Thursday, 11 April 2013

Albums for Life: Joint 24: Deacon Blue: Raintown/The Bible: Eureka

The first gig Di and I ever went to.

King's College in the Aldwych 1987.
Deacon Blue supporting The Bible.
Both bands were excellent.
Deacon Blue: Passionate Celts, very intense.
The Bible: Smart, sardonic with a melodic strum and jangle.

I was familiar with The Bible through 'Graceland'
Back then in the late 80s this was the song that I'd wanted the then MM to sound like.
Their debut 'Walking the Ghosts Back Home' was a fine thing with a whiff of Steely Dan in the jazz chordings.
The follow up 'Eureka' was more straightforward; Steve Earle produced and he encouraged the band's live smarts to great effect.
They have just reissued Eureka for it's 25 anniversary on Cherry Red records as a double disc which collects together B sides and different mixes which you can buy here. 
It remains an under rated delight.
I won't include a photo of The Bible here as I'd hate to worry the horses...
What I will do is include that Miracle Mile wannabe song. 'Graceland' does not appear on 'Eureka' but it's worth a listen. 
In a strange parallel with Deacon Blue's 'Dignity' and Prefab Sprout's 'When Love Breaks Down' it suffered endless remixes and re releases. So much so that it's difficult to remember which is the original or best version. 
This one sounds fine; although judging by Boo's haircut he'd just suffered National Service or a recent 'Sectioning'...

I knew Deacon Blue from a demo cassette of 'Dignity' that had been rejected by my mate A&R guru Marc Fox (ex Haircut 100) at Zomba. Ricky Ross sang with pride and passion about Glasgow and lost love whilst his girlfriend and future wife Lorraine McIntosh span around him and sang the occasional line very slightly out of tune. They were Big Soup in comparison to the richly flavored yet delicate consommé that was The Prefab's Paddy and Wendy who I'm sure they eyed from a distance. Still, the blue veined/blue collar integrity was compelling. In the late 80s Raintown was ever present, stuck in the cassette player of my first ever car, a shite, white Triumph Dolomite.

You all probably know these albums inside out so I won't pontificate. 
Neither would grace a connoisseur's collection and yet I'm sure that those of you reading this would recognize that our love of this lumpy music is one of the main reasons that we share each other's company. Both records always sound as good as I remember them to be.

Here's Ricky Ross's recent assessment of 'Raintown' track by track:

Born in a Storm: The lyric was stolen from a friend of mine, David Heavenor, who had a song with those three words. It was written on a long rainy afternoon in Glasgow, a period which went on for ever, and had a second verse which was never used. I think’s about someone difficult I knew at the time, possibly myself.

Raintown: It’s about work, not good work and weather compounding that, and things bringing you down. The ideas in Raintown came first and the theme came back in Dignity. Everyone was going on about unemployment at the time, but there were also a lot of people unhappy with the work they were in.

Ragman: It’s that dissatisfaction again. There was a general feeling of self loathing around.

He Looks Like Spencer Tracey Now: I wrote that in Crete on holiday as a partner to Dignity. I thought it sounded smug when I wrote it (about the man who pressed the button that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima). I liked the idea that he had public bravado but private regrets.

Loaded: I’d left the keys to my flat in Glasgow to the guys in the band and they did a backing track on an old 8 track. I came in and started singing stream of consciousness on it, about some of the people we’d met in the record business. . Part of the lyric was lifted from an old evangelical children’s hymn, Christ Is The Answer.

When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring): It’s so hard to remember. I think that song is actually about waiting to be discovered, spurred on by the unrequited love of an old girlfriend.

Chocolate Girl: It’s about someone’s relationship which sounded bad. I don’t really like sexist love songs, that awful song by Eric Clapton, Wonderful Tonight. There’s a song by Prefab Sprout which says the same thing, called Cruel, which I love.

Dignity: I have no idea why I started writing a song like that in Greece, but that’s why there’s a reference to raki in it, the local firewater. I was sitting messing around with lyrics, bored on holiday, in a far away scene. There were men from the Glasgow cleansing department depot who walked up and down the street with brushes outside my flat in Pollokshields.

The Very Thing: It’s about looking into the future and not knowing what’s happening, a sense of foreboding. I think it’s my favourite song on the record

Great Fears: It’s probably the best song Jim and I ever wrote together.

Town To Be Blamed: In a sense, this is me tying things together a little bit. You love the place you come from, but when you’re young all you want to do is escape and lay the blame on that place for everything that’s gone wrong in your life. When I first met Graeme Kelling, he wanted to get out of Glasgow. But really, we wanted to stay in Glasgow, just on different terms. We wanted to be king of the hill.


Deacon Blue: Loaded

The Bible: Honey Be Good


  1. I just had to Google - Triumph Dolomite. Could be worse... mine was a shit-box Chevette.

    And I'll take lumpy music over the critic's choice any day. I have a huge soft spot for Raintown. Integrity/compelling a perfect description. Myrna & I have little kayaks that we putter around on the lake with. You can imagine the name we've christened them with...


  2. American cars always sound like romantic racers, if if they are just shit boxes. Probably Bruce's fault...
    The kayaks TT? I'm guessing 'Dignity' 1 & 2...

    1. Aye & Aye Captain...

  3. Unfamiliar terrain for me Trevor, although I've been trying to become a bit more familiar. I feel like the guy who's just started talking football in a book group or books in the dressing room. I can feel the faint wind stirred by all those raised eyebrows.
    Raintown seems earnest and careful, both underrated qualities. Slight imprint of Bruce, I think.

    1. It must be odd to hear these for the first time in this century. I'm so familiar with these two albums that I can't hear whether they've aged well. They just 'are'...
      A definite whiff of Bruce in the passionate delivery for sure.
      Now Seamus, 4 4 2 or the Xmas tree formation?

  4. Two of my absolute favourites. First saw Deacon Blue at the Mean Fiddler in front of an audience of about 10. A few weeks later, they were playing to hundreds. Like you, one of my most memorable concerts after Bowie/Roxy Music would be Deacon Blue/The Bible, and I must have been in the same audience at Kings College. In all I was fortunate to see Deacon Blue about 5 times and The Bible similar. The songs that stood out were Chocolate Girl for Deacon Blue and Mahalia for The Bible.
    I do think that there has not been such a combination of voices in music like that of Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh. The juxtaposition was phenomenal. So pleased that you had them in your collection.

    1. That boy/girl thing works in varying degrees Issy.
      Gabriel/Bush, Paddy/Wendy, Ricky/Lorraine. Imperfection is the rout of the success I think; otherwise it's opera. The definitive album to prove that would surely be 'One From the Heart' by Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle. Beauty and the beast for sure...

    2. Strangely, you could also almost add Leon Russell and Mark Benno to that mix of rough and melodic....although they only did one album together that I recall.

    3. I don't know the Russell/Benno album Issy.
      Will check it out...

  5. I love the phrase "Lumpy Music", brilliant. I have always loved Raintown. It was one of those albums that for years after it was released I would always reach for if I was in a reflective frame of mind, usually late at night, after a few alcohol flavored drinks. A few years ago a mate and I compiled our Top 30 albums of all time and I had to have Raintown in there. It's not cool, it's not a critics favorite, it certainly isn't original, no boundaries are pushed back but frankly who cares? It's a friend!