Band’s album goes on sale 42 years after split

Jimmy Hush on the drums. Picture: Greg Macvean
Jimmy Hush on the drums. Picture: Greg Macvean
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They were on the brink of stardom after attracting the patronage of iconic DJ John Peel and opening for bands such as Black Sabbath and Cream.

But back in 1973 Scottish prog rock rebels Writing on the Wall lost everything when a van containing all their equipment was stolen while the band were on tour in Kentish Town, London.

The Writing On The Wall in their heyday

The Writing On The Wall in their heyday

The robbery forced the band to split, with the musicians scattering across the globe to settle in Australia, London, Aberdeen and West Lothian.

Only two weeks before the theft, the Lothians-based band had recorded seven songs on to analogue tapes – known as a two-inch masters – at a studio in Wales, which they believed had been lost in the heist.

Now the record – known as the Rockfield Album – will finally be released 42 years later after one of the band’s former managers discovered the recordings gathering dust in his father’s attic.

Drummer Jimmy Hush, who grew up in the Southside but now lives in Bonnyrigg, said: “After the theft of the van I was left with a few black bin bags with my clothes in and my acoustic guitar which I still have. That was it.

“It was devastating. I didn’t have enough money to buy myself a new drum kit so I couldn’t even gig after that.

“It put a stop to everything.”

The tapes were recovered two years ago but it took many painstaking hours to find a way to convert the songs from their outdated format to a CD.

Finally, Mr Hush and former bassist Jake Scott, who was living in the Borders at the time, managed to find one of the few technicians in the country with a device to transpose the tracks on to CD living in Loanhead. Mr Hush, a father of three, said: “We had to be so careful as we didn’t want them to get damaged so we really only had one shot.

“Luckily it worked.”

With help from his grandchildren, the 68-year-old has uploaded The Rockfield Sessions on to iTunes.

Mr Hush is also hoping to release the album on vinyl and CD.

He said: “I couldn’t remember what any of the songs on the tapes were as it had been so long since I heard them but as soon as they started playing I remembered them all.

“I was really surprised by it and I think it is a pretty good record.

“It really goes back to the soul of rock.”

Since Writing on the Wall, Mr Hush has worked as bin lorry driver for Edinburgh City Council, run an antiques shop in Marchmont, and driven heavy goods vehicles across Scotland.

The musicians performed in Edinburgh during the 1960s under the name The Jury – a group who played a fusion of soul and rock – before acquiring new members and becoming prog rockers Writing on the Wall in 1968.

Personnel changed a number of times during the 1960s and 1970s, but the final line-up was Willy Finlayson on guitar and vocals, saxophonist Alby Greenhalgh, drummer Jimmy Hush and bassist Jake Scott.

Writing on the Wall released just one studio album during their five-year career.

It was called Power of the Picts and was released in 1968 on the Middle Earth record label.

To find out more about the band and how to download the record, visit www.writingonthewallband.co.uk.