Friday, December 12, 2014
Released by United Artists in 1975, The Tartan Horde's "Bay City Rollers We Love You" was a contract breaking scheme that backfired. Nick Lowe's band Brinsley Schwarz broke up in 1975 and Lowe found himself stuck under contract to their label, United Artists. Lowe was eager to move on, so he and manager Jake Riviera cooked up a scheme to get the label to dump him. Lowe produced a tongue-in-cheek homage to Scottish teenybopper phenomena The Bay City Rollers under the pseudonym The Tartan Horde assuming the label would be horrified by it and drop him straight away.
Unfortunately, the execs at UA liked what they heard and gave the song a worldwide release. The single predictably tanked everywhere in the world, except for Japan where it became a surprise smash hit. UA was so pleased with the sales that they demanded a follow up. Lowe obliged with a second Tartan Horde single, "Rollers Show" which sold miserably and finally got him out of his contract with UA leaving him free to record for Riviera's fledgling independent label, Stiff Records.
Anyway, that's the story. There's just one problem: I think the song is really good. Sure it's clear that Nick is having a bit of fun here, and there is an element of absurdity involved. But the craftsmanship is extremely solid and the song gets under your skin like only really great pop music can. More than a little effort was put into creating this confection. No right thinking rocker would have admitted to it in 1975, but I detect at least a hint of genuine affection for the Bay City Rollers in this contract-breaking tribute.
Nick discusses his mixed feelings about the song below. He calls the song "utterly ghastly" and "truly awful," but also expresses a certain amount of pride in it at the same time.