US Presidents – The SY Connection (Part 2 of Some) : 1776 and the War of In-dip-endence

10 05 2016

US Presidents – The SY Connection (Part 2 of Some) : 1776 and the War of In-dip-endence
In this American election year, our series on US presidents and their Leodhasach connections has been going a bit slowly, what with all the fleekeen obituaries we keep having to write.
So let us go right back to the beginning, and examine the conflict in 18th-century Lewis that inspired America’s founding fathers to take up arms against the heavy-handed policies of their Coll-onial masters. 
Until 1776, villages all over the Isle of Lewis were free to manage sheep scab as they saw fit. The dates for dipping, the concentration of the wash solution, the level of rabid insanity in the attending sheepdogs, and the order in which the half bottle of Trawler Rum should be passed round were all decided by the local grazings committees.
King George III was not happy with the situation, however. The sheep dip manufacturer in which he was a major shareholder was failing because of poor Hebridean sales of their flagship product – “Old Mad Seoras’s Patent Gairtean Magnet and Scab Promoting Solution”.
Under pressure from the King and his business associates, Parliament passed a bill strictly controlling every aspect of the sheep dipping year in his Hebridean colonies. Among other structures, the new laws banned excessive drinking at the fank, and required everyone to use the King’s ruppish dip prompting essayist Thomas Coulegrein to write the incendiary pamphlet “The Rights of Maws” in protest.
This led to uproar across the island. Crofters in Bernera, outraged to find a flask of refreshing hot beverage waiting for them at a fank in place of their usual carry-out, poured the contents into the sea at one of the island’s scenic beaches with a cry of “No deinfestation without libation!”. This event, known as the Bosta Tea Party, was the trigger for the War of In-dip-endence.
The War ran for several years and set brother against brother, maw against Townie and shareholder against grazings committee.
The King’s forces consisted of the Redcoves (so called because most of them came from Point), backed up by a large force of brutal Nessian mercenaries from Skigersta.
The Coll-onial forces were largely part-time soldiers (from the Army Cadets and Boys Brigade) and although under-equipped at the outset of the War, soon proved themselves to be effective warriors under the charismatic leadership of their general, George Sheepwashingtòin (ably assisted by his yes-man Thomas Tha-Milton, whose life story has recently been made into a hit Broadbay musical told entirely via the medium of crap.)
The war had its fair share of heroism and stupidity. Knockaird cabbage-magnate Nathan Kale had a short-lived career as a spy. He posed as a Townie Loyalist for a week but got found out when the boat he was spotted waving at furiously from the Eoropie machair turned out to be full of the King’s troops and not the coves returning from Sulasgeir with a haul of Gugas as he had mistakenly thought. His last words before being hung for his treachery proved inspiring to many: ‘I only regret that I have but one life to Lewis for my country’ 
Paul Reverend, an FP Minister from Habost, was the person responsible for equipping the troops with uniforms. On the first order he sent in to Murdo MacLeans for uniforms, he forgot to include trousers, resulting in the Coll-onials having have go into battle in their drathars. Eventually Paul saw a consignment of trousers being unloaded at Brevig Harbour and ran back to the Coll-onial lines shouting ‘The Briogais Are Coming! The Briogais Are Coming!’
The War itself was notable for several pitched battles which included Newvalley Forge and Tic-on-her-doggie but was basically the two sides standing on opposite sides of a river shouting swears and calling each other names. Then when a big cove charged, the opposing coves would run away to one of many fortified settlements around Broadbay.
The main defensive garrison was named for its commander, the lechendary traitor Benedict Arnol. It was re-named Fort Clinton after the war due to the fact that it had a nice yard. Nowadays, the site is known as West Point, which is ironic since Benedict Arnol actually came from Portvoller.
Anyway, after several years of conflict the Coll-onials eventually prevailed and King George III had to wave goodbye to his lucrative sheep dip revenues. An interim Grazings Committee, “The Second Continental ConGress” was set up between modern day Back and Tolsta while The Declaration of In-dip-pendence was being scribbled down on a beer mat in Mac’s Imperial. 
The declaration was co-authored by Benjamin Fanklin (anti-slavery campaigner and great-grandfather of soul diva Athighearna Fanklin) and Thomas Wedderson (who was always banging on about equality but actually kept a load of slaves on his bog cotton plantation out on the Arnish Moor). After the war, Wedderson successfully negotiated the Lewisiana Purchase, in which South Lochs was bought from the French for a bag of winkles cunningly rebranded as “Hebridean sea salted escargots”.
Thus ends another significant chapter in Lewis history, but those of you of a more scholarly bent who wish to find out more about this period in time, and particularly the disastrous impact the war had upon the indiginous people of the country areas would do well to pick up a copy of ‘The Last of the Maw-hicans’ by James Fivepennymore-Cooper.


23 04 2016

Mince Robach Nicolson RIP: My Name Is Mince and I Am Manky.
Hebridean fans of genre-defying music and poor quality meats were saddened yusterday by the passing of enigmatic rock star and disqualified Stornoway butcher Mince.
From obscure beginnings in 1970s Plasterfield (grinding up the leftover eyeballs and hooves in M*mb*sa’s shop) Mince went on to a career that encompassed megastardom, name changes, disputes with his record company and not a few run-ins with the Comhairle’s food safety inspectors.
Mince Robach Nicolson was born in Ministerapolis in 1958, and wrote his first tune “Fank Machine” on his father’s loom when he was seven. Apprenticed to a local butcher, Mince developed his talent for music by humming waulking songs in time to the rhythmic stirring of blood in a big pail. This kept the other apprentice butchers entertained in the backshop as they made the batches of marags.
Many of his early songs were influenced by his experiences as a butcher. This included his breakthrough hit and album ‘19 Garynahine’, a funky song about an illegal marag factory in Garynahine where Mince used to do homers.

 ‘I was steaming when I wrote this

And Fleek me I have gone astray

Cos when I sobered up this morning

Could have missed church in Stornoway

My face was all purple
I was looking for my bus fare

Trying to run from Uig junction

You know there’s fleeking Uigeachs there

Cause they say twelve zero zero
Church is over, Fleek out of time

So tonight I’m going to a prayer meeting at 19 Garynahine’

Mince really came into his own with the release in 1984 of Purple Reinidigale. This semi conceptual, and autobiographical album (and film soundtrack) was a scathing attack on the proposed Reinidigale road due to the vast tracts of heather which would be destroyed by the tarmac. The album included the hits ‘When Doves A’ Ghraidh’, Let’s Go (Common) Grazing and ‘Darling Niccy’ – (a homage to Mince’s old school, the Nicolson Institute). The latter caused a furore with its lyrical content, causing outspoken morality campaigner (and sister of Coinneach) Tipper Gobha to insist that “Parental Advisory: Ruppish Lyrics” stickers should be affixed to all of his future releases. 
Mince released a number of less successful films over the years. The biggest box office flop was 1986’s “Under the Hearach Mùn” (in which he played a Tarbert sewage worker who falls in love with a posh dame staying at Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, played by “4 Funerals and a Tigh-aire” star Ciorstag SirEScott-Thomas) and 1990’s “Graffiti Bridgecottages” which was pretty ruppish as well.
Mince was approached by gothic movie maestro Tim Bur-Tòin in 1989 to contribute songs to his forthcoming comic book adaptation about tairsgeir-wielding superhero “FàdMan”. The biggest hit from the soundtrack was “FàdDance”; a celebration of the windmilling motions FàdMan would employ upon being attacked by midgies when lifting the peats.
1991 saw the release of Dia-maws & Pearls; a concept album decrying the deplorable trend of women in the country regions tarting themselves up too much for the òrduighean weekend, a topic he had previously explored on the 1985 single “Raspberry Beret”. The album also featured the song Ìm (Get on Top) which insisted that margarine was an unacceptable spread for application to the pancakes after the service on Di-haoine a’ Cheist. 
In 1993, unhappy with his record company, Mince changed his name to an unpronounceable sheep mark (two red stripes and a splodge of green) and started releasing a series of 50 unlistenable albums of hard core Gaelic Psalms sung in the style of the Gregorian Chant in order to get himself out of his contract. Each album came with a free pail of offal which contributed to the lamentable sales.
Mince was a hard and capricious taskmaster, and highly selective in choosing his musicians. His band The Reverend-lution was mostly assembled from top class session ministers, many of whom went on to break away and start their own denominations – among them the Rev Dez Diggumda, Doctor Fank and Sheila Eepresbyterian. 
In the 90s the Reverend-lution was replaced by a new backing band, Mince & The Wind Power Generation, featuring Murdo Weavingshed on melodeon and Tormod Barvasella on chanter.
Latterly, Mince’s touring band was 3rdEyePeninsulaGirl, consisting of 3 blones from Sheshader.
Beyond his own groups, Mince was also famous for his collaborations with other singers and musicians as long as they were blones. These included 
Sheena Eaststreet, the wee blone from Bell’s Road who had won BBC Stoarnoway’s talent show “The Big Tuyme”. Mince duetted with Eaststreet on “Ewe Got The Fluke’.

Vanityofvanitiesallisvanity 6, the Seceder girl group that he formed in 1981.

Chanter virtuoso Candy Duff 

Chaka Khanseo

Windy & Leodhasach

The Mangles- four hot Blones who sang Mawnic Monday

Mince was highly respected by his fellow musicians, and a number of his songs were covered by top artistes. Among the most successful Mince covers were “Nothing Compares Co-Dhiú” by Sìnead O. Cromwellstreet, and “Keose” by Tom Blones and the Ceards of Noise.
His output was somewhat diminished in recent years, but he had great success in 2004 with Lewscastlecology, a one-off release on Columcille Records.
With his royalties (£15.35) Mince bought an ex council house in Parkend and converted it into a recording studio & slaughterhouse. This was known as Paisley Parkend. It was here he was sadly found slumped over his mincing desk. 
Rumours persist that Mince had a vault of material in Paisley Parkend sufficiently large that he could release an album a year for the next 100 years, and his family and the curators of his estate are threatening to do just that unless bags of unmarked banknotes are left down behind the County at regular intervals.

Filmed in Supermarag-o-nation : The Ferry & Sylvia Andersonroad Story

27 03 2016

Old SYs will have been sorry to hear of the recent passing of Sylvia Andersonroad, who with her husband Ferry produced some of the best loved ruppish puppet TV series to be seen on Maciver & Dart’s Stornoway-area TV channel in the 50s, 60s and 70s.
In the late 50s, with wood and string in short supply, the Andersonroads started building puppets out of left-over bits they found in the bins behind Stornoway’s butcher shops. They perfected their pioneering puppetry technique – known as Supermaragonation – over a number of early series such as “Four Faoileag Falls” (an unconvincing “Westren” set in a fictional cowboy town on the Barvas Moor), “Fordsondexta XL5” and of course “Torcuil the Battery Boy”.
Major success first came with the submarine adventure “Stiomraway”, featuring Truagh Tempest and his bewitching mermaid companion Aqua Murdina. The theme song, by brylcreemed smoothie crooner Garryvard Millersgarage, was a big hit in the 1964 Radio Ranol singles charts:
“Murdina… Aqua Murdina

What are these strange enchantments that start whenever you’re near?

Murdina… Aqua Murdina

Away down the town and catch me a mog from under the pier”

The Andersonroads’ biggest hit was Thunderbards, starring a group of elderly drunken Gaelic songsmiths working from a futuristic underground base on Sober Island. The bards kept an array of highly advanced spacecraft poised on the launchpad 24/7, ready to chet off at a moment’s notice if news of a Mòd or a new Bothan opening was detected by their ultramodren global satellite surveillance system. Onshore, the Thunderbards were ably supported by their aristocratic secret agent Lady Fankelope and her pink tractor FAD 1, driven by deadpan South Lochie chauffeur Pairc-er. 
All their machines were developed and maintained by bespectacled mad scientist MacBraynes. Despite the series’ success, some critics complained that the plots weren’t very exciting. This was generally due to the fact that in many episodes, Thunderbards would arrive late, or cancel their mission altogether and blame the weather. 
The actual models used in the show were pretty low tech. Thunderbard 1 was basically a model of a Loganair Islander, Thunderbard 2 was a McBrayne Haulage lorry Airfix kit and Thunderbard 3 was a Skyray ice lolly from Paddy Reid’s that kept melting. 
Thunderbard 4 was actually quite reliable, but was usually away doing a replacement run in Shetland or somewhere.
Another big mid-60s hit was Captain Scalpay, starring the indestructible puppet hero and his comrades in the planetary defence force Spàgtrom. Captain Scalpay, Colonel Whitemarag, Captain Brue, Lieutenant Grianan and their squadron of sexy cuireamach chet pilot blones, the Predestination Angels, operated from Spàgtrom’s hi-tech airborne headquarters – Macleodbase. 
Their mission was to protect Earth against the malign attentions of an invisible alien power – the Ministerons. Every week, the Ministerons would loudly condemn humanity and its failings in a scary booming voice (while also, helpfully, announcing what their next evil plan was going to be). To execute their nefarious schemes, the Ministerons often acted through their human agent, the undead arch-villian Captain Back.
As the 60s ended and offal-related hygiene regulations were tightened, the Andersonroads found it increasingly difficult to get hold of materials for puppet-making. To compound matters, their later puppet-based shows didn’t score so highly with the viewers. “Joe 90 Pints”, with his specs made out of old milk bottles, flying Ford Thames van and secret base under the Manor Dairy, failed to enthral audiences. Even less successful was “The Secret Service”, about a religious splinter group’s efforts to keep the times of their meetings a secret from their ecclesiastical rivals, who wanted the mission house keys back. The fact that “The Secret Service” was transmitted on Sundays did nothing to increase its audience. 
With the diminishing success of their puppet ventures, the Andersonroads decided to move over to live action, beginning with “EweFO” (1970). In “EweFO”, Ed Stràcair and his secret organisation S.H.A.D.E.R defended the Outer Hebrides and their good old island blackface sheep against invasion by alien breeds like Cheviots, Suffolks and Swaledales. Disguised as a Gaelic TV production company and operating from a “studio” on Seaforth Road, S.H.A.D.E.R deployed a range of land and air vehicles to combat the evil space mehhhags in their flying circular hayracks. The first line of defence was a squadron of nuclear-armed S.H.A.D.E.R interceptors operating from Moorbase, an undisclosed location somewhere out behind the Waterworks. 
Later in the 70s, the Andersonroads went big budchet with “Space 199Garynahine”. The pilot episode began with an entire croft and its inhabitants blasting off from Planet Earth accidentally, due to the explosion of a massive buildup of gas from a skate buried in the òcrach. Every week thereafter, the 4-acre croft – a self-sustaining environment including house, outbuildings, crops, livestock and machinery – hurtled through the cosmos, meeting different aliens and getting into all sorts of intergalactic bother. “Space199Garynahine” employed a stellar cast, including Martin Lantodhar and Barbara Bainandmorrisons (who’d previously starred in “Missionhouse Impossible”), Barry Morsgail and Catherine Shellstreet. The series was famed for its groovy spaceships ‘The Seagulls’. 
In the 1980s, “Terra na-H’oganich’s” was the Andersonroads’ final attempt at cracking the big time. This was a sci-fi series about a group of evil aliens trying to modernise contemporary Gaelic music by using the keyboard player from 1980’s Goathill Road Football Stadium rockers Simple Minds to make their versions of old favourites trendy. 
Many old SYs will fondly remember the ruthless toy merchandising that went with all Ferry and Sylvia Andersonroad’s series. Woolies and the Electro Sports made a fortune right through the 60s and 70s flogging Thunderbards rockets, Lady Fankelope’s tractor, Captain Scalpay’s Spàgtrom Pursuit Vehicle (a rusty old Hillman Husky with a coat of red oxide and a detachable plastic sheep in the back), and so on. 
When “Thunderbards” was re-run on Grampian in 1992, pre-Xmas demand for the Thunderbards Sober Island Playset led to riots in Woolies. Luckily BBC Alba’s “Brue Peater” stepped in and saved the day, showing viewers how to build their own Sober Island model using a fishbox, a dead seal and a dozen empty Special Brew cans.

George Martinsmemorial RIP

16 03 2016

Music fans everywhere (well, here and there around the island anyway) were saddened the other day by the passing of legendary producer George Martinsmemorial, the studio genius behind 60s pop phenomenon The Peatles.
In the early 60s, Martinsmemorial was an in-house producer at Eoropie Music International (EMI) in Ness. EMI were doing fair to middling with the Gaelic Psalmody Recitals, trad chazz and comedy records (by the likes of The Gugas, Bernard Crùbagans, and Peter Stornowayfishselllers) that were their stock in trade. But Martinmsmemorial wanted to break into the pop market and was on the lookout for the right group. One day in 1962, there was a knock on the door and who should appear but up-and-coming mawp-tops the Peatles and their go-getting manager Brian Epsteinish. “We were chust up at the Decca Station and they told us to fleek off”, arsa Brian.”Anything doing at EMI”? 
Martinsmemorial immediately cancelled the session he’d been booked to produce that morning, with seceder trad chazz band The Intolerance Seven, and set to work with the Peatles instead 
The band were battle-hardened at this point; they’d just done a long stint over in Stornoway playing 4 shows a night at the notorious Star Inn, so they dashed off their 1st album “Please Fleece Me” by the time the potatoes were boiled for their dinner.

Long before the Monkees came along, the Peatles were known as “The Prefab Four” – not because they were a fake made up boy band, but because they were from Plasterfield. When they first met Martinsmemorial, they consisted of Trawl MacCardingmachine, Seoras Hearachson, John StLennansChurch and Peat Best. Best, however was not sufficiently ruppish on the drums, and was soon replaced by Bingo StarrInn, poached from south-of-the-border beat combo Ruaraidh Strond & The Hearachcanes.
Under Martinsmemorial’s guidance, The Peatles recorded a string of albums that defined the 60s and continue to influence popular music to this day, including:
Please Fleece Me
Lift The Peatles

A Fleeking Hardy Days Night

Peatles For Sailing The Minch


Ruppish Sole

Hee Reevolver Ho Ro

Sabbath Papers/Laundry/Marts/Pubs Banned

Magical Mitchell’s Bus Tour

The Shite Album

Yellow MarineHarvest

Let Us Pray (also broadcast from the roof of St Columbas)

Habba Road

A consummate diplomat, Martinsmemorial remained pals with everybody after the Peatles’ acrimonious split in 1970, even John StLennanschurch and the dreaded Yoko Othighearnano. He produced much of Trawl MacCardingmachine’s post-Peatles work, including the theme to the little-known 1973 James Bond classic “Lióbag Let Die”, in which Bond foils an international criminal mastermind’s plan to destroy the Broad Bay flatfish industry. 
Martinsmemorial went on to work with a wide variety of artists over the later years of his career, including the Mathagusiarraidh Orchestra, Amarybank, Kenny Rubhachgers, Stevie Flounder, synth pioneers Ultragocs and flamboyant piano-playing church officer Elder John. 
Parting company with EMI in the mid 60s, Martinsmemorial set up his own recording company, Associated Independent Presbyterian Recordings, which subsequently split into Associated Independent Presbyterian Recordings (Continuing), Free Independent Reformed Presbyterian Recordings, Associated Presbyterian Independent Free Recordings and a host of other organisations.
AIPR’s Mawserrat Studios in the Sound of Harris was the destination of choice for many top artists in the 70s and 80s, including the Rodel Stones, PortnaGuran Guran, Orchestral Manure In the Pairc, Bac Sabbath and many others. Sadly it became the subject of court proceedings between the different factions of the company in the 1980s, fell into disrepair and was blown away by Hurricane Uisdean in 1989.
In the 1990’s Martinsmemorial also took a lead role in uncovering lost Peatles recordings of Gaelic psalms and putting together the well received ‘An Theology’ boxed sets. This included the famous Free As A Church single which brought The Peatles back to the Number 1 slot in DD Morrisons Charts.

Sabbath Papers Laundry Marts Pubs Banned

It was many years ago today

Since Sunday papers came to Stornoway

They’re Always on a Monday due 

But they’re guaranteed to raise a queue

So let me get a day-old Sunday Post

Without annoying the Holy Ghost

Sabbath papers, laundry, marts, pubs banned.
We’ve Sabbath Papers, laundry, marts, pubs banned

We hope you will enjoy the show

We’ve Sabbath papers, laundry, marts, pubs banned

Sit back and to the evening service go

Monday papers only, Monday papers only

Sabbath papers laundry marts pubs banned

It’s wonderful to sing psalm tunes

Instead of reading the Broons

You’re such a lovely congregation 

We’d love to save you from conflagration 

We’d love to take take you home.

Glenn Freychurch RIP

26 01 2016

Glenn Leodhas Freychurch RIPWhen the Outer Hebrides Licensing Board met in 1975 to make up their infamous List of Songs That All Bands Playing In Stornoway Pubs Have To Play All The Time For The Next 100 Years At Least, Glenn Freychurch’s “Take It Easy” was beaten to the top only by “Freebird”. (And maybe “Whisky In The Char”). 
Indeed, “Take It Easy” was the only song that many Stornoway covers bands bothered to learn, and a fair few of them made a good living out of playing it over and over and over again all night, every fleekeem fleekeen night.
That’s one of several reasons why the demise of the Seagles’ guitarist is such a bitter blow to his fellow Hebridean musicians, following so swiftly on from the departures of Lemmy, David Bowie and thon cove in the Specials.
Freychurch and the Seagles popularised their smooth, mellow brand of West Side sounds in the early 70s. These were cold, grim times in Stornoway – plagued as they were by peatcutters’ strikes, herring shortages, brown flared boiler suits and Austin Allegros. Freychurch’s songs transported the listener to a different world, where they could cruise down the sunny boulevards of Santa Bragar in a convertible, sip cocktails in a beachside bar under the palms in Malibu ( or Melbost Borve, at least), and strut about Los Arnol-es wearing a daft big medallion and a chest wig.
Freychurch’s songs captured the contradictions of 70s West Side life – a laid-back freewheelin’ lifestyle of empty hedonism on the surface, with an undercurrent of melancholy, desperation and impending cuiream beneath.
Glenn Leodhasach Freychurch was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1948, to parents who’d emigrated to Canada on the Metagama then sneaked over the border to get jobs in the city’s automobile industry. Glenn was a mere 6 months old when the family returned to their home village of Grimshader in 1949. His old man had been deported for receiving contraband marags, duff and craggan’s biscuits from dubious West Side associates in the post and peddling them among Detroit’s large exile community. (This experience was the basis for his solo hit “Smuggler’s Brues” in the 1980s).
Growing up in the beat boom of the early 60s, Freychurch developed an early interest in music, His first band in the mid-60s was The Subterraneans, not to be confused with the 1980s Sandwick band of the same name. Unfortunately Freychurch often did get the 2 bands mixed up, and for most of 1964 was in the habit of turning up for practices at Deadollac’s shed on North Street, only to find that it hadn’t been built yet, and the rest of “his” band were either in nappies or hadn’t been born. Many years later, in his drug-addled 80s period, Freychurch once again took to appearing at Subterraneans rehearsals until AJK told him to fleek off. 
In the late 60s Freychurch got tired of Grimshader and decided to make for the West Side, where he cruised the freeway between Ness and Carloway, networking with various hippy musos such as JD Southdell and Jackson Breasclete, and spending a lot of time smoking kippers with the self-absorbed community of singer-songwriters up in Lionel Canyon.
The Seagles first came together in the early 70’s to back well known country singer Linda StRonanstadt. The original four musicians immediately gelled and decided to develop the country rock sound by forming a band. Joining Freychurch in this line up were Domhnall Henhouse, Berniera Leadon (previously with the Frying Buntata Brothers) and Randy Minister.
Their first album, simple called Seagles, became a overnight sensation with local music fans and sold over 5 copies in DD Morrisons. It contained such tunes as “Peaceful Easy Sheiling” and “Witchy (Tolsta) Cailleach”, which set the template for their musical direction.
Leadon decided to leave the band in 1975, unhappy that they were moving away from the chanter and melodeon tunes he loved and becoming more rocky to appeal to the crowd in the Lewis Public. This rocky element was beefed up even further when Don Elder joined the band as lead guitarist.
In 1977 Joe Lochalsh joined the band. A native of Wester Ross, he’d made his home in Stornoway after being chucked off the Loch Seaforth in 1968, and had made a name for himself with the Jamieson Drive Gang, scoring big hits with “Fank#49” and “Waulk Away”.
Lochalsh’s first album with the Seagles was the legendary “Hotel Callanish”, and his epic solo on the title track was to become a timeless classic. Indeed it won “worst lead break of all time” in a 1998 “Tolsta Guitar” magazine poll. 

The band had always been a fractious bunch of bleigards, continually fighting over what chords to play and who got to sit in the wee seat next to the driver whilst on tour on a Mitchell’s bus. Arguments were ten a penny and threats of bodily harm flew thick and fast across the stage. Eventually it all came to a head and the Seagles announced that they were splitting up at the end of a massive tour of the Scout Hall, the YM and Sandwick Hall. 
Famously, Domhnall Hensupper was asked if they would ever reform, to which he replied ‘When Wee Free’s Is Over’, making reference to the small chance of the Free Church rejoining the Church of Scotland.
Freychurch had a successful solo career following the Seagles’ breakup, and he always remained on good terms with Henshed. He had a big hit with ‘The Peat Is On’ from the soundtrack to ‘Barabhas Hills Cop’. 
Eventually the lure of a lucrative residency in the Golf Club (every second Saturday throughout April and May depending on competitions and weddings) brought the five band members back together. They toured extensively round the whole of Lewis and recorded several live albums and one studio album.
But let us close our appreciation of Glenn Leodhas Freychurch with his own words, the original lyrics of “Take It Easy”- about a tractor driver providing his services to folk taking their peats home – (before the band persuaded him to change them because it was “too fleekeen maw-ish”):

Take It Peaty

Well I’m driving down the road

Trying to hang on to my load

I’ve got seven peatstacks on my mind

Four wanna go to Bayhead

Two wanna go into a Cearns shed

And one load’s for a friend of mine
Take it peaty, take it peaty

Don’t let the sound of your own Massey

Drive you crazy

Load up while you still can

Don’t even try to use a van

Just find a place to dump your load

And take it peaty.
Well, I’m dumping at the corner

In Willowglen so warn her

and such a fine sight to see

It’s a blone, my lord, in a 52 Ford(son Dexta)

Slowing down to give an order to me

Come on baby, don’t say Tuesday

I got to know when your Peatstack 

Is going to be ready.

We may lose some peats and smuir

But it’s better than carting manure

So fill the trailer and climb in

And take it peaty.

Bowie: Scary Ministers (and Cheeky Chips)

16 01 2016

2016 has already been a year of tragedy in the Outer Hebrides’ music scene (see our Lemmy tribute), and now we mourn another much-loved Leòdhasach after the shocking loss of international pop icon David Bowie. 
Born Donald John Macleod in 1947 in the leafy Stornoway suburb of Branahuie, DJ became fascinated by Tibetan Presbyterianism at a young age. He studied the discipline for some time under the watchful eye of a Cheviot ewe (as there weren’t any llamas on the island at the time). However, his patience with mysticism wore thin, and he eventually jacked it in and spent his time studying Jazz chanter.
Donald’s growing interest in music saw him join a series of early 60s rhythm ‘n’ blues combos including the King Frees and promising Hearach band the Mànish Boys, before crossing the Braighe to Point and forming his own outfit – Donald John and the Lower Bayble.  
A master of reinvention, Donald began to experiment with dyeing his hair in the mid 60s. Back in these days, Kenny Froggan’s wouldn’t sell hair dye to coves, so Donald resorted to using various flavours of J*mmy B*ller’s luridly-coloured “Slàinte” lemonade instead. In 1965, inspired by Gress beat combo the Diamond Dogs and their flamboyant guitarist Daibhidh Bàn, Donald applied a Pineappleade rinse. Proudly sporting his new tartrazine yellow hairdo, Donald announced that his new name was “Daibhidh Buidhe”. Predictably the Townies were unable to cope with Gaelic spelling or pronunciation, so it wasn’t long before Daibhidh Buidhe became “David Bowie” and started out in new musical directions.
After several abortive attempts to jump on the Mòd bandwagon, and a singular lack of success at cabaret crooning in the style of Anthony Newallsnursery, Bowie scored a minor novelty hit in 1967 with “The Laughing Genome”, about the Niseachs’ abortive attempts to clone guga. But it was in 1969 that he first captured the zeitgeist conclusively. In a year that saw the moon landings, Stanley Kubrick’s “2001”, and the beginnings of the traditional music tuition movement for kids in the Summer holidays, Bowie released “Fèis Oddity” – a concept single about a botched attempt to send Duncan “Major” Morison into space.
“Ground control to Major Mor-is-on

Fetch your boilersuit and put your wellies on”

Bowie’s reputation grew steadily with the release of acclaimed albums such as “The Maw Who Sold The Wool” (1970) and “Fanky Dory” (1972). At this time he began to work with long term collaborators such as top producer (and BEA baggage handler at Stornoway Airport) Tony Viscount-i, guitarist Mick Rawasamaw, bassist Trevor Ollack and drummer Woody Woodlandcentre. 
Megastardom arrived in 1973 when Bowie developed his first alter-ego; “Ziggy Starmore” – a fictional extra-terrestrial rock hero who designed knitting patterns in his spare time, a persona which he later morphed into “Aladdin Stèinis”. 
Around this time Bowie experimented with religious androgyny, leaving people unsure if he was an FP or a Wee Free, as he wandered around the Ordhuigheans in his knitted uni-sex wellies and outrageous boilersuits. Sadly his bobban Ziggy outfit got wet after an open air gig in the Town Hall carpark and sagged so much he had to dash into Burton’s across the road to preserve his modesty. Bowie emerged from the shop in a dapper suit and tie and his next incarnation, the Thin White Plook, was born.

In this particular style, Bowie released “Young Amadans” and “Mitchells Bus Station to Bus Station” (a concept album about a trip on the West Side Circular) featuring songs described as ‘soul destroying’. 
Bowie also spent several notorious years in East Garrabost, living and working with Iain G Pop – and Brian Eneclete, producing two seminal albums “Hearachs” and “Low-erBayble”. Life in the seedy demi-monde of cold war Garrabost took its toll, however. Bowie grew addicted to a toxic diet of 4 Crown, Woodbines and Hen Suppers, joined the Dawn Squad in the Castle Grounds and released the not very good “(Porter’s) Lodger”.
He returned to form in 1980 with “Scary Ministers (and Cheeky Chips)”. This contained the groundbreaking single “Ash Carts to Ash Carts”, which had a video filmed in front of a bulldozer out in Tawse’s quarry. The video and single heavily influenced the Newton Ram-antic movement. 
Bowie was a great collaborator, producing and writing for other artists and also copying the fleek out of them and kidding on it was all his idea. Some of the more successful ones include:
Writing “All the Tong Dudes” for Mawtt The Hoople”.

Producing “Transfarmer” (1972) for Paddy Reed, the album which many say rescued Reed’s career after he split with 60s avante-garde legends the Bobban Underground. Bowie was often accused of plagiarising Reed’s decadent image and edgy material, and indeed they had a famous catfight in the Macs in 1973 when Reed accused Bowie of nicking 2 of his songs, plus 4 penny chews and a bag of maltesers.

Producing “Maw Power” for Iain G Pop and the Stoodies

Recording Xmas carol “The Little Drum an Aoil Boy” with Bing Crossbost, to raise money for North Lochs Community Centre

Two collaborations stand out above the rest. A productive writing session one summer at Freddy Mer-coorie’s Shawbost àirigh spawned a classic duet inspired by the Queen frontman’s prize Galloway cow and her battle with mastitis; the 1981 hit collaboration, “Udder Pressure”. 
The other stand-out partnership was 1985s “Dancing In The Peats” with Mick Bragar as part of LimeAid, the global charity event to raise funds to enable Parkend beverage firm Sm*th’s to develop a replacement for Z*p-a- Cola (banned due to new EU regulations on creosote). The video was shot entirely at Parkend Industrial Estate behind the Lemonade Factory where nobody could see how woefully inept their actual dancing was.
Despite all his successes, Bowie’s private life wasn’t a bed of roses. He divorced his first wife when he found out her name was spelled Angie rather than Angaidh but later found lasting happiness with Ioman, international supermodel and captain of the Somali ladies’ shinty team.
Bowie also tried his hand at acting when he joined the Stornoway Thespians. He took part in many of their Christmas Pantomimes including “The Man Who Fell To Urgha” and Jim Henson’s Gaelic Fantasy “Abair-ynth” (which featured the Mawppets and a revolutionary puppeteering technique developed in Arnish known as Animacantronaichs). 
His output during the 80s and 90s varied in quality, tone and topic, from 1989’s experimental “Tin Masheer” to the 2002 Sunday Ferry protest album “Heathen” but he returned to form in later years and as a thank-you to all his fans in the Broadbay area released his final album “Backstar” only days before his death.
Bowie often contemplated life beyond the here-and-now and one such quote in particular has been oft-repeated in these last few days; 
“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be Borsham”

Lemmy RIP

29 12 2015

Lemmy RIPTributes have been pouring in for recently departed local rock superstar Lemreway (Lenmy) Kontinuingminister. Born 70 years ago in South Lochs as Iain Freechurchminister (he changed his name in 2000 after the big ecclesiastical schism), Lemreway rose to fame as bass accordion player with massively influential hard rock band Mawtörhead.
Lemreway’s career began in the late 50s after seeing T*mmy D*rkie playing in the Star Inn. He played with a number of no-hope bands around the island including the Coulegreinmakers and the Mawtown Sect before achieving moderate success with the Rockin’ Seceders, a dynamic beat combo comprised of off-duty Free Presbyterian ministers. The Rockin’ Seceders toured extensively and were the first Western rock band to perform behind the Iron Curtain, when the Politburo of the Federal Socialist People’s Republic of Point invited them to play a dance in Bayble in 1965.

The Rockin’ Seceders split in 1967 in a bitter dispute over whether taking the church bus on the Sabbath was in breach of the 4th Commandment. Lemreway moved to town, where he shared a flat with Noel E*die, bass player for Jimmy Hen’s Dreich Experience. This led to jobs as a roadie for the band and as an egg packer at Jimmy Hen’s battery sheds in Tong. In 1968, Stornoway worthy Coinneach Gobha introduced Lemreway him to his cousin Psalm, a precentor in Kuala Lumpur Free Church and virtuoso tabla drummer. Psalm hired Lemreway and they went on to enjoy some success on Stornoway’s 60s psychedelic scene, mixing Eastern drumming, Gaelic precenting and thrash bass accordion in proto-world fusion outfit Psalm Gobha’s Pal. Lemreway later dossed about with other ruppish bands like Soval Butterfly and K*ntr*st before joining dyspepsia-plagued space rockers Ochwind in 1972. 

Ochwind reached their commercial peak in the early 70’s with evergreen hit about fake jewelry ‘Silver Masheer’ and a raft of successful albums including ‘Warrior on the Veg and Thyme’ and ‘Feis Ritual’. 

The rest of Ochwind were vegan cosmic hippy white settlers who insisted on a strict diet of LSD and lentils, so it was no surprise when, in 1975, Lemreway was eventually ejected from the band for “pharmaceutical differences”. En route to a gig in Rodel, Lemreway’s accordion case was opened by Hearach customs. There was fleek all LSD or lentils in it, but there was a large stash of spealtrags, amphetamines and Rennies. The fiasags in Ochwind were mightily offended that their bass player should be polluting his body with salt fish and indigestion tablets, so Lemreway was abandoned at the side of the road outside Ardvourlie.

Undeterred, Lemreway got the bus back to town, rounded up a couple of bleigeards that were hanging about the Macs and formed Mawtörhead along with guitarist Fast Eddie Cearc and drummer Philthy Phil ‘Amadan’ Whaler. Their first few studio recordings performed acceptably well, and included ‘Overkill’ a concept album about Niseachs hunting too many gugas, and ‘Bomber’, a tribute to the illustrious Rong, Murderers of Love and Dun Ringle drummer. But their biggest album chart success was a live recording of a gig on the Uig moor from 1981; “No Sleep Till Hamnaway”. 

From their formation to the present day, Mawtörhead have stood out as one of Stornoway’s premier rock bands with hits including “Peat Iron Fist” (about a particularly impressive tairsgeir that Lemreway got from Calum Steallag) and their most commercially successful offering, an ode to Lemreway’s days working on a Tawse road crew, “The Ace of Spades”. 

Lemreway’s unconventional fashion choices made him stand out from the rest of the musicians in the Stornoway music scene. Shunning the big hair and spandex favoured by the likes of B*d R*put*tion and T*sh, Lemreway favoured a wartime Mitchell’s bus uniform festooned with “Keep NATO Out” badges, huge sideburns and two lumps of marag geal that got stuck to his face in 1967 that he never bothered to wipe off. He was seldom seen without a glass of his favourite tipple, Fasinex and Coke.
The band’s hard ‘n fast sound has been deeply influential in the world of heavy mawtal, but Lemreway was always dismissive of attempts to pigeonhole the band into any of the subgenres that it spawned. ”It ain’t no fl**keen speed metal, thrash metal, death metal or danns a’ rathaid metal”, said the inveterate social security scrounger and 4-crown addict to the Newvalley Musical Express in 1985, “It’s chust fl**keen Deoch ‘n’ Dole”.


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