In keeping with the Edinburgh Exorcism series of posts, I’m going to look at a different sort of picture this week.
I find the music on the Bay City Rollers’ Dedication album to be well-scrubbed, catchy in spots, but ultimately just a little too bland to merit repeated listenings.
The album has a couple of well-chosen cover versions — including two of the all-time teenage-sex-from-the-boy’s-perspective pop songs, “Don’t Worry Baby” and “Let’s Pretend.”
But I don’t know why I’d want to hear the Rollers sing them when I could hear the Beach Boys and Raspberries do them instead.
No, the best part of the album is the gatefold picture. It’s one of those rare pictures you can hear just by looking at it.
And it sounds like eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
The liner notes thank the Toronto Sun for the photo, so we’ll assume this is a crowd full of mild-mannered Canadian chicks cumulatively doing their best impression of a jet taking off from YYZ.
Like the Zapruder film, this seemingly innocuous pic lends itself to all manner of analysis. Who are all those faces? What are they doing?
Let’s find out:
1. Damien’s sister. This ordinarily meek lass has never loathed anything or anybody quite so much as the flatfoot who stands between her and Eric Faulkner.
Now in his comfortable retirement, the gray-haired old cop still thinks of her expression sometimes, and it makes him shiver and reach for the whiskey.
2. The Instamatics. You know those people who say we’ve all become too busy snapping pictures with our iPhones to live in the moment?
They don’t know their history: The photographic urge is a strong one, and deeply rooted.
(I used to have a camera exactly like the one obscuring the girl’s face — of course it’s a girl — in the foreground; and in the background you’ll see one of those long skinny cameras. They’re making that film again nowadays, for some warped reason.)
And then there’s the professional photographer whose lens intrudes into the scene at very bottom right, like a shadowy figure seen shambling away over a grassy knoll:
3. Happy to be here. There are very few men in this picture, and most of them (at least, the ones who aren’t onstage) seem to be scowling or dutiful.
In the midst of the madness, though, is one policeman caught by the cameraman having a wonderful time.
This is all part of life’s rich pageant, he seems to be saying. Beats the hell out of taking evidence at murder scenes, anyway.
4. The loyalists. A handful of Rollers fans brought signs and banners with them to the big rally.
All the signs that are legible in the photo say “WOODY,” in honour of the Rollers’ babyface guitarist, Stuart “Woody” Wood.
I am at a loss to explain Wood’s apparent popularity advantage over his four bandmates, but I certainly hope he enjoyed it.
5. The unseen. Those two curved buildings in the background remind me of Toronto City Hall, though I don’t know enough about Toronto to know what they really are.
All the curtains are drawn … except for one. There is no one visible in the window; but perhaps he has stepped away, as shadowy secret operatives and double agents have a knack for doing.
What did he know? When did he know it?
And who was his favorite Roller?