I've been dreaming about getting back to Skye at some point when restrictions allow. I generally make it a bit of a road trip, stopping off en route. On such trips, I like to play music that I think lets the soul of the land sing, in the magical belief that this will help me climb in it better - and, if the muse moves me, write about it.
Over the years I've amassed the following: Mendelssohn's Hebrides & Scottish Symphony; Runrig & Mogwai compilations; sampler of Burns songs; Nicola Benedetti's Homecoming, with Bruch's Scottish Fantasy plus lots of fantastic fiddling; a best of Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham; some Dick Gaughan; some Martyn Bennet...
What should I add that will bring a different but distinctively Scottish voice?
The Mountaineer's Reel by The Poozies. I remember them introducing it as being dedicated to Hamish MacInnes
The Vaselines, Belle and Sebastian, Primal Scream, Deacon Blue, Orange Juice/Edwyn Collins, Simple Minds...
They all fall under "different" but I'm not sure they all sound distinctly Scottish?! Actually most of them don't sound Scottish at all....
Tell you who does.... The Proclaimers.
Definitely Big Country, in a big country!!!
Skerryvore originally from the isle of Tiree.
We were lucky enough to see them live when their World Tour took them to Castlebay on Barra.
I think they roam a little further a field now, but they've got a number of albums.
> Definitely Big Country, in a big country!!!
Great band! Heading through a dreich industrial slum area (in Scotland?) you'd have to be playing 'Chance'. Once out in the wilds switch to 'The Teacher'. All bases covered!
We bought 'The Best Punk Tunes Ever' from a petrol station outside Inverness. We were on the way to the Stromness ferry to Hoy. We cranked up the sound and put the pedal to the floor.
We lasted about an hour. Somewhere between Golspie and Helmsdale, after we had overtaken another car with our eyes on stalks, and fists being waved, having pushed ourselves once out of a ditch, we threw the Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers and Johnny Rotten into the back seat.
'I know a nice radio programme that's on, about now' my passenger croaked.
'It's called Brand New Country with Bryan Burnett. Maybe we should listen to that.'
Those were the days, less litigious, less judgemental, less speed cameras and the grass grew greener.
That's how we climbed the Old Man, Am Buchaille and Stoer in a weekend. We climbed fast then. Must have been the punk rock.
Great story. I had a similar experience one massive day in the Alps. Caught the first 'phrique up to the Midi, walked across to do a route on Tacul, found it already full of very noisy Italians, walked across the Vallee Blanche to Torino hut for a decent Italian coffee, caught the cable car back to France and the car, put The Clash on at full volume, roared off into Switzerland, climbed a dozen or so pitches of the Amone Slab, staggered off in the dark, roared back into France with The Clash.
Saltfishforty, or if you want something stomping, The Chair
Mogwai are definitely in the CD changer. Central Belters gets a good hearing.
Many thanks for all these recommendations. Plenty to check out.
One specific genre I'm interested in: does anyone have recommendations for some genuinely Scottish sounding ambient? Something that isn't "Celtic Moods for Mindfulness, Yoga and Candle-lit Baths."
Try this from ALex Smoke
So Below is a live performance piece for a chapel or resonant space, with the option of using various instruments. It was first performed in 2019 at the Glasgow University Chapel, supported by Cryptic, and with Maarten Vos on cello.
The setup is for an array of speakers around the space, with the sound moving through the room. It is performed in the dark, or as near-dark as can be achieved, and the focus is on the sound rather than the performance. This recording has been adapted to stereo.
The aim is to tap into a certain atmosphere – an atmosphere that is always present but which we are usually too distracted to notice. There is nothing new in this – all sacred and most traditional music has always followed the same idea. Anonymous audience feedback from the night bears this out – my mum’s one will be in there somewhere but I don’t think any of these are from her….. :
> Try this from ALex Smoke
Thanks. At first listen that's pretty compelling. I'll be exploring further.
Try a few of these, either contemporary artists or older ones but are still putting out new music.
aaaaahhhh - Cloth, Close Lobsters, Medicine Men, Domiciles, Bis, L-space, Annie Booth, Mt Doubt, Slow Weather, Bluebells (yes them) and finally the Mulldoons
Should be something there you like. Basically that’s most of the roster off the Last Night From Glasgow label
Talisk. Absolutely marvellous, and a sound that's perfect for your trip. Terrific live band too.
That would be The Cocteau Twins
But also . . . . . The Sensational Alex Harvey Band
Skerryvore played at my brother's wedding.
That was a good night !
> Biffy Clyro? Ballboy?
It won't let me like and dislike a post simultaneously.
Ballboy were criminally underrated.
> Talisk. Absolutely marvellous, and a sound that's perfect for your trip.
A quick youtube suggests they would indeed be perfect on a road trip. Any significance to the fact that they're almost the Skye whisky? (I have particularly fond memories of drinking a hip flask of Talisker while bivvying on the Cuillin Ridge during a two-day traverse.)
> Oh . . . . . . . and John Martyn
Saw him give a fantastic live performance around the time of Inside Out. Strong claim, given that the album's even got Gaelic on it!
He was interviewed by Phil Cunningham for a BBC Scotland programme about Scottish musicians.
Phil Cunningham - " I bet this is the first time you've been interviewed by an accordianist?"
John Martyn - " Interviewed ? It's the first time I've let one in the hoose!"
One song that I gravitate towards for long journeys through the middle of the Highlands is In Remote Part by Idlewild, although they have a few others that also capture the mood:
Boards of Canada!!!!!!
Christ how did I miss them, one of my favourites ever!?!?
Your initial post leans heavily towards the classical; so how about... The Land of the Mountain and the Flood by Hamish MacCunn. That's by far his most famous work but the rest is worth a listen.
Somhairle is a tune ft the late sorley maclean
There are a few Robert Robertsons so this one of Tidelines
Look up a playlist for the Celtic Connections festival or Hebridean Celtic Festival.
> Skerryvore played at my brother's wedding.
> That was a good night !
I can imagine! Brilliant live band.
Sons and Daughters
A Pocket Of Wind Resistance by Karine Polwart . . . .. . is excellent for a road trip
A few artists who perhaps wouldn't be considered mainstream, but are top of the tree for Scottish Trad would be-
Alistair MacCuich and the black rose ceilidh band, Hamish Napier, Treacherous Orchestra, Talisk, Breabach, Duncan Chisholm, Adam Sutherland, Mariearad Green, Donald Black, Silly Wizard, Fergie MacDonald.
Another vote for Big Country, first album. A friend of mine upped sticks from Surrey for a life in Scotland, based on that album.
And watch the film Restless Natives first, for which they did the soundtrack.
Gin Goblins, Foil, Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, Swamptrash, Wee Free Kings, Dog Faced Hermans, Cocteau Twins, Jesus and Mary Chain. Proclaimers. King Creosote. Ballboy. Eh... Magicdrive? Lost Soul Band?
Might need to have two trips!
Another vote for Peat and Diesel.
Battlefield Band (Start with Celtic Hotel)
Julie Fowlis (first album at least)
Amy McDonald (first album is one of the all time great pop albums)
Great recommendations so far. Looks like the lack of any Big Country is a glaring omission that needs addressing. You've given me loads of traditional/nu folk to explore. Any more suggestions in the electronica area?
> A Pocket Of Wind Resistance by Karine Polwart . . . .. . is excellent for a road trip
Heard her version of My Heart's in the Highlands on R3 celebrating Burns Night and was entranced. Led me to a lovely collection of Burns Songs.
> Many thanks for all these recommendations. Plenty to check out.
> One specific genre I'm interested in: does anyone have recommendations for some genuinely Scottish sounding ambient?
Scottish you say? Ambient you say? I pescribe some Erland Cooper
"A Scottish multi-instrumentalist and contemporary composer originally from Stromness, Orkney. As a solo artist, he has released three critically acclaimed albums completing a trilogy of work inspired by his childhood home, as well as themes of nature, landscape and community"
Harr is good starter, perfect for sitting outside your tent after a good day out looking out over the western Isles with a dramm of whiskey, or other poison of your choice.
God, I hope to be doing that again this September.
> Scottish you say? Ambient you say? I pescribe some Erland Cooper
> Harr is good starter, perfect for sitting outside your tent after a good day out looking out over the western Isles with a dramm of whiskey, or other poison of your choice.
That is gorgeous.
> Peatbog Faeries
I'm very impressed with what I've listened to so far of Faerie Stories.
Lowlife. A criminally underrated band from Grangemouth. Robin Guthrie (ex Cocteau Twins) on bass. Early stuff good, later albums a bit weak. 'Black Album' bootleg the gem for me.
Hamish Imlach, just for this one:
PMD, not a True Scotsman but an adopted son.
Fairwell To Stromness: youtube.com/watch?v=zpJB-XXE9Xg&
An Orkney Wedding (With Sunrise): youtube.com/watch?v=UEp5iKXxk3U&
It doesn't appeal to my ears but for the cultural experience...
Gaelic Psalm singing
Another vote for the Peatbog Faeries. With a personal recommendation of Croftwork.
> Lowlife. A criminally underrated band from Grangemouth. Robin Guthrie (ex Cocteau Twins) on bass. Early stuff good, later albums a bit weak. 'Black Album' bootleg the gem for me.
> Hamish Imlach, just for this one:
*Will Heggie on bass. Not Robin Guthrie. He's very obviously still in the Cocteau Twins.
Hopefully will be able to see the faeries later this year.
Good to see the mighty Skerryvore mentioned and the fantastic Talisk. Not seen any mention of Skippinish or Fara or the Red Hot Chili Pipers who are a live “experience “ and a half.
Scottish music is something else and that’s speaking as a Welshman!
Peat and Diesel. Stornoway based accordion driven folk punk sensation. Sold out The Barrowlands (2000 capacity) in minutes. Imagine the outcome of a drunken liason between Runrig and The Clash.
some great suggestions already. don't think Manran and Ho-Ro have been mentioned
"There was a soldier, a Scottish soldier, who wandered far away....."
You could do a lot worse than having a look at 'Beluga Lagoon' on youtube. Both for their music and the wildlife/travel films.
I'm quite taken with Beluga Lagoon. Any recommendation as to the best album - or should I just go for the latest?
anything with “coping all on my own” on it.
think it’s river tunes
Can't really help you there I'm afraid, I have to confess I've not actually listened to their albums. I'm mostly aware of their music from the soundtrack of their excellent films. (The coastal 'Sullivan's Wild Scotland' is especially good. They're clearly an extraordinarily talented bunch. They've done a couple of delightful little 'adventure' films for BBC Scotland too.)
I know they're not Scottish but playing Takk by Sigur Ros at full blast on a sunny day through the Highlands always seems amazingly appropriate to me - almost like the music and landscape was made for each other.
Other than that, most of my playlist has already been mentioned - Erland Cooper, Martyn Bennett, Julie Fowlis, Idlewild (Make Another World and The Remote Part) but also Roddy Woomble's solo albums (apart from the last one!), Mogwai, The Silencers album Dance to the Holy Man, Teenage Fan Club's Songs from Northern Britain, Karine Polwart's Scottish Songbook, King Creosote, James Yorkston etc. etc.
Capercaillie, in particular Skye Waulking Song, seems pretty appropriate
I'm rather taken with Peat and Diesel, thank you (and others) for the recommendation. I suspect there's a limited number will understand what I mean, but they made me think of what you'd have got if you took the Tansads out of Wigan and moved them to Lewis.
My wife's only comment was, from some rooms away, to send me a text that just said 'WTF?'.
Shakin pyramids, skin em up.
John Martin, solid air
Aztec Camera, high land hard air.
+1 for Sensational Alex Harvey ( "Framed" is great) or from that era Frankie Miller. Jack Bruce - go for the Colosseum covers of " Theme for an imaginary western" or "Rope ladder to the moon" Still in frightful old hippy mode Bert Jansch "Jack Orion" .
Or if you'd rather 40 year old rather than 50 year old - HIpsway " Tinder" (also the sound of Scottish lager commercials of the mid 80s) and it is nothing short of a travesty that no-one seems to have suggested The Blue Nile - Walk across the rooftops and Hats both magnificent albums.
Partial to Malcolm Middleton at the moment. If you're doing any walking you'll do worse than 'Red Travelling Socks'
I can't think of the NW Highlands without thinking about Sibelius, whenever I listen to the Swan of Tuonela it takes me straight to Stac Pollaidh. Finland, Scotland same difference.