The Herald is looking to find Scotland's favourite album. Here's our writers' choices - now we want to know yours.

Hats, The Blue Nile, 1989

Just 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 more than 25 years it has offered me endless inspiration and comfort. “When all the rainy pavements lead to you,” sings a heartbroken Paul Buchanan on From a Late Night Train. For me, the rainy pavements of Glasgow will always lead to Hats.

Heaven and Las Vegas, The Cocteau Twins, 1990

There were few exotic sounds in early 1990s Glenrothes, but Liz Fraser’s otherworldly voice set over Robin Guthrie’s ethereal soundtrack soaring from my bedroom from was one of them. This most accessible of the Cocteau’s albums is awash with blissed-out grandeur, each exquisite track creating a world all of its own.

High Land, Hard Rain, Aztec Camera, 1983

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 the perfectly-crafted jangle-heavy creations he gave to the world. The sound of young Scotland has rarely sounded this fresh.

Marianne Taylor

Hope Is Important, Idlewild, 1998

Before they went all REM, Woomble and co produced this startling explosion of singalong hooks, soft-loud dynamics and crashing guitars with one song (A Film For The Future) that could sum up manic pop rock thrills for aliens.

Django Django, Django Django, 2012

Their insatiable rockabilly-tinged surf rock is a staple on my playlist and while the latest album has two of their best tunes, their Mercury-nominated debut was the real eyeopener.


Architect, C Duncan, 2015

The debut bedroom-produced, genre-hopping classical-meets-dream pop meets-space folk, featuring harmonies straight out of The Carpenters songbook, remains an ear-opening wonder that deserved to win the Mercury.

Martin Williams

City to City, Gerry Rafferty, 1978.

Not so much for the two big hits, Baker Street and Right Down the Line, but more for Whatever’s Written in Your Heart. Rafferty at his introspective best.

Listen to City to City

A Walk Across the Rooftops, The Blue Nile, 1984

Tinseltown in the Rain, of course, from the band’s debut album. There’s Killermont Street by Aztec Camera but Tinseltown is the ode to Glasgow.

On Stolen Stationary, Michael Marra, 1991

Hermless. Marra at his witty best. The ultimate self-effacing anthem for our national football team. Such mischievous fun, too.

Barclay McBain

Treasure, The Cocteau Twins, 1984

I was a devout follower of John Peel’s radio show, a late-night portal to a different dimension and it was here I first heard the strange, ethereal, beguiling sounds of Liz Fraser and the Cocteau Twins, beamed through into my bedroom and my brain, like the best alien invasion ever. Not only was Liz from Earth, however, she was from Grangemouth, just down the road. After 30-odd years of listening, I still have absolutely no idea what she’s singing about, nor do I care. Just turn it up and let me dream.

Songs from Northern Britain, Teenage Fanclub, 1997

A long, long time ago, at a festival not too far from here, a man thrust a microphone in my face and asked me what Teenage Fanclub meant to me. In the second it took me to open my mouth to reply, they vanished. Collecting my thoughts from the comfort of a chemical toilet, I mused on the question. They are the band equivalent of your best friend, a constant. Always there, always dependable, the soundtrack to your greatest triumphs and most crushing defeats, they have your back, always ready with a smile and a hug. Cheers, pals.


The Three EPS, The Beta Band, 1998

Ok, so technically not an album, but three EPs gathered together for your listening pleasure. When John Cusack’s character in the film High Fidelity puts the Three Eps in his record shop, customers stop in their tracks. ”What’s this?” they ask, “it’s good!” To which Cusack replies, smugly,” I know”. If only everyone did.

Lian Thomson

Sulk, The Associates, 1982

Of course, as any fool knows, 1982 is the annus mirabilis of Scottish pop (the fact that I was 19 that year may or may not be related). Above all else there was Sulk, the highpoint of new pop (alongside ABC’s Lexicon of Love), and Dundee’s finest gift to the culture. Alan Rankine and Billy McKenzie made pop music that was wilder, stranger and, yes, sexier, than everyone else that year. Party Fears Two is a song that is a song that teeters on the cusp of madness and is giddy at the very thought of it. It’s not even the best thing on the album.

Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I’ve spilled, Kathryn Joseph, 2015

Because I believe every word she sings.

I’ve Seen Everything, Trashcan Sinatras, 1993

Presuming that Lloyd Cole’s Commotion-less albums don’t qualify (if they did, then Don’t Get Weird on Me would be a shoo-in), let’s go with the second album from Ayrshire’s finest exports. I’m not sure it’s better than their precocious debut Cake, but the bittersweet autumnal yearning of Earlies is the most gorgeous Scottish song no one has heard of.

Teddy Jamieson

This Is The Story, The Proclaimers, 1987

Its seminal track Letter From America was a soaring cry of solidarity for beleaguered working class communities across Scotland. The line “Bathgate no more” – referring to the British Leyland plant which closed in 1984 – made this West Lothian youngster feel like someone was listening.

Listen to Letter from America: 

Popped In Souled Out, Wet Wet Wet, 1987

Ah, heady gems such as Wishing I Was Lucky, Angel Eyes and Sweet Little Mystery crooned by dreamboat Marti Pellow (err, what? I was nine). I played this album so often that the tape inside the cassette stretched and snapped. I saved up my pocket money and bought another.

The Hush, Texas, 1999

It was the soundtrack to my first newspaper job as a trainee reporter at the Basingstoke Gazette, the smoky-voiced tones of Sharleen Spiteri – singing Summer Son and In Our Lifetime – played through the tinny headphones of my Sony Discman.


Susan Swarbrick

All You Need Is….Love and Money, Love and Money, 1986

Because it was the first album I ever owned (on cassette); because I loved James Grant’s voice; and because it was a bit edgy and angry and I wasn’t either of those things, normally. It made me feel a bit dangerous.

Fruits of Passion, Fruits of Passion, 1987

A sadly-neglected pure pop classic – why oh why, did this wonderful band get left behind when the likes of Texas, Deacon Blue and Del Amitri soared? Pure, perfect vocals and singalong joy.

Listen to Kiss Me Now

Creeping up on Jesus, The Big Dish, 1988

I know it wasn’t as well received as their first album, Swimmer, but I always liked the happy, poppy feel of this one and it reminds me of driving around the north of Scotland in the summer sunshine with my love, when we were young and free as birds…

Ann Fotheringham

Bandwagonesque, Teenage Fanclub, 1991

It was not their first album, but Bandwagonesque 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.

The Beta Band, The Three Eps, 1998

Though technically a compilation, this laid out their manifesto more than any album from this cult Scots combo – a gloriously languid, ramshackle assembly of loose, off-kilter tunes, embroidered with hints of funk and electronica. They have never sounded better.

Music Has The Right To Children, Boards of Canada, 1998

The debut album of Scots electronic duo Boards of Canada is, for many, the high watermark for ambient electronic music. Two decades on from its release, its influence continues to be recognised and celebrated – and rightly so.

Scott Wright

Screamadelica, Primal Scream, 1991

It sounded in 1991 like it was made in the future and in 2018 it could have been recorded yesterday. Movin’ on Up really ought to be the national anthem. Stands out on its own.

Listen to Loaded

Grand Prix, Teenage Fanclub, 1995

Bellshill meets the US West Coast with predictably dreamy results. There is not a weak track on it and some of the lyrics would make a statue well up.

Psychocandy, The Jesus and Marychain, 1985

It wasn’t all madness and fighting in the Reid family. This album sees them flirt with the Beach Boys and, pun intended, they pull it off. Just Like Honey is perfection.

Neil Cameron

The Midnight Organ Fight, Frightened Rabbit, 2008

A decision to avoid albums detailing the painful end of a long-term relationship after the end of my own stopped me listening to Midnight Organ Fight for a few years, but diving back in was like meeting an old friend in the pub. It’s painful but cathartic. Like all of the late Scott Hutchison’s work, it makes you feel like it’s okay to be sad.

I Am An Island, Fatherson, 2014

My first experience of drinking alcohol was at a Fatherson gig in our hometown of Kilmarnock circa 2009, so their music has always been riddled with nostalgia for me. Their debut album is special because it taps into that difficult phase of growing up in, and moving out of, a small town that can sometimes feel desperate to pull you back.

The Bones of What You Believe, Chvrches, 2013

The juxtaposition of pop melodies and dark lyrics is the USP of this album, which can be appreciated on both a surface level and deeper, with every move having been intricately created by the three musicians. Lauren Mayberry brings a new a level of vulnerability to the genre which makes Chvrches stand out from the rest.

Holly Lennon

Hats, The Blue Nile, 1989

Heartache, the joy of human connection and a love letter to rainy Glasgow by night from a voice wrought with emotion. I’m forever grateful to my brother, Ewen, for the first hearing of the Downtown Lights, beyond his bedroom door.

Garbage, Garbage, 1995

Thrilling soundtrack to the giddy, alcohol-fuelled anticipation of student nights out, sung by the first cool ginger frontwoman I had ever seen.

These Streets, Paolo Nutini, 2006

The ache of leaving home and impermanence of first love refreshingly articulated in Nutini’s Paisley brogue with a maturity beyond his years.


Caroline Wilson

Solid Air, John Martyn, 1973

Superb guitar playing, great songs and Martyn’s trademark slurred jazzy vocals make this a fascinating album, like nothing we’d ever heard before. Martyn had star quality and talent in abundance but he also had a self-destructive streak and simply did what he liked, on and off stage, and never made the “big time”. He made other great albums, notably One World, but this is him at his peak.

Listen to Solid Air

White Album, Average White Band, 1974

Great songs, astonishing double lead vocal from Alan Gorrie and Hamish Stuart, fabulous funky drumming from Robbie McIntosh and the Dundee Horns of Ball on Pick Up The Pieces, this topped both the UK and US charts. Black American artists couldn’t believe the band were white, never mind Scottish, when they heard it. Still a classic 44 years on.

Sunshine on Leith, The Proclaimers, 1988

A clutch of superb self-written songs, the Reid twins singing in their own accents (very unusual back then), a great session band and Pete Wingfield’s sensitive production turned this into a classic. Hell, they even made a musical and film based on it. Thirty years on and we’re still singing along with the choruses.

Frank Morgan

Exploited, Troops of Tomorrow, 1982

“Something’s happened/what’s gone wrong/Going down the dole/got to sign on/Millions of kids with nowt to do/You better watch out they’re after you.” It’s 1982, the country is falling apart and Edinburgh’s Wattie Buchan and Big John Duncan have the perfect response. Fast, angry, hardcore punk.

Twilight Sad, Forget the Night Ahead, 2009

An uncompromising post-rock wall of sound, with uncompromising Scottish accents. Like nothing I’d heard before. What The Proclaimers would sound like if they were a Chem19 band channelling Nine Inch Nails.

Test Dept, Brith Gof, Gododdin, 1989

Pipes and drums and tribal soul – this was the sound of Europe’s ancient minorities refusing to fade away. Angus Farquhar’s finest musical moment before coming a full-time arts revolutionary with NVA.

Garry Scott

I’ve Seen Everything, Trashcan Sinatras, 1993

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.

Avocet, Bert Jansch, 1979

One for the diaspora. Released as punk morphed into post-punk and new wave, the Edinburgh-born guitarist’s 12th studio album came from another world entirely. Around the theme of wading birds he weaves a fabric of folk, jazz and improvised playing that never loses its capacity to enthral.

Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I’ve Spilled, Kathryn Joseph, 2015

Irrefutable evidence that the best music doesn’t belong to the distant past, Glasgow-based Aberdonian Kathryn Joseph’s hard-won success with her debut was fuelled in equal measure by her powerfully emotional music, glorious enthusiasm and unwillingness to mask the fact that when you reach 40 there’s some baggage you either can’t or don’t want to leave behind, so best use it to stoke the fire of creativity.

Sean Guthrie


We’re looking for your favourite Scottish rock and pop album of all time. Vote for one of the albums here, or submit your own choice. Email by 9am on Monday, June 25, and we’ll reveal which album has received the most votes in the Herald Magazine on Saturday June 30.

Our writers’ list of favourite Scottish albums covers a multitude of genres and eras. But it is nowhere near exhaustive. In fact, many fantastic Scots bands and artists that could easily have made the cut are missing, including the following:

Deacon Blue

Orange Juice

Belle and Sebastian

Biffy Clyro

Arab Strap

The Waterboys

Amy Macdonald

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band

Simple Minds

The Shamen

Franz Ferdinand



Big Country


Calvin Harris

Del Amitri

Snow Patrol

The Vaselines

Karine Polwart 

The Skids

The Pastels



Jack Bruce

Lonnie Donegan


KT Tunstall

BMX Bandits

Altered Images

Run Rig

Many of these and more feature in Rip It Up, a major new exhibition telling the story of Scottish pop that opens at the National Museum of Scotland that runs until November 2018.