The Unrecognised Scot


After the plumes of herbal smoke that marked the repugnant “4/20” had cleared the air, the world was rocked by the news that disco pioneer and all round music innovator Prince had sadly passed away. Fittingly he died in the recording studio, a testament to his prodigious work ethic and industrious approach to completing new music. Prince impacted many artists to come - any that had some kind of affiliation to soul, squelch effect basslines and unconventional disco owed a debt to him whether conscious or not. Prince will receive the coverage and obituaries he deserves, and this is a good thing. Any artists that branches out of a genre to create pioneering, explorative music deserves recognition and plentiful accolades. Prince’s death is no doubt a sad time for music, and marks a year submerged so far in tragedy and loss with other notable deaths including the voice of Lady Penelope on Thunderbirds and Paul Daniels (am I missing any?). However, the notion that Prince has been recognised for his achievements and for his musical ambition seems futile to me. For if the ‘music press’ actually recognised this kind of forward thinking and left-field music then surely there would have been more coverage for the Scottish Beat-Poet and cult hero Jock Scot. Jock Scot? Yes. Is that his real name? No. His self-appointed pseudonym is one of many examples of his dry, acerbic and often self-deprecating wit which have endeared him to the few that actually knew him or his work. Jock Scot was a visionary, a luminary of hedonism and raw talent which spawned such masterpieces as ‘My Personal Culloden’ in 1997- with the help of the genius Nectarine No.9 backing him. My Personal Culloden was a work of rare genius, fusing brittle, articulate street poetry with a morbid edge and a penchant for heavy drinking. It was tactile and visceral, denouncing his own poetry as “easy to write” on the same-titled opener, and singing of having nothing to do with his spare time “which he had a lot of”. It moved and swayed with the garage assault that Davy Henderson masters, yet had subtlety and poignancy perhaps unexpected from a “Leith-born poet laureate of the binge-drinker” as put by Colm McAuliffe. Scot received a disturbingly limited array of coverage during his life-time. Championed by star turns such as Pete Doherty, British Sea Power and Baxter Dury, Scot should have, by all accounts, been the Scottish Charles Bukowski.

But this is the world we now live in. Other than a smattering of small independent magazines such as Louder than War and The Quietus, bands or artists signed to an independent label will receive a painfully low level of coverage. Scot’s work, if exposed to a wider audience, I don’t doubt would have won him a larger legion of dedicated fans. Yet the fact that only one major newspaper gave him an obituary shows the star-struck turgid dystopia we now live in. Gone are the days of magazines like NME providing meaningful and exciting music journalism, here are the days of mass hysteria about artists who are of a bygone generation. Jock Scot took the left field throughout his life. He acted as a roadie for the likes of Ian Dury, and was a poetic genius in his own right, creating textured linguistic landscapes of his dear Scotland. His work has flown unnoticed, his life deemed to be lacking the sufficient substance to warrant any coverage from the media. He championed miner labels like the sublime Heavenly Recordings who reissued his LP My Personal Culloden. The problem is not necessarily the ambitious content of his Scottish Lou Reed style ‘home is where the heart is’ poetry. The problem is with a national lust for nostalgia and the monotonous thoughtless journalists feeding this whore-like desire to reflect on the old rather than challenging the new. Prince should be heralded, but only if Jock Scot receives the critical praise and public acknowledgement he deserves.