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Seventies Cheese – Gerry Rafferty, John Martyn

Double helping of the cheddar.

Despite being on several 2010 death prediction lists, Gerry Rafferty was 63 yesterday. Like his fellow Scottish singer songwriter the late John Martyn, Rafferty emerged from the folk clubs of the sixties. Like Martyn, Rafferty has had a decades long battle with the booze. Their careers both took a simultaneous downward curve in the 80′s as they lapsed into total unfashionability.

Both great songwriters and musicians, both with a reputation for being difficult and laconic but both with people who would swear the opposite on their behalf. Martyn’s Grace and Danger and Rafferty’s On a Wing and a Prayer are both albums made on the back of break ups with their wives, and are both intense and heart rending.

The main difference between the two was that Martyn was lauded by the critics whilst commercial success was more elusive. Rafferty’s career was perhaps the converse.

This is Rafferty with what looks like an audition for The Hair Bear Bunch from 1979

And here is Martyn with Danny Thompson from 1977

Scotland Goes Pop! (11) The Waterboys

More Waterboys/Mike Scott info than you could shake a stick at available at The Waterboys Website
So many great songs and performances to choose from but it has to be this.

Scotland Goes Pop! (10) – Annie Lennox

It’s incredible to think that Annie Lennox’s first chart appearance with the Tourists was almost 30 years ago. She has a definite presence and undeniable staying power with her career spanning two bands and a solo career. Apparently she took the American Music Awards by storm at the weekend. I wouldn’t know because music award shows belong in the recycle bin with Strictly Come Dancing IMHO!

One ‘anniecdote’ I can share is that friends of mine who had a band (Quince) were playing at a wedding one night at the Balloch Hotel at Loch Lomond. They did a Eurythmics number in their set but little did they know that the Eurythmics were staying at the hotel as they were performing nearby (I think it was one of the Loch Lomond festivals, if not it was in Glasgow). One of the band did find out however and got an extra mic set up for Annie and she mischeviously agreed to make an unannounced appearance. Their lead singer Alan thought he was doing pretty well when the whole audience started to cheer and clap uncontrollably only to turn round to see and hear Annie Lennox joining him on vocals!

I also know the guy whose wedding it was and the story still gets revived on a regular basis.

I wonder about the Minnie Mouse thing though. Why does she insist on the occasional silly headgear? Here she is with the aforementioned along with Paul Buchanan and Here Comes the Rain Again.

Scotland Goes Pop! (9) Travis

All the info you’ll ever need about Travis is HERE

I loved this song and whilst some subsequent material has perhaps not totally fulfilled the early promise,, they are a pretty accomplished pop band with a fine catalogue of songs. The Wiki article says they paved the way for Coldplay and Snow Patrol and I wouldn’t disagree too much with that. They released a new album on Monday called Ode To J. Smith

Scotland Goes Pop! (8) The Sutherland Brothers and Quiver.

Iain Sutherland (vocals/guitar/keyboards) and Gavin Sutherland (guitar/vocals) from Ellon in Aberdeenshire went to London as youngsters to seek fame and fortune in 1970.  Their first two albums, “The Sutherland Brothers Band” and “Lifeboat”, continued the gift for melodic, folk-based pop, exemplified in ‘The Pie’, their excellent debut single (hear below). It was during this period that the duo composed and recorded the original version of ‘Sailing’, which later became a million-seller for Rod Stewart.
Having completed their second album with the use of session musicians, the Sutherlands began seeking a permanent backing group. In 1973, they amalgamated with Quiver, Tim Renwick (guitar), Bruce Thomas (bass) and Willie Wilson (drums), and the ensemble, which also included pianist Pete Wood, was henceforth known as the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver.

The meritorious “Dream Kid” celebrated their union and the expanded unit enjoyed a US Top 50 hit with ‘You Got Me Anyway’. Thomas left the line-up prior to the release of “Beat Of The Street” (later joining Elvis Costello’s Attractions) and was replaced, temporarily, by Tex Comer from Ace until Gavin Sutherland assumed the bassist role.  Rod Stewart’s success in 1975 with the Sutherlands’ ‘Sailing’ prompted CBS to sign the group. “Reach For The Sky”, released in 1975 and a UK Top 5 single, ‘Arms Of Mary’ augured well for the future.
However, the Sutherlands seemed to lose direction during the punk upheaval and their songs lost an erstwhile sparkle and melodic twist. The Quiver connection was severed with the departure of Renwick and Wilson, and the name reverted to The Sutherland Brothers with the release of “When The Night Comes Down”, in 1979. Four years later, Iain Sutherland made his solo debut with “Mixed Emotions”. This is the song they are remembered for although it perhaps isn’t one of their best.

And by way of a request this is ‘The Pie’ for my compatriots at Cliftonhill yesterday.


The theme of this song was perhaps a little risqué, which is perhaps why the single slipped to the b-side in the USA. I guess that the idea of a guy trying to persuade a girl to relinquish her virginity to him – even when expressed so subtly (a reverse on the theme of Arms of Mary) was too much for middle America in the early 1970′s.

I was struck whilst listening to this by the similarity of the sound of another set of brothers, the Finns (aka Crowded House) maybe its a brother thing.

Thanks to Alex Gitlin for info.

Scotland Goes Pop! (7)

I remember very clearly the first time I heard this record. I was a DJ at the Saints and Sinners in Glasgow (Now KIng Tuts) and had received a promotional copy of it. It was 1984 and to be honest I wasn’t keen on much of the music I was playing at the time. The ‘new romantic’ vibe was still happening and although that threw up a few decent records, like punk it was really just a fashion thing with music piggy backing it (stands back for alternative view).

Anyway I listened to this and it spoke to me immediately. I loved the whole imagery and sound. It seemed to me that The Blue Nile had raised the bar by some considerable distance with this single. Funnily enough I bought the album (A Walk Across the Rooftops) soon afterwards and I struggled with it for a long time before it became embedded as one of my favourite albums of all time. The album was released by Linn Records. Linn were (are) are Glasgow based hi-fi hardware company and they picked up on AWATR as an album which could promote their products.

My liking for this record began something for me which has lasted nearly quarter of a century. During that time only four albums have surfaced but we are told there is another one on the way (I’m not holding my breath!) In the meantime if you haven’t heard A Walk Across The Rooftops, Hats or Peace At Last (or High) they are available at knock down prices. What are you waiting for?

Scotland Goes Pop! (5b and 6b)

For Richard (see comments on Scotland Goes Pop 6).
Here we have footage of Jimmy McCullough with Thunderclap Newman, Stone the Crows and a newspaper cutting (at the end) about him being in the band Blue. Wiki may indeed have some duff info Richard but not on this occasion it would seem.

Scotland Goes Pop! (6)

Especially for Fern Cake (see comments on Scotland Goes Pop! (4)) This is Blue from 1977. The band comprised former members (at one time or another) of The Poets, The Marmalade, Stone the Crows and Wings (Jimmy McCulloch). Perhaps the most surprising thing about them was that their first single Little Jody was enthusiastically promoted (and produced) by John Peel!

They actually sued Blue (mark 2 boy band) a few years ago for the right to be known as Blue as they are still apparently on the go playing British Legions and Miners Welfares nation wide.

A Bigrab guilty pleasure, with all its total anti-style, supercilious grinning and naffness, I’m with Fern Cake on this one 8)

Scotland Goes Pop! (5)

Stone the Crows’ (the band name came from Led Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant. It was his comment when he first heard them) star shone briefly between 1970 and 1973. The axis for the band was provided by Les Harvey (brother of Alex who tragically died on stage in 1972) and Maggie Bell. The heart went out of the band with Harvey’s death and Maggie Bell went on to have a solo career. It really is a mystery why Maggie was never a bigger name as she had the demeanor and presence of a star. She’s often been compared to Janis Joplin. It’s sad to realise that she’s perhaps known best for two tv cop themes (Hazel and Taggart) and for a chart hit with BA Robertson (Hold Me).

There’s a good info site for Stone the Crows HERE

Here they are with a cracking slow blues, Danger Zone.

Scotland Goes Pop! (4)

Stuck in the Middle was described by Paul Simon as the finest pop song ever written. Certainly it has travelled well down three and a half decades and still sounds fresh even if it is the squillionth time you’ve heard it. Stealers Wheel were originally Gerry Rafferty, Joe Egan, Rab Noakes and Ian Campbell who were sent to London by their management company to become Britain’s answer to Crosby Stills Nash and Young. before recording anything Noakes and Campbell had quit. After recruiting new musicians and recording an album, by the time Stuck in the Middle was released, Rafferty had also (temporarily) returned north and quit. This video sees Egan miming to Rafferty’s original vocal. Stealers Wheel recorded another two albums after the eponymous first album but they were both with Rafferty (by then returned) and Egan as the only band members with session musicians brought in. After their management company went bust legal wrangles meant that Rafferty and Egan went their separate ways. Rafferty took three years out during which time he wrote the songs for his multi platinum solo album City to City.

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