Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Deacon Blue - Whatever You Say, Say Nothing (1993)


  

Released March 1993

After three pretty accessible albums, Deacon Blue returned with their most downbeat, under-stated album. Drowned in synthesisers, muffled, grungy guitars and vocals often a bit low in the mix it was certainly not one that sticks in the mind. However, it is a grower. I remember first hearing it back in 1993 and being really underwhelmed. Now, though, all these years later, I find it has more appeal. There are hidden secrets in it, but it needs many listens. Even the cover has the band looking shadowy and indistinct, behind a window.

TRACK LISTING

1. Your Town
2. Only Tender Love
3. Peace And Jobs And Freedom
4. Hang Your Head
5. Bethlehem's Gate
6. Last Night I Dreamed Of Henry Thomas
7. Will We Be Lovers
8. Fall So Freely Down
9. Cut Lip
10. All Over The World                                          

"Your Town" begins in what is to be typical style - muffled, industrial clunky guitar, lots of synth backing, Rocky Ross's trademark vocals mixed down, but a most appealing groove all the same.
"Only Tender Love" has a rumbling solid bass intro, a good drum sound and an alluring vocal. It is probably the album’s most catchy song. Haunting backing vocals at the end. Still pretty intense in its overall sound, though. There is a fog over this album, like Glasgow in February, that is difficult to break through.

"Peace And Jobs And Freedom" has a lovely addictive bass intro, at times it is almost funky and there is some Spanish-sounding acoustic guitar then some cutting guitar interjections over a plaintive Ross vocal. A melody shines through the serious murky backing, somewhere. Like the guitar stabs cutting through. Maybe that is the appeal of this album.


"Hang Your Head", has another chugging, bassy intro, more swirling drums and keyboards and another understated vocal. These tracks are growers but nothing like what had been before on previous albums. A catchy “chorus” bit, however. "Bethlehem’s Gate" is similarly obscure in sound, with more heavy instrumentation, a sad vocal, but recognisable as Deacon Blue somehow, despite that. The thumping, feedback-ish bluesy intro to "Last Night I Dreamed Of Henry Thomas" leads into  a nice atmosphere. Some good blues slide guitar and some sampled snatches of old Delta blues vocals (presumably Henry Thomas) in the backing.

"Will We Be Lovers" is a dance-ish, upbeat chugger with a strong vocal and hook. But again, nothing that sticks in the mind, particularly. It has a catchy fade out vocal bit though. "Fall So Freely Down" is a fast-paced piece of funk rock. It uses bit of a steal from The Rolling Stones' “Fingerprint File” vocal at one point. It also has a feel of the sort of stuff U2 would be putting out at the time, and a few years later, that sort of metallic dance sound. That sound continues into the funked up "Cut Lip". There are more U2-style lyrics about satellite dishes and the like. A bit of “Sympathy For The Devil” instrumentation in there too, if you ask me.

A “Pretty Flamingo”-style guitar intro heralds in “All Over The World” against another muffled backing, but a typical Ross vocal. A closer to an album that in many ways never really gets going, but, despite that, remains one of Deacon Blue's most beguiling and interesting releases. I find I return to it quite a bit, I guess that has to be a good thing.

PS - A personal story about Ricky Ross. He has a blog (on which comments are invited, but there are hardly any). Ross had written an article about trains, not music, I added a completely uncontroversial, polite comment (nothing about music). Ross deleted it. The moral of the story is - never try to interact online with your heroes!

C+

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