It’s been 35 years since fondly remembered Perth ska band The Rude Boys set foot on a stage, but that’s about to change as plans are well underway for a summer reunion. In their original incarnation, spanning 1979-1982, the high energy seven-piece outfit toured the UK and abroad, in the process playing with legendary acts like Rose Royce and Bad Manners. The highlight of their career though was being asked by Rhoda and The Bodysnatchers to support them on their last ever gig together in London.
Founder members Stuart “Sparky” Campbell-Clark and Eddie Jordan, will be joined by three other members of the original line-up and some new faces for a bill-topping appearance at the annual Craigie Hill Music Festival. Their enduring reputation has already ensured that an allocation of early bird tickets for the event, being held on August the 25th, have been eagerly snapped up.
The Rude Boys best-known songs were ‘Explain” and ‘Uruguay’, but the latter played a part in the band's demise, as their record company’s hopes for this blistering slice of reggae brilliance were undermined by the outbreak of the Falklands War in 1982.
Our management said Radio One weren’t giving it airplay because of the war and the political climate in Britain and South America. Bad timing you could say“Our management said Radio One weren’t giving it airplay because of the war and the political climate in Britain and South America. Bad timing you could say,” recalled Sparky. The song remains a firm favourite with fans though and the original video for the song has popped up on YouTube, where it has found an audience amongst music ska buffs in Uruguay. “We still get messages about it but no royalties alas!”
However, Campbell-Clark and Jordan aren’t bitter about the original split: “Looking back, it was a great experience but when we went our separate ways the time was probably right. When you are on the road month after month, clocking-up the miles in an old van and sometimes getting back to Perth in the middle of the night before going to work, you do begin to get on each other's nerves.”
Since then Sparky and Eddie have not been resting on their laurels. Keyboard player Eddie went on to form Fiction Factory with fellow band members Chic Medley and Kevin Patterson, enjoying a top 10 hit with the 80’s belter “Feels Like Heaven”. In 2011 when Fiction Factory reformed to play Rewind in both Perth and Henley on Thames, Campbell-Clark was overjoyed to be asked to join them onstage. He has also enjoyed a second musical life with the Perth Band Combo Vitto (check out this great pic of them in our Auld Perth Bairns gallery) and has had business success as the entrepreneurial brains behind designer clothes shop Manifesto in Perth.
The Rude Boys are currently rehearsing hard to get fighting fit for the big show. “We want to get it right for August at The Hill and we are enjoying the hell out of practicing. Sadly, we have lost Tony de Winton Pullar and Stan Pelc who were in the original line-up but it’s great that Eddie, myself, Chic, Gordon McQuillan and hopefully Grant Taylor are being joined by Pete Nicol on bass and Allan Hunt on guitar. It’s great turning back the clock and we’re looking forward to it. Craigie Hill is such a fantastic event for Perth and musicians in the area. I wish there had been more events like this way back in 1979! It’s a great way to showcase young bands and us old ones”
The Rude Boys also have an ace up their sleeve that will ensure that this live set is bigger and better than ever before. “We’ll also have the Red Pine Timber Company brass section on board, this is going to sound absolutely massive!”
The time is definitely right for a Rude Boys resurgence, you might even say it was written in the stars. “The Rude Boys only album was ‘Waiting for a Dog Year’ and as 2018 is another Year of the Dog on the Chinese calendar, it seems appropriate to be getting back together,” laughed Eddie.
I asked Sparky if there were plans beyond the festival, “I’m not sure yet if there will be any future gigs but would love to think there will be. We have tweaked a few of the songs but other than that nothing new written yet. Never say never though!”
It’s strange to think that this summer will actually only be the third annual Craigie Hill festival. It already seems to be an integral part of Perth’s musical fabric, and 2017 saw Scots songstress Eddi Reader topping a sell-out bill in the scorching sun.
There is a real sense of anticipation surrounding The Rude Boys reunion.“The festival has mushroomed from crowds of 200 to 500 and even more expected this year,” said Hill steward Pauline Harrier. “There’s a real sense of anticipation surrounding the Rude Boys reunion, The Red Pines and Rancho Rebop. At the other end of the spectrum, we are showcasing an array of young up and coming local bands like The Sandemans, Long Stay, The Cascades, The Purple Felts, Irritable Owls and more.”
As well as music on the outdoor main stage, there will be a more intimate venue inside the clubhouse itself. It’s not all just about music though and there will be a number of stalls set up alongside the stage, with a range of food and drink on offer. 2018 will also see the return of Ruby the Volkswagen Campervan which was one of the undisputed hits of last year. Owned and operated by Catriona Duncan and Graeme Macfarlane, it will once again be serving prosecco, gin and a range of signature cocktails including the amazing ‘Buckie Braes’.
I was on hand last year to give my opinion of the 2017 festival (you can read it here). I was impressed with the breadth of talent on show, declaring it one of my favourite festivals of the year. I will be back again this year to soak up more music, perhaps a couple of gins and maybe even some sunshine. So, keep your eyes peeled for my review later this summer.
Find out more about Craigie Hill Festival 2018 here
Perth born journalist, broadcaster and television executive Stuart Cosgrove has always been passionate about Soul music in all its forms.
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