Great Scots – 10 Top Scottish Artists and Bands

by TW on August 1, 2011

Scotland: The country that claims Braveheart, kilts, Loch Ness and single-malt whisky also has been the birthplace and home to many of music’s greatest artists. From folk to hard rock, here’s a look at 10 great Scottish artists and acts.

  1. Lonnie Donegan – Lonnie Donegan’s influence on a generation of musicians has been huge, particularly in and around Britain, where his blending of blues, country, folk and jazz ushered in the “skiffle” craze. Thousands of young wannabes got swept up, including a pre-Beatles Paul McCartney. Recommended album: Rides Again.
  2. Donovan –  Donovan took folk music and melded it with sunshine pop and psychedelia, yielding a slew of classics including “Season Of The Witch,” “Hurdy Gurdy Man” and “Atlantis.” Recommended album: Barabajagal.
  3. Al Stewart – Stewart’s delicate music was polished to a fine sheen by studio wizard Alan Parsons, and the resulting Year Of The Cat gave Stewart his first Top 10 hit. Recommended album: Past, Present & Future.
  4. Nazareth – Nazareth specialize in blues-based hard rock, given incredible punch thanks to Dan McCafferty’s growling vocals. Who else but the boys from Dunfermline could take a Joni Mitchell tune (“This Flight Tonight”) or a country-and-western weeper (“Love Hurts”) and make it their own. Recommended album: No Mean City.
  5. John Martyn – Throughout his career, Martyn navigated between blues, folk and jazz, spinning tales of haunting beauty, naked in their honesty and often personal despair. His early work and experiments with lacing the acoustic guitar with echo have the ethereal quality of Nick Drake, for whom Martyn wrote “Solid Air.” Recommended album: Bless The Weather.
  6. Teenage Fanclub – In the early 1990s many bands traded in their cut-off concert T-shirts for flannel, jumping on the grunge bandwagon while the wave was high. Glasgow’s Teenage Fanclub, however, beat a retreat back to power pop and the harmonies of Badfinger and Big Star. Recommended album: Bandwagonesque.
  7. Gerry Rafferty – The saxophone pinings of Rafferty’s mega-hit “Baker Street” are forever etched in the minds of those who tuned into rock radio in the late 1970s. Rafferty’s earlier folk-rock efforts with Stealer’s Wheel – responsible for the single “Stuck In The Middle With You” – are worth checking out, too. Recommended album: City To City.
  8. The Incredible String Band – The trio of Robin Williamson, Clive Palmer and Mike Heron made this string band truly incredible. They incorporated folk, psychedelia and world musics with a strong dose of the bizarre, and sounded like no other act. Recommended album: The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter.
  9. Average White Band – The Average White Band are one of music’s anomalies: a Scottish funk and R&B act that drew inspiration from Motown and Philly soul. Recommended album: Put It Where You Want It.
  10. AC/DC – Australia’s biggest export had their roots in Scotland, where brothers Angus and Malcolm Young and original vocalist Bon Scott were born. The trio came together down under and went on to write dozens of hard rock classics. Recommended album: Powerage.

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