Formed in East Kilbride, Scotland, this indie quartet originally comprised William Reid (vocals, guitar), Jim Reid (vocals, guitar), Douglas Hart (bass) and Murray Dalglish (drums).
William Reid chucked in his job at a cheese-packing factory in Glasgow and his brother Jim gave up working for Rolls Royce to form the band in 1983. In the summer of 1984, they moved to London and signed to Alan McGee’s label, Creation Records.
Their debut single, Upside Down – complete with trademark feedback – fared well in the independent charts and was backed with a version of Syd Barrett‘s Vegetable Man. In November 1984, Dalglish was replaced on drums by (Primal Scream vocalist) Bobby Gillespie.
By the end of the year, the band was attracting considerable media attention due to the violence at their gigs and a series of bans followed. Early the following year, the band signed to the WEA Records label Blanco y Negro.
The Reid brothers publicly delighted in the charms of amphetamine sulphate, which gave their music a manic edge. Live performances usually lasted 20 minutes, which brought more controversy and truculence from traditional gig habitués, who felt short-changed.
The single Never Understand further underlined comparisons with the anarchic school of 1977 in general and The Sex Pistols in particular, but the band surprised many by later issuing the more pop-orientated Just Like Honey.
By October 1985, Gillespie had returned to his former band, Primal Scream. One month later, the Reid Brothers issued their highly acclaimed debut album, Psychocandy. Full of multi-tracked guitar distortion underscored with dark melodies, many critics proclaimed it one of the great rock debuts.
The following August the band reached UK #13 with the melodic Some Candy Talking, which received curtailed radio play when it was alleged that the subject matter concerned heroin.
During the same period, the band found a new drummer, John Moore, and parted from their manager, Alan McGee. Further hits with April Skies (#8) and Happy When It Rains (#25) preceded their second album, Darklands.
Again fawned over by the press, though not to quite the same extent as their debut, it was followed by a tempestuous tour of Canada and America, during which one brother was briefly arrested then acquitted on a charge of assaulting a fan.
In the spring of 1988, a compilation of the band’s various out-takes was issued. This assuaged demand before the arrival of Automatic at the turn of the decade. The band was effectively just a duo for this record, with programmed synth drums as backing to the usual barrage of distortion and twisted lyrics, the best example of which was the single, Blues From A Gun.
The follow-up Honey’s Dead also housed a powerful lead single in Reverence, which peaked at UK #10 in spring 1992. After this, the Reid brothers changed tack forStoned & Dethroned, with the feedback all but gone in favour of an acoustic, singer-songwriter approach. Self-produced and recorded at home, its more reflective texture was embossed by the appearance of guest vocalists Shane MacGowan and Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star).
The album was poorly received commercially and critically, resulting in the band being dropped by Warners. They rejoined Creation Records at the end of 1997 and issued Cracking Up, their debut single of the new era, in March 1998. It was followed by Munki, on which the Reid brothers experimented with a motley collection of different styles.
The band officially split up the following year with William Reid electing to work on his Lazycame solo project and Jim Reid forming Freeheat.