SO the National Museum of Scotland asked us (my brother and I in Hue And Cry) for rock memorabilia. We found an old keyboard, a framed record, and (best of all) my ridiculous 1989 Jean-Paul Gaultier jacket.

Blue nylon with lime-green lining. Double-breasted lapels so expansive, you could land an Elon Musk spaceship on them. And such a profusion of buttons you’d think you were hallucinating them. Also, so marinated in decades of bacterial stage sweat, the thing nearly walked to the museum itself.

I haven’t yet been to Rip It Up: the Story of Scottish Pop at the NMS (which is set fair to last longer than the NME, at least). But I am reliably informed that our schmutter is resplendent in a glass case. We are barely competing, of course, with items like Eugene Reynolds’s PVC jumpsuit from the Rezillos. Or the pink flowery dress worn by Clare Grogan when appearing with Altered Images on Top of the Pops.

Never mind a tartan trouser suit from Annie Lennox. Or a solitary beret from the late (and indisputably great) Billy Mackenzie from The Associates.

But looking through the images of the displays, and reading the early rave reviews, I’m getting the impression that these artefacts are having an emotional impact on visitors. It’s the star-making machinery, as Joni Mitchell once sang, brought down to visitor level. And the closer you look at the fraying glad rags, in all their ephemerality, the more precious

and treasurable the original pop moment becomes.

The guitars carry this with particular poignancy. Biffy Clyro’s looks like it’s been dragged through the gates of Hades; Gerry Rafferty’s, bearing a portrait painted by John Byrne, seems ready to be delicately placed in a shrine to Scottish melody. Shirley Manson’s instrument, rather swooningly, has a bursting red flower painted on its cream-coloured body.

I hope the effect of Rip It Up is that it immerses visitors in the crazy, super-fabulous, dreamlife-made-real of otherwise entirely recognisable Scots. Because for most of my life, Scottish rock and pop – in all its messy, expressive glory – has been a constant rebuke to any cliche about a thin-lipped, joyless, repressive Scottish culture.

Is Scotland innovative? You want evidence? My mind flickers over two bands just mentioned: The Associates and Simple Minds. They were one of the on-ramps to my own music career (the other one was discovering soul and jazz in depth) – because they took the electronic soundscape available to them and pushed it to chilling, moving heights.

I’m listening to Club Country and I Travel right now, and shaking my head at their frantic, weird grandeur. No matter what was physically and socially happening in Dundee or Glasgow in the early 80s – which was not much, and even that was pretty grim – Mackenzie and Kerr’s heads were in this European-bohemian space of possibility.

You rip it up, this end-of-industrial-era reality, and you start something again – using a notepad of lyric references, and a synthesizer pushed to its mechanical limits.

Scottish bands are in an entirely different cultural space now, of course. In the 80s, you bashed your sensibility against a brick wall of indifference or even antipathy, with little cracks maybe allowing your escape – through indie labels, a renegade radio DJ, maybe even a wormhole to London.

Nowadays, musician swim in a sea of networks and connections, local and global, able to self-promote on YouTube, Soundcloud and a host of other platforms. The music can leap from Scottish room-with-a-mike, to laptop, to world with amazing ease.

The route to money was never obvious; it still isn’t. But the means of transmitting your stuff, and building an intense audience for it, has never been more artist-friendly.

The skill-set has also expanded massively. The guitarist was once maybe also the cover artist, and the drummer could drive the van. But these days, both of them are probably also coders, educators, videomakers, artworkers, social media obsessives, craftspersons, speculators in cryptocurrency…

They might even be graduates of one of the scores of music-and-business courses in Scotland. They’ll probably know that 10,000 people are employed in music in Scotland.

That 40 per cent of those are freelancers, or working in about 400 small businesses. That music tourism brings in about £280 million, and that music festivals generate about £155m.

If they’re adroit and fluent, they may also be able to access public cash from Creative Scotland for their music project. Or find themselves playing or promoting themselves on public service broadcasting (BBC Radio Scotland’s many outlets, about to be consolidated into one dedicated music and arts digital channel).

And if they stick at it, or show immediate genius, they may well make it to the SAY (Scottish Album of the Year) Awards long-list or short-list.

This event is promoted by the Scottish Music Industry Association (built on a professional consensus unimaginable in my heyday).

The SAY Awards cast a net each year, pulling in both big fish and interesting curiosities.

Look at the SAY’s archive, and it’s hard to say that Scottish rock and pop – now often admixed with jazz, folk, world and neo-classical musics – isn’t as creatively vital as it ever was. If someone can make sure that we get a Scottish version of Later on the forthcoming BBC Scotland digital TV channel – cough cough – then we might be looking at a sustaining and functional ecology for Scottish music.

So is this more “set it up and keep it developing” than “rip it up and start again”? If the supporting structures get better, does this mean the music becomes less adventurous – or more? (Always noting the advice that Billy Mackenzie gives at the beginning of his requiem documentary The Glamour Chase: “When things get successful, you

rip them apart again, just like a

Lego set”).

I can answer this by a scientific test (entirely conducted by and relevant to me, of course). To quote an album title from my snarky American heroes from the 70s: You can’t buy a thrill.

And I can think of three contemporary Scottish artists that induce the same inescapable shivers I had when I first heard the Blue Nile on the Billy Sloan show in the early 80s.

My brother put me onto C Duncan a while ago – and I’ve been lost in reverie ever since. Like You Do from his most recent album is as blissful a digital dive into soft, anxious romance as the best of Scritti Politti (or for that matter, John Martyn).

Garden is everything a Postcard record ever wanted to be, with Brian Wilson doing the harmonies.

Pronto Mama bring a lot more muscularity, but are similarly tinged with the same psychedelia as Duncan. Arabesque splits the difference between The Proclaimers and Frank Zappa’s the Mothers of Invention. It’s the best sound of young Scotland going for it that I’ve heard in a decade.

And lastly Young Fathers, who are a rich flower of Edinburgh’s arty cosmopolis. They shroud their soulfulness in a murk of machine clunks, walls of noise and serial loops. The social tension their music contains and expresses reminds me of The Specials. Shame, both the song and the video, is the kind of howl against the world that any of the old punks in the NMS exhibition would be proud of.

And that’s what’s beautiful and revitalising about Rip It Up. Here’s a history – a tradition, even – of creative dissatisfaction, of endlessly fizzing fireworks in the suburbs, small towns and city centres of Scottish life.

A good, flourishing society needs security, but it also needs risk. When Scottish pop is exploding loudly, it’s an indication that we’re holding that balance in a sweet spot.

Can you hear it? At the moment, it sounds good.

Rip It Up: The Story of Scottish Pop is on now at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, until the 28th of November.