Monday, 23 November 2009
"Scottish pop music is less about a distinct musical identity than a shared sensibility, primarily communicated through a voice that, like the country as a whole, often doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry, hit or hug. Scotland has always had its stand-alone mavericks – the great Alex Harvey, an explosive mix of Jacques Brel and Bar Brel; Billy Mackenzie, perhaps the nation’s most complex and innately gifted pure pop star; and Bobby Gillespie, who for all his studied posturing has refused to allow Primal Scream to become a fixed entity – but in the main the body has been Zelig-like, an often thrilling patchwork of borrowed identities. Perhaps that’s why, while there has been no shortage of talent, it’s hard to argue that many artists – aside from [Lonnie] Donegan and the Postcard bands, whose legacy lingers in modern groups like Bloc Party, Vampire Weekend and Franz Ferdinand – have been particularly influential. More followers than leaders, perhaps; more craft than innovation; more heart than head..."
Prior to this weekend’s Homecoming concerts, the Sunday Herald asked me to write an essay teasing out the common threads and oblique points of consensus which have emerged during 50-odd years of Scottish popular music. What, I replied, you mean explain what links the Sensational Alex Harvey Band to the Blue Nile? You can read the results here.