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Not Fade Away 2004: Musikal Lives by King Creosote with Lone Pigeon

"I think it's 'cos people who live in seaside towns go to the edge and think, "I could do it, I could jump off." You do realise you have to make the most of your time because you could step off at any moment." - Kenny Anderson, 2007.

"I've seen Grease maybe eight, maybe nine times/ I still yearn for those summer nights." - Musikal Lives, King Creosote.

So where was your head at in 2004? For part of that year mine was in the East Neuk.

If I'm being totally honest the real Not Fade Away choice for that year should be Basement Jaxx's Good Luck. I've always loved the circus skills of production duo Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe and on Good Luck the razzle dazzle of the sound is married to the emotional oomph of the lyric and the emotional heft of Lisa Kekaula's vocals. It's also pro-women in the same way as Jamelia's anti-domestic abuse anthem Thank You. All of these are good things, but maybe we've been dancing a little too much in this place over the last few weeks. Maybe it's time to slow down and act our age. Maybe it's time to admit that pop music is a young man's game.

Towards the end of 2003 the Herald Magazine decided to highlight what we believed were going to be the next wave of Scottish musical talent. It was predicated on the emergence of Franz Ferdinand (who in the end declined to be interviewed, or rather their PR decided to give the interview to the Scotsman).

Looking back now you wouldn't say we made the best talent scouts. Who remembers Dog Dies in Hot Cars, Hoboken, The Grim Northern Social, Speedway or The James Orr Complex now? (Sons and Daughters and Biffy Clyro at least both got a mention in the footnotes.)

But the one memory of the story that's stayed with me was the day I spent in Anstruther talking to members of the Fence Collective, if for no other reason than I'd never been to the East Neuk before. And because the music of the people that I met that day - Kenny Anderson (King Creosote) and Johnny Lynch (The Pictish Trail) in particular - have been constants for me ever since.

There is a widely accepted argument that Glasgow is the heart of the music scene in Scotland and certainly there is a centrifugal force to the place for the country's musicians. But if I'm honest most of my favourite Scottish music comes from the margins. In this blog it's been Grangemouth and Dundee that have made the cut, not Garnethill nor Dennistoun.

And now Anstruther too. The Fence Collective was a DIY notion writ large. A lo-fi, mainly nu-folky notion powered by self-belief and sticky tape. The result - and for a sense of what it sounded like in 2004 you could track down a copy of that year's sampler Fence Reunited - had a ramshackle charm. And in Lynch and Anderson (James Yorkston and semi-detached member KT Tunstall) talents that were bigger than the rackety, frayed and spartan musical setting.

In truth I could toss a coin between Lynch's gorgeous Going Down to the Water and Anderson's Musikal Lives this week, but I'm opting for the latter mostly because we've just not had enough accordion in Not Fade Away.

And because in many ways Musikal Lives is itself a refutation of its own lyric (which suggests some lives aren't important enough to deserve a musical), a reminder that life goes on in the margins and it's as deeply felt as anything in the heart. It just moves to a different rhythm.

"You're not the one that I want/

You're not the one that I want, honey ...."

At what point are we too old for pop music? In a way that's a question we are still seeking an answer to. When members of the sixties generation (hello Paul, hello Mick) are still playing live maybe the answer is never. Still, there comes a point where the charts and Radio 1 seems ... less important, when the past is as appealing as the present. And when all that glitz and glitter dust seems a bit, well, artificial.

Of course most of the time it's the artificiality I like most about pop, it's very plasticity. But now and then I want something else. I don't want to argue that King Creosote offers something more authentic - the most detestable word in pop's lexicon - partly because it's not true (listen to the opening track on the his album Flicking the Vs for its love of New Order and synths) and partly because he's pop too, albeit on his own terms.

It's a quieter pop, certainly. It's less sex and drugs (though they're probably in there if you look hard enough), more specs and pub fugs. But, like the best pop - like everyone from the Shangri-Las to the Pet Shop Boys - it has an ache to it. You can hear it in Anderson's sweet yearning voice - one of my favourite Scottish things - and in the dying fall of the accordion notes. It's possible Musikal Lives is one of the rawest, cheapest recordings we've had in Not Fade Away, but it still throbs with feeling. That's enough. That's more than enough.

Other Contenders

Good Luck, Basement Jaxx

Ladyflash, The Go! Team

La Del Ruso, Gotan Project, (Calexico Version)

Thank You, Jamelia

Going Down to the Water, Pictish Trail

Comfortably Numb, Scissor Sisters

Me Plus One, Annie

All Falls Down, Kanye West

Dip It Low, Christina Milian

Portions for Foxes, Rilo Kiley

What You Waiting For, Gwen Stefani

NME Single of the Year, Can't Stand Me Now, The Libertines

John Peel's Festive 50 Winner: Theme from Sparta FC, The Fall

And the best-selling single of 2004: Do They Know It's Christmas?, Band Aid 20

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