Watch: This fascinating early music video was shot around Edinburgh in 1981

Video for Edinburgh group’s cult hit turns 40 this year

Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 9:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 11:06 pm
Scars video for All About You features scenes around Edinburgh in 1981.
Scars video for All About You features scenes around Edinburgh in 1981.

It’s a compelling time capsule of early eighties Edinburgh scenes set to a throbbing disco-style beat and one of the catchiest melodies you’ve likely never heard.

The accompanying promo video for All About You, the standout mainstream 7” single by by post punk outfit Scars, is a surreal letter of love to Scotland’s capital city.

Postcard views of Edinburgh’s most recognisable landmarks are interspersed with often bizarre footage that includes the band performing on a flatbed at Leith’s Imperial Dock, ladies making sausages in Gorgie and mythical gods battling it out atop two of the city’s seven hills.

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Filmed in 1981, the year MTV first aired and when the very concept of creating a music video was still alien to all but the most accomplished acts, this is an early and rare gem indeed.

Scars co-founder and former lead guitarist Paul Research says the video marked the very moment that the Edinburgh group, who would that year release what would turn out to be their only album, Author! Author!, thought they were well and truly on the road to rock success.

He said: "We weren’t thinking about a video, so much as we just wanted a single to really smash it and All About You was without a doubt the most poppy that we had.

“It was prior to pop music being widely-available on TV - it’s that long ago. There was really nowhere to show it at that point other than Top of the Pops.

“At the time it cost around £25,000, which is a lot today, never mind back then. We just thought ‘this is it, we’ve absolutely made it now’.”

The opening sequence of the video shows Scars playing their instruments on one of the platforms at Waverley Station.

In the station’s booking hall we’re treated to a blast of early eighties Edinburgh ephemera. Led by their hirsute frontman Robert King, the post punk quartet march in an orderly fashion past an outlet for defunct Edinburgh stationers John Menzies while passengers wait for their trains sat in red plastic seating pods that are very much of their era.

“There’s always quite a lot of comment about that [the red seating],” says Research.

Over the course of the next three minutes the artistic flow of the video randomly weaves mythological imagery of warring Aztecs with the outright ordinariness of meat packers at work and an exterior shot of Saughton prison.

Later, the boys are seen battling with a bird-like god and manage to repel Medusa on Calton Hill. Captured at dusk, a crane is deployed for the closing sequence with the camera rising high above the band to show a floodlit National Monument and the twinkling lights of Leith in the distance.

The entire shoot was done and dusted in a single day, reveals Research.

He adds: “I don’t ever remember there being a screenplay for it, it was just a case of: ‘you guys have got the Aztec gear on; you can do some kung fu moves’.

"It’s essentially about four local Edinburgh lads turning into gods and defeating the powers of evil.”

"We were up Arthur’s Seat and at Waverley in the morning, then got the face paints out and did close ups in a hotel.

"When we got to Leith in the afternoon we were just exhausted and especially because there’s this running scene which we had to do more than once.”

Scars’ video was shot by Alex McDowell, then known for his work with London-based graphic studio Rocking Russian Design, which he co-founded in 1978 with Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock.

McDowell went on to design album covers for a raft of top names in British punk, post punk and new wave before embarking on a hugely-successful career in production design and working on an impressive list of Hollywood features, including The Lawnmower Man, Fight Club and Minority Report.

Scars tasted cult success with Author! Author!, appearing on the Old Grey Whistle Test and the cover of NME and also recorded two separate John Peel sessions.

Despite showing obvious promise with their unique sounding debut, the group’s time at the top proved to be short lived and they disbanded in 1982.

That same month, the band was invited by Charlatans lead singer Tim Burgess to dissect their seminal album track by track for a Tim’s Twitter Listening Party.

On March 1, 2021, former Scar Paul Research will launch an album of new material, created at home during lockdown, entitled Skate The Royal Mile.

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