‘Scouse Pop’: Soundtrack of a Generation

‘Scouse Pop’ is an a rare, documented insight into the economic and political backdrop which forged the music that came out of Liverpool during the ’80s and ’90s.

“This book explores Merseyside’s people and the impact historical news events had on its musical sons and daughters.  A town of strong football allegiances, extreme political turmoil and intense loyalties of the 80s, to the phantasmagorical transformation into the vibrant city of arts, music and culture we see today.”

Mention the words ‘Scouse Pop’ and you’ll be forgiven for immediately thinking The Beatles. To the majority of the populace it’s almost a Pavlovian response. However, that infamous corner of the North West of England has a much richer musical heritage, and this is no better illustrated than during the pop music years of the ’80s and ’90s and which is discussed in detail in Scouse Pop by Paul Skillern, ex-NME writer, founder of MOJO magazine and, now, broadcaster.

Scouse Pop originated as a conceptual TV programme, broadcast in 2016 on local Merseyside channel Bay TV, whereby Paul Skillern interviewed a range of ‘80s pop stars hailing from Liverpool.

Neil Duffin, producer of Scouse Pop, said:

It was a pleasure to work with Paul on this breath-taking series. It encapsulates the musical legacy forged in Merseyside in the 1980s and the music that defined a generation. The attention to detail and research for the shows is excellent. It is informative, interesting and entertaining, all at the same time.”

Merseybeat may have been born in the ’60s with bands such as Gerry and the Pacemakers, but it grew up in the ’70s and became the rebellious teenager in the 80s.

With a somewhat fractious socio-political landscape at that time, Liverpool became newsworthy for all the wrong reasons and this was underlined by TV programmes such as Boys from the Black Stuff and Bread, depicting your typical Scouser as work-shy chancers.  From high unemployment, with factories closing left, right and centre, to the Toxteth riots in the early ’80s which did nothing to help the image of Liverpool and its disaffected population.

“Where else in the UK could successfully produce bands as diverse as Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, China Crisis, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Wah!, Echo and the Bunnymen, Half Man Half Biscuit, A Flock of Seagulls, Teardrop Explodes, Space and Dead or Alive, to name but a few.”

Scouse Pop the book, is a rare documented insight into the economic and political backdrop which forged the music to come out of Liverpool during that period.  It explores its people and the impact historical news events had on its musical sons and daughters.  A town of strong football allegiances, extreme political turmoil and intense loyalties of the 80s, to the phantasmagorical transformation into the vibrant city of arts, music and culture we see today.

Where else in the UK could successfully produce bands as diverse as Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, China Crisis, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Wah!, Echo and the Bunnymen, Half Man Half Biscuit, A Flock of Seagulls, Teardrop Explodes, Space and Dead or Alive, to name but a few. At the time, their music formed a soundtrack to a generation and despite of (or maybe because of) all the economic negativity happening around them, pop music history was being made.  Pop culture owes a lot to Merseyside and this book is an in-depth review of what it is to produce Scouse Pop.  It includes histories of all the aforementioned bands and in their musical diversity how they have a common thread running through their attitudes and ethos.

If you’re a fan of music in general, the ’80s scene in particular, or anything in between then, this book is for you.


‘Scouse Pop’ by Paul Skillern is due to be published in October 2018 by Equinox, RRP £25.00.

❉ Ange Chan is a poet and novelist.  Her latest poetry collection Songs of Sorrow and Heartbreak was published in October 2017 and her third novel, Champagne Flutes and Pixie Boots is currently a ‘work in progress’

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