Aztec Camera were a Scottish New wave band formed by Roddy Frame.[2] Formed in 1980,[3] the band went on to release a total of six albums—although, most of the records were essentially written and played by Frame—High Land, Hard Rain (1983), Knife (1984), Love (1987), Stray (1990), Dreamland (1993) and Frestonia (1995).[1] "Oblivious", "Somewhere in My Heart" and "Good Morning Britain" (a duet with former The Clash guitarist Mick Jones) were popular songs for the band.


 [hide*1 History


Early period[edit]Edit

The band first appeared on a Glasgow cassette only compilation of local unsigned bands on the Pungent Records label, affiliated with the Fumes Fanzine run by Danny Easson, Patrick McGlinchey and John Gilhooly. Gilhooly championed several Glasgow bands before they achieved popular success.[citation needed]

Postcard Records[edit]Edit

The band's first single that was released in the UK was sold in a 7" format by Postcard Records, a Glasgow-based independent record label, in March 1981. The single featured the songs "Just Like Gold" and "We Could Send Letters", and an acoustic version of the latter song appeared on an influential compilation album, entitled C81 and released by NME on cassette, in early 1981. A second single "Mattress Of Wire" was the last Postcard Records release before the group signed with another independent record label, Rough Trade Records; at the same time, a deal was signed by the band to release its music in the United States (US) on Sire Records.

Rough Trade[edit]Edit

Aztec Camera's debut album, High Land, Hard Rain, was produced by John Brand and Bernie Clarke, and was released in April 1983.[1] The album was successful, garnering significant critical acclaim, and peaked at #129 on theBillboard 200.[4]


At the time that the band's third album Love (1987) was created, Frame was the only original member of the band involved with the project; Love and future Aztec Camera albums were actually written and recorded by Frame, withsession musicians utilised on a track-by-track basis.[citation needed]

After the release of Aztec Camera's sixth album, Frestonia, Frame finally decided to record under his own name and was no longer a Warner artist.

Three Aztec Camera "Best of" compilations were eventually released: The Best Of Aztec Camera was released in 1999 by Warner.ESP, a division of the Warner corporation that specialised in compilations;[5][6] in 2005, Deep And Wide And Tall was released by the Warner Strategic Marketing United Kingdom label as part of the Warner Platinum series;[7] and Walk Out To Winter: The Best Of Aztec Camera, a two-disc collection that was released by the Music Club Deluxe label in 2011.[8]

AED Records[edit]Edit

In mid-2013, Frame joined the AED Records music company, founded by Edwyn Collins and James Endeacott, and, as of October 2013, a book entitled The Lyrics: Roddy Frame—containing all of his work with Aztec Camera—and aHigh Land, Hard Rain t-shirt are available as part of the "Roddy Frame" collection.[9] In August 2013, Frame announced three special live performances to commemorate the 30th anniversary of High Land, Hard Rain, at which the album will be played in its entirety with a full band. The December 2013 shows are scheduled to occur in London, Manchester, and Glasgow, UK.[10]


On 21 January 1985, alongside Orange Juice, Wooden Tops and Everything But The Girl, Aztec Camera raised an estimated £18,000 for the striking miners of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) through a fundraising event at theBrixton Academy—the year-long strike concluded six weeks later.[11]

In 1990, Aztec Camera contributed the song "Do I Love You?" to the Cole Porter tribute album Red Hot + Blue that was produced by the Red Hot Organization. The proceeds from the album benefited HIV/AIDS research.[12]

Awards and accolades[edit]Edit

The band's album Love was among the nominations for "Best British Album" at the 1989 BRIT Awards.[13] "Somewhere in My Heart", the second single from Love, was the band's biggest hit, reaching No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart. Following the release of the Stray album, "Good Morning Britain" was considered to be a comeback for Frame, as the preceding single "The Crying Scene" had only reached No. 70 in the UK.[13]


Roddy Frame – guitar, harmonica, vocals (1981–1995)


    • Campbell Owens (1981–1985, 1990)
    • Will Lee (1987)
    • Paul Powell (1990–1993)
    • Clare Kenny (1990–1993)
    • Gary Tibbs (1993)
    • Yolanda Charles (1995)




    • Dave Mulholland (1981)
    • John Hendry (1982)
    • Dave Ruffy (1983–1988)
    • Dave Weckl (1987)
    • Kevin Smith (1988)
    • Frank Tontoh (1990)
    • David Palmer (1993)

The band's line-up changed numerous times during its first few years of existence, while the constant member has been founder, Frame (guitarist/vocalist/singer-songwriter). Early members included Owens (bass) and Mulholland (drums).[1] Gannon was a member from 1983 to 1984 before joining The Smiths,[14] while guitarist Ross (formerly of Josef K and Orange Juice) joined the band in 1984 and played on the Knife album.[15]

Other musicians[edit]Edit

Touring band members[edit]Edit


  • Roddy Frame - guitars, vocals
  • Campbell Owens - bass guitar
  • Craig Gannon - guitars
  • John Hendry - drums

Pillar to Post Tour (1982–1983)[edit]Edit

  • Roddy Frame - guitars, vocals
  • Campbell Owens - bass guitar
  • John Hendry - drums
  • Craig Gannon - guitars
  • Bernie Clark - keyboards

Late 1983 tour[edit]Edit

  • Roddy Frame - guitars, vocals
  • Campbell Owens - bass guitar
  • John Hendry - drums
  • Malcolm Ross - guitars
  • Bernie Clark - keyboards

Knife Tour (1984–1985)[edit]Edit

  • Roddy Frame - guitars, vocals
  • Campbell Owens - bass guitars
  • Dave Ruffy - drums
  • Malcolm Ross - guitars
  • Eddie Kulak - keyboards

Love Tour (1987–1988)[edit]Edit

  • Roddy Frame - guitars, vocals
  • Dave Ruffy - drums
  • Eddie Kulak - keyboards
  • Paul Powell - bass guitar
  • Gary Sanford - guitars
  • Steve Sidelnyk - percussion
  • Sylvia Mason-James - vocals
  • Vivian Sessoms - vocals

Stray Tour (1990)[edit]Edit

  • Roddy Frame - guitar, vocals
  • Eddie Kulak - keyboards
  • Gary Sandford - guitars
  • Clare Kenny - bass guitars
  • Frank Tontoh - drums
  • Mick Jones - guitars, vocals (formerly of The Clash, Jones performed "Good Morning Britain" during the European tour)
  • Edwyn Collins - guitars, vocals (formerly of Orange Juice, Collins performed "Consolation Prize" and "I Threw It All Away" on the European tour)

Dreamland Tour (1993)[edit]Edit

Full band tour

  • Roddy Frame - guitars, vocals
  • Gary Sandford - guitars
  • Clare Kenny - bass guitar
  • Frank Tontoh - drums
  • Steve Sidelnyk - percussion
  • Mark Edwards - keyboards

Acoustic tour

  • Roddy Frame - guitars, vocals
  • Gary Sanctuary - keyboards

Frestonia Tour (1995)[edit]Edit

  • Roddy Frame - guitars, vocals
  • Gary Sandford - guitars (early 1995 only)
  • Mark Edwards - keyboards
  • Yolande Charles - bass guitar
  • Jeremy Stacey - drums


Studio albums[edit]Edit


  • In and Out of Fashion (1980) – Pungent Records cassette compilation
  • New Live and Rare (1988)[19]
  • Red, Hot & Blue (1990)[20]

"Best of" compilations[edit]Edit

  • The Best of Aztec Camera (1999) - UK Albums Chart No. 36[13]
  • Deep and Wide and Tall (2005)
  • Walk Out to Winter: The Best of Aztec Camera (2011)


  • Aztec Camera (1985) - a 10" US-only release (was also available in Australia) featuring a cover of the Van Halen song, "Jump", plus four tracks that were recorded live at the Dominion Theatre in October 1984.


Year Single UK Singles Chart[13][21] UK Indie Chart U.S.

Modern Rock

Australia[22] Album
1981 "Just Like Gold" - 10 - - -
1981 "Mattress of Wire" - 8 - - -
1982 "Pillar to Post" - 4 - - High Land, Hard Rain
1983 "Oblivious" 47 1 - - High Land, Hard Rain
1983 "Walk Out to Winter" 64 3 - - High Land, Hard Rain
1983 "Oblivious" (re-issue) 18 - - - High Land, Hard Rain
1984 "All I Need Is Everything" 34 - - - Knife
1984 "Still on Fire" 83 - - - Knife
1985 "Backwards and Forwards" - - - - Knife
1987 "Deep & Wide & Tall" 79 - - - Love
1988 "How Men Are" 25 - - - Love
1988 "Somewhere in My Heart" 3 - - 34 Love
1988 "Working in a Goldmine" 31 - - - Love
1988 "Deep & Wide & Tall" (re-issue) 55 - - - Love
1990 "The Crying Scene" 70 - 3 - Stray
1990 "Good Morning Britain" 19 - 12 - Stray
1992 "Spanish Horses" 52 - - - Dreamland
1993 "Dream Sweet Dreams" 67 - - - Dreamland
1993 "Birds" - - - - Dreamland
1995 "Sun" 136 - - - Frestonia

Cover versions[edit]Edit

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