A very quick list I think to finish off this game which I am now playing on my own. Which is no fun at all. Have you all downloaded the STV version of Scotland’s Greatest Album? Me neither. But I do hope a few of these have made it on to your must have list. The free stuff on Youtube and elsewhere is great but if we want a strong and vibrant music industry then we need to pay for it. Bands and artists give us their talented wares and deserve to make a living from it. Please do buy the tracks and albums.
The biggest contention I have with the STV’s erstwhile expert panel is how homogenous they made the Scottish music scene seem, particularly in the 70s. Undoubtedly it was the era of prog rock, glam rock and soft rock but there was other stuff going on too. That aside, quite a few of their choices I concur with. So we’ll get them over with first…
1. Gerry Rafferty Baker Street
One of the outstanding tracks of the decade, with a sax solo to die for but it makes it into my top 15 purely on the basis of the saxophonist’s name. Take a bow, Raphael Ravenscroft.
2. the Rezillos – Top of the Pops
I think seeing this on the actual Top of the Pops made me realise that a) girls could be in bands too and b) Scotland had a music scene worth finding out about. It marked the parting of the ways from the parents’ musical apron strings. And is a damn fine choon to boot.
3. the Skids – Working for the Yankee Dollar
Into the Valley is a top class song but lyrically, musically this is better. In my opinion.
4. Sensational Alex Harvey Band – Boston Tea Party
Agree the band for sheer weirdness and creativity should be included but this track shades it for me over Next. Though maybe Impossible Dream? Hmm.
5. Bay City Rollers – Bye Bye Baby
God they were awful. But they were global, and they were ours. And for a time, they made tartan fashionable – every girl and boy wore scarves round their necks and wrists and everyone wanted tartan trimmed “bags”. This is just a great pop song with daft nonsense lyrics and harmonies.
6. Average White Band – Pick up the Pieces
White pasty Scottish boys do funk. And they did it so well, few could believe they actually were Scottish. This clip is them on their 40th anniversary tour still strutting their stuff. Good call STV.
7. Talking Heads – Psycho Killer
How the panel managed to overlook the creative genius that is David Byrne – born in Dumbarton, still proud of his Scottish roots – not only in the 70s but also in the 80s and 90s is beyond me. But then I’m not an expert so what do I know?
8. Sweet – Ballroom Blitz
Scotland’s foremost proponents of Glam Rock. This band were huge in the 70s – my teenage aunts and uncles loved them and I spent hours hanging on the fringes of their glamour listening to this, and other Glam Rock singles, over and over. This is just a fabulous song.
9. Stone the Crows – Fool on the Hill
Never mind Nazareth or Marmalade or any other younger pretenders, this was Scotland’s outstanding rock-blues band with its outstanding singer, Maggie Bell. Yet another of Scotland’s largely unappreciated talents. Still on the circuit, still belting out rock and blues, and yes it is she who sings No Mean City, the Taggart theme tune.
10. the Corries – Flower of Scotland
It is Scotland’s unofficial anthem, written by the country’s most successful and abiding folk duo. And when you hear them sing it the way it was meant to be sung, well it is truly great. We should be teaching all the weans at school to sing it like this, properly.
11. Doll by Doll – Gypsy Blood
Fronted by the great Jackie Leven, who sadly passed away this week, this album has only recently been reclaimed as one of rock’s masterpieces. Quite right too. And hard to believe with a sound this fresh, that it hails from the 70s.
12. Slik – Forever and Ever
Introducing one Midge Ure, who went on to better and bigger things with Ultravox, and then got lost in amongst all the Band Aid/Live Aid stuff. But this is just such a good example of the 70s schmaltzy pop song. Epitomises all that was great about the decade, and all that was woeful.
13. Dire Straits – Sultans of Swing
They might talk, walk and act like Geordies but these boys were born in Scotland. So STV you claim Rod Stewart as an honorary Scot, I’ll claim the real thing. Their Brothers in Arms album was on constant play in our house growing up – thanks dad. But this, their first single I think, is still their greatest.
14. Matt McGinn – the Ibrox Disaster
A legend, no less. One of our nation’s greatest political and contemporary lyricists and folk artists, who also managed to fashion wonderful children’s songs too. This is quite a beautiful tribute to a terrible tragedy.
15. Al Stewart – Year of the Cat
Yet another Scot whisked away from his birthplace in his early years, Al Stewart played at the very first Glastonbury and this album is considered his masterpiece. Not to my taste but that’s not the point of this gig – it is undoubtedly a great song of its time.
Guess what? I didn’t agree with all of STV’s choices for the 80s but I did manage to agree with some of them. Of the three that made it on to Scotland’s Greatest Album, I possibly, might have chosen the Proclaimers Sunshine on Leith but having tussled with myself, I have eventually decided naw.
Bella Caledonia appears to have forgotten that we are still playing this game….
So in no particular order, my greatest Scottish choons of the 80s:
1. The Associates – Party Fears Two
I can recall it clear as day. Tuning into that week’s Top of the Pops and being blown away by this one. The song, the style, the vocals, the trench coat!! The album, Sulk, became such a favourite it got worn out several times. Awesome.
2. Jesus and the Mary Chain – April Skies
STV went for Just like Honey, but this for me is the defining JATMC track. Or at least I think it is. I still play Darklands, the album, a lot. And Jesus and the Mary Chain deserve entry in a greatest album slot simply for being part of that weel-worn Scottish tradition of “Wha’s like us? Damn few.”
3. the Waterboys – Whole of the Moon
Please note, STV, that this fantastic song, which you were right to include, is now in its correct decade.
4. Orange Juice – Rip it up
This song I think proved that Scotland was the epicentre of all that was innovative, left-field, talented and sophisticated in the UK music scene in the 1980s. God we were good.
5. Big Country – The Storming
This in my view, is a much better – greater – song than Fields of Fire. Just too obvious STV. The burd first discovered Big Country from the third row of Wembley Arena, at one of the Jam’s farewell gigs. *Anyone from Scotland?* asked Stuart Adamson. *Yay* we shouted back, all two of us, the only two standing on our seats jumping aboot like dafties, oblivious to the distaste on the faces of the nonchalant Londoners all around us.
6. Siouxsie and the Banshees – Spellbound
Of course she wasn’t Scottish, but John McGeoch, the late guitarist in the Banshees, who did so much to define a modern strumming sound and inspire luminaries like Johnny Marr, was. If STV can bend the rules, so can the burd.
7. Love and Money – Candybar Express
One of those songs that says so much about what was going on in Scotland in the 80s and Love and Money were also amongst the best proponents of the white soul movement that sprung up in Scotland during this decade. The bittersweet arrangement, vocals and lyrics epitomise the drugs culture, and managed to shock some. Imagine.
8. Scars – All about You
Now listen carefully, pop pickers. Then do yourself a favour and go find the album Author, Author. Can’t believe it was written and recorded in 1981? No neither can I.
9. River Detectives – Chains
A band that should’ve been bigger than they were, still one of my favourite 80s albums. And this track spoke volumes to a wee lassie from a rural community with dreams of escaping to the big beyond.
10. the Proclaimers – Letter from America
After the aforesaid tussle, their first hit won out. Because it spoke for Scotland and our collective anger at the imprint of Thatcherism. And it marked a defining moment in Scottish musical culture, in that it was okay to sing in your native accent. Just look at all the bands who do so now.
11. Goodbye Mr MacKenzie – the Rattler
I will confess to having had a great big obsession with this band in the late 80s. Still love them. Still play this album lots. Fabulous song (though Goodwill City is my favourite)
12. Runrig – An Ubhal as Airde
The only track sung in Gaelic ever to make it into the top twenty and for that reason alone, it’s a greatest song. By the late 80s, this band was huge, at home and abroad, and it seems like everyone went to that open air gig at Loch Lomond in 1991. Frankly, Pete Wishart would never forgive me if I didn’t include them.
13. Simple Minds – Love Song
Dragged into Woolworths by a chum to hear this amazing new Scottish band, one listen to Glittering Prize and we all bought a copy of the single. Great, but not the greatest. But which? Well, as it’s my list, it’s my greatest. It was nearly the American. The 12″ version no less, which I still have. But it has to be Love Song.
14. Aztec Camera – Somewhere in my Heart
STV plumped for Oblivious, but this is the choon. Not least for the killer lines “a baby being born to the overkill” and “A vision of love wearing boxing gloves and singing hearts and flowers”. And all from a boy from East Kilbride barely old enough to shave.
15. the Fire Engines – Get up and use Me
This is one of the greatest Scottish tracks from the 80s because it was recorded in 1980. And you only have to listen to it, to realise how much the Fire Engines would go on to influence everything that came afterwards. Seminal, I think the word is.
We don’t care that the competition is officially closed. There are wrongs to be righted and Mike at Bella Caledonia and I are the folk up to the challenge. So this week, the nineties. I said on a recent Flutter that most of the 90s choices were dross. That was possibly too harsh – some of them were. Expect bands to be included in my 90s greatest album that weren’t even mentioned by the panel, not even in passing.
Also, do not expect any covers, or re-releases to feature. The issue of domicile/birth is a more difficult one and I hope to have a little fun with that when we get to the finish…
Let’s start with the easy ones first, where I agree (nearly) with the STV panel
1. Primal Scream – Come Together
There were two seminal Scottish albums of the 90s; Screamdelica was one of them and frankly, each and every track could have featured on here. There are others I like better but this album is about the greatest tracks and artists, and Come Together fits that criteria. Mind blowing.
2. Teenage Fanclub – Is this music?
Well they got the band right but they managed to ignore the most important album the Fannies produced in the 90s. All the others are great, and I love Everything Flows, in fact there are other Fannies choons I like better than the one I’ve picked.
But this album isn’t about favourites, or best known, or highest charting, it’s about the greatest tracks of the decade and indeed, ever. So it’s this one.
3. The KLF – Justified and Ancient
Yes, the band deserve to be in there but it’s this track or it’s nothing. It’s a fabulous dance track that did much to influence the direction of dance music (as did all of KLF’s work to be fair). But it’s a great song because of Tammy.
4. Belle and Sebastian – If you’re feeling sinister
Right band, wrong album. This is the one that received all the critical claim, even making it into a list of 100 albums to listen to before you die. Which is possibly taking it a bit far. The title track is the one that makes it.
5. Capercailie – Coisch A Ruin
Yes, harmony with STV for the first and only time…
6. Alistair Hulett – He Fades Away
Scotland is the modern standard bearer of the political protest song. Seriously, Billy Bragg aside, what other country has kept this tradition alive and so vibrant? Ali Hulett was always one of its unsung heroes but this track shows he was capable of making quite beautiful songs. The lyrics are heart-breaking and it has to be one of our greatest political love songs ever.
7. the Vaselines – Son of a Gun
I simply cannot believe the STV panel ignored the Vaselines. In typically Scottish fashion, more famous for the songs they have allowed others to cover. That, in my humble opinion, defines them as greatest, important, seminal. And this is just such a great bouncy pop song.
8. Bis – Kandy Pop
This is one of those of the moment/decade songs. Has it stood the test of time? No. Can you hear echoes of the Bis throw-the-kitchen-sink at it approach to making music in today’s Scottish bands? For sure.
9. Annie Lennox – Little Bird
This album entered the charts at number 1 and sold over 1.5 million copies in the UK alone. It regularly featured in “essential listening of the decade” type of lists. And it absolutely affirmed Annie Lennox as a towering songwriting talent – just as brilliant without Dave Stewart, as with. She enjoyed huge commercial success with this and subsequent albums – on the global stage. And all from a wee girl fae Aberdeen. I can appreciate her greatness, even if the STV panel cannot.
10. Del Amitri – Kiss this thing goodbye
Aside from the fact that I’ve always had a thing for Justin and his sideboards (as they are called in this eyrie), this is just such a great pop song. With a great line in “all those times our lips were kissing, our tongues were telling lies”. And showed another side to the Scottish scene.
11. BMX Bandits – Disco Girl
We were very good at twee in the 90s. Twee, but with some killer guitar riffs, and great lyrics that hinted at something darker. Only BMX Bandits could make a paeon to youthful love sound so aggressive.
12. The Delgados – Pull the Wires from the Wall
Creepy. Different. Dark. Great.
13. the Pearl Fishers – Even on a Sunday afternoon
Davy Scott is one of those unsung heroes of the Scottish music scene. Trying to do something slightly off-piste, haemorraghing band members in the process, he stuck with the jazz and Beach Boys’ influences, producing one of the great albums of the 90s. So there, STV.
14. Kevin McDermott Orchestra – Everything is Over
This is about as noisy as the 90s got. Great voice, great lyrics, great swoon of sound.
15. Wet Wet Wet – Goodnight Girl
Were they a great band? Probably not. Would I rush out to buy them? Definitely not. Not even when they were at the height of their powers. But hear me out. They were huge in the 90s. This is a beautifully crafted love song, perfectly executed, even if I don’t happen to like it much. And whatever else we think, Marti – a wee skinny runt from Clydebank – had a great voice, capable of wonderful soul moments.
The Wets took a song to number 1 and kept it there for 15 weeks. It was unprecedented at the time. They deserve to be in my list as much as Deacon Blue deserved to be in STV’s.
– – – – – – – –
You will have noticed, if you follow the Flutter on Friday, that I reckon that STV is a bit wide of the mark with some of its choices through the decades for Scotland’s Greatest Album, especially as it continually moves the goalposts on criteria.
This week, the supposed expert panel included Eddi Reader’s Ae Fond Kiss. The bright sparks among you will have noted that the song isn’t one of her own, but happens to be the work of one Robert Burns, who wrote it in the 18th Century. Now I love Eddi’s interpretation of Burns’ songs: they are wonderful. But I do not think re-interpreting centuries-old choons should qualify you for inclusion in the race to be part of our greatest album ever.
So Mike at Bella Caledonia challenged me, and it was a challenge I couldn’t really resist. I post my top 15 tracks of each decade and he’ll post his. And hopefully, some of you will chip in through our respective comment threads with your choices too. Though I doubt you’ll find anything to disagree with in this little lot…
(listed 1 – 15 but really in no particular order)
1. Franz Ferdinand – Do you want to
An easy first hit. I agree with their inclusion in STV’s list, but would change the song. By a smidgeon, I think this is better than their other hits, not least because it is slightly rawer. Always a good thing in the burdz book.
2. Idlewild – A Ghost in the Arcade
This band didn’t even rate a mention on Tuesday evening’s show. Pah. Anthemic, lyrical, energetic. A must in my book.
3. Boards of Canada – Dayvan Cowboy
One of my complaints about the STV choices is the sameyness. They give the impression that Scotland is a land of teuchter-ish softy indie rock in a range of guises. Which it is, but there is so much more, like this band, whom you’ve probably never heard of. Obscure, largely instrumental, very experimental electronica. Fab.
4. Sons & Daughters – Gilt Complex
A travesty that this band didn’t make it in. Especially when my chicklet loves them. This track is still capable of generating a little moshing when played at full volume in oor hoose.
5. Camera Obscura – If looks could kill
Right band, wrong song choice STV (IMHO). But which? So many, so hard to pick. If I was allowing covers, their rather splendid interpretation of I love my Jean might have made it, and there isn’t a weak track on their 2009 album My Maudlin Career frankly. But no, this earlier track is the one, not least for the killer drum intro.
6. King Creosote – I’ll fly by the seat of my pants
Surely the point of collating the nation’s greatest albums is to acknowledge the groundbreakers, the kingmakers and the unsung heroes? The ones from whom a hundred other careers and imitations follow? Yep, I think so too. Which is why omitting King Creosote verges on the criminal. And this track makes it because it epitomises my approach to life. Oh, and it’s beautiful.
7. Glasvegas – Daddy’s Gone
And some bands have to be included because they capture a moment. This band did; shame they believed the hype. This song is so powerful, so resonant of the broken times we live in, it makes for a tragic anthem for thousands of bereft, confused but defiant children. Well done STV for including it (though the original is much better than the smoothed out, more anodyne album version).
8. Mylo – Muscle Car
He might be one of the world’s top DJs with an international string of dance hits, but that appears to matter nought to the STV panel. Now if this had been a contest to find Scotland’s greatest songs or songsmiths, then of course he wouldn’t make it. But garage, hip hop, trip hop, trance and all the versions in between are huge and here’s this wee boy fae Skye making millions out of it. I dare you not to end up tapping your toes to this one.
9. the Fratellis – Whistle for the Choir
Another band whose inclusion I agree with. But I wouldn’t have had Chelsea Dagger. If it was about favourite choons, I’d pick Henrietta. But I think Joan McAlpine MSP called it right – this song is just so Glasgow and says so much about Glasgwegians and Scots. Lovely.
10. the Beta Band – Assessment
In true Scottish fashion, we did not love them enough. Typically ours, yet universal enough to spawn a spate of soundylikes. The ultimate compliment.
11. Mogwai – the Sun smells too Loud
Another overlooked electronica type band, though they are also capable of making noise and lots of it. And they are much more loved elsewhere than home, with a huge international following, yet little more than sniffy acknowledgement on these shores. For getting up the noses of the Scottish rock cognoscenti, they’re in.
12. Arab Strap – Loch Leven
Did they make it into the 90s? No. So surely they should make it into the noughties? Apparently not. Inventive, disturbing, resonant, poetic, seminal. No? “This was the first Arab Strap album that I ever listened to. For me it was the first record that I realized it was OK to sing in your own accent. Aidan [Moffat] is one of the best lyricists of the past two decades!” Not my words but those of Twilight Sad vocalist, James Graham.
13. Biffy Clyro – Mountains
The Burd and STV in perfect harmony. Every compilation requires a rock number and this fits the bill superbly, though the acoustic version of Mountains is even better, if you can track it down. It’s taken them a while, and far too many festival performances without shirts, but at last the Biffy boys have made it big. And well deserved it is too.
14. Dogs die in hot cars – Something for the Good Boys
Sometimes there are stars that burn ever so brightly, then implode under the weight of apathy of the music business. This is one such band. Coulda, shoulda been contenders, though still round and about with solo careers. But should they make it into our nation’s greatest album? What, you’d rather have Snowpatrol?
15. Eegads…. the Delgados/Cosmic Rough Riders/KT Tunstall… Primal Scream also had a radge of blistering hits in the late noughties… one space left, so many bands to fill it. But the burdz heart lies with noisy wee upstart guitar bands. So mebbes the lairy Dundonians, the View? Mebbes naw.
Nope, the final place on my noughties greatest album goes to We Were Promised Jetpacks. Straddling the decades, destined for great things, these bairns gave me my favourite choon of 2009, as well as one of my favourite band names. Top class. Shame the STV panel appears never to have heard of them.
We were promised Jetpacks – Quiet little Voices
And that’s it for the noughties. Fifteen top tracks and artists, varied and diverse, making up my Scotland’s Greatest Album.
Wonder what Mike’s got?