Scotland has always punched above its weight when it comes to pop and rock, producing some of the most talented, sublime, quirky and best-loved bands and performers of the last 50 years, from influential indie pioneers to global superstars.

Picking a favourite Scottish album from such a packed field was always going to be a tough task, and so it proved when we asked readers to do just that.

Herald writers pick their favourite Scottish albums

We were inundated with hundreds of votes from across Scotland, the UK and as far afield as the Netherlands, Sweden and the US, and our quest got folk talking and reminiscing in offices, pubs and on social media, revisiting and celebrating the music that has been the soundtrack to their lives.

So, here we have it: Scotland’s top 10 favourite albums.

10 – Raintown, Deacon Blue, 1987

The Herald:

The band’s debut is packed to the rafters with sheer quality and from beginning to end simply never lets up. Dundonian singer-songwriter Ricky Ross showcased his talent, intent and also a keen political and social awareness across 13 songs, among them Scotland’s other national anthem, Dignity.

9 – High Land, Hard Rain, Aztec Camera, 1983

The Herald:

Could Roddy Frame really only have been 18 when he recorded Oblivious, Walk Out to Winter and We Could Send Letters? East Kilbride’s boy wonder emerges fully formed on this astonishing debut album from 1983, having soaked up the pop, soul and punk influences of his prodigious musical youth and reimagined them as perfectly-crafted jangle-pop. The sound of young Scotland has rarely sounded this fresh.

8 – Strange Kind of Love, Love and Money, 1988

The Herald:

Though Love and Money’s particular brand of literate, glossy soul-pop looked to America for inspiration, lyrics about “raining on Jocelyn Square” were resolutely, affectionately Glaswegian. In another place, another time, Love and Money could have been the biggest band in the world.

7 – If You’re Feeling Sinister, Belle and Sebastian, 1996

The Herald:

Second albums are supposed to be difficult but Belle and Sebastian arguably never surpassed the stunning collection of songs that comprised their sophomore effort, giving a masterclass in how to mix melody, melancholy, nostalgia and humour.

6 – Bandwagonesque, Teenage Fanclub, 1991

The Herald:

The album that thrust Teenage Fanclub into the indie big league. From opening track The Concept to the closing echoes of Is This Music?, it is jam-packed with all the qualities fans have come to love about Bellshill’s finest four-piece: Byrds-influenced, melody-rich songs delivered in an endearing, gently shambolic fashion.

Herald writers pick their favourite Scottish albums

5 – Heaven Or Las Vegas, The Cocteau Twins, 1990

The Herald:

Elizabeth Fraser’s otherworldly voice set over Robin Guthrie’s ethereal soundtrack is one of Scotland’s greatest musical pleasures and treasures, and this most accessible of Cocteau’s albums is simply awash with blissed-out grandeur. Could they really have been from Grangemouth? Oh yes.

4 – A Walk Across the Rooftops, The Blue Nile, 1984

The Herald:

Sounding nothing like anything else that came out of Scotland, the UK or indeed anywhere else in 1984, this debut fused spare synth precision with exuberant vocal sincerity to stunning effect. Tinseltown in the Rain, that bittersweet slice of cinematic perfection, remains the ultimate ode to Glasgow.

3 – The Midnight Organ Fight, Frightened Rabbit, 2008

The Herald:

Since Scott Hutchison’s untimely death in May, listening to the music he and his bandmates created has been a particularly sad and difficult task. But this album is simply too good to stop listening to. Revisiting is painful but cathartic, and like all of the  Hutchison’s work, it makes you feel like it’s okay to be sad. 

2 – I’ve Seen Everything, The Trashcan Sinatras, 1993

The Herald:

From post-Smiths jangleism on their debut the Ayrshire gang blossomed to reveal an emotionally rich and enduring marriage of musicality and lyrical nous never before seen within spitting distance of Irvine or anywhere else, crowned by flawless performances by one of Scottish pop’s most devastating singers, Eddi Reader’s younger brother Frank.

1 – Hats, The Blue Nile, 1989

The Herald:

Only seven songs in length, Hats is a masterpiece of love, loss and redemption writ large over a lush, soulful and at times overwhelmingly beautiful soundscape, inseparable from the city of its birth, Glasgow. For almost 30 years it has offered endless inspiration and comfort. “When all the rainy pavements lead to you,” sings a heartbroken Paul Buchanan on From a Late Night Train. The rainy pavements of Glasgow will always lead to Hats.

Herald writers pick their favourite Scottish albums

Here's what you said about Hats:

Christine Gardner, Rotterdam: Head and shoulders above the rest. A magnificent album that I continue to listen to regularly after almost 30 years. It is quite simply a masterpiece. It continues to draw you in, delight your senses, touch your emotions and somehow mirror your own very personal experiences. And yet it is also essentially Scottish – maybe something to do with our collective psyche, despite all our individual differences.

Martin McCarthy: Hats has so many layers, from dreamy songs like Over the Hillside and Let’s Go Out Tonight to more upbeat songs like Headlights on the Parade and “The Downtown Lights.

Saturday Night is just a sublime song, I love the pitch perfect bass, the stunning keyboards and Paul Buchanan's emotional voice. This was played at our wedding to a full dancefloor and will always be so special. The songs on Hats convey love, beauty, pain and loss, and can push me to tears of utter joy and euphoria.

Alex Watkins: It’s the album I always return to; just something about the memories and emotions it always conjures up.

Kevin Jackson: Hats is the best album ever recorded anywhere by anyone. It touches you in a way that others must stand back in awe and adoration of. It is a thing of perfection. When some of the finest innovative talents of our time see it as one of the greatest albums ever, it is because it has no peers.

Peter Morgan: I'm going to plump for Hats, that lush, aching, bruised and battered homage to love and loss.

John Reader: I listen to a lot of music, including lots of new stuff but always have Hats on at some point every week. Still hooks me in with its lush simplicity. I remember saying to someone more than 25 years ago that of all the music around at that time I reckoned I'd be listening to Hats for the rest of my life. Not wrong so far.

Colin Lunn: I love A Walk Across the Rooftops, the best first album by any group, not only in Scotland but worldwide. However, Hats was probably a better, more perfect album although it didn’t have the same influence. Tough, tough choice but I’ll go for Hats by a very, very fine margin.

Here’s what you had to say about some of the other music on the list:

Kyle Wallace: I've Seen Everything by the Trashcan Sinatras is part of the soundtrack to my life. Listened to it through my dad's death and the college years. So many great songs associated with great memories.

John Richards: This was a very difficult choice. Scottish groups (I'm Welsh) have a disproportionately large place in my music collection – particularly those who came to prominence in the 1980s. My top 20 regularly features the work of the Blue Nile, Danny Wilson, Aztec Camera, Deacon Blue and Love & Money. However, it's got to be an album from the year I turned 19, when I went to university and the myriad possibilities that life had to offer opened up before me. The song (and album) that soundtracked that life-changing period is still my favourite Scottish album: Strange Kind of Love by Love & Money.

Stuart Duncan: My vote is for The Midnight Organ Fight by Frightened Rabbit. An album that, as your writer said, “makes it feel it’s OK to be sad”. The lyrics hit home more than any album I’ve ever listened to. Scott Hutchison gave me a feeling that everything was going to be OK, that I would get through things. I’d say he helped changed me as a person. It still hasn’t stuck in that he’s no longer here [Hutchsion took his own life in May] but my vote would be the same regardless of the circumstances.

Danny Tennyson: My favourite album by a Scottish band – or any other band for that matter – has to High Land Hard Rain, by Aztec Camera. The fact that Roddy was probably only 15 or 16 when he wrote most of the tracks for the album makes it all the more remarkable. He continues to be a genius to this day.

Shane Brown, Illinois: Why is it that I live in the centre boring part of America (the states you fly over to get somewhere else interesting), and should by location and birthright be a huge fan of Slipknot, but instead find myself with a vast collection of Scottish indiepop? From the Cocteaus to the Fannies, Belle & Sebastian to Teen Canteen, Scottish indiepop has been the soundtrack to my life. How and why the music of your land speaks to me, I'll never know, but no album speaks to my soul more than Cake by the Trashcan Sinatras – a record I find as comforting as a cup of coffee on a cold winter morning. I really, really love it to this day, and why those lads aren't universally revered as musical genius is beyond me to this day. I've travelled hundreds of miles to see them live and I'll continue to do so as long as they grace us with the occasional American tour.

John Jauchler, Connecticut: Lots of good stuff on your list, but my vote goes to the Trashcan Sinatras’ I’ve Seen Everything. Outstanding musicians and really nice guys as well. Their music has made a difference in my life.

Next week: Paul Buchanan of The Blue Nile on Hats