Thursday, 14 June 2018

Deacon Blue - When The World Knows Your Name (1989)

You want to display your charms on this bright night....


Released April 1989

After an impressive, thoughtful and at times bleak debut album that still saw the band as something of a "cult" act, the next album, 1989's When The World Knows Your Name saw them in full commercial mode as they cracked the charts with three big hit singles from the album. The album had a generally more upbeat, rocky feel to it - piano and guitar to the fore and the dual vocals of Ricky Ross and Lorraine Macintosh the instantly recognisable point.


1. Queen Of The New Year
2. Wages Day
3. Real Gone Kid
4. Love And Regret
5. Circus Lights
6. This Changing Light
7. Sad Loved Girl
8. Fergus Sings The Blues
9. The World Is Hit By Lightning
10. Silhouette
11. One Hundred Things
12. Your Constant Heart
13. Orphans                                                        

The three hits were the singalong, piano-driven pop of Wages Day, the similarly jolly and even catchier Real Gone Kid with its "ooh-ooh/ooh-ooh" backing vocal and the Caledonian blues rock of Fergus Sings The Blues (the most "Scottish" of the songs on the album) in which Ricky Ross questioned his Scottish validity to sing the blues. All three were deserved, radio-friendly hits. The album's opener, Queen Of The New Year was also in the same upbeat mould, as also was bassy, slightly funky The World Is Lit By Lightning.

There are three excellent slow, atmospheric, almost anthemic numbers, however, in the beautiful Love And Regret, the uplifting Circus Lights and This Changing Light with a moving fade out, ticking off years in style of The Beach Boys' When I Grow Up To Be A Man. On all of these Ross shows an increasing maturity, confidence and an almost poetic mastery of how to build a mighty song. Love And Regret is a perfect example of this. Yes, there were some great songs on Raintown too, but there is a constructional perfection in this that shows real development from the previous album. The same applies to the wonderful Circus Lights Ross's lyrics, delivery and the instrumental backing express both sadness and hope at the same time. "You want to display your charms on this bright night..." is delivered with a yearning sadness, yet at the same time an arms in the air chant-like joy. It is difficult to describe, but Ross had something special here. Some great drum, guitar and keyboard instrumental breaks in the song too. Lorraine comes wailing in in the background at the song's end as Ross sings "over the sea, over the land and the city.." and the drums pound the song to its conclusion. Wonderful. One of their best ever. This Changing Light starts with a nice guitar riff and some more great lyrics and some more irresistible hooks. These three songs, one after the other, see Deacon Blue at their very best.

The mood changes from optimistically upbeat for the next track, the alluring piano and vocal of Sad Loved Girl, the album's first truly sad and reflective song. It only lasts a short while before the thumping intro and funky guitars of Fergus lift us up again. "Can this white man sing the blues?" asks Ross. Of course he can.

After such a run of quality material, I always felt the album took a slight dip from this point, which is a little unfair, as Silhouette is a catchy, melodious song and Orphans is a beautiful ballad. I have always found One Hundred Things grates a bit however, slightly tinny in its backing. Listening to it now, it's ok, but just not up to the standard of what came before, with an unconvincing chorus. Your Constant Heart is similarly alright, but just that, alright. The thing is, if you compare the first nine songs with the last four, the slight dip in quality is clear.

Overall, though, this was an excellent second album, securing the band's position as a credible one. Looking back on their career now, it was certainly their high point, commercially, and, together with their next album, conceptually.

The "deluxe edition" with a whole CD of bonus material is the best to get hold of.


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