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Jamie Scott

Glasgow Garden Festival '18 (2 Stripe)

By • Aug 23rd, 2018 • Category: Album review

So, a concept album about the Glasgow Garden Festival… come back… no, really…

The Glasgow Garden Festival was held in 1988 and was perhaps one of the first large events which showed that Glasgow could be a major tourist destination, part of the site being land reclaimed from the docks, a post-industrial landscape used for leisure and entertainment. (BM did not attend but is aware that it casts quite a long shadow and aftermath, parts of the former site still derelict now…

So Jamie Scott has taken this as the theme for the album. Formerly of Conquering Animal Sound and CARBS, he has put together ten tracks which explore legacy, identity and some other, odder, more personal things.

We kick off with some old recordings from the TV, then ‘Make Scotland Shite Again’ gives us Jamie’s personal musings: “When I grow up I wanna be Tom Devine…”. The soundtrack is minimal, keyboards and percussion… There is a steel band vibe to the chorus as well, which takes a bit of getting used to.

‘The Tower’ gives us a sly Simple Minds sample as Jamie raps about the various towers, successful and otherwise, which have populated Glasgow – there is also a nice Soul 2 Soul sample and some reflections on “Birds that never flew”, “Ships that never sailed”…although his suggestion to “build another tower” could be a trifle expensive and BM laments the fact he didnae mention “The tower that never turns” in the alternative city motto…

‘Another World’ discusses empire, slaves, the tobacco lords and “Scottish cringe” – “I hate Scotland but it made me a man” – “We build this city on untaxed tobacco imports” is a great line, and the beats are good as well.

‘Glasgow Garden Festival ’88’ is quite sotto voce, and parallels the crowds who came to the GGF to the immigrants who came to work in the city – subtle and very affecting.

Then there’s ‘Cathedral’ – starting with more low-key beats, it soon picks it up a bit – tales of lowlife medieval Glasgow, mixed with a great excerpt (whether approved or not!) of The Blue Nile’s “Tinseltown”…really effective.

‘The Paper Boat’, named after the late George Wylie’s creation, is oblique, soulful and a bit dark, Jamie’s rap asks “Where is the energy gone?”. References to “The sick man of Europe” are accompanied by some lovely analogue keyboard, and while BM may disagree with some of the sociological analysis and dialectic (always wanted to use that word in a review, almost shoehorned it into Daphne and Celeste but…) but Jamie sure conjures up some provocative imagery.

The title track is more of a lament, but is it a lament for the Festival ’88 or some great glorious past, which BM thinks must have been pretty shite anyway… coal, rickets and no internet connection? Sorry, only kidding! There are some great harmonies and some brass towards the end – but is it heading too close to that Sting-originated musical ‘The Ship’ (haven’t seen it but with Betty have had some previous with Jimmy Nail, don’t ask, have had a lot of free tickets and flowers in the post, nuff said.

‘The Tourist’ speaks for itself – we have all felt like that in Glasgow at some point, being a tourist in your own city can be a bit unsettling – this is good take on it, and again the even pace of the rapping is more Aidan Moffat than fast-paced wordery.

Last track ‘(Don’t You) Forget About Me’ again references Simple Minds, certainly Glasgow’s biggest musical export back in 1988 – it talks of legacy, and Scott thinks that “it collides briefly” with the public’s memory…”the yards are gone, the garden’s gone”…

This is a really dense, ambitious and heartfelt collection – and one you should definitely check out.

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