Bee Bee Cee - You Gotta Know Girl

Bee Bee Cee: You Gotta Know Girl (1977)
REL (Radio Edinburgh Ltd)

So far in this far from regular series I’ve spotlighted labels like Fast and Postcard, the kind of influential imprints still likely to get folk highly nostalgic. To give just two recent examples of the continued interest in Scottish based independent music of the late 1970s and early ’80s – Fast was the main subject of Grant McPhee’s Big Gold Dream documentary from 2016 while Simon Goddard told the preposterous story of Postcard Records in his 2014 book Simply Thrilled.

Don’t expect anything similar with REL though.

For every Fast there was a Klub, for every Postcard there was a Moonbeam and for every Zoom there was a REL. Completely independent from the majors, yes, but embracing the DIY ethic with a similar ideological zeal as the upstarts of the 1970s?

‘Fraid not.

Launched by Neil Ross in the early 1970s, Radio Edinburgh Limited began life by renting out musical equipment and making recording facilities available to local acts. As independent labels increasingly became big news in the music world the company branched out into the record business with REL Records in 1976.

A roster was quickly assembled and although the new initiative hoped to eventually feature some rock acts, the bulk of the early signings could be best categorised as traditional, hoochter teuchter acts like The Tartan Lads.

During 1977, the label’s releases included Christmas Dream by those Tartan Lads, an album Dean Park Sings and a track by Bob Heatlie titled Tell Me Where I Stand. None of which I have ever heard. At the tail end of the year they also put out You Gotta Know Girl / We Ain’t Listening by a young and punky Edinburgh five-piece outfit.


You might well be asking where this lot fitted in with the label and I’m not entirely sure myself although I should say that the band were never contracted to REL and they self financed the record themselves so I’m guessing this was a marriage of convenience.

During an interview in The Student in 1985, Neil Ross told readers: ‘We get lots of cassettes handed in every week but in fact the majority of bands on the label have become involved with us by paying to come in for a day or two to make demos and we’ve noticed their potential.’

Was this the Bee Bee Cee route?

Consisting of the very first two tracks ever written by singer Dave Gilhooley, this proved to be the one and only single from the band. Recorded at REL Studios (as was The Skids’ Charles EP incidentally) the single sold well enough locally but failed to muster much interest beyond Scotland at the time despite the talk in Cripes of challenging for chart success.

The band supported many punk and new wave visitors to Edinburgh such as The Ramones and Ultravox and they found management with the same team who ran Clouds in Tollcross.

A piece in City Lynx around the time of the record’s release claimed that the band were going to pay another visit to the studio shortly to record another single but presumably this never happened. The same piece also mentioned that other labels had offered them contracts and that the band were heading to London in the near future to discuss business with WEA and MCA.

True? False? Again I don’t know but maybe someone could get in touch with more information.

With an R&B feel that isn’t a million miles away from The Jolt, here are Bee Bee Cee:

Bee Bee Cee failed to go on to bigger and better things – although Callum McNair did join The Bathers twenty years later – and the same could be said of the majority of the acts on REL.

In the early summer of 1978, they would bring out a highly optimistic single predicting success for Scotland in that year’s World Cup: Mona Stewart and We’ll Bring the Cup Home – and to digress, Argentina ’78 had a big effect on traditional Scottish independent labels. Bone Idol’s The Roar of the Lion (Olé Ally) was recorded at REL Studios and as the backsleeve stated it took its inspiration from Scotland ‘Who Will Win the World Cup’ while Klub struck cash-in gold with the cringeworthy dirge Ally’s Tartan Army, which probably sold more than the entire Postcard discography. Luckily Mr Abie’s contribution to national self-delusion Ay Ay Argentina, also on Klub, fell by the wayside.

The aforementioned Bobby Heatlie, later wrote a track for a traditional Scottish singer who had once won a gold medal at the Mod. Mary Sandeman became Aneka and Japanese Boy – which Ross produced, licensing the record to the German-based Hansa label – became a number one in Britain and sold around 5 million copies worldwide.

Heatlie also later composed Merry Christmas Everyone for Shakin’ Stevens, another British #1. I’d love to post the video for that but unfortunately, it would be four or so weeks too late to enjoy fully.

Aye, right.

REL is still on the go with an ever growing catalogue of Scottish/Celtic artists on their books although sadly no mention of Bee Bee Cee, although You Gotta Know Girl does feature on the recent various artists CD boxset release Gary Crowley’s Punk and New Wave.

For more on that release click here.