Hilary Morrison, or HL-Ray, was the vocalist and instigator of Edinburgh post-punkers, The Flowers (1979-1980). Formed just after the first wave of Punk, they were part of a scene which also included Scars, Josef K and The Fire Engines.
The Flowers melded their punk sensibility with their love of old school funk, leading to support slots with the early Human League and The Mekons, later touring with The Beat and OMD. Support slots with who? I hear you ask, these Flowers people seem very well connected….. Hardly surprising, they were, Hilary had also invented a day job for herself…
Along with her partner Bob Last, Hilary co-founded the Edinburgh bedroom based, Indie label Fast Product. The idea hit them in December 1977, not long after the Buzzcocks had released their own “Spiral Scratch” EP. Straight out of the traps like an especially well greased greyhound, their first release was The Mekons first single “Never Been in a Riot” (FAST1) which hit the shops barely a month later on January 20th 1978.
As well as The Mekons, Fast Product released a brace of early and influential post-punk singles including “Being Boiled” (FAST4) by the original (pre-“Don’t You Want Me?”) Human League, “Damaged Goods” (FAST5) by The Gang of Four, and early singles by fellow Scots, Scars. The label also released compilations or as they called them “Earcoms” (ear comics) featuring other early DIY bands, including Hilary’s own Flowers (on Earcom1) and a band from Manchester called Joy Division who cropped up on Earcom 2. While Bob chipped in with production, Hilary produced photos and visuals for the sleeves.
Fast Product’s DIY approach seemed further proof that the matter of releasing records could be done without the need to involve the major labels or indeed any of the dinosaur music business at all. Last and Morrison’s belief that records, no matter how naive or undeveloped, were deserving of our un-waivering attention, used this philosophy to steer the label through two years and twelve releases, concluding with the Dead Kennedys “California Uber Alles”. After Fast Product Bob and Hilary went on to establish the Pop Aural label, and continued to release records by bands like Boots For Dancing, The Fire Engines and of course The Flowers.
Bob went into band management, taking care of The Human League, Heaven17 and ABC.
The story of Fast Product, alongside Glasgow’s equally inspired Postcard Records is explored in the documentary “Big Gold Dream” by Grant McPhee.