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I met some of the Spy Kids in 1986 at a Business gig and kept in touch ever since. On my first visit to Glasgow I was introduced to Eldorado - a sort of local winos drink a bit like sherry that lived up to its name of Electric Soup (A bottle can be seen in the shot above).
The Spy Kids were sharply dressed, avid reggae lovers and proud of it. The cause was helped along by a mini ska revival that came along shortly after in 1988. They received a lot of publicity as they appeared to be the figureheads of what the media found to be a new twist to their usual skinhead coverage.
Faces have come and gone amongst the Spy Kid's ranks. McGinn & Lainey, the two Iains and Ewan Kelly were the leading Spy Kids at that time but Iain is probably the only one you'll find nowadays. I did hear a rumour that Ewan Kelly has blown the cobwebs off his boots and returned to the scene but the Glasgow boys haven't seen anything of him so I don't know for sure.
The Spirit of '69 was a romantic concept that failed to acknowledge what the real Spirit of '69 was. The average age of a skinhead in 1969 was 15-16 years. The skinhead gangs were well known for their brutality when outnumbering their opponents but also for running if the numbers were a little more even. They weren't the smartest of 1969's youth and skins have been pigeon-holed as thick ever since. The skins biggest claim to fame at the time was their penchant for football violence while in the eighties, it was the casuals who were the football crews. On top of all that, I think that 1970 was really the year of the skinhead. It was in 1970 that they hit the headlines and captured the nation's attention by sheer number. The music was pretty much secondary to the football violence which was the central skinhead pursuit, hence their notoriety.
The Spirit of '69 was a new concept that was inspired by an outsider's view (The revivalist skins weren't old enough to know what it was like in 1969). The revivalists weren't ignorant of these facts. They chose to keep the best parts of the cult and ignore others. Having said all this, I am still proud to have the spirit of '69 because it is the idea that I advocate.
When George Marshall published Spirit of '69, it was only fitting that the cover depicted two of the Spy Kids. It is a sad state of affairs that a skinhead has to choose which side of the fence he/she belongs but one that is compulsory in today's movement. It has become a two-headed beast that is constantly at war with itself but without the war there would be nothing left but a victor and we would have cry in our beer and experience the demise of skinhead civilisation as we know it.
Keep the Faith
Dedicated to Iain and all the Spy Kids - past and present