DCSIMG

100 best Scottish albums - Nos 26-50

26 CAN'T STAND THE REZILLOS

THE REZILLOS

In Can't Stand My Baby The Rezillos not only created one of the punk era's stand-out singles, they also introduced "radge" into pop's lexicon. Yet, despite their timing, the band owed more to an era infested by Dansette/Dalek imagery, Joe Meek productions, Piltdown Men instrumentals and Johnny Kidd, Dave Clark Five and girl-group pop. Live, they were irresistible. Can't Stand The Rezillos, hurriedly recorded in New York during other acts' down time, collected a succession of stage favourites - Good Sculptures, No, Flying Saucer Attack and Top Of The Pops - the last of which reached No 17 and led to an appearance on the titular TV show. A growing schism, between vocalists Faye Fife and Eugene Reynolds and the rest of the band, would pull The Rezillos apart.

27 TOUCH

THE EURYTHMICS

The Scots/not Scots argument was raised by the Eurythmics, largely because the principle songwriter and driving force, Dave Stewart, is English. Yet it was Annie Lennox who, through reinvention, gave the group its many striking visual images and, more importantly, its voice. The tentative In The Garden was followed by the more accessible Sweet Dreams before Touch (1983) confirmed the Eurythmics as the era's major synthesiser pop band. Two international hits, Here Comes The Rain Again and Who's That Girl?, each marked by Lennox's commanding vocals, formed the core of this highly distinctive set.

28 DARKLANDS

JESUS AND MARY CHAIN

James and William Reid courted early publicity for riot-strewn gigs and feedback-strewn records. Yet they gradually withdrew from white noise, determined to avoid clich and emphasise their love of classic melody. April Skies and Happy When It Rains suggested the more-skeletal approach abounding on the attendant Darklands, issued in 1987. Controversial upon release, the album is a triumph because the brothers refused to trade on preconceptions, preferring instead to showcase their undoubted songwriting gifts, exemplified on the bewitching On The Wall.

29 POPPED IN SOULED OUT

WET WET WET

Having secured a recording deal in 1985, Wet Wet Wet spent the next two years at loggerheads with their label. The right producer became a vexed question, as sessions with John Ryan and Stephen Street proved moribund. A dream collaboration with soul veteran Willie Mitchell (Al Green, Ann Peebles) was rejected by Phonogram, and the dilemma was only solved when a demo of Wishing I Was Lucky, recorded in Wilf Smarties' home-based studio, was overdubbed and issued as a single. A top-ten hit, it epitomised the Wets' blend of sweet R&B and pop. Such elements are abundant on Popped In Souled Out, which also featured Sweet Little Mystery and 'Angel Eyes', two further top-five entries. Confidently slick, the album remains Wet Wet Wet's definitive collection.

30 DOGS IN THE TRAFFIC

LOVE AND MONEY

Fronted by James Grant, Love And Money were nominally part of Glasgow's soul-boy scene, alongside Hipsway and Wet Wet Wet. But where All You Need Is ... Love And Money confirmed this vein, Strange Kind Of Love revealed a more restrained sound, as Grant sought a less brash vision. A third set, The Mother's Boy was scrapped in favour of Dogs In The Traffic (1991). An edgy, intense and troubled collection, it reflected Grant's growing maturity as a songwriter, and the stripped-down arrangements allowed greater emphasis on his lyrics and melodies. Although Love And Money would continue until 1994, Dogs In The Traffic effectively marked the beginning of Grant's solo career.

31 SUNSHINE SUPERMAN

DONOVAN

Unfairly dubbed a mere Dylan copyist, Donovan quickly evolved from his denim-clad, "boho" beginnings. He turned fully-fledged electric in 1966, but the pioneering aspect of this folk/rock classic was clouded when contractual problems delayed its UK release by several months. Where the British version compiled material from two sources, the US release better reflected the singer's vision. Its superior content ranged from the fiery Season Of The Witch to the medieval-styled Guinevere, taking in The Trip, The Fat Angel and a Bert Jansch tribute Bert's Blues, on the way.

32 THE THREE EPS

THE BETA BAND

The Beta Band evolved in 1994 when St Andrews-born Steve Mason met Edinburgh University students John MacLean and Robin James on a train to London. Bassist Gordon Anderson was replaced by Richard Greentree prior to the group's first recordings. Their quirky blend of post-Madchester dance and shoe-gazing samples was captured on The Three EPs; Champion Versions (1997), The Patty Patty Sound and Los Amigos Del Beta Banditos (both 1998), were subsequently compiled on this album. Fumblingly riddled with a sardonic edge, The Beta Band has never sounded better.

33 BE BOP MOP TOP

DANNY WILSON

Danny Wilson - Gary Clark, Kit Clark and Ged Grimes - continued their special blend of soul, crafted pop and cool jazz with Be Bop Mop Top (1989). This urbane collection included the trenchant Second Summer Of Love and re-emphasised the songwiting craft housed within the band, particularly that of Gary Clark. The band split amicably in 1990. His former colleagues worked with Gary on his top-30 solo album Ten Short Songs About Love (1993), which in part continued the legacy of this excellent band.

34 SURF

RODDY FRAME

Aztec Camera always boasted an acoustic feel to music, and so the notion of Roddy Frame unplugged was not necessarily surprising. Yet those who felt his inspiration waning since 1998's The North Star were forced to reassess such opinions with Surf. Recorded in Frame's front room, the intimacy this generates matches the atmosphere of largely reflective songs made more telling by captivating jazz and folk progressions. Perhaps because of its stripped-down nature, Surf seems to capture Frame at his most confessional and personal but, however vulnerable, it is the work of a consummate songsmith.

35 EN-TACT

THE SHAMEN

The Shamen evolved from a pop/psyche indie band into one defining the ecstasy culture of the 1980s. By 1988, founding member Colin Angus and recent addition Will Sinott were the sole remaining members of The Shamen's previous incarnation as they avidly embraced the so-called Second Summer Of Love. En-tact confirmed their new-found status in the acid house dance scene. It included the anthem-like Pro-Gen and Hyperreal, which features a fabulous vocal from Polish singer Plavka.

36 POSTED SOBER

MICHAEL MARRA

A former member of 70s Dundee hopefuls Skeets Boliver, Michael Marra worked as a songwriter in London before releasing The Midas Touch in 1980. Five albums have followed in a mercurial career which has included collaborations with John Byrne and Liz Lochhead, and the approbation of Deacon Blue and Hue And Cry. Posted Sober, released in 2001, is arguably his most cohesive work to date. His laconic observations are surrounded by breath-taking arrangements and melodies. A crafted lyricist, his wry world-view is honed to perfection. Marra takes songwriting into realms few others would dare attempt.

37 UP FOR A BIT WITH THE PASTELS

THE PASTELS

Fronted by Stephen Pastel, this quintessentially independent group have survived and prospered since 1982. Originally associated with the "shambling" scene, they recorded for several labels, including Creation. Their influence is almost incalculable as they encouraged others to emulate their sense of purpose through fanzines and low-key clubs. Up For A Bit With The Pastels captured a new-found confidence. The opening track, Ride, boasts orchestration, while revamped versions of Baby Honey and I'm Alright With You show how they matured.

38 GARBAGE

GARBAGE

Scottish or not Scottish. The Garbage question tested the judging panel and opinions pro and con remained entrenched. What is uncontestable is Edinburgh-born vocalist Shirley Manson's pedigree. While guitarist "Big" John Duncan moved on to work with Nirvana, the latter's producer, Butch Vig, invited Manson to join his post-grunge project, Garbage, in 1995. The combination was perfect, as evinced by this powerful debut album. Manson's dedication to her roots was confirmed in 1999 when Garbage played live at the celebrations for the opening of the Scottish Parliament.

39 GRACE AND DANGER

JOHN MARTYN

During his lengthy career, John Martyn has embraced folk, jazz, reggae and rock. Having briefly left Island Records, he returned to the scene of earlier triumphs in 1980 with this exceptional album. Its content chronicled the break-up of his marriage to former singing partner Beverley. Martyn's heart-shredding emotion is most notable on Baby Please Come Home, where his voice trembles with intensity, but Our Love and Hurt In Your Heart are equally moving. Although the Jamaican-styled Johnny Too Bad lightens the mood, Sweet Little Mystery is another aching selection in a set which, in common with Dylan's Blood On The Tracks, shows an artist laying bare his soul.

40 XTRMNTR

PRIMAL SCREAM

Having regained momentum with Vanishing Point, Primal Scream reasserted its rights to sonic attack with XTRMNTR. A brutal melange of Stooges' riffs, Can rhythms, house experimentation and Sun Ra tonal patterns, the album blazes through, among others, Kill All Hippies, Swastika Eyes and Shoot Speed Kill Light. A team of producers including Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine), David Holmes and the Chemical Brothers bring their contrasting skills to the mix, but the post-punk apocalyptic vision firmly remains that of Primal Scream.

41 CITY TO CITY

GERRY RAFFERTY

Gerry Rafferty's career prior to City To City would have proved sufficient for many musicians. Born in Paisley, he worked with beat groups the Meridians and Fifth Column before joining Billy Connolly in the Humblebums in 1969. After the band split in 1970, a first solo album and Stealer's Wheel followed, prior to City To City's release in 1978. Yet for all the crafted soft-rock on offer, everything was overshadowed by Baker Street and that saxophone passage by Raphael Ravenscroft. The song's success allowed Rafferty to then pursue his own distinctive sound.

42 KELVINGROVE BABY

THE BATHERS

Essentially an avenue for the talents of Chris Thompson, the Bathers evolved when this gifted singer/songwriter quit Friends Again. While the core of his former group forged Love And Money, Thompson opted for a musical path marked by introspection. Four albums recorded between 1987 and 1995 saw him explore similar themes of doomed relationships prevalent in Scott Walker and the Tindersticks. Kelvingrove Baby (1997) shows little respite from this compulsive muse, but Thompson's real gift is ensuring that his world-weariness is never maudlin. If Love Could Last Forever and The Fragrance Remains The Same are particularly intoxicating.

43 SKIFFLE

LONNIE DONEGAN

Lonnie Donegan's influence on popular music is incalculable. Almost every artist from the British beat boom - including the Beatles - and beyond, owes him a debt. During early sets in Ken Colyer's Jazzmen, Donegan introduced a "skiffle" intermission which drew on country blues, work songs and US folk songs. Donegan then cut Rock Island Line and John Henry during band sessions. When issued as singles, these tracks inspired the skiffle boom, with Alabama Bound, Midnight Special and Stewball following. As Donegan influenced largely through his singles, this compilation best represents his work.

44 EMPIRES AND DANCE

SIMPLE MINDS

Empires And Dance resolved the quandary that was early Simple Minds. Their first album was viewed largely as derivative, their second knowingly obtuse, as the band struggled to recapture early promise and carve a musical niche. This third album, released in 1980, followed a period of intense touring, primarily reflected in the Euro-disco style of I Travel. Part Kraftwerk, part Donna Summer, the track opened new horizons for the band, mainly through acceptance on the club scene.

Elsewhere, Celebrate took its cue from previous recordings, but a new discipline gave it greater purpose, while This Fear Of Gods points to future developments.

45 FOURTH DRAWER DOWN

THE ASSOCIATES

When the Associates - Billy Mackenzie and Alan Rankine - were dropped by Fiction Records, the pair set about finding a new deal by stealth. Securing studio time from one company, they'd cut a master, then use the results to attract interest from other labels. Five singles were recorded in this manner, subsequently forming the core of Fourth Drawer Down (1982). These performances see the pair at their most adventurous, be it in the frantic Message Oblique Speech, the near-funereal Tell Me Easter's On Friday.

46 A PAGAN PLACE

THE WATERBOYS

Mike Scott's career has taken many twists and turns. When his late Seventies band Another Pretty Face split up, few expected such a brilliant regeneration as the Waterboys. Now based in London and joined by Anthony Thistlethwaite and Karl Wallinger, he completed the group's eponymous album before unleashing A Pagan Place in 1984. Scott's passionate view is exemplified on The Big Music, both in sound and title, and a desire to invest his songs with spirituality gives the stunning All The Things She Gave Me and Church Not Made With Hands an intensity few songwriters could match. A Pagan Place is where the Waterboys' approach was firmly established.

47 SOUTHSIDE

TEXAS

Johnny McElhone's turbulent career finally found its home with Texas. Vocalist Sharleen Spiteri and guitarist Ally McErlaine were his ideal foils, as evinced on this 1989 album. McErlaine's eerie slide work, inspired by Ry Cooder, creates an atmospheric template on which Spiteri's distinctive, committed voice shines. I Don't Want A Lover, a Top Ten single, opens the set with purpose, the distinctive bottleneck and driving urgency defining Texas's early sound. With sales in excess of two million copies, the group - and McElhone - had arrived.

48 CHANGE EVERYTHING

DEL AMITRI

Del Amitri were part of a new generation of Glasgow groups including the Bluebells and Lloyd Cole and the Commotions. Centred on the talents of vocalist/songwriter Justin Currie, their early, naive image gradually developed into something more substantial, partly through an unpresupposing attitude to success. The arrival of guitarist Mick Slaven provided the final push towards rock and Del Amitri's third album, Change Everything, confirmed this transformation. The craftedness of the band's songwriting and the sense of irony apparent in Currie's lyrics underpin The Ones That You Love Lead You Nowhere and Be My Downfall. His Eeyore-styled pessimism is encapsulated on Always The Last To Know, which remains, for many, Del Amitri's finest moment.

49 THE REMOTE PART

IDLEWILD

Roddy Woomble, Rod Jones and Colin Newton formed Idlewild in Edinbugh in 1995. Inspired by various US post-hardcore noisemeisters, they issued singles for sundry independent labels before signing with Food in 1998. With Bob Fairfoull completing the line-up, successive albums revealed a band gradually decreasing volume for a more subtle edge. On The Remote Part (2002), this transformation was complete, notably with You Held The World In Your Arms, a Top Ten single heralding the album's release and the band's move to Parlophone. It was Idlewild's most melodic set to date; they even used acoustic guitars, and this new-found mainstream acceptance led to support slots on tour with the Rolling Stones.

50 HAPPY BIRTHDAY

ALTERED IMAGES

The core of Altered Images - Johnny McElhone, Tony McDade and Michael Anderson - were at school together, but the band only prospered with the addition of vocalist Clare Grogan, concurrently filming her role in Gregory's Girl. Patronage from John Peel and Siouxsie and the Banshees helped them secure a deal, while producer Martin Rushent brought out their pure pop inclinations. Happy Birthday and I Could Be Happy were the pivotal tracks (and Top Ten singles) on the band's album debut, but the entire set was infused with a joyful innocence. However, their undoubted grasp of bubblegum was undermined by overwhelming attention on Clare's barbie image and little-girl-lost voice. This would ultimately push the band towards a musical dead end.

 
 
 

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