DCSIMG

100 best Scottish albums - Nos 51-75

51 UH! TEARS BABY (A TRASH ICON)

WIN

Formed by ex-Fire Engines stalwarts Davey Henderson and Russell Burn, Win was a quite different proposition to its predecessor. Superficially similar to the quicksilver pop of Heaven 17, they attempted subversion through lyrical content. Two funk-oriented singles, Super Popoid Groove and UnAmerican Broadcasting, prefaced Uh! Tears Baby, which mischievously twisted between Marc Bolan and Prince. Another stellar song, You've Got The Power was featured in a McEwan's Lager TV advert, although the company obviously missed the punchlines "to censor what's real" and "to generate fear". Win split up after a second album, Trigger Finger, after which Henderson formed the Nectarine No 9.

52 THE GREAT EASTERN

THE DELGADOS

The Delgados' importance not only stems from their own releases, but also their imprint, Chemikal Underground, sometime home of Arab Strap and Mogwai. The group - Alun Woodward, Emma Pillock, Stewart Henderson and Paul Savage - formed in 1994 and had completed two albums and sundry singles and EPs prior to the release of The Great Eastern in 2000. The healthy eclecticism previously on display coalesced largely through its impressive arrangements and augmentations. Horn sections and stellar orchestration underscore a set which includes some of the Delgados' finest performances, notably American Trilogy and Make Your Move.

53 THE CROSSING

BIG COUNTRY

Stuart Adamson emerged from the debris of the Skids with this successful album. It relied on the urgency of his former group but the basic pattern was embellished with Adamson's ringing "bagpipe" guitar sound which infused the material with Celtic imagery. Fields Of Fire and In A Big Country typified Big Country's rousing approach as Adamson clearly relished having a band free from the internal instabilities of its predecessor. For the rest of the decade the group enjoyed international success, but the 90s were less kind and Adamson's personal demons resurfaced. Struggling with alcoholism, he left Britain for Nashville and a new career in 1999. Nothing, sadly, was resolved. Adamson was found dead in a Hawaii hotel room in December 2001.

54 THE ROCK

FRANKIE MILLER

Having spent his formative years in a succession of bands, Frankie Miller moved to London in the early 1970s. After securing a recording deal, he cut Once In A Blue Moon and High Life before forging the Frankie Miller Band. This tightly-knit unit made its debut on The Rock, a marvellous hybrid of rock and soul. A nagging horn section underscores the taut arrangements, exemplified on A Fool In Love. Drunken Nights In The City, Hard On The Levee and The Rock itself are further strong inclusions, but the focus, as always, is Miller himself, and his raw, impassioned voice. He would later have hits with Darlin' and Caledonia, before a brain aneurysm in 1994 left him partially paralysed. The benefit album and concert of 2002 were fitting tributes to his talents.

55 LOVE

AZTEC CAMERA

Love was released in 1987, some three years after its predecessor, Knife. In the meantime, Roddy Frame (always, in essence, Aztec Camera) had completed a world tour with his group, before withdrawing to write new material. It resulted in his most successful album to date, largely due to the belated recognition afforded Somewhere In My Heart, a Top Three hit in 1988. This persuasive song caught Aztec Camera in all its glory, yet Frame only decided to include it on Love at the last minute. How Men Are and Working In A Goldmine were other hits culled from this polished set.

56 IF YOU'RE FEELING SINISTER

BELLE AND SEBASTIAN

Their objectives established with Tigermilk, the reclusive Belle And Sebastian followed up their limited-edition debut six months later with If You're Feeling Sinister. The charming mixture remained the same; wistful, gentle melodies recalling ghosts of Nick Drake and the Bryan Maclean-Love, centred on Stuart Murdoch's deftly-relaxed vocals. Stars Of Track And Field, Mayfly and the title track itself, are among the highlights of an enigmatic set befitting a band whose anti-star approach enhances the natural aspects of their music. Indeed, at about the time of a much-touted NME front page spread, Murdoch was spotted busking in a lane off Glasgow's Byres Road, trying out new songs.

57 DIVA

ANNIE LENNOX

Annie Lennox left Aberdeen in the late 60s, armed with a scholarship for the Royal Academy Of Music. After dropping out in 1971, she supplemented singing with work as a waitress and, by chance, met Dave Stewart in a restaurant. The pair formed the Tourists, then Eurythmics, before Lennox moved on to a solo career. Diva was her first, and most impressive, album. It opens with the plaintive Why, which reached the UK Top Ten, and continued in a similarly reflective mood. A No 1 hit in Britain, Diva was also nominated for three Grammy awards and established Lennox as an artist in her own right.

58 THE CUTTER AND THE CLAN

RUNRIG

It was a long way from the Run-Rig Dance Band, playing gigs around the Isle Of Skye, to the release of this album. Runrig had grown from their origins, taking elements of Horslips and Fairport Convention to forge a brash, Gaelic folk rock, which over the years had captured an ever-widening audience. As songs in English had become more dominant, so their anthemic style grew in popularity, allied to a sense of Scottish patriotism. The Cutter and the Clan, issued in 1987, was their final album on an independent label. It opened with Alba which, alongside Protect and Survive and Rocket To The Moon, quickly became concert favourites. This set finally propelled Runrig on to a global stage and set the tone for the band's most successful period.

59 GARLANDS

COCTEAU TWINS

Taking their name from an early Simple Minds song, the Cocteau Twins - Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie and (briefly) Will Heggie - left Grangemouth for London armed with a demo tape intended for John Peel. He gave the trio slots on his Radio 1 show which resulted in a recording deal and Garlands. Their sound encompassed sheets of textured guitars, slow-moving rhythms and Frazer's eerie, ambient vocals. Such lyrical ambiguity gave Garlands its originality and allowed the Twins' music to develop as an emotionally complete experience.

60 YOU CAN'T HIDE YOUR LOVE FOREVER

ORANGE JUICE

Postcard Records played a fundamental role in the development of Scottish rock and pop. Their do-it-yourself ethos was deftly combined with a love of 1960s Americana. Orange Juice epitomised this perspective and, having recorded several singles, signed a major deal with Polydor. You Can't Hide Your Love Forever was initially viewed as a compromise between avarice and altruism, combining Postcard-related material with a more commercial sound. Time has helped heal such wounds. The brittle beauty of Wan Light, Felicity and In A Nutshell has proved irresistible, while the soul of L.O.V.E. Love gave the band a first taste of chart success.

61 ALEX HARVEY AND HIS SOUL BAND

ALEX HARVEY AND HIS SOUL BAND

This is, arguably, where Scottish rock began. Alex Harvey had fronted various bands since the mid-50s but, tiring of what he perceived as apathy, took his Soul Band to a more receptive audience in Hamburg. A lengthy residency at the Top Ten Club ensued and in October 1963, Alex cut this seminal album. Sadly, it does not feature the Soul Band in full flight as musicians from other groups were drafted in for contractual reasons. The inclusion of Framed and I Just Wanna Make Love To You is fascinating as these are songs the singer would return to in another guise. Elsewhere, material by Lonnie Johnson, Shirley and Lee, Muddy Waters and Rodgers and Hammerstein show how broad the Harvey palate was. This set is the equal of others by London-based contemporaries Georgie Fame and Long John Baldry but, as newer groups began to catch up, so Alex dissolved the band to follow a folk-based direction.

62 THE AFFECTIONATE PUNCH

THE ASSOCIATES

Led by Billy Mackenzie and Alan Rankine, the Associates escaped Dundee's nightclubs with their audacious version of David Bowie's Boys Keep Swinging. Although far from a commercial success, its release led to a support slot on tour with the Cure and a deal with the latter's record label. Issued in 1980, The Affectionate Punch remains a major statement with Bowie's Station To Station an austere influence. Yet any sense of plagiarism is immediately swept aside by Mackenzie's devastating voice, its multi-octave range allowing him to swoop or soar according to mood, context or emotion. Curiously, the album was completely remixed two years later, although purists still argue for the original version.

63 MAINSTREAM

LLOYD COLE AND THE COMMOTIONS

Mainstream would bring the career of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions to a glorious close. It reaffirmed the goup's collective strengths and if the singer's lyrics were less reliant on wordplay, they were honed to a greater precision. Titles such as Sean Penn's Blues and Mr Malcontent encapsulated contrasting sides of Cole's muse. Certainly the impish frisson of early releases had been replaced by maturity, but that itself was a more than adequate compensation. The band split up amicably in 1989. Cole took keyboard player Blair Cowan for his solo career; bassist Lawrence Donegan became a journalist.

64 MIRMAMA

EDDI READER

A one-time backing singer for the Gang Of Four and Waterboys, Eddi Reader found fame with Fairground Attraction and Perfect. When the group split up, she turned briefly to acting before re-establishing her singing career with Eddi Reader and the Patron Saints Of Imperfection. Mirmama, released in 1992, was a remarkable return, blending original material with several deftly-chosen cover versions. Her interpretations of songs by John Prine, Fred Neil and Loudon Wainwright were excellent, but the highlight was arguably the traditional ballad The Blacksmith. Reader's love of folklore continues to this day.

65 LUBRICATE YOUR LIVING ROOM

FIRE ENGINES

Having declared their manifesto with the braying, atonal Get Up And Use Me, Edinburgh's Fire Engines cut this eight-track mini-album in 1980. Inspired by Richard Hell's Voidoids and New York's no-wave movement, the quartet created a spontaneous frenzy where guitars collided, drums thundered and vocalist Davey Henderson shrieked and wailed to create a sound both exciting and expressive. However, in choosing to re-record their debut single, the group showed how much they had tightened over the preceding months. Orthodoxy mixed with mischief marked subsequent releases before it was felt the gesture had been made and the band broke up. Henderson would later surface in Win.

66 THE WHITE ROOM

THE KLF

Pop terrorists the KLF comprised Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty. Drummond had previously worked with Echo and the Bunnymen, the Teardrop Explodes and in A&R, before recording a solo album, The Manager, to announce his "retirement". Six months later he and Cauty, formerly of Brilliant, whom Drummond had signed to WEA, established the JAMMS, which in turn mutated into the KLF. Their fascinating take on dance culture found its voice on What Time Is Love, 3am Eternal and the attendant White Room, before the pair mischievously deleted their entire back catalogue. Subsequently, as the K Foundation, they subverted the art world by exhibiting GBP 1 million in cash before (allegedly) burning it.

67 SONGS FROM NORTHERN BRITAIN

TEENAGE FANCLUB

Teenage Fanclub's fifth official album was released in June 1997. One of their most consistent collections, it included their first Top 20 entry, Ain't That Enough, and revealed a group honing its distinctive style with tighter arrangements and catchier melodies. Indeed, in I Don't Care, they created one of their finest songs to date. Spin-off projects - such as Astrochimp with Eugene Kelly - and sessions moonlighting with the BMX Bandits reinforced rather than deflected from the Fanclub's collective vision. Songs From Northern Europe showed a band at last in a position to be judged on their own merits, standards and catalogue.

68 THE HANGMAN'S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER

THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND

The third Incredible String Band album is, for some, their finest hour. Released in 1968, it favours the pen of Robin Williamson, who wrote seven of its ten songs, including the fragile Nightfall and quirky Witches Hat. Both are among its highlights. Mike Heron was responsible for the lengthy A Very Cellular Song and ebullient Mercy I Cry City. The duo's soaring voices and exotic instruments add a kaleidoscope of colour to what may be perceived as folk music, but only in its broadest sense. The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter confirms the unique vision the pair possessed, but future albums would gradually show contrasting perspectives. Here it is a precious collaboration.

69 DUM-DUM

THE VASELINES

Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee forged the Vaselines in 1987. Having made their debut with the invective Son Of A Gun, they delivered a follow-up more notable for its flipside, the almost-folksy Molly's Lips. Copies of these singles found their way to Washington State where a young Kurt Cobain embraced them, recording both of these songs with Nirvana and performing them live. Dum-Dum appeared in 1990, by which time James Seenan and Charles Kelly had joined the line-up. Largely splattered with distorted guitars and matters of a carnal nature (Sex Sux, Monster Pussy), it remains an exhilarating listen, but the band split up when McKee opted to leave. Cobain championed Eugene's next venture, Captain America, and the Vaselines' influence on one of rock's icons is uncontestable.

70 HIPSWAY

HIPSWAY

On the same day Altered Images split, bassist Johnny McElhone joined Harry Travers and Graham Skinner to form the core of Hipsway. Various guitarists, including James Grant, passed through the ranks until Pim Jones completed the line-up of a band determinedly dedicated to funk and soul music. Their eponymous debut is notable for the brash confidence of The Honeythief, a hit in Britain and the USA, and Tinder, purloined for a television ad campaign, but the entire set bristles with confidence and commitment. This undeniable promise was marred by internal friction and the defection of, first McElhone, then Travers. A revamped Hipsway cut a second set before splitting, while their erstwhile bassist formed Texas.

71 THE WEEK NEVER STARTS AROUND HERE

ARAB STRAP

Falkirk duo Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton started working together as Arab Strap in 1995, writing songs in the latter's bedroom. Renowned for low-fi recordings, self-deprication and lyrics dwelling on lost love and alcohol, Moffat's gloriously downbeat world view produced some of the saddest songs of recent history. The pair quickly developed a cult following, despite avidly clinging to their Central Belt perspective. Resolutely stoical, The Week Never Starts Around Here contained such Strap favourites as Coming Down and I Work In A Saloon, but, although its ruminations suggest the drunk at the end of the bar, there's a pithy wit about their observations.

72 THE DREAMING SEA

KAREN MATHESON

Karen Matheson has fronted Capercaille since 1984. Over the ensuing decade they pursued a largely traditional path but a dance mix of several tracks from Secret People (1993) caused some dissent within the band. The Dreaming Sea (1996) allowed the singer to explore other perspectives with the help of James Grant, jazz saxophonist Tommy White and the BT Scottish Ensemble. Split between material in Gaelic and English, the set is a showcase for Matheson's poignant voice, which the sympathetic arrangements greatly enhance.

73 MORNING DOVE WHITE

ONE DOVE

One Dove was formed in 1991 around Dot Allison, Ian Carmichael and Jim McKinven (ex-Altered Images). Their first single, the dream-like Fallen, was succeeded by the equally blissful White Love, which featured help from Jah Wobble and Andrew Innes from Primal Scream. Both tracks were present on Morning White Dove, a captivating mix of pop, dub and ambient styles, all wrapped by Allison's evocative and impressionistic voice. Despite obvious ambition, One Dove faltered during sessions for a second album, although Allison would forge an equally fascinating solo career.

74 SONGS FOR A TAILOR

JACK BRUCE

When Cream split in 1968, bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce began working with several of Britain's best-known jazz/rock musicians including Dick Heckstall-Smith (saxophone) and Jon Hiseman (drums). On this, his official solo debut, Bruce resumed his writing partnership with poet Pete Brown and produced one of the strongest albums of its era. The blend of excellent songs and experimentation was both honed and balanced, notably on Never Tell Your Mother She's Out Of Tune. Theme For An Imaginary Western is another highlight of an exceptional set, one proudly nominated by Edwyn Collins.

75 AUTHOR! AUTHOR!

THE SCARS

The Scars were one of the youngest punk bands active in Edinburgh in 1977. Growing up in public had led to derision from some quarters and many were surprised at the strength of sound apparent on their debut single Adult/ery/Horrorshow. By the release of Author! Author! - their sole album - in 1981, their spikey intonations had been blunted. Nonetheless, they produced an intriguing set with elements of glam, new-wave goth and new romanticism without ever slipping into formula or clich. The Scars split the following year, although vocalist Bobby King would pursue a short-lived solo career.

 
 
 

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