An eventful week for the history of Scottish music with the National Museum of Scotland’s Rip It Up exhibition finishing last Sunday and the announcement of Big Gold Dreams a five-CD box set spanning Scottish independent music from 1977 to 1989.
I was asked to contribute a possible tracklisting for this so, as a bonus, the box set Avalanche will be selling will have an extra CD of tracks that didn’t make the box set.
Now the exhibition has finished, I can admit I found it quite disappointing. Don’t get me wrong when asked I always recommended it as being worth a visit, but it could have been so much better and in saying that I’m judging it against the aspirations of Stephen Allen, the curator, when we first spoke, not my own ideas or indeed the aspirations of the Scot Pop Centre I’ve been working on.
Musicians aren’t the easiest or most reliable people to deal with and you have to balance how important somebody is to a project against that reliability. Some were discounted for simply not answering an email they didn’t receive. On a few occasions, I managed to resolve that though by far the biggest disappointment was when Alan Horne, the Postcard Records supremo and recluse, after initially not wanting to be involved, agreed to speak to the museum and they said they didn’t want to waste time on something that might not work out.
Anyway the museum will now move on to their next exhibition while Avalanche will look forward to the Big Gold Dreams box set released at the end of January. What it does do is give us a target to work to and one way or another the Scot Pop Centre will be open for the launch of the box set.
A bit like the museum exhibition, a compilation box set will never be perfect and of course tracks are often not in the gift of the artists but Cherry Red have done a great job putting a comprehensive collection together that will keep aficionados happy but serve as a great introduction to anybody not familiar with the era.
Designed to look like an old Ordnance Survey map, it comes with a lavishly illustrated 70-page booklet, so hours of fun spotting people in the photos. Tracks from Johnny & The Self Abusers (later Simple Minds) and Another Pretty Face (pre-The Waterboys) are a couple of the best-known obscure songs if such a thing is possible.
The box set will be a great way to promote the Scot Pop Centre though of course the centre will cover a lot more than music from the late fifties to the current day. For those asking, we haven’t been offered anything from the museum, and of course the exhibits will go back to their owners, but quite a few of the things on display we also had at our Fruitmarket Gallery exhibition in June of last year and will appear again and there are exhibits from the museum that I’m sure would be loaned by the owners if we asked.
One advantage the Scot Pop Centre has over most exhibitions is the ability to bring in far more revenue from sales than normal for a museum or gallery. It has always been the case that any permanent exhibition will be free but financed by the sale of music and memorabilia with possibly the addition of a café.
Also by visitor standards the centre would expect 50,000 to 100,000 people a year putting it on a par with many of Edinburgh’s larger attractions and eclipsing some. Over 1,500 attended the Fruitmarket Gallery exhibition in one weekend. Expected to cover 80 per cent of its costs within three years, it holds up tremendously well against the average for museums and galleries in Scotland which is 18 per cent.
You can find details of all the tracks on the box set on the Avalanche shop website http://vsilly.com/avalanche_shop/index.php and news of tracks for the bonus CD will appear on social media as confirmed.
One thing is for sure and that is that next year will be a very exciting year for the Scot Pop Centre and Avalanche.
The EFI are go
I was asked to a meeting with the Edinburgh Futures Institute during the week and found myself in the Quartermile. The EFI will have a permanent home there in 2022 and there is still much work to be done but I hadn’t realised just how much was there already.
I’ll be going back for a look around next week but I was amazed that I knew so little about an area still really in the city centre and, interestingly, that was one of the points of the meeting in that while the EFI is part of Edinburgh University, it wants to be open to everybody.
A series of short films are planned to help people understand what the EFI is about and when I looked myself their website says: “The Edinburgh Futures Institute brings together people from across the University and beyond to grapple with some of the world’s most pressing questions. We believe that by forging collaborations, we can produce practical solutions for the common good.”
I’d asked a friend who the EFI were and he’d said they were going to save the world “a bit like Thunderbirds”. Clearly they will need to work at letting people know what they do but if I find a silo when I go for another look next week I will let you know.
An audience with Dark Edinburgh
The Dark Edinburgh account on Twitter is one well worth following for atmospheric photos of Edinburgh matched with quotes from famous writers, songs and more, and you can join Scott Liddell, the man behind the account, at the City Art Centre today at 2pm.
Scott “documents hidden and changing aspects of the City in atmospheric light, usually shot in black and white, creating beautiful photographs that are works of art in their own right”.
The quotes he uses match beautifully, showing that Scott not only has a good eye but a wide knowledge of literature and music. Highly recommended and, if you read this too late, there is always @darkedinburgh on Twitter or Facebook!