Hosting a special guest post on Scottish music is a great way to end the decade – gulp – and start a new yin, and year.
This one is from @whiterose1314, listing their top ten Scottish albums of all time. Complete with great commentary and insight. First up, numbers 6 to 10….the rest follows tomorrow.
Are these the Top Ten Scottish albums of all time? No of course not, they are only my personal current Top Ten Scottish albums of all time. I will try to tell you why with 3 example tracks from each album.
10. Beggars Opera – Act 1
Vertigo released this rock album in 1971 mixing progressive and classical music during the time when Yes, ELP, Jethro Tull were performing. The album was produced by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, yes the same duo who wrote Sandy Shaw’s ‘Puppet on a String’ and Cliff Richard’s ‘Congratulations’.
The band from Glasgow delivered their own arrangements on classical music including Franz von Suppe’s ‘Poet and Peasant’. Here keyboards, drums, and guitars all play an equal part driving the music along in place of a full classical orchestra usually heard playing this overture. The second Suppe composition on this recording ‘Light Cavalry’ (later covered by ELP) fairly thunders along for 12 minutes with vocalist Martin Griffiths voice ably supported by Alan Park’s tuneful keyboards.
Raymond’s Road is one of their self-composed tracks and contains audio references back to their classical origins and like the previous track plays for almost 12 minutes. The original vinyl album was re-released on cd in 1997 by Repertoire Records with bonus tracks.
Beggars Opera released 4 more albums by 1974 and now declare themselves a ‘cyber band’ that will only be performing over internet web casting.
9. Capercaillie – Delirium
Released on Survival Records in 1991, this is the groundbreaking album that took the band from folk clubs into the national spotlight, with over 100,000 UK sales. It is now recognised as a classic roots album, finding the new blend of the modern and traditional that has since become their trademark.
Colsich a Ruin (Walk my Beloved) was the first Gaelic Top 40 single. In ‘You will rise again’ Karen Matheson reassures the listener “I know for certain, every time you fall, you will rise again, above it all”, good advice to us all this writer feels. The melancholic ‘Servant to the Slave’ the often repeated theme of Scots emigrating in hope of a better life in another country, leaves me wondering what our country would be like if we had been able to hold onto our folk.
8. Sensational Alex Harvey Band – Live
Usually I’m not a fan of live recordings but SAHB’s 4th album released on Vertigo evokes great memories of their 1976 gig at Celtic Park. As supporting act to The Who, SAHB played to an exuberant home crowd who were still chanting for them when The Who arrived on stage. It is hard to select favourite tracks from the album but ‘Framed’ which they performed at Celtic Park deserves a mention. Alex Harvey tells the story by enouncing every letter of ‘F – r – a – m – e – d’ while Zal’s superb guitar holds the whole story together.
Alex was the front man but the band’s antics behind him were entertaining with Chris Glen and Zal Cleminson prancing about like a demented white-faced pierrote to ‘Delilah’s’ waltzing music. I find it impossible listening to Tom Jones without visualising the SAHB version. The long chugging introduction to ‘Faith Healer’ lasts for a third of the track but it’s worth waiting for the creepy vocals.
7. the Fratellis – Costello Music
This 2006 release on Universal Island Records includes ‘Chelsea Dagger’ that has become a classic with its hand-clapping-easy-to-sing-along-with chorus much loved at festivals. ‘Creeping Up the Backstairs’ races along with some manic drumming while belting out the chorus “Don’t say yes to please me, do your utmost to please me, I don’t mean to be sleazy, but being you can’t be easy”. Classy!
Third choice is the simple acoustic ‘Whistle for the Choir’: “And it’s 4 in the morning, and I’m walking along beside the ghost of every drinker here who has ever done wrong”. Hands up anyone who has done this….
6. Dougie MacLean – Craigie Dhu
After playing with Scottish bands Silly Wizzard and the Tannahill Weavers, Dougie formed Dunkeld Records and sold music from a wee shop next to the National Trust for Scotland’s property in Dunkeld. Craigie Dhu was released in 1983 featuring a mix of Dougie’s own compositions and his arrangements of traditional music.
This album includes the now iconic ‘Caledonia’ about exile. His voice and an acoustic guitar can bring tears to a glass eye with “Let me tell you that I love you and I think about you all the time Caledonia you’re calling me and now I’m going home”. Such is Dougie’s fame, he has appeared singing this song in the Sunday Post the Broons’ cartoon with First Minister Alex Salmond.
The exile theme continues with “It Was A’ For Oor Rightfu’ King” which includes some mournful but lovely fiddle backing. Another self-penned track is my third choice ‘It Fascinates Me’. Pour yourself a glass of good malt whisky and enjoy this album.
…which is a fine note upon which to end this post. Call back tomorrow for Whiterose1314’s top five Scottish albums of all time!
PS. Who is @whiterose1314? Who knows and frankly who cares. With such a keen interest and knowledge in Scottish music, they’ll be invited back!