THE second half of the Eighties, this week, and a further reminder of the great music that has poured out of Scotland. Apologies if we have omitted your favourites. Next week, the final part of this series, will feature the Nineties. Let us know who we should include: email

The Jesus and Mary Chain

“A spitting, snarling, hissing, crackling vinyl assault”, the Herald’s Dave Belcher wrote of this East Kilbride’s band November 1985 debut, Psychocandy. Some early JAMC gigs had been “deliberately shambolic” and had often ended in mini-riots. Psychocandy ended up on many best-of-the year/best-of-the-80s lists; in 2012 Rolling Stone put it at no. 269 in its top 500 albums of all time (“a decadent alt-rock masterpiece of bubblegum pop”). Belcher said JAMC were a “welcome emetic, a necessary purge for the body of pop, an organism grown smugly bloated on self-congratulation”. Subsequent albums included Darklands (1987) and Automatic (1989).

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Listen to this Airdrie group’s 1986 excellent debut album, Swimmer (1986), and you realise why critics rated it so highly. Comparisons were drawn with everyone from Prefab Sprout to Aztec Camera and Tears for Fears (“dulcet melodies and classily-hewn pop”: Brian Hogg in his History of Scottish Rock and Pop). The follow-up, Creeping Up on Jesus (1986) was similarly strong, but mainstream commercial success sadly eluded the band. Singer/guitarist Steven Lindsay went on to make a couple of gorgeous solo albums: Exit Music, and Kite.


Formed ex-members of Friends Again, in 1985. “We shared an attitude with Hipsway”, James Grant says in Brian Hogg’s book. “Both groups had this upfront, dance groove. We were part of a new generation with a strong image and strong sound”. An upbeat single, Candybar Express, was a modest hit in 1986 and L&M’s debut album, All You Need is Love and Money, was followed by the absorbing Strange Kind of Love which, says Hogg, “showed the maturation of a remarkable talent”. “The whole reason behind Love and Money was contradiction”, the book quotes Grant as saying. “Contradiction between good and bad, between upfront noise and heart-rending ballads, between corporate image and me”. L&M’s fourth album, Dogs in the Traffic (1991) is a classic.


This band’s first singles, The Broken Years and Ask the Lord, both made the lower reaches of the charts in the second half of 1985. Their third single, The Honeythief, did much better, peaking at number 17 in early 1986. The parent album, Hipsway, a fine blend of pop/rock and soul, was a top 50 hit, selling in excess of 100,000 copies; Hogg notes that it displayed a “brash self-confidence”. Hipsway toured with the Eurythmics across Europe, supported Simple Minds at four big outdoor concerts, and toured clubs in the US. The Honeychief was also a hit in the US. A second album, Scratch the Surface, followed, thought internal frictions had caused the band to split before its official release.


This trio were not the longest-lived of Scottish rock or pop outfits, but their great single, Mary’s Prayer, a worldwide hit, endures, as does their debut album, Meet Danny Wilson (1987). A great early review in NME had brought them to the attention of record labels, and they went with Virgin. Critics swooned over the single and the album; enthusiastic comparisons were drawn, more than once, with Steely Dan. The band’s songwriter, Gary Clark, had numerous musical influences at the time Sinatra, Bacharach and David, Jimmy Webb, Becker and Fagen, Tom Waits, a little bit of Hall and Oates, heavy dollops of the Great American Songbook and a ton of soundtrack records” he told website a few years ago.


Runrig’s final two concerts, on the plains beneath Stirling Castle nearly two years ago – captured on The Last Dance DVD and on a three-CD set – reminded you what a powerful live act they were, blessed with strong songs ranging from The Greatest Flame, Book of Golden Stories, Year of the Flood, Canada and (of course) the showstopping Loch Lomond. Their excellent 1980s albums – Heartland, The Cutter and the Clan, Once in a Lifetime – coupled with constant touring, brought them to increasingly large audiences at home and abroad. Addressing the Runrig “phenomenon”, the Virgin Encyclopedia of Eighties Music (published in 1997), said: “Having combined their national and cultural pride with stadium rock, they have awoken the world to Scottish popular music and traditions, without hint of compromise”.


IN much the same way, Deacon Blue’s Live at the Glasgow Barrowlands CD/DVD set (2017) reminds you of their strengths as songwriters and as a commanding live act. Their formidable debut album, Raintown (1987) , with its memorable cover image by Oscar Marzaroli, was laden with hit singles: When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring?), Dignity, Chocolate Girl, Born in a Storm. They took to the road with enthusiasm, building up a large, hard-core audience; by the time their second album, When the World Knows Your Name debuted at number one, they were one of the biggest acts in Britain.


The stylish 1980s work of Gregory and Patrick Kane is well well worth re-exploring; not just for familiar hits as Looking for Linda and Labour of Love, but for such tracks as I Refuse (their debut single) and Human Touch, on the first album, Seduced and Abandoned (1987), and Ordinary Angel, Dollar William, Under Neon and Where We Wish to Remain, from Remote (1988). Fine songs all, a reminder of why these two albums jointly sold in excess of 400,000 copies.

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This band’s debut album, Del Amitri (1985) and its successor, Waking Hours (1989) sound as fresh and engaging as the day they were recorded. Change Everything (1992) reached number two in the UK charts, and contained such great songs as Be My Downfall and the glorious When You Were Young. The Herald’s David Belcher got it right when in 1994, on the eve of the fourth album, he referred to Del Amitri’s “literate, cliche-free melodic pop-rock classics”.


The Clydebank group’s debut album, Popped In Souled Out (1987) reached number one in late 1987, selling 1.6 million copies in the UK. The band had already had two top-10 singles in Wishing I Was Lucky and Sweet Little Mystery. “Their debut album sparkles with superior pop if not heart-wrenching soul”, said Q magazine. A hectic few years was capped by a huge, sold-out gig on Glasgow Green in September 1989.


Craig and Charlie Reid had toured with the Housemartins before, in January 1987, they appeared on Channel 4’s The Tube. Their 1987 debut album, This Is the Story, was a chart hit, as was their soon-to-become classic single, Letter from America. As the brothers’ website puts it, “Singing in regional accents about Scotland – its emigration and its politics – they were a far cry from the mid-Eighties playlist staples of Rick Astley and Sinitta, and became a phenomenon almost overnight”.


“In the bookish, sugar-sweet corner of punk-inspired guitar music that we call indie pop-- a scrappy subculture where amateurism is heralded, charm goes a long way, and crushworthy hooks go miles further-- the Pastels are legends” said Pitchfork in 2013. Indeed. The debut album, Up for a Bit with the Pastels (1987) is, a Guardian profile noted in 2016, a “minor masterpiece”, adored by everyone from Sonic Youth and Kurt Cobain, and it demonstrated that Glasgow bands didn’t have to travel to London in order to make it big.

There were lots more acts, of course: Momus, Jesse Rae, Finitribe, the Shamen, the Silencers, the Shop Assistants ...