Aberdeen (where I am right now) is a city, where the majority of the UK's oil industry is based. It is also the regional capital of Aberdeenshire (formerly Grampian or Formartine). It is mainly a trade port and not a fishing port, although it does have a small fish market. Not as important for the fishery trade as Peterhead (40 miles to the North).

It also happens to be where I've lived for 18 years, and where I'm moving away from in 2 months or so. I'll miss it.

Aberdeen has a population of roughly 200,000.
Aberdeen is the fifth chapter of Samuel Johnson's book Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, about a trip he took in 1773. The previous chapter was Montrose and the next is Slanes Castle and The Buller of Buchan.
We came somewhat late to Aberdeen, and found the inn so full, that we had some difficulty in obtaining admission, till Mr. Boswell made himself known: His name overpowered all objection, and we found a very good house and civil treatment.

I received the next day a very kind letter from Sir Alexander Gordon, whom I had formerly known in London, and after a cessation of all intercourse for near twenty years met here professor of physic in the King's College. Such unexpected renewals of acquaintance may be numbered among the most pleasing incidents of life.

The knowledge of one professor soon procured me the notice of the rest, and I did not want any token of regard, being conducted wherever there was any thing which I desired to see, and entertained at once with the novelty of the place, and the kindness of communication.

To write of the cities of our own island with the solemnity of geographical description, as if we had been cast upon a newly discovered coast, has the appearance of very frivolous ostentation; yet as Scotland is little known to the greater part of those who may read these observations, it is not superfluous to relate, that under the name of Aberdeen are comprised two towns standing about a mile distant from each other, but governed, I think, by the same magistrates.

Old Aberdeen is the ancient episcopal city, in which are still to be seen the remains of the cathedral. It has the appearance of a town in decay, having been situated in times when commerce was yet unstudied, with very little attention to the commodities of the harbour.

New Aberdeen has all the bustle of prosperous trade, and all the show of increasing opulence. It is built by the water-side. The houses are large and lofty, and the streets spacious and clean. They build almost wholly with the granite used in the new pavement of the streets of London, which is well known not to want hardness, yet they shape it easily. It is beautiful and must be very lasting.

What particular parts of commerce are chiefly exercised by the merchants of Aberdeen, I have not inquired. The manufacture which forces itself upon a stranger's eye is that of knit-stockings, on which the women of the lower class are visibly employed.

In each of these towns there is a college, or in stricter language, an university; for in both there are professors of the same parts of learning, and the colleges hold their sessions and confer degrees separately, with total independence of one on the other.

In Old Aberdeen stands the King's College, of which the first president was Hector Boece, or Boethius, who may be justly reverenced as one of the revivers of elegant learning. When he studied at Paris, he was acquainted with Erasmus, who afterwards gave him a public testimony of his esteem, by inscribing to him a catalogue of his works. The stile of Boethius, though, perhaps, not always rigorously pure, is formed with great diligence upon ancient models, and wholly uninfected with monastic barbarity. His history is written with elegance and vigour, but his fabulousness and credulity are justly blamed. His fabulousness, if he was the author of the fictions, is a fault for which no apology can be made; but his credulity may be excused in an age, when all men were credulous. Learning was then rising on the world; but ages so long accustomed to darkness, were too much dazzled with its light to see any thing distinctly. The first race of scholars, in the fifteenth century, and some time after, were, for the most part, learning to speak, rather than to think, and were therefore more studious of elegance than of truth. The contemporaries of Boethius thought it sufficient to know what the ancients had delivered. The examination of tenets and of facts was reserved for another generation.

Boethius, as president of the university, enjoyed a revenue of forty Scottish marks, about two pounds four shillings and sixpence of sterling money. In the present age of trade and taxes, it is difficult even for the imagination so to raise the value of money, or so to diminish the demands of life, as to suppose four and forty shillings a year, an honourable stipend; yet it was probably equal, not only to the needs, but to the rank of Boethius. The wealth of England was undoubtedly to that of Scotland more than five to one, and it is known that Henry the eighth, among whose faults avarice was never reckoned, granted to Roger Ascham, as a reward of his learning, a pension of ten pounds a year.

The other, called the Marischal College, is in the new town. The hall is large and well lighted. One of its ornaments is the picture of Arthur Johnston, who was principal of the college, and who holds among the Latin poets of Scotland the next place to the elegant Buchanan.

In the library I was shown some curiosities; a Hebrew manuscript of exquisite penmanship, and a Latin translation of Aristotle's Politicks by Leonardus Aretinus, written in the Roman character with nicety and beauty, which, as the art of printing has made them no longer necessary, are not now to be found. This was one of the latest performances of the transcribers, for Aretinus died but about twenty years before typography was invented. This version has been printed, and may be found in libraries, but is little read; for the same books have been since translated both by Victorius and Lambinus, who lived in an age more cultivated, but perhaps owed in part to Aretinus that they were able to excel him. Much is due to those who first broke the way to knowledge, and left only to their successors the task of smoothing it.

In both these colleges the methods of instruction are nearly the same; the lectures differing only by the accidental difference of diligence, or ability in the professors. The students wear scarlet gowns and the professors black, which is, I believe, the academical dress in all the Scottish universities, except that of Edinburgh, where the scholars are not distinguished by any particular habit. In the King's College there is kept a public table, but the scholars of the Marischal College are boarded in the town. The expense of living is here, according to the information that I could obtain, somewhat more than at St. Andrews.

The course of education is extended to four years, at the end of which those who take a degree, who are not many, become masters of arts, and whoever is a master may, if he pleases, immediately commence doctor. The title of doctor, however, was for a considerable time bestowed only on physicians. The advocates are examined and approved by their own body; the ministers were not ambitious of titles, or were afraid of being censured for ambition; and the doctorate in every faculty was commonly given or sold into other countries. The ministers are now reconciled to distinction, and as it must always happen that some will excel others, have thought graduation a proper testimony of uncommon abilities or acquisitions.

The indiscriminate collation of degrees has justly taken away that respect which they originally claimed as stamps, by which the literary value of men so distinguished was authoritatively denoted. That academical honours, or any others should be conferred with exact proportion to merit, is more than human judgment or human integrity have given reason to expect. Perhaps degrees in universities cannot be better adjusted by any general rule than by the length of time passed in the public profession of learning. An English or Irish doctorate cannot be obtained by a very young man, and it is reasonable to suppose, what is likewise by experience commonly found true, that he who is by age qualified to be a doctor, has in so much time gained learning sufficient not to disgrace the title, or wit sufficient not to desire it.

The Scotch universities hold but one term or session in the year. That of St. Andrews continues eight months, that of Aberdeen only five, from the first of November to the first of April.

In Aberdeen there is an English Chapel, in which the congregation was numerous and splendid. The form of public worship used by the church of England is in Scotland legally practised in licensed chapels served by clergymen of English or Irish ordination, and by tacit connivance quietly permitted in separate congregations supplied with ministers by the successors of the bishops who were deprived at the Revolution.

We came to Aberdeen on Saturday August 21. On Monday we were invited into the town-hall, where I had the freedom of the city given me by the Lord Provost. The honour conferred had all the decorations that politeness could add, and what I am afraid I should not have had to say of any city south of the Tweed, I found no petty officer bowing for a fee.

The parchment containing the record of admission is, with the seal appending, fastened to a riband and worn for one day by the new citizen in his hat.

By a lady who saw us at the chapel, the Earl of Errol was informed of our arrival, and we had the honour of an invitation to his seat, called Slanes Castle, as I am told, improperly, from the castle of that name, which once stood at a place not far distant.

The road beyond Aberdeen grew more stony, and continued equally naked of all vegetable decoration. We travelled over a tract of ground near the sea, which, not long ago, suffered a very uncommon, and unexpected calamity. The sand of the shore was raised by a tempest in such quantities, and carried to such a distance, that an estate was overwhelmed and lost. Such and so hopeless was the barrenness superinduced, that the owner, when he was required to pay the usual tax, desired rather to resign the ground.

Aberdeen is the third largest city in Scotland, after Glasgow and Edinburgh. It has a population of just over 200,000 and is situated about 130 miles north of Edinburgh, on the east coast.

Aberdeen has traditionally been one of the richest cities in the Scotland, initially through fishing and trade, but more recently through the North Sea Oil industry. This generated the majority of Aberdeen's income and employs thousands of people in the local area. Recent investment both in existing oil fields and in exploration have safeguarded the local economy for at least the next two decades. Because of the large disposable income and amount of free time "roughnecks" (offshore oil workers) have, Aberdeen has some of the most expensive bars I have seen outside London.

Much of the architecture in the city is wonderful, with some incredible granite buildings (see Kings College, Marischal College, Robert Gordon's College, the buildings around the Castlegate and the town houses on Queens Road or Albyn Place). The building of these edifices gives Aberdeen one of its few claims to greatness, it is the home of the world's deepest man made hole at Rubislaw Quarry. While I am on the subject, I will cover Aberdeen's other two claims, first, it has won the Britian in Bloom competition so many times it was told to retire and second, the Ashvale Chip Shop won Best Chip Shop in Britain so many times, it had to retire too.

The best time to visit Aberdeen is, in my opinion, the early Autumn, when it is still warm enough to not need a heavy coat, and the trees are starting to shed their leaves.

Aberdeen was an American twee pop band from Palm Desert, California, which existed from 1993 to 1995 and again from 2001 to 2005. Initially, the band consisted of Beth Arzy on vocals, guitar and bass, and John Girgus on guitar and the occasional lead vocal, along with a drum machine. Together with East River Pipe, they were the only American bands signed to the seminal British record label Sarah Records, through which they recorded and released two 7"/CD5 singles before the label's predetermined end in mid-1995, after which the band went on an extended hiatus. Afterwards, Beth formed the short-lived Casino Ashtrays.

As far as I know, the name of the band doesn't have anything to do with the cities in Scotland (nor its football club), Washington state or Maryland that go by the same name (or any other place called "Aberdeen"), or the university.

They reformed in 2001, now bolstered by a cadre of dedicated backing musicians (including a live drummer), and then released their first full-length album, Homesick and Happy to be Here, in 2002, on the American indie label Tremolo Arm Users Club, with distribution by Better Looking Records. The album was preceeded slightly by a single, the 7" "Sink or Float," about a month prior to the album's release. For an indie release, it did pretty well; the single's title track went on to appear on the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and although it didn't end up appearing on the American edition of the show's soundtrack (Radio Sunnydale), it appeared, perhaps appropriately, on the UK edition (given how much more successful indie pop is there, this isn't too surprising). New singles followed in 2003 ("The Boy Has Gone Away") and 2005 ("Florida"), this time coming only in CD format, breaking away from their indie 7" roots.

After the release of the last single, Aberdeen parted ways again. They put together a career retrospective CD entitled What Do I Wish For Now? (Singles & Extras 1994-2004), and released it on LTM Recordings in 2006. The band members drifted to other projects: Beth moved to the UK and concentrated on her role in Trembling Blue Stars (with whom she was a collaborator from 2000 until the band broke up in 2010), and John ended up in Languis.

The music of Aberdeen is a bit difficult to describe succinctly; while their earlier output on Sarah Records was fairly typical of the twee/indie scene of that era (late 80s to mid 90s), their latter-day output is whimsical, at times upbeat and at others eloquently morose. The music recalls the best-sounding bits of bands like the Field Mice (whose 1988 single "Emma's House" they expertly covered), Heavenly, and maybe a hint of Secret Shine (all label-mates on Sarah Records), though I'd say their most even comparison would be kind of a more playful, feminine analogue to Beth's other band, the male-fronted Trembling Blue Stars. I once read somewhere that those who enjoy Ocean Blue or The Sundays will immediately crush on this band upon hearing them, and I think that's pretty apt. And if you can't fathom developing a crush on certain music, well, then, there's no hope for you.

In 2015, it became public knowledge that the end of Aberdeen as a band was in fact acrimonious, and that in the run-up to the Sarah Records documentary film, "My Secret World", Aberdeen will not be participating but will instead have another band, The Legendary House Cats, play a cover set of Aberdeen material. Beth's new band, The Luxembourg Signal, has yet to release anything at the time of writing (May 2015).

I've become Facebook friends with John Girgus and have learned quite a bit about the early days of Aberdeen. He's a good guy, really into what he was doing musically, and never fails to answer questions or provide specifics about Aberdeen. In fact, he's just (late 2015) digitally released a compilation of the early music, entitled It Was The Rain: Lost Recordings 1993-1995. He's still friends with all the Sarah Records people he got to know, including Claire and Matt, the founders of Sarah Records. While I'm not quite sure what went on between them, John and Beth Arzy are no longer friends. In fact, she's been dating Bobby Wratten for several years!

Recently, John was musing about Aberdeen having opened for Heavenly when they toured America. Apparently Amelia Fletcher is a fan, but she was non-plussed when Aberdeen included a cover of Brighter's "Half-hearted". Cathy Rogers expressed similar sentiment about Brighter, their label mate on Sarah Records. I don't know how or why they came to dislike Brighter, and I probably never will, but this is a fun half-story from John.


On hiatus, 1995-2001


Aberdeen on Facebook
Aberdeen on TweeNet
Better Looking Records - Aberdeen
UTR - Aberdeen

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