Liner Note Author: Roy Wilkinson.
Photographer: Alan Horne.
By the time Jock Scot made his debut album, My Personal Culloden, he'd been attached to the music business for nearly two decades in a variety of vague roles that can be generally summed up as a "supplier of good vibes." After hitchhiking to a 1978 Ian Dury gig in Newcastle in full post-match football regalia, the future poet charmed his way backstage and quickly joined the Blockheads' touring coterie. The Edinburgh native's natural charisma earned him similar access to acts like the Clash and the B-52s and within a couple of years he found himself employed in the front office of Stiff Records. A later gig working for Charisma Records had him loosely attached to Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band frontman Vivian Stanshall, from whom the label was trying to coax another album of kooky spoken word abstractionism. By the mid-'80s, Scot himself began writing poetry and had recast himself as a sort of spoken word raconteur, eventually culminating in his first (and only) published book of poems, 1993's Where Is My Heroine?, a volume written during several heady years of heroin addiction back in Edinburgh. After cleaning himself up in the mid-'90s, he became involved musically with longtime friend Davy Henderson (the Fire Engines, Win), collaborating on a few tracks with his band the Nectarine No. 9. Making Scot's own album seemed a natural next step and with Henderson producing and his crew supplying the music, My Personal Culloden was birthed over a frenetic fortnight in 1997. The resulting 18 tracks are a rich, fascinating travelogue through Scot's id, ego, history, and city, all delivered in his robust musical brogue against a backdrop of experimental rock pastiches and grooves. Veering from blunt street poetry to obscure humor and even romance, he faces fond memories and regrets ("Domestic Bliss"), professes a homoerotic attraction to a French rugby star ("Gay Paean to Thierry"), and proclaims Ronnie Wood to be his preferred deity ("Good God"). There's often little rhyme or reason to Henderson's inventive production, but the spontaneity mostly aids Scot's material. Creepy Tom Waits-ian guitars and marimbas lurch behind the sensual "Someone's Yearning," while tracks like "Farewell to Ferodo" and "All Over the World Girls Are Dreaming" are supported by more ambient textural backdrops. Scot enlists his two young daughters to accompany him on the album's lone sung number, the appropriately spaced-out heroin anthem "There's a Hole in Daddy's Arm." It all feels wonderfully impulsive and loose with odd samples, lo-fi tape-recorded intros, and a cut-up style that prevents it from getting anywhere close to pop music. The maverick punk-poet style Scot developed through his live readings comes to life in an inspired studio collaboration that feels both difficult and deliciously inviting. Its original 1997 release eventually fell out of print, and for nearly 20 years My Personal Culloden retained a cult classic status until British label Heavenly Records gave it a proper reissue in 2015. ~ Timothy Monger