Earlier this year Alec brought us his top 20 Scottish cover versions. 20 through 11 can be found here. His top ten included classics from Belle and Sebastian, Aztec Camera, Travis and Biffy Clyro.

This article was originally published on August 19, 2009. Dear Scotland is currently enjoying a winter break and will return to full service on January 3, 2010.
In the meantime, feel free to enjoy some of the most popular articles of 2009, watch the Dear Scotland Christmas video and vote in the Scotland’s Greatest Ever Vocalist Poll.

Alec Downie’s Top 10 Scottish Cover Versions

10. I Can’t Change It – Ray Charles

Written by a 15 year old Frankie Miller and recorded by his idol, life for a Bridgeton boy does not get much better. Years later I saw Pat Kane from Hue and Cry sing this, while tears rolled down Frankie’s face as he punched the air.

(does anyone have a link to a copy of this? – The Dear)

Available in the UK here . (Thanks to Pat Kane himself for the link. )

9. Amazing Grace (Songbird Version) – Willie Nelson

Produced and arranged by Ryan Adams this is for me the definitive adaptation of the song, Adams said, “I wanted everyone to set up in the room around Willie, with only [drummer] Brad [Pemberton] wearing headphones, and everyone using ratty old amps so that the main thing everyone heard was Willie’s voice and guitar. It was cool because it made everyone listen really hard, and I think it enabled Willie to throw the band a little more, and suck them in.” And suck you in is exactly what this track does.

Listen here

8. I’m Waiting for the Man – Belle & Sebastian

A total bootleg found on one of my random trawls for covers, the conversation sort of goes, “we gotta swap an amp, … so it’s time to get somebody up to do their turn, … the man with the plastic bag, what you gonna sing for us,… this is Barry”, and Barry proved B&S can rock and Stevie Jackson is a feck off great guitarist, though to this day I still think Barry was a plant.

Listen here

7. Jump – Aztec Camera

When you take the original and reshape it in a way that leaves the original shredded, you win.


6. Crazy Horses – The Sensational Alex Harvey Band

I could spend a whole night reminiscing over great Alex Harvey covers but this stands out for me, in that it is a great tune, delivered matter of fact with such pathos and that echoplex is brutal.

Listen here

5. Hit Me Baby One More Time – Travis

The Radio One Live Lounge has been a cool source of covers over the years but it was Travis who set the standard by ripping in to Britney with more irony and humour than their dour Scots background suggests.


4. Born in the USA – Ballboy

It is amazing how slowing a song down and having it sung in a Scottish dialect can focus in on the real intent. Simply inspired!

Listen here

3. Take Me Out – Biffy Clyro

I so wanted to put Simon from Biffy’s version of SAHB’s Tomahawk Kid with SAHB from the Alex Tribute that never was, but that track is locked away forever, as a testament to what could have been, though Biffy’s version of Franz’s Take Me Out is pure gallus rock!


2.  Come on Eileen – King Creosote

The original is such a stomping dance floor filler you never really get past the too rye ays so when Kenny (pictured above) strips it to the core and engages you with what is truly a beautiful love song, you never listen to the original in the same way again! (Note Thanks to Stuart of Viva Stereo for suggestions and my copy of this jewel ).

Listen here

1. Rockin in the Free World – Big Country

Joe Walsh and I were leaning on a white grand piano behind a giant video screen at the Barrowland Ballroom and on the screen was a montage of Stuart Adamson, who had died a few months earlier that I had edited for the show. At the point where the solo for this song came on, the conversation went sort of like this:

Joe: “Who is that guy?”;
Me: “Stuart. He died recently and was in a band with Bruce Watson our musical director”;
Joe: “Pity, that guy can play”.

A little later 2000+ people were singing along to Chance and to this day I and thousands of Big Country fans still miss Stuart!


PS: Ask me again next week and a few others may have come to mind, but in the words of The Boss (surely Springsteen is a Scottish name):

This whole world is out there just trying to score
I’ve seen enough I don’t want to see any more,
Cover me, come on and cover me.


Photo Credit : King Creosote by Steve Green

(Note – the mps3 posted here will only be up for the next 7 days.)