Monday, December 14, 2009

Radio City: Love and a Picture

Maybe in some Joker-like plan, UK punks spiked the country's water supply with sugar and methamphetamines back in '79. What else can explain the explosion of thousands of killer pop bands like Radio City? Radio City were, according to 45 Revolutions, James Sutherland (lead vocals), Robin Murray (guitar, vocals), Colin Matheson (guitar), Raymond Henderson (bass) and Tich Bremner (drums). They were from Thurso in the far North of Scotland. They released just one single "Love And A Picture" b/w "She's A Radio" (Media Wave MV-001, 1980). James Sutherland adds, "We pressed up 1,000 copies of the single, hand glued the covers together then sold them at gigs, mainly in Northern Scotland, so I am always very intrigued at the world-wide interest in our music.

Rob Murray relates that Radio City, then with David Murray (Drums) and without Colin Matheson, later, "recorded two demos, one at Highland Recording Studios Gollanfield Inverness (8 songs : 6 originals recorded ) and one session with John Sutherland at Thurso East ( recorded 4 original songs) all songs written by Henderson / Sutherland. The band broke up late 1981, with two demo songs re-recorded and released as a cassette single, under the name the Blonde Brothers - it actually made single of the week in Sounds (one of the big weekly music papers in the UK back then), beating ABC and "The Look of Love"!!!" Sutherland adds that the Blond Brothers single contained "Talked to You"/"Why", and was the first cassingle released in Scotland ("There's a long story behind that" he warns), and that the Sounds review was written by Ralph Traitor (who was really Jeremy Gluck, lead singer with the Barracudas).

Murray adds, "the "Love and a Picture" single has been bootlegged several times and appears on a series of CD’s i.e. Lost New Wave Classics and Everyone a Classic to name but two. The single was also re-released on vinyl in Holland in 1995, again as a bootleg. As the single was released in a key era ( New Wave 1978 – 1981) and on an independent label, original copies of the single have been sought by completists and collectors with buying requests on eBay and collector's web sites. In 2003 one of the band met Dave Balfe who owned the Gollanfield Studio, he had been contacted on numerous occasions by buyers who wished to secure the Radio City master tapes for both the single and the demo recordings. Again in 2003 a band member was directly contacted by a “music consultant” ( found through friends re-united site) who wished to do a deal to release the single and demo songs on a mini CD/EP marketed under the umbrella of “New Wave Nuggets”. This hasn’t progressed."

Sutherland brings us up to date, "Robert still lives in Scotland, in Inverness, I now live, work (and still occasionally gig) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Raymond, my co-writer, bass player and dear friend passed away in the 90's. I don't know where the other guys are, but I'm sure they will be equally bemused and happy at the ongoing interest in our music.

Of the music, last summer I enthused; "In "Love and a Picture" the interplay of each strum, thump and bang is designed for maximum dynamic impact and that wide-screened chorus will bore right through your skull." And now, glory be, Sutherland has sent MRML a copy of the B-side (and the cover JPEG). He says, "She's a Radio", the other side of "Love.." (it was really meant to be a double A-side), shows our poppier, Joe Jackson-ish side". He's dead right - like the flipside, "She's a Radio" is filled to bursting with hooks, like the band was pouring everything they had into those few minutes of jaw-dropping, ass-kicking, bone-rattling glory.

Further to the subject of influences, Sutherland says they were in fact named after the second Big Star album, "...Although we really sounded not much like them Raymond and I were obsessive Big Star fans. We were also pretty much influenced by anything that combined the jangle of The Byrds, the powerchords of The Who and the wit and wisdom of Ray Davies. In fact, to tell the truth, "Love and a Picture" is lyrically a darker, self-hurting version of the Who's "Pictures of Lily"." There are times, and this was one, when could such classicism, rather than being stuffy and studied, can jump-start an entire nation.

Sutherland concludes by saying, "Great days, great music, and some fantastic memories. Thanks for your interest in this stuff, for keeping it alive and shaking!"

MRML readers: leave the band a comment, it's the least you can do!

Radio City 7"


  1. Not sure if you take requests, but if so...

    Wondering if you have the following that you could share:

    Candyskins - Sunday Morning Fever (oop release circa 1997 from this forgotten brit-pop band).

  2. MM
    I do not have a handy copy (though MRML does have a weak spot for 2nd tier Brit-Pop) try here:

  3. Thurso? Wow. I remember it being tiny back in the summer of 1981. What kind of scene/circuit was there about the North at the time? Were the bands playing in pubs or people's homes?

    Hey Jeffen, speaking of cities and radio, can you tell me if Brave New Waves was broadcast out of Winnepeg? Or was it Montreal? I'm totally gapping on this...

    - Slainte!

  4. Yeah,probably there was something in the water...but very good!

  5. Great choice once again Jeffen! A very fine pair of A-sides.

    Is there any chance Mr. Sutherland might bless MRML with some more unavailable Radio City material? I'd gladly shell out for a hard copy version of their recorded works in any format (other than cassette tape or it's annoying imperfect cousin, burned disc).

    Knowing that the band named themselves after an album by my second favorite band of all time (and that "Love & A Picture" was inspired by one of the best singles of my # 1) was heartwarming to say the least. And The Byrds and The Kinks? Crap, I wish I could've been their annoying little brother trying desperately to hang out with all the cool kids!

    U.K. power pop has always been near and dear to me and I only wish I'd been a little more aware when it first hit the ground running. Eh, what can you expect from an eight year old?

  6. Bio
    This thread details the seemingly very busy Thurso underground.
    Night Lines was based here for a while but never Brave New Waves (which will get a shout-out in that Grinch-mas post I'm working on...)

    Who says tainting the water supply can't be a good thing?

    When I read Sutherland's description of his influences I immediately thought of you.

    Let's hope someone can collect those demos together for all of us to hear.

  7. Thanks so much for posting the Candyskins link. Having trouble finding this one so this'll give me a chance to finally hear it. Much obliged!

  8. I have a copy for sale on

  9. their is a signed 7" single on ebay currently

  10. There is another original copy of this record for sale on ebay just now, auction ends
    (07 Jan, 201114:09:01 GMT)


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