Sunday, June 23, 2013
Lorraine McIntosh (Deacon Blue) : Cover From the Sky
Good old wiki, I think, label Deacon Blue as one of the best unknown bands from Scotland. If they don't, they should, but with a disclaimer. For the truth is more they should or could have been, and I never quite know how they didn't make the grade. Apart fom the unknown bit, of course, at which they excelled. Cue angry and irritated of Dumfries pointing out their cumulative sales and hit singles etc etc, which is all well and good, but being world famous in Scotland, sadly, doesn't always equate to international fame and fortune. Go see Big Country, Runrig, The Fire Engines. Strangely, The Proclaimers did.
Deacon Blue sprang from nowhere during that amazingly fertile period for british literate rock, mid to late '80s. If I look behind me at the groaning shelves, that period evokes Lloyd Cole and early to mid U2. Raintown, their first LP appeared in 1987, it's cover evocative, unsurprisingly, of a rainy day in Glasgow, if there is any other sort. But the songs were full of hope, the stand out for me being Chocolate Girl, positioned so that I just had to play side one time and time again. (Note to younger readers, records had 2 sides!). It wasn't until later on, as they started having hit singles and appearing on Top of the Pops that I gained the image of them. Rather than a standard issue half-hidden girly singer duo or trio, gyrating, semi-synchronised, on the sideline, this band had but one, right in the middle. And usually on a pedestal, woowooing and aaahing away, as her life depended upon it. This seemed undue prominence until I realised she was the girlfriend of the singer. Who also wrote the songs...... Hmmm.
Later came an EP of Bacharach songs, including a plaintive version of I'll Never Fall in Love Again, which, given I was in the throes of a doomed and inappropriate relationship at the time, somehow hit a chord. But the said girly singer sang a line all by herself. And I was rather taken with that. A bit like the shock when Phil Oakey lets one of his girlys, I forget which, sing in Don't You Want Me, except, on this occasion, actually carrying the tune. Or any tune.
In truth I went off them after that. The singles became too complicated and formulaic, too wordy and clever, at least for me. But I retained a candle for their brand and concept, so, when this topic came up, I wondered if she had ever been allowed out, totally alone. And I found this. It isn't bad, either, making me maybe feel I have judged them a little cruelly, but, is it not true, when the magic has gone, the magic has gone. Listen to to all three songs, and be the judge.