More on the great Scottish vocalists. Here Alec presents ‘The Popstars’, ‘The Troubadours’ and ‘The Rogues’. From today’s lists and last week’s female vocalist article, we need your help to somehow produce a top ten for next week’s public vote. Take a deep breath…

One last point before you dive back in. As we’ve said all along, this is really just a bit of fun. It would be impossible for anyone to produce a list of ten Scottish singers that everyone would agree on. We know that you know that, and so we welcome your comments.

Whoever your favourite is though, I think you have to agree that if you love music and you love Scotland, then this really is a list to be proud of. (The Dear, Editor)

Don’t forget Part 1 of this article here.
And last week’s greatest ever female vocalist article is here.

The Popstars

Disclaimer: Dogs Die in Hot Cars Manager Lee once gave me a lecture on the difference of good pop and bad pop and I still remain clueless so sorry!

Les McKeown – Bay City Rollers

I recently read Les’s biography and it left me with an understanding of a man who has come to terms with the good and bad choices he made in life and left me wondering, “Where is all that fecking money”! The Bay City Rollers were the Take That of their generation and then some, and if there is a Scotsman who has not danced to the Rollers at a wedding I would be very surprised.

Recommended – ‘Keep on Dancing’

Brian Connolly – ‘Sweet’

I don’t know why Brian seldom appears on any list of Scottish greats but he is well up on mine.

Recommended – Ballroom Blitz


Jon Fratelli – The Fratellis

If you can write a song and it becomes an anthem on a football terrace you have a hit. Write 2 or more and you are fast becoming a genius.

Recommended – ‘Chelsea Dagger’

Duglas T Stewart – BMX Bandits

I share a birthday with Duglas and covet his velvet jacket and his ability to write and perform pop at a level that transcends a genre I struggle with. A huge Brian Wilson fan, he is singularly one of the nicest, gentlest and humble men in the Scottish music scene and a contemporary national treasure.

Recommended – ‘Lines’ (Brian Wilson cover)

Stuart Murdoch – Belle & Sebastian

I struggle too with Belle & Sebastian, most the time my brain goes in to ‘too twee as feck pop for me’ mode. Then I here a track that draws me in, enchants and reminds me why so many people love them and why so many bands in Scotland want to be them.

Recommended – ‘The State I Am In’


Fran Healy – Travis

You could insert that whole paragraph for Belle & Sebastian in here, then add that Glen Campbell covered Travis and the fact that about 20,000 punters took umbrellas to hold up to “Why Does it Always Rain on Me” at T in the Park, so what the feck do I know!

Recommended – Paperclips

Midge Ure

Rich Kids / Slick / Thin Lizzy / Ultravox, not to mention Band Aid

Recommended – ‘Vienna’

Jimmy Somerville

Come on all you rockers admit it: you have sang along drunk and shaken your booty to Bronski Beat, and felt good doing it xxx

Recommended – ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’


The Troubadours

Tom Cochrane said, “As a songwriter, if you can touch people and make them feel a little less alone in the world, then you’ve done your job”. I would add that if you believe in your own words it will come out in your vocal performance so here are a few writers who have, “done a job” on me.

Rev Wayne D Love (Jake Black) – Alabama 3

The Rev hails from Possil of all places and provides the gospel commentary for one of the coolest bands on the planet.  “They say I made my money messing up young minds, I stooped the congregation and left them crying in the rain” – Rev Wayne D Love

Recommended – ‘Too Sick to Pray’

Justin Currie – Del Amitri

I could cut and past 100 lines from Justin Currie songs but being from Bo’ness this strikes the loudest chord of regret in my heart and that is what a great songwriter does best!

Wet feet visit the same old places
finding nothing new
It’s a bin full of tissues from made-up faces
In a town full of nothing to do

From ‘Move Away Jimmy Blue’ by Del Amitri

Recommended – ‘Move Away Jimmy Blue’

Jackie Leven

There is a collection of Scottish artists that are like Jackie Leven, who function below the radar on cool labels like Cooking Vinyl, and part of the joy of finding them is that you can let the secret out to a few select friends who might just get it. Dear Scotland welcome to the first of many little secrets I am happy to share.

Recommended – ‘Extremely Violent Man’

The Proclaimers

To relegate Charlie and Craig Reid of The Proclaimers to a party band for 500 Miles and Letter to America is doing a disservice to writers who, while great entertainers, have far more to say in a 3:38 minute song than most artist have in an entire career.

Recommended – ‘Cap in Hand’

Roddy Woomble – Idlewild

If there is a finer song about being young and in love in a modern Scotland, sung with melancholy wonderment, I have not found it.

Recommended – ‘In a Remote Part of Scottish Fiction’


Damian Gilhooly – popup

When I studied for my Modern Arts degree we had to do a torturous session on realism, when all I needed to do to learn about realism in Scotland was listen to the album, “A Time and a Place” by popup. Damian Gilhooly is capturing modern Scotland in a lyrical form equivalent to Alasdair Gray  or Irvine Welsh  and is the best young writer in Scotland in any genre!

Recommended – ‘Skid’

Aidan Moffat – Arab Strap

The Damian Gilhooly of his generation.

Recommended – ‘The Shy Retirer’

King Creosote

“I invested it all you threw in a dime, it is not good enough”. Kenny (KC) has the unique ability to bare all in a song and the vocal dexterity to make sure his pain tears at your heart. KC Rules!

Recommended – ‘Not One Bit Ashamed’

Kyle Falconer – The View

The Oasis in a Dundee scheme.

Recommended – Same Jeans

Paul Buchanan – The Blue Nile

The Sunday Times wrote about, The Blue Nile, “On Easter Parade he sounded like a tartan Tom Waits, and the bittersweet ballad Family Life teased novelistic layers of heartache from beneath its sparkly yuletide setting. An absolutely exquisite, pin-drop moment”. Exceptional in his talent , the time between records often prompt more, “the new record is finished” rumours than My Bloody Valentine but the end result is always, but always, breathtaking.

Recommended – ‘Tinseltown in the Rain’



My list of rouges is a less a list of rogues, and more a list of singers who have dared to be different from the norm, and who brought a rare spirit to the art of vocal liberation.

Billy MacKenzie – The Associates

Possibly the saddest story in Scottish music and one of the most gifted vocalists ever to come out of Scotland. I could write pages on Billy Mackenzie’s talent and loss but instead I would urge you to listen to the track below, which will render words meaningless.

Recommended – ‘Wild is the Wind’


Lee Patterson

If Scotland has a working class hero it is Lee, a man whose environment and history bleeds through every lick, click crash and bash. The second of my hidden secrets.

Recommended – ‘Wasting Time’

Edwyn Collins

Apart from the fact my wife Marie-Louise is a huge Edwyn fan and violence brings me out in black and blue lumps, Edwyn is living proof of the fact that we can recognise the best singers in the world within a few notes; such is the distinction in their voice. Other than having an instantly charismatic vocal, Edwyn is one of the finest lyricists, producers and guitar players to hail from North of Hadrian’s.

Recommended – ‘The Magic Piper (of love)’

Michael Marra

Around the time of Stuart Adamson’s death I heard Eddi Reader being interviewed about how Scotland does not acknowledge hidden genius and citing Michael Marra as an example. A couple of nights later I went to see Ricky Ross doing a charity show in an old Church and he sang a Michael Marra song and his intro was all about the genius and influence of this man. That night I went online compelled to discover the precious talent of my 3rd hidden secret.

Recommended – ‘Reynard in Paradise’

Adam Thompson – We Were Promised Jetpacks

The  frontman to one of Scotland’s most exciting new bands, Thompson’s vocals are so powerful and soaring that he will often step to the side of the microphone and just sing to the audience without amplification. That’s fine for King Tuts and the like but it will be interesting to see how he manages that when the band are playing stadia in a few years time.

Recommended – ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’


Billy Bates

I stood with Billy just before he went on what I think was the T-Break stage at T in the Park and he said something to the effect, “ I am shitting myself, I don’t belong here” such is his humbleness. Billy spends most of his performance with his eyes closed, lost in a world of music and misplaced insecurity, so my response was along the lines of, “Billy, do me a favour just take a few seconds to look at your audience, and you will see they are mesmerised by you!”. Billy went on stage with just an acoustic guitar and within a minutes a few hundred rowdy T in the Park punters were listening with an intensity that matched Billy’s astounding performance. Billy Bates belongs on any stage!

Recommended – ‘Beauty Crawls’

Ziggy Campbell – FOUND

Q. What would have happened if Tom Waits had grown up in Edinburgh in the 80’s?
A. He would have been Found!

Recommended – ‘You’re Really Quite The Catch’ (Single Version ft. Lisa Lindley Jones)

Hamish Imlach

The Balladeer Scotland websites says, “ For hilarious songs of over-indulgence in alcohol, tobacco, sex and other bodily functions he employed a voice quality like piano wire scrubbed with Grade A sandpaper” and that is better than anything I could add!

Recommended – Murdered Ballad

David Byrne

If we can have Rod in this list, Byrne was born in Dumbarton so I get to recommend ‘And She Was’.


In case you didn’t see it, check out the accompanying Frontmen and Singers list and last week’s Female Vocalist article.

Somehow, we’ll put together a top ten Greatest Ever Vocalist from all this. That article and poll will appear next Wednesday with the vote open for the following two weeks.

If you feel strongly that someone must be in that top ten, or if we’ve missed someone completely, please let us know. The comments are open.
Photo Credit: Debra Zeller