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CD Review: Colin Scot

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For every Al Stewart or Roy Harper back treading the boards and breaking out of obscurity, there were legions of unknown troubadours pounding the UK’s provincial folk circuit back in the 60s.

This was a time when the demarcation lines between folk and rock were well drawn though one or two brave souls would occasionally pop their heads above the parapet.

Colin Scot was one of them and his tactic of covering Buddy Holly songs in his live set might have caused frowns from the folkie purists but probably stood him in good stead when it came to supporting rock bands such as Van der Graaf Generator or King Crimson in the bigger venues in the early 70s. The graveyard support slot was always a tough spot, and Scot was better at it than many of his more famous contemporaries.

Scot died in 1999 having only released three albums none of which attracted much in the way of sales or critical acclaim. Though long forgotten now, Scot was well plugged into the rock circuit rather than the folk scene, having the kind of juice that attracted various members of Genesis, Lindisfarne, Van der Graaf Generator, Yes, Rare Bird, and Robert Fripp from King Crimson to populate his 1971 debut.

That he could count on such distinguished company was due in no small measure to producer John Anthony – the behind the desk for albums such as progressive rock classics such as Nursery Cryme and Pawn Hearts.

Hardly surprising then that given the roster of heavy muso friends, Scot’s debut album acquired cult status amongst those forever on the look out for a glimpse of the prog-rock holy grail.

Well, Colin Scot isn’t that by a long chalk but this lovingly restored and freshly remastered album (with bonus tracks aplenty) shows that Scot was a cut above the crowd of earnest folkies then doing the rounds.

Scot’s yearning and muscular voice (reminiscent at times of an early Elton John or Alan Hull) is gritty and full-blooded and used to best effect on the elegiac, "Do The Dance Now, Davey." Featuring Robert Fripp, who adds chiming harmonics and volume-controlled shadings; it’s an impressive opening.

The same team are reunited for what was the original album’s closing track, "Here We Are In Progress", with its coda of swirling of multi-tracked Fripp solos abruptly cauterized for dramatic effect. Between these powerful bookends (both written by Martin Hall), is a show-reel of songs designed to demonstrate Scot’s potential over a variety of styles.

"Nite People", the strongest of Scot’s compositions here, is a beguiling melody punctuated by the rumbling thunder of Guy Evans’ tom-tom work that will be familiar to VdGG fans, as well as some cutting jabs from Fripp’s guitar.

"Lead Us", written by Bonzo Dog Neil Innes, sees Scot and company going for The Band territory, and on which he’s joined by a swelling lighters-held-aloft chorus of backing singers that number Peters Hammill and Gabriel and Yes’ Jon Anderson amongst the ranks.

If there is a problem with the album it is producer John Anthony’s desire to cover all the bases by including some hoped for cross-over commerciality. In doing so the overall integrity, and to a certain extent, Scot’s identity is undermined.

"Baby In My Lady", with schmaltzy strings and insipid lyrics wouldn’t sound of place on The Many Shades of Val Doonican. Similarly "Hey! Sandy", (Harvey Andrews’ noble but corny tribute to the fallen of Kent State, – CSNY did it much better with "Ohio") Scot has Jon Anderson supporting him but even this can’t stop fingers itching toward the skip button.

Alcohol dependency and a lack of original material meant Scot quickly became a marginal figure a fact underlined by his decision to quit the UK to make a living in Europe where he resided until his untimely death.

Though falling quite a way short of being hailed as any kind of long lost classic, whilst other lesser artists have been rehabilitated, recycled and revived, Colin Scot does deserve a warm welcome after all this time out in the cold.

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About Sid Smith

  • sl

    It’s a pretty fair review except for your questioning the inclusion of two songs -Baby in my lady and Hey Sandy. If you were around at the time you would know that without any doubt these two were the most requested and best received songs. With Scot alone with his 12 string Biml is beautiful and hey sandy had more energy than most contempory rock bands could have mustered.

  • How nice to hear of Colin Scot. I still have in mind numerous occasions when I listened to his Just Another Clown album
    that brought me so much joy.
    As far as I am concerned that album should already be on CD format. It is truly a forgotten gem.

    sincerly from Québec
    Normand Achim

  • Scottie was a larger than life folkie of the 1970’s era and I well remember him packing out the Long Lounge at Exeter Uni Folk Club ( with Phil Beer a floor singer in those days ),seeing him in the room above the bar at The Friary in Plymouth or supporting the Strawbs in Torquay’s Palace Theatre.Variously supported by Little Joe and Mox Gowland ( now in Paris )his live act would be both blistering and sensitive.Titanic loves on Analine and the beauty of Do the Dance Now Davey – does any one know where Martin Hall has gone to ? And his agent Peter Rice ? And who does a better version of Dave Cousin’s The Man Who Called Himself Jesus ? Scottie and his 12 string Gibson guitar are paid a handsome tribute by his long time friend ,Allan Taylor, in his poem set to music by Allan’s son Barnaby plus Alan’s song Crazy in Amsterdam. [Personal contact info deleted]

  • Adrian Mellor

    Normand Achim is spot on – Just Another Clown should be on CD by now. And Out Of The Blue. I still have the vinyl but, for the moment, nothing to play it on. My Colin Scot memories are as Joe Whittaker’s but from his sets at Scarborough Penthouse in the early Seventes. Sadly missed.

  • Bud Hedrick

    I was so sad to see mention of Scot’s death, but so happy to see him properly remembered and admired. I am a musician and played the piano with Scot on banjo & guitar at Coke Corner in Disneyland, Anaheim, for many years. I’m looking forward to finding out much more about his life & music, as we lost contact after he went to Europe & the UK.

  • provencepuss

    I’m still trying to get a CD of Just another clown. I t was a big part of my student life and I was beginning to think it was a figment of my imagination

  • Hectoria

    Dear Sid,the other night I was reading some of my letters home from college written in the 70s I found that I had been to see & enjoyed a Colin Scott gig in one of the Cambridge University folk clubs.In the weird way that everything seems to connect on the net I find that it’s your CD review that I,m reading now. I also follow your Yellow Room Blog.

  • To all Scotty fans, above especially Bud Hedrick,

    In 1977 I was working in a club in Holland where we invited Colin for a performance. Lately I found the recording on cassette and put the whole concert on my homepage. Please enjoy, and Bud he mentions his Disneyland adventures somewhere during the concert!

    It’s on my homepage in the downloads section.

  • janet bray

    I am family member of colin he had a wonderful life and was a talented guy I have a book of poems that Colin wrote.Colin’s mum passed this 4th January 2011 so it’s a sad time for Coli’s farther Cy but I am there to hold his hand. Thak you Colin your music is great

  • Keith Day

    I have the Just Another Clown album which I won in the raffle that was held at the Rover’s Folk Club in Bishops Stortford when he appeared one friday night back in the seventies, and I was trying to find some more of his music but did not realise he died in 99

  • El Goodo

    I remember seeing Colin “Scottie” Scott several times at “The Old Crown” Folk Club in Lichfield in the early 70s. “Hey Sandy” always went down a storm.I think James Taylor’s “Fire And Rain” and “Carolina In My Mind” also featured in his set. Jasper Carrot played regularly at the same venue and Billy Connolly played a practically incomprehensible early gig of badly played banjo and guitar accompanied tunes. No comedy though! There was a guy from Brum who called Ian Highfield who also played regularly. He was pretty good and I booked him for The St Peters College Folk Club in Saltley. I’ve heard nothing about him since though.

  • Anne Exton

    I saw Colin Scott at one of the folk Clubs in Hull in 1971 or thereabouts had a fantastic evening was so impressed I ordered
    his album which I have to this day. I now attend the folk club in York n a regular basis hoping that someday someone would sing one of his songs. I loved you’re bound to leave me now, the boatman and do the dance now davey, so sad to hear of his death.
    RIP Scottie

  • michael robinson

    I went to Aldermaston Folk Club one night in the early 70s which was upstairs in a local pub a large room and we all where sitting around of benchs and Colin in the middle with just one light above his head. He began strumming beautifully on his wonderful 12 string guitar a long intro to a Man called Jesus. He asked us a question what would you do if Jesus came back tonight there was a awesome silence and the sang the song with such passion and vibrance I shall never forget those few minutes one of the highlights of my life. Thanks a million Colin