Scouse Pop - Paul Skillen

Scouse Pop - Paul Skillen

A Sense of Place

Scouse Pop - Paul Skillen

Paul Skillen [+-]
University of Chester
Paul Skillen works as Programme Leader in Education Studies at University of Chester. He has recently published a chapter in Social Theory and Educational Research (Routledge, April 2013). Alongside working in Education, Paul has also maintained a passion for Liverpool music. In the late seventies and early eighties Paul wrote articles for the fanzine Merseysound edited by Radio Merseyside’s Roger Hill. He reviewed and interviewed many local bands. Paul developed an in-depth knowledge of the local music scene during this time and saw the rise of many of the local bands to national and international success. The knowledge came to good use when in 1985 he travelled to Frankfurt to help Klaus Schwartze compile the legendary two-volume ‘Scouse Phenomenon’ a book of family trees which outlined the incestuous web of musicians who were the Liverpool music scene of the time and archived their reviews and releases. Paul was also involved in his own recording career with his band This Final Frame, releasing records in UK and Europe as well as achieving great popularity in the Philippines where This Final Frame still release albums on Universal Records. This Final Frame receives national and international radio play and have made television appearances.


The purpose of this chapter is to document the influence of the city on its bands. Liverpool in the 1970s was a city in decline, industries such as international trade, shipbuilding and manufacturing hit heavily by successive recessions in the 1970s. The context was not helped by the rise of Thatcherism in the same period, an ideological revolution that placed austerity, privatisation and tough love at the centre of public policy, policy that petered down to the local communities that shaped the ambitions and dreams of teenagers. As Gary from China Crisis indicates, ‘Kirkby was like a social experiment’, a social experiment that followed on from the recent social experiment of slum clearances. In this sense Liverpool was no different from other port cities on the Irish Sea – places such as Dublin and Glasgow suffering similar effects to varying degrees. It may also be the case that Liverpool shares with these cities a sense of detachment and uniqueness from their surroundings, while also encouraging romantic notions of self- connected to an outward looking sense of otherness. It has been well documented that Liverpudlians have a strong sense of place, a sense of place that often gets mistaken for arrogance and conceit. But this sense of uniqueness can make for great art, art that, when combined with ambition, could lead to commercially successful enterprises. The interviews with the bands document in various ways how the city and its troubles influenced their ambitions, careers and even their sound. This chapter describes this influence, putting the narrative of the band members at the heart of the story. Included in the stories are how the city impacted on the bands via factors such as: • Immigration • Internationalisation • A culture of self-sufficiency and do-it-yourself • A large unemployed and underemployed teenage suburban population • A relatively small and self-sustained music community that developed in isolation from other cities While the meeting of musical art and commerce was a process repeated across Northern cities - The Smiths and New Order in Manchester, the Human League and Heaven 17 in Sheffield, Postcard in Glasgow - it was particularly noticeable in the City of Liverpool, a city living in the shadow of the Beatles, and arguably worst-hit by economic mismanagement and the soon-to-come Thatcherite revolution. The chapter should shed some light on the ways in which the city shaped and ultimately formed its set of musical auteurs.

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Skillen, Paul. A Sense of Place. Scouse Pop. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 1-28 Oct 2018. ISBN 9781781798935. Date accessed: 09 Jun 2023 doi: 10.1558/equinox.24083. Oct 2018

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