Wednesday, 13 June 2018
Deacon Blue - Raintown (1987)
Released May 1987
Recorded at Air Studios, London
Deacon Blue’s widely respected debut album, from 1987, took a while, at the time, to seep into widespread acceptance. It was a year to eighteen months before many, including myself, came to learn to appreciate this excellent Scottish group.
Deacon Blue are a pretty difficult group to categorise - they are not rock, yet they have rock influences, use drums, keyboards and electric guitars. They are not soul, yet they often employ soul sensibilities and have Motown and soul influences. They are not punk, or new wave, or post punk. They are, actually, quite unique in many ways. Their influences are wide - Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Prefab Sprout, Elvis Costello, Motown, classic soul. Their lyrical preoccupations are Scottish life in general and the toughness of it at times, relationship ups and downs and people’s psychological idiosyncrasies and the three cornerstones mentioned in their classic song, “Dignity” - faith, work and home.
Their two vocalists are now husband and wife - songwriter Ricky Ross and Lorraine Macintosh. The interaction between the two is an integral part of the group’s sound.
1. Born In A Storm
4. He looks Like Spencer Tracy Now
6. When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring)
7. Chocolate Girl
9. The Very Thing
10. Love's Great Fears
11. This Town To Be Blamed
As for this album, the classic bleak black and white panoramic cover of Glasgow’s docklands sets the tone for what is often a bleak, thoughtful album. The short, plaintive vocal track, “Born In A Storm” continues this tone, and it then segues neatly into the evocative and moody “Raintown”, which is just such a Glasgow/Scottish song. Great vocals from Lorraine on this one. The mood is lifted a little with the jauntier “Ragman” before the melodic and lyrically odd “He Looks Like Spencer Tracy Now” (a strange song about atomic bomb testing) then the inspiring “Loaded”, with its singalong, uplifting chorus.
Two excellent “relationship” songs are next - the soulful ballad “When Will You Make My Phone Ring” and the country-ish “Chocolate Girl” with its oblique lyrics. Then there is “Dignity”, a magnificent, anthemic Springsteenesque song about a downbeat council worker buying a boat and sailing up the West Coast of Scotland. It is now a concert closer where the audience, again in Springsteen style, sings the first verse before Ricky Ross comes in and the whole place is bouncing. It is simply one of my favourite sings of all times.
“The Very Thing” is an upbeat, lively and optimistic love song and “Love’s Great Fears” is similar, featuring a great slide guitar solo from guest Chris Rea. Ricky Ross has said this is his all time favourite composition. I had a friend at the time who had her ears pinned back to stop them sticking out. I serenaded her with “Love’s Great Ears”. You had to be there I guess.
The original album ended with the stark, morose and atmospheric accusatory “This Town To Be Blamed”, which sees Ross griping about urban life and adding some moans about the Scottish “dreich” - rain that just keeps coming down - “rain, rain, rain, down down down.... “. A bleak ending to what was at times a bleak album, but not one without hope hidden away somewhere.
Later editions of the CD album included the tuneful “Riches” and the poppy “Kings Of The Western World”.
- June 13, 2018