King Creosote, otherwise known as Kenny Anderson or KC, is something of an enigma who built a whole scene, in the 1990s, around his record label (Fence Records) and his home stomping ground of the East Neuk in Fife, Scotland. Most notable to come out of the scene were the Beta Band (yes, THAT Beta Band… Gordon Anderson is his younger brother), and KT Tunstall.
KC is almost as well known for his reluctance to leave Fife as he is for how prolific he is as a songwriter. I’ve had a quick stock check and I have 4 albums by his first band Skuobhie Dubh Orchestra (yes, it’s cod Gaelic and meant to be pronounced like the Hanna Barbera ghost hunting dog); 2 albums by his next band Khartoum Heroes (first band with name change after threatened legal action… sounds like Cartoon Heroes!); and 42 albums and 4 EPs under his own KC pseudonym… and I am still missing at least a dozen albums. Themes and tropes abound in the KC back catalogue but, above all, there is some excellent songwriting.
For me, his finest album is ‘From Scotland With Love’ which was written to accompany a documentary film for the Cultural Festival partnering the Commonwealth Games in 2014. It’s not a jingoistic album, in line with popular sentiments in many countries currently, but rather a look at various historical periods in Scotland through the use of archive film footage… so, no William Wallace then. It’s also unique because it doesn’t focus on the well off who usually had access to early film and photographic technology but, instead, on the everyday people who worked in the shipyards, down the mines, fishing and farming. It also covers key events such as emigration, and also the Battle of George Square, 1919 – the last time the Riot Act was read in the United Kingdom.
The film was premiered on Glasgow Green during the games with KC and a large band (14 piece?) accompanying the film in best silent movie fashion. It was a tremendous event… free entry, and was subsequently released on DVD and CD/vinyl.
The track above, Miserable Strangers, deals with emigration. Happening not that long, historically speaking, after the clearances. If the words, music and pictures don’t move you I can’t help you. You’re a rock.
Get the album, you won’t regret it. Even better, get the film. Heck, buy them both. The setting and history is clearly Scotland but the themes are universal.