Rip It Up: The Story of Scottish Pop
Rip It Up: The Story of Scottish Pop (22nd June – 25th November 2018)
The National Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street has created a fascinating exhibition of Scottish music – spanning the decades from the dancehall era and Lonnie Donegan’s skiffle right up to The Twilight Sad’s tour of North America as support for The Cure in 2016.
The stories of many individual artists and bands are told through a mix of displays of material not seen before, including guitars and iconic outfits and brought alive by three short continuously showing films featuring short contributions from many well-known faces and voices.
A number of themes are developed throughout the displays including links to individualism and radical politics, the emergence and significance of small independent record companies, and the fusion of folk traditions into pop music.
My favourite story extracts were Lulu describing her big break coming from a chance interview by Cathy McGowan asking Lennon and McCartney for their favourite release of the week to which they responded “Lulu’s Shout”. Cream’s bass guitarist Jack Bruce being asked to leave the then RSAMD when his love of jazz got in the way of his studies. And amongst the guitars posters tickets is Gerry Rafferty’s handwritten “Whatever’s Written in your Heart”
One theme that emerged from the video contributions was how many of these artists regard themselves as being unexceptional, and how surprised they are by the impact they have had. I emerged with such a strong sense of how many of the bands I’ve enjoyed over the years were Scottish and how strongly they wanted to sing about this country in their own voices
The exhibition ends with a little taste of what it’s like to be at a live music event. Three huge screens showing highlights from some of the stars featured in the exhibition, doing what they do best, holding huge audiences spellbound. That stunning moment when the artist can confidently point the microphone to a rapt audience who will do the singing for them.
A “wall of fame” of album covers grabs your attention as you near the exit from this captivating excursion into the world of Scottish music.