THERE are thousands of Scottish records which have sold by the shedloads. But there are a few which barely made it into CD reissue stage. Here are our five favourites.
Hope and Despair (Demon, 1989)
Orange Juice have always flitted in and out of critical acclaim and are currently enjoying a renaissance with the patronage of Franz Ferdinand. In the mid 90s, Edwyn stumbled into the Britpop party with A Girl Like You, a song which he admits earned him a million and got him invited on to the Austin Powers soundtrack with The Magic Piper. Between Orange Juice and the haircare ad soundtrack, there wasn't much. But there was this undervalued gem from 1989. Carrying the witty and wry observations which made Collins as amusing as Morrissey but without the side order of chips on each shoulder. In part George Jones, in part Dylan, in part Oscar Wilde, this is better than much of the OJ material and certainly matches Gorgeous George. But GG had a A Girl Like You on its side. has no hits, but plenty of great songs. The tunes are exquisitely matched between lost love (Pushing It to the Back of My Mind) and lost success (Testing Time) and the uptempo rockers like Fifty Shades of Blue and Darling They Want It All are just as good. Phil Thornalley, who co-produced, made much more money with Natalie Imbruglia's Torn, but Hope and Despair is much, much better.
Sweet Deceit (Island, 1990)
"I'm nineteen and I'm crazy about you. Yes I'm crazy about you. So crazy." If you've heard Chris Thomson sing this song, Desire Regained from this 1990 record, you should have hairs standing on the back of your neck by now. It is certainly worth seeking out if you haven't. If The Blue Nile offer a late night Glasgow train or car journey, The Bathers offer the same tour but in the form of a bracing walk. Thomson's voice, the closest Scotland has come to Tom Waits, later came to distinction on Bloomsday with two of Lloyd Cole's Commotions, but Sweet Deceit is the start of something good (The band continued to record through the 90s on Marina records). Unusual Places to Die, The Bathers' previous album on Go! Discs, is also worth your investigation if you can find it on CD, but Sweet Deceit is where The Bathers started to luxuriate. As well as the stunning Desire Regained, it's difficult to hear The Pursuit of an Orchid, The Honeysuckle Rose or Memory Fever without hearing a singer and songwriter at his evocative best. A wonderful 1990 late night snapshot of the then City of Culture.
Kevin McDermott Orchestra
Mother Nature's Kitchen (Island, 1991)
You may struggle to get this on CD. The copy I'm listening to now is on tape and well-worn. But you should try. It's difficult to be anthem-like without being pompous, to sound intimate without being pretentious - and that's just when you write a review. When you write and produce a record, it's even tougher. This, in its understated but defiant tunefulness, is a very Scottish record but that's no bad thing. What Comes to Pass and the title track would have had scarves swaying in a different era, and Wheels of Wonder and Healing at the Harbour could have had bigger venues punching the air in unison. If Del Amitri managed to be massive, only bad luck, music press disinterest and lack of record company support (they were dropped after one album) stopped KMO from finding a decent-sized audience. (NB: River Records has since reissued Mother Nature's Kitchen. See www.riverrecords.com for more details.)
BeBop Moptop (Virgin, 1989)
The first album, Spencer Tracy, may have featured Mary's Prayer, but this is the one with most of the best tunes. This is a patchy album, but the best bits show three minds fizzing with inspiration from Sinatra and Steely Dan, and songs designed to hum down the street, from the hit Second Summer of Love to I Can't Wait and Never Gonna Be the Same. There's ratpack pastiche, ten years before Robbie Williams, with Imaginary Girl, and ballads like Loneliness and Everything She Said Was True, which suggest songwriter Gary Clark's reach to be "the Burt Bacharach of the Nineties" wasn't as laughable as it might first have sounded. There's enough on this record to suggest Clark, who went on to middling success as a solo artist and with his band King L, is still a songwriter worth keeping an ear on.
Morning Dove White (FFRR, 1993)
The Cocteau Twins, quite rightly, are acclaimed at offering the most atmospheric music from a Scottish group, but One Dove offered something equally different and original in 1993. Dot Allison has recently been in the tabloid newspapers for going out with Pete Doherty of The Libertines, but her musical connections were much more diverse back here. One Dove were produced by New Order twiddler Stephen Hague and Andrew Weatherall, responsible for much of the best bits of Screamadelica. Stuart McMillan and Orde Meikle at Glasgow club Slam - who helped discover Daft Punk - and Heavenly records' Jeff Barrett (the man behind the Chemical Brothers and Beth Orton) were also One Dove supporters. Jah Wobble of PiL fame and Primal Scream's Andrew Innes make an appearance too. Morning Dove White is naturally dated in parts - Why Don't You Take Me sounds worryingly close to Black's Wonderful Life. Generally, though, it's surprisingly resistant for a 1993 elecotronic album. The best bits like the dreamy single Breakdown and There Goes the Cure showcase dreamy production with Allison's vocals. Before dance music you couldn't dance to, like Zero 7, Lemon Jelly and Royskopp became big, it's possible that One Dove were just ahead of their time.
There you have it. A less-than-official take on five forgotten classic Scottish records. The word "classic" is entirely subjective, but we would like to know what you think. Tell us your favorite forgotten classic and why you love it. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.