Top Scottish albums of all time – numbers five to one

Continuing the excellent guest post from whiterose1314, let’s get right down to business and reveal their top five Scottish albums of all time.  A great way to greet the New Year!

5. Deacon Blue – Raintown

Their 1987 debut album released by Columbia featured a photograph of Glasgow’s West End reportedly taken by the renowned photographer Oscar Marzaloli. During this time it was a regular occurrence to see band members Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh wandering along Byres Road in Glasgow.

Favourite tracks here for this writer are ‘Dignity’ where Ricky is singing about Bogie the wee Glasgow guy who works for the council while dreaming of a better life and “packs his lunch in a Sunblest Bag”.  Square bread made by the Sunblest Bakery (a Glasgow misnomer) came wrapped in a waxed paper bag ideal for carrying your ‘piece’ in, in the days before plastic bags or boxes. This reference will be lost on those whose Dad didn’t take a packed lunch to work!

Next must be ‘Chocolate Girl’ comparing differing views of a relationship “he calls her the Chocolate Girl because he thinks she melts when he touches her” and “she knows she is the Chocolate Girl because she is broken up and swallowed and wrapped in bits of silver”.  Final choice is difficult but ‘When will you (make my telephone ring?)’ as a love song does it for me.  The good news for fans is Ricky Ross is currently writing new Deacon Blue material.

 4. Garbage – Garbage

This debut album was released in 1995 on the Almo Sounds label.

After hearing the wonderful Shirley Manson around Scottish venues in Goodbye Mr McKenzie and Angelfish, many waited with anticipation when she joined a new band and were rewarded with this album.  Some consider their ‘Bleed like me’ album as a high point but for me ‘Garbage’ has a unique certain rawness that I like. ‘Stupid Girl’ is my favourite track, and probably everyone’s – perhaps because you can read your own meaning into the lyrics?

With the title ‘Only Happy When It Rains’ it must be a Scottish track and here Shirley sings such emotion into lines like “Pour your misery down on me” backed by a bouncy beat. ‘Milk’ is a contrast of power in a relationship “I am weak, but I am strong, I can use my tears to bring you home”.  Shirley tells me via Twitter she is currently recording a new Garbage album.

 3. Red Hot Chilli Pipers – Bagrock to the Masses

Released 2007 on REL Records.

Hearing them performing with The Darkness at T in the Park in 2004, many felt their kilted fusion of traditional pipe tunes with contemporary rock was perfect for Scottish youth’s burgeoning interest in our culture. Wearing the kilt used to be rejected as old fashioned, now it is the norm for weddings, graduations, nights out and any social occasion.

On ‘Dark Island’ the Chillie’s haunting piping is joined by the ethereal vocals of Maeve McKinnon.  Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’ and AC/DC ‘Thunderstruck’ are linked seamlessly by some of the fastest piping I have heard while ‘100 Chilli Pipers’ and Quo’s ‘Rockin’ all over the World’ highlights their well deserved reputation of “Bagpipes with attitude, drums with a Scottish accent”.

2. Runrig – Recovery

Their third album released in1981 on the Ridge Label charts the reawakening and recovery of Gaelic politics and cultural identity.  It was just about this writer’s first exposure to their music in English and I travelled to see them live that year at the Beach Pavilion in Ayr.  Perhaps in deference to us in the South of Scotland, the verse from ‘Dust’ about “Lowland Scots with English habits” was omitted from this performance!

The title track ‘Recovery’ is slow, haunting with an accordion accompaniment singing “After the Clans, after the Clearings, here we are recovering”.  ‘Fuaim a Bhlair’ (Noise of Battle) laments the part played by Gaels fighting for the British Empire over the world, even against fellow Gaels. “Saidhdear mi ‘nam aghaidh Fhein an Eirinn” (I have soldiered against my fellow Gael in Ireland).

 1. Proclaimers – This is the Story

Watching a Channel 4 music programme ‘The Tube’ on in 1987 I was dumfunnert to hear a band singing in Scottish accents.  No put on saff of ingerland voices, no fake US accents, just 2 guys with accents I could relate to.  As they sang ‘Letter From America’ about the past and modern day clearances “Bathgate no more, Linwood no more, Methill no more, Irvine no more” we joined in enthusiastically with the political subtext.

The emotional honesty and political fire continued in the album released later that year on Chrysalis with ‘Throw The ‘R’ Away’ and their refusal to compromise on their accents. “It doesn’t please your ear – you just refuse to hear”. The love song ‘Misty Blue’  has the memorable words “When she brushed his hair with a watered comb” – a habit so beloved of Scottish mums of a certain generation.

Bands who float in and out of my favourite Top Ten Scottish Bands include:  

Average White Band;  Belle and Sebastian; Big Country; Camera Obscura; the Corries; Dalriada; Fairground Attraction; Frightened Rabbit; Gallagher and Lyle; Glasvegas; Hue and Cry; K T Tunstall; Paulo Nutini; Sandi Thom; Silly Wizzard; Simple Minds; Snow Patrol; Texas; Wet Wet Wet

and many others!

Obviously this wouldn’t be your Top Ten choice but it charts both the development of my own musical taste in Scottish bands, and the impact of their music on our nation as it grows and moves towards Independence. Over the years Scotland has made its own contribution to all the major music genres, and I’m glad to say continues to do so.

The struggle to restrict my choice to 10 Scottish albums meant leaving out some excellent Scottish born musicians despite the undoubted contribution they made to their bands – Mark Knopfler, Midge Ure et al. 

Please feel free to leave corrections or comments with your own Top Ten Scottish albums of all time. I look forward to hearing them!

Finally, many thanks to the Burd for inviting me to contribute to her excellent blog.

Reading this over I realise my choice has changed yet again!

8 thoughts on “Top Scottish albums of all time – numbers five to one

  1. Pingback: All at sea with Alex Salmond « Better Nation

  2. Thanks for your comments folks, I’m surprised to get off so easily with my choices. Perhaps all the rest of Kate’s readership agree with me! lol

  3. And sorry Whiterose! I enjoyed reading your selections – Just giving an opinion, not trying to be pedantic.

  4. Ohh they did several better (or worse) than that!

    Exhibit A M’Lud

    And he takes no lip off nobody
    And litter off the gutter
    Puts it in a bag
    And never seems to mutter
    And he packs his lunch in a “Sunblest” bag
    The children call him “Bogie”
    He never lets on
    But i know ’cause he once told me
    He let me know a secret about the money in his kitty
    He’s gonna buy a dinghy
    Gonna call her dignity

    I don’t know if you’ve been around my place recently Kate but this track http://bigrab.wordpress.com/2011/01/01/how-did-i-miss-this/ has featured.

    Scottish pop like Deacon Blue….

    Better than any track on Raintown!

    • Hi Rab

      Just back from a successful foray to Paisley – “bring on the Rangers”! – and caught your post. I had in fact heard this song, I subscribe to the Insound newsletter and they post a monthly mixtape and it was on their October one. It’s a great track and video (which I hadn’t seen before) so thanks for posting and sharing it!

      And yep I would agree 100% – the Vaselines for me anyday over Deacon Blue. Whisper it, but I was never a fan…. though respect whiterose1314’s right to like them and loved the eclectic mix of choices in the top ten. Some great albums in there!

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  6. Couldn’t possibly recommend an album anywhere by a band that sang ‘I’ll do what I should have did’! What were Deacon Blue thinking of?😉

    • You pedant you Penny. One presumes the alternative did not fit the cadence that they was trying to achieve?! But I agree actually….

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