Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Scotland's (Alternative) Greatest Album

If like me you watched STV's recent series of programmes 'Scotland's Greatest Album' and were left feeling slightly disappointed, then next Monday's theme should offer you a chance to redress the situation. (Sadly I can't offer the chance to repeatedly harm Clare Grogan who irritated the tits off me!) I don't want to slate the programme completely, afterall the task of deciding an album of twelve tracks which represent the best music Scotland has produced is an insanely ridiculous task. And to further cement my point, I challenge you to count the amount of times I use my own personal opinion in reference to music in this post.

My first gripe is the basis of selecting songs based on the decade they were released. Obviously this is a TV programme and as such, there is some sort of structure needed, however the very idea that a track should make it in to the final cut over a better track simply because it fills a quota for that decade is absurd. For instance the fact the The Bay City Rollers 'Shang A Lang' is in the final cut of 60 rather than Frightened Rabbit 'The Modern Leper' or Eddie Reader 'Ae Fond Kiss' is in over Arab Strab '(Afternoon) Soaps' is crazy. Great music knows no bondaries, certainly not ones which fall within the calender.

And that leads me to my second gripe; the basis for selection. I think we can all agree that commerical success does not guarantee quality. Afterall Celine Dion has carved out a sucessful career despite producing drivel for two decades. However I'm not naive enough to write off commerical success, afterall people don't buy things they don't not like, at least not at the time anyway. I'm sure there are hundreds, if not thousands of copies of 'Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep' which have been discarded, but at the time they people who bought them must have liked the song. But clearly the show was not based purely on commerical success. Afterall, artists like Camera Obscura, Mull Historical Society, Capercaillie are hardly troubling the charts. So what is the criteria?

My third gripe? Just what the hell constitutes Scottish? Rod Stewart? Born and raised in North London, despite his Scottish ancestry I would say is disqualified. AC/DC? The Young brothers emigrated to Oz before forming the band, the rest of the band made up of non-Scots, it's shaky grounds for inclusion. Lloyd Cole? Fair enought the Commotions are Scottish, but if the main singer/songwriter is not then can you include the act? Snow Patrol? A Scottish keyboard player and bassist does not in my book qualify a band as Scottish. And just because they had a huge hit, doesn't mean you can squeeze them in on a technicality.

Matthew at Song, By Toad, produced a brilliantly witty blog post about why personal opinion shouldn't deter people from making music (read it here). And this is my final gripe; the basis for selection is essentially five people's opinion (or if you want to be sceptical the producers opinion, afterall who can account for Amy McDonald making the cut). As far as I was aware there were no public vote for the 15 tracks that represent each decade. Therefore the 15 tracks that we have been presented with are the pure result of the opinions of five people (in some cases, Capercaillie, Eddi Reader, the very politicised opinions of one SNP MSP).

And there in lies the rub. I'm less of a music snob than I used to be, but I still can't have Paolo Nutini, Calvin Harris, Simple Minds, Nazareth or Gallagher & Lyle anywhere near this accolade. And I'm sure some less educated people don't see the unadulterated genius of Frightened Rabbit, Idlewild, or Mogwai.

So if they can do it, so can I. So my theme for next week's Scottish Fiction show on Pulse Community Radio is 'Scotland's (Alternative) Greatest Album'. And I want to hear from you. What tracks should I play to represent the best this country has to offer? Some tracks will be the same as the ones on STV's list, some artists might be the same but with a different track, and some might be making up for the great injustice of being overlooked in the first place. Here's a wee rundown of what I might play. Feel free to disagree.

Frightened Rabbit - The Modern Leper
Belle And Sebastian - The Boy With The Arab Strap
Idlewild - You Held The World In Your Arms Tonight
Mogwai - Batcat
Primal Scream - Loaded
Teenage Fanclub - Sparky's Dream
Biffy Clyro - Glitter And Trauma
Arab Strap - (Afternoon) Soaps
Orange Juice - Rip It Up
Boards Of Canada - An Eagle In Your Mind
Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street
Aerogramme - Barriers
Franz Ferdinand - Matinee
Cocteau Twins - Heaven Or Las Vegas

And I haven't even mentioned Travis (say what you want, the early stuff is good!), Jesus And Mary Chain, Beta Band, The Twilight Sad, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Delgados, Camera Obscura, Aztec Camera, Dogs Die In Hot Cars, Edwyn Collins (solo), KLF, Danny Wilson, Bronski Beat, King Creosote, Kid Canaveral, RM Hubbert, Meusault and so much more.


  1. Only half of The KLF are Scottish, so if you pick them then the shoehorning accusation may be used against you too!

  2. To be honest I didn't know this! It's a scandel the lack of research that goes into blogs these days...

  3. It's an outrage, frankly. Bloggers, don't trust them.

  4. am I the only person who was totally obsessed with Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, I must have seen that band in almost every Edinburgh venue that ever existed and quite a few in London. oh well.