Monday, 12 December 2011

The Cimarons Edinburgh 1978

The Cimarrons Edinburgh 1978

2nd September 1978 (give or take a week)

Edinburgh Assembly Rooms

Back in 1978 First Girlfriend (hereafter referred to as FG, in order to protect the innocent), was a student at Napier College in Edinburgh.  This evening was her Freshers’ Dance and, in addition to the obligatory disco, featured two bands who, if perhaps not quite household names, were at least ones I had heard of: The Cimarons and Charley Browne: (the latter nothing to do with the 1980s Australian outfit of the same name).

The function was held in the rather grand surroundings of the Assembly Rooms on Edinburgh’s George Street; a collection of ornate and chandeliered halls and function suites dating back to the 18th century.  The Napier folks had booked one of the larger rooms: I am guessing either The Music Room or The Ballroom for their shindig, but everyone seemed free to wander around and investigate all the other functions taking place at the same time.

And it was on such a nosey that I discovered the unlikely looking sight of a group of Morris Dancers, doing their jingly bell, stick-clacking dance.  A highly-sceptical FG had almost to be dragged to witness, before she would believe me.  Looking back, the incident is so incongruous, that I could almost believe I had made it up or perhaps even dreamt it, were it not for the fact some 10 years later when I moved through to Edinburgh to work, my new boss owned up to having been one of those prancing chaps in frills and bells.

Anyway, first band up were Charley Browne, a competent enough bunch who had unfortunately chosen the Punk Wars as a time to peddle their brand of innocuous power pop.  I recognised their name from gigs they had played in West Lothian (not that I had attended), but I think they perhaps hailed from through the West somewhere.  They were entertaining enough in a shiny happy people sort of way, but nothing they played managed to imprint itself upon my now relentlessly popping-with-age brain cells   I sort of kept an ear/eye out for the band over the following few years or so, but other than a single entitled Feeling Under the Weather, the group (like the single) sunk without trace. 

And so to the Cimarons.  I suppose like many folks of my vintage, having just missed the Trojan Records fuelled ska/rock steady boom of the late 1960s, my first exposure to reggae music came with Eric Clapton’s cover of I Shot the Sheriff.  And unless you happened to pick up on the wonderful things Bob Marley was doing at the time (which I had not), reggae thereafter meant one hit wonders like Althea & Donna, Susan Cadogan and Errol Dunkley.

The Cimarrons’ set, (I think) began with (or at least featured) a song called Mother Earth from their then new album Maka, and I swiftly realised this was music for the feet, heart and head, in that order - in stark contrast to the (with hindsight) rather emotionally sterile stuff I usually gravitated towards.  Dancing became inevitable, unstoppable and obligatory.

But……….. after a while, there did creep into proceedings a general sameyness to the music – due in no small part I acknowledge, to my unfamiliarity with their songs, but I did feel the band could have done with raising the tempo a touch from time to time – something I think the Two-Tone bands who came along a few years later realised, and tapped in to.

Thus it was, before the Cimarons finished, FG and I made our excuses to her class-mates and left.  We were, after all, still at that early point in the relationship where any second not spent alone in each others’ company was a second wasted. 

And we were squandering serious necking time.

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