The Story of Scottish Pop: A Rich Past But An Uncertain Future – 苏格兰流行音乐的故事:丰富的过去但不确定的未来

Opinion - 07 Aug 2018

The Story of Scottish Pop: A Rich Past But An Uncertain Future

In the unashamedly populist ‘Rip It Up’ at the National Museum of Scotland, the joy of fandom resounds but questions about the future are avoided

By Stewart Smith

Wandering through the National Museum of Scotland’s new exhibition, ‘Rip It Up: The Story Of Scottish Pop’, the eye is drawn to the gaudy eruptions of tartan: a red tartan trouser suit worn by Annie Lennox, Del Amitri’s tartan guitar, the tartan trims on the Bay City Rollers’s flared suits, Postcard Records’s post-punk collages of kilted gentry.

Critiques of tartan are a long-running feature of Scottish cultural discourse. As the left wing critic Tom Nairn wrote in 1977, tartan contained a ‘huge, virtually self-contained universe of kitsch.’ This ‘vast tartan monster’ – by which Nairn meant the popular and sentimental discourses of ‘Scottishness’ – was all consuming, interring all hopes of a serious culture in a shortbread tin. 


The Story of Scottish Pop: A Rich Past But An Uncertain Future - 苏格兰流行音乐的故事:丰富的过去但不确定的未来

'Rip it Up', 2018, installation view, material from Franz Ferdinand, National Museum of Scotland. Courtesy: Neil Hanna

Yet as the critic David Goldie notes, such unsubtle critiques fail to recognize the ironic and self-reflexive uses of tartan. We see such strategies at play in Postcard Records’s pop art appropriation of Caledonian kitsch: The Sound of Young Scotland, setting the heather ablaze. Del Amitri’s tartan guitar is knowingly naff, a guilty showbiz pleasure. Lennox’s suit is more stylish than kitsch, acknowledging her Scottish background, while reconstituting Vivienne Westwood’s tartan punk gear for the power-dressing 1980s. In their own ways, these exhibits reflect Scotland’s renewed cultural confidence. Rather than be smothered by the tartan monster, new forms have emerged to supersede it, even cannibalize it. 

As the ‘Dream State’ narrative has it, Scotland’s cultural renewal gained full steam in the 1980s. Stepping into the political vacuum created by the failed devolution referendum of 1979, artists declared a form of cultural independence, defined by its opposition to Thatcherism. There is some truth to this, but with independence a distant prospect, cultural and political resistance did not always manifest itself in nationalist terms. That much is clear from ‘Rip It Up’. While acts like The Proclaimers, Deacon Blue and Runrig engaged with issues of language, class, diaspora and de-industrialization, many others were relatively apolitical. The exhibition does raise the question of what defines Scottish pop, but it wisely avoids any firm conclusions. While there are identifiable traditions and tropes, the takeaway is that Scottish pop can be whatever it wants to be. 

‘Rip It Up’ is part of a larger project including a  three-part BBC television documentary and a book by broadcaster Vic Galloway. There have been inevitable grumblings about the documentary’s omissions, (‘what, no The Poets, Shamen, Big Country, Beta Band etc’ cried Twitter) but ultimately this comes down to personal taste, and a lack of perspective as to what can be covered in three hours. Likewise, the exhibition is constrained by space and the availability of archival material. ‘Rip It Up’ makes no claims to comprehensiveness, but as an unashamedly populist project, it’s a success. The exhibition begins with the roots of Scottish pop, from Lonnie Donegan and the skiffle movement, through to the beat boom of the 1960s and Scotland’s first pop superstar, Lulu. There’s a nod to the folk revival and psychedelic butterflies the Incredible String Band, before we stomp into the hard rock 1970s and the post-punk and New Pop of Orange Juice, Josef K, and The Associates. 


The Story of Scottish Pop: A Rich Past But An Uncertain Future - 苏格兰流行音乐的故事:丰富的过去但不确定的未来

The Jesus & Mary Chain, Emma Pollock and Mogwai, 'Rip It Up': The Story of Scottish Pop, 2018, TV still. Courtesy: © BBC Scotland

From there, ‘Rip It Up’ plots a line through the 1980s indie scene, from the Jesus & Mary Chain to the Bellshill scene and the legendary Splash One club in Glasgow. In contrast to the documentary’s loving portraits of Slam and Numbers, electronic music is under-represented, but the wall-size photograph of a Sub Club queue, accompanied by Optimo posters and lightboxes, is one of the exhibition’s most effective displays. This opens into a larger, L-shaped room, the first section of which celebrates commercial behemoths like Simple Minds, Wet Wet Wet and Franz Ferdinand, while the second part explores the theme of ‘Scottish Voices’. This is admirably plural, recognizing that multi-racial acts such as Young Fathers and Sacred Paws are as legitimately ‘Scottish’ as Falkirk miserabilists Arab Strap or modern folkies Capercaillie. 

This story is told through a series of short films, texts and memorabilia. The latter is the main draw of course: there’s a genuine pop thrill to seeing iconic costumes, guitars and stage props in the flesh, whether it’s the Revillos’s retro-futurist PVC outfits, Lulu’s tiny dress from a Take That video, or Gerry Rafferty’s John Byrne-illustrated guitar from Top of The Pops. Other exhibits strike a poignant note, not least Billy MacKenzie’s beret, and the finely-rendered drawings of Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison. There’s some wonderful ephemera too, from demo tapes and hand-written lyrics, to badges stating allegiance to a particular Proclaimer. To convey the sense of music as a shared experience, Scotpop gems are piped into the exhibition space, culminating in a panoramic screen broadcasting sing-along favourites from the T In The Park festival. The joy of pop fandom resounds. 


The Story of Scottish Pop: A Rich Past But An Uncertain Future - 苏格兰流行音乐的故事:丰富的过去但不确定的未来

'Rip it Up', 2018, installation view, material from The Proclaimers, National Museum of Scotland. Courtesy: Neil Hanna

This populist narrative inevitably omits underground and experimental music – not that anyone would seriously expect a display on cult favourites like Richard Youngs or Tattie Toes – but the framework is open enough to invite further exploration and discussion. Along with projects like the annual Scottish Album Of The Year Awards, and the 2014 ‘Generation: 25 Years Of Contemporary Art In Scotland’ retrospective held across Scotland’s galleries, ‘Rip It Up’ reflects ongoing attempts to construct a new Scottish canon. Such efforts have been admirably plural and self-reflexive, putting paid to the claims of writers like Denise Mina and Kirsty Gunn that there is a nationalist agenda in arts funding and programming. If there is an agenda, it’s neo-liberal. The Scottish government’s support for the arts is to be welcomed, but I’d argue that their culture industry approach tends to place an emphasis on short-term projects and marketable brands, rather than sustained funding for infrastructure. 

Inevitably, in ‘Rip It Up’, thornier questions about the future of Scottish pop are avoided. In an incident all too familiar to Edinburgh music fans, a festival celebrating the launch of the exhibition had to be moved indoors due to noise complaints. Meanwhile in Glasgow, the closure of the Arches, and the knock-on effect of the School of Art and ABC fires, has dealt a major blow to the city’s club and live music scene. While Glasgow remains a relatively inexpensive place to live, benefit cuts and job precarity under Conservative austerity have made it increasingly difficult for DIY and underground acts to sustain their practice. Despite all this, there is still some brilliant music coming out of Scotland, from Still House Plants and Cucina Povera, to Lanark Artefax and Proc Fiskal. There’s also a concerted effort to challenge privilege and elitism, with DJs and promoters like Sarra Wild and Spite House working to create accessible spaces for POC and LGBTQI+ people. Through this, let’s hope we can counter the forces of austerity and conservatism, and ensure ‘Rip It Up’ is not the last word on Scottish pop. 

Main image: 'Rip it Up', 2018, installation view, National Museum of Scotland. Courtesy: Neil Hanna

Stewart Smith

Stewart Smith is a freelance writer and academic based in Glasgow.

National Museum of Scotland
Stewart Smith
Vivienne Westwood

07八月2018日苏格兰流行音乐的故事:一个富有的过去,但一个前途未卜的未来,在无耻的民粹主义者“撕裂它”在苏格兰的国家博物馆,欢乐的歌声回荡,但对未来的问题是可以避免的。Stewart Smith漫游苏格兰国家博物馆的新展览,“撕扯它:苏格兰流行的故事”,眼睛被吸引到了华而不实的格子花蕾:一个红色格子裤西装,由安妮·蓝妮克丝,Del Amitri的格子吉他,T。阿坦修剪在海湾城市辊的礼服,明信片记录后朋克拼贴的士绅。格子的批判是苏格兰文化论述的长期特征。正如左翼评论家Tom Nairn在1977所写的那样,格子塔里包含了一个“巨大的、几乎自给自足的媚俗世界”,这个“巨大的格子怪兽”——Nairn指的是“苏格兰化”的流行和感伤的话语——都是消耗性的,交织着一个严肃的C的所有希望。在一个短面包罐头中的ululasy.Fielalth.从Fr.Zr.Fidiand StudioTythRixIITOUPUPIOXION SuffiyyO-NEILH-HANA.JPG The Story of Scottish Pop: A Rich Past But An Uncertain Future - 苏格兰流行音乐的故事:丰富的过去但不确定的未来 '撕起来',2018,安装视图,材料来自Franz Ferdinand,苏格兰的国家博物馆。礼貌:Neil Hanna,正如评论家David Goldie所指出的那样,这种微妙的批评没有认识到格子的讽刺和自我反思的用途。我们看到这样的策略在明信片记录的加利东式媚俗流行艺术:年轻的苏格兰的声音,设置石南火烧。Del Amitri的格子吉他是明知故犯,是一种罪恶的娱乐节目。伦诺克斯的西装比媚俗更时尚,承认了苏格兰的背景,同时又重新塑造了薇薇安.韦斯特伍德在20世纪80年代的权力服饰中的格子花纹的朋克服饰。这些展品以他们自己的方式反映了苏格兰重新焕发的文化自信。而不是被格子怪兽窒息,新的形式已经出现,甚至取代它。“梦状态”的叙述,苏格兰的文化复兴在20世纪80年代获得了充分的动力,进入了1失败的公民投票公投产生的政治真空。979,艺术家宣称一种文化独立的形式,其定义是反对撒切尔主义。这是有道理的,但在独立的远景中,文化和政治的抵抗并不总是以民族主义的方式表现出来的。从“撕碎”来看,这是显而易见的。虽然许多人的行为类似于征服者、执事蓝和RunRigg,他们从事语言、阶级、流散和反工业化等问题,但许多人则是相对政治性的。展览会确实提出了什么定义苏格兰流行音乐,但它明智地避免了任何确凿的结论。虽然有可识别的传统和倾向,但外卖是苏格兰流行音乐可以是它想要的任何东西。“撕开它”是一个更大的项目的一部分,包括英国广播公司电视纪录片的三部分和Vic Galloway播音员的一本书。关于纪录片遗漏的不可避免的抱怨,“什么,没有诗人、沙门、大国家、贝塔乐队等”叽叽喳喳地叫喊着,但最终归咎于个人品味,缺乏对三小时内可以涵盖的东西的看法。同样,展览受到空间和档案材料的可用性的限制。“撕毁它”并不主张全面性,但作为一个无耻的民粹主义项目,它是成功的。展览从苏格兰流行音乐的起源开始,从Lonnie Donegan和斯基夫运动,到1960年代的节拍繁荣和苏格兰的第一个流行巨星露露。在20世纪70年代我们踏上坚硬的岩石和后朋克和新流行的橙汁、Josef K和同事们的时候,有一种对民间复兴和迷幻蝴蝶的点头。Jesus和Mary Ch的SP5.JPG The Story of Scottish Pop: A Rich Past But An Uncertain Future - 苏格兰流行音乐的故事:丰富的过去但不确定的未来。艾恩,Emma Pollock和莫格韦,“撕扯它”:苏格兰流行音乐的故事,2018,电视仍然。礼貌:英国广播公司苏格兰从那里,“撕它”情节线通过1980年代的独立场景,从Jesus和玛丽链到贝尔希尔现场和传奇泼溅一个俱乐部在格拉斯哥。与纪录片充满激情和数字的肖像画相比,电子音乐是不尽如人意的,但是一个副俱乐部队列的墙壁大小的照片,伴随着“最佳海报”和“灯箱”,是展览最有效的展示之一。这打开了一个更大的,L形的房间,第一部分庆祝商业巨兽,如简单的头脑,湿湿湿和Franz Ferdinand,而第二部分探讨的主题“苏格兰之声”。这是令人钦佩的复数,认识到多种族行为,如年轻的父亲和神圣的爪子是合法的“苏格兰”作为福尔柯克悲惨者阿拉伯带或现代民俗卡佩凯利。这个故事是通过一系列的短片,文字和大事记。后者是主要的吸引:有一个真正的流行刺激看到图标的服装,吉他和舞台道具的肉,无论是Revillos的复古未来主义PVC服装,露露的小礼服从拍摄视频,或Gerry Rafferty的约翰·伯恩插图吉他从P的POP。其他展品震撼人心,尤其是Billy MacKenzie的贝雷帽,以及惊恐的兔子Scott Hutchison的精美画作。也有一些美妙的蜉蝣,从演示磁带和手写歌词,以示效忠特定的赞助人徽章。为了传达音乐的感觉作为共享的经验,斯科普宝石被送入展览空间,最终在一个全景屏幕广播唱着最喜欢的T从公园节。流行音乐迷的喜悦响起。来自OrthPrimaRielssA的TyrPrimiReSurvivsToReTyBy,NEILH-HANA.JPG WPA60260602IMG’RIP’,2018,安装视图,来自苏格兰国家博物馆的索赔者的材料。礼貌:Neil Hanna这个平民主义的叙述不可避免地忽略了地下音乐和实验音乐——而不是任何人都会认真地期望在像Richard Youngs或塔蒂脚趾这样的邪教宠儿上进行展示,但是这个框架足够开放,需要进一步的探索和讨论。锡安。伴随着像苏格兰年度专辑奖和2014代“25年苏格兰当代艺术展”在苏格兰画廊举行的项目,“Rip Up”反映了正在建造新的苏格兰佳能的努力。这种努力是令人钦佩的复数和自我反思,付钱给作家丹尼斯·米娜和Kirsty Gunn的主张,在艺术资助和规划中有一个民族主义议程。如果有一个议程,那就是新自由主义。苏格兰政府对艺术的支持是受欢迎的,但我认为他们的文化产业方法倾向于强调短期项目和有市场的品牌,而不是持续为基础设施提供资金。避免苏格兰流行音乐的未来。在一个对爱丁堡音乐迷来说太熟悉的事件中,一个庆祝展览启动的节日不得不因为噪音投诉而被转移到室内。与此同时,在格拉斯哥,拱门关闭,以及艺术学院和ABC火灾的敲门效应,对城市俱乐部和现场音乐场景产生了重大打击。虽然格拉斯哥仍然是一个相对便宜的居住地,在保守紧缩下的福利削减和工作的不稳定性使得DIY和地下行为越来越难以维持他们的实践。尽管如此,仍然有一些辉煌的音乐来自苏格兰,从静止的房子植物和Cuina贫穷,到LaNang-AtFax和PrC FISKAL。也有一个共同的努力来挑战特权和精英主义,DJS和发起人,如萨拉野生和Brand House工作,为PoC和LGBTQY+人创造可访问的空间。通过这一点,我们希望我们能够对抗紧缩和保守主义的力量,并确保“撕碎”不是苏格兰流行音乐的最后一个词:“撕碎它”,2018,苏格兰国家博物馆的安装视图。礼貌:尼尔汉娜斯图尔特史密斯斯图尔特史密斯是自由撰稿人和学术总部设在格拉斯哥。意见音乐流行苏格兰国家博物馆斯图尔特史密斯薇薇安韦斯特伍德最佳格拉斯哥爱丁堡


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