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We’re 500 issues old. To celebrate, publisher Robin Hodge tells the story behind the magazine, and we present some of the wittiest, the sharpest, or just the most downright pretentious writing from the past 19 years.
I all seems like yesterday. A disparate group of
friends, aquaintances, friends of friends,
contacts, people we met in a pub (or even on a boat) plus a few who just turned up on our doorstep. We got together back in the summer of 1985 and decided to launch a new magazine. The level of editorial and publishing expertise varied from semi-professional to non-existent, the level of business sense and planning barely registered. What held it all together was na'ive enthusiasm and a powerful sense of excitement about the creative talent in Scotland.
From the beginning, we wanted to celebrate the best of what was happening around us in the two great cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. The events — film, music, theatre, art, dance, kids’ activities, nightlife, books, sport, festivals and more. And the people — filmmakers, writers, bands, musicians, composers, actors, artists, DJs, promoters and performers. We all knew that there was much of real substance emerging; work that would have a real impact.
We hoped that by listing all that was going on, profiling, previewing and celebrating the best, The List would in turn help make it possible for more to happen. For too long, the cultural focus in Britain had been centred on London while, in reality, much of the most innovative and creative talent was to be found elsewhere, especially in Scotland.
Over the years, in spite of the recurring financial crises and crazy workload, The List has been there, at everything from the launch of
10 1’"! LIST 5-12 Aug 2004
Glasgow’s reign as Cultural Capital of Europe in 1990 to the legendary Oasis gig at King Tut‘s Wah Wah Hut in 1993, from the first Beltane Fire on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill to the MTV awards in
2003; from the nine-hour epic production of Peter
Brook‘s Mahabharata, which opened the Tramway, to the lb-hour Wagner Ring Cycle by
Scottish Opera: from the publication of Trainspotting the book to the premiere of
Trainspotting the film. from Jimmy Boyle to Ian Rankin. from John Byrne‘s Tutti Frutti to Lyn Ramsay‘s MOI‘l‘t’I’lI Cal/(tr. from Simple Minds at Murrayfield to Franz Ferdinand at T in the Park.
The team that puts together each issue has changed over the years as writers. editors. designers and others have moved on to apply their talents to other media here and around the world. The List would not exist without them and their often heroic efforts. Although there are too many to mention all by name. Nigel Billen and Sarah Hemming stand out as the first editors of The List who launched and shaped the magazine in the early years. providing the basis on which it has grown and flourished.
In October next year. we‘ll be celebrating 20 years of The List with a special mammoth souvenir issue. For the moment. we have trawled through the back issues to bring you a choice selection of the hype. insight. bile. praise. vitriol and brilliant. insightful prose that our critics have offered up over the years. Remember. you read it here first.
Dizzy in the ‘head
“Here is the pop band we've really been waiting for.‘
Ania Glowacz on Radiohead, issue 200. May 7993.
‘When it comes to spawning great British thespian talent the unassuming Perthshire town of Crieff hasn't really been in the running. If you fancy a nice scone and jam. fine. but if you‘re casting a Chekhov. probably not. Ewan McGregor is an exception.‘
Tom Lappin on Lipstick on Your Collar. issue 794, February 1993.
Opening the Rankin file
'With such dedication. Rankin could go places. But it as to be said: how far can a writer get whose formative years were unilluminated by the wisdom of Winnie the Pooh and Brer Rabbit? Only time will tell.‘ Rosemary Goring on Ian Rankin, Issue 39. April 7986.
Our beautiful game?
‘Wherever you care to look. the professional game in Scotland is healthier and its future prospects brighter than those of the English Football League."
Mark Ellis on Scottish football. issue 7. October 7985.
Skin of his teeth
‘YOu won't know him from TV but he's totally at ease in front of the hecklers and seems to be able to adapt his material to suit the audience. Almost invariably this leads to near the knuckle sexual gags which you pause before responding to.‘
Phi/lip Parr on Frank Skinner. issue 728. August 7990.
“The lingering emphasis on Basinger's persistent and abject humiliation adds a further unpalatable edge to what is an already confused and vacuous exercise in coffee-table soft porn. Lovely to look at. empty-headed "designer bonking".'
Allan Hunter on 9 7/2 Weeks, issue 77, June 7986.
‘Oh. for the unearthly talent that w0uld allow me to utter the words “thank you" and be greeted with an avalanche of applause. to pull
a silly face and get a standing ovation. to
bunnyhop around to show that I'm violently happy and cause mass hysteria in a Crowd of otherwise polite. orderly concert—goers. But I'm not Bjork. so I can't do all this.‘
Fiona Shepherd on Bjork, issue 25 7, July 7995.
‘Here is proof that it's possible to make a film that is recognisibly Scottish without blatantly tying it down with tartan ribbons. It is filled with brilliantly Cynical one-liners and star-making peformances from the three leads.‘
Allan Hunter on Shallow Grave, issue 342. ' December 7994.
I A selection of our critics’ finest words are scattered throughout this issue.