Now, at every gig I take a little moment between songs to talk about him and tell the audience what this guy was really like. So Stuart’s music will always be with us. It will never go away.”

* THE Billy Sloan Show is on BBC Radio Scotland every Saturday at 10pm.