Saturday, 19 May 2012

Love's great fears: Raintown - Deacon Blue (1987)

1987 was a great time for many things including the birth of yours truly in that turbulent and blustery November, however a vintage year for music it was not. Having a look at a laughably dated compilation LP I own from that year, here are a pick of the pops from The Hits Album 7: 'Strong as Steel' - Five Star; 'Funky Town' - Pseudo Echo; 'Bridge to your heart' - Wax… need I say more. Of course there were some glimmers of light in the darklands of a market flooded by Stock, Aitken and Waterman's monotonous drum machine riffs. Albums like Prince's Sign O' The Times, Eric B & Rakim's Paid in Full and Jesus & Mary Chains's Darklands were rightly praised for their creativity in such a poor market, one such album that is often overlooked from this period and should be given some fresh recognition is the inventive and beautifully crafted Raintown by the Glaswegian group Deacon Blue.

Something of a concept album, Raintown  opens with the sombre, brooding 'Born in a Storm' making good use of echoed vocals and sparse keyboards before building to the fast paced, dramatic and forceful title track - giving an aural depiction of Scotland's second city. Most of the tracks talk of social trouble, destitution and the need for escapism in an unforgiving and harsh environment. Nowhere is this more felt than in two of the album's more successful tracks: 'Ragman' and 'Dignity'. The latter is joyously pretentious but is laden with fantastic hooks and a rising chorus. Ricky Roos has a fantastic, raspy voice which give this album so much character, even on the more slushy numbers like 'Chocolate Girl'.

Perhaps I have been a little unjust about 1987 for having listened to this offering I have since discovered that the Glasgow music scene was pretty exciting in 1987. Albums such as this one, Wet Wet Wet's debut (and only worthy) album Popped in, souled out and

Returning to the Album, my favourite track, if I was to choose one would be the tour de force, romantic ballad, 'Love's Great Fears'. The guest guitar solo from the ever reliable Chris Rea is one of the best on any album I own or have had the fortune/misfortune to listen to. Deacon Blue's great advantage was have two very strong lead vocalists (Ross and Lorraine McIintosh) and a really upbeat rhythm section. Each track on this album is interesting if not a joy to listen to, the final track on the album 'Town to be blamed' is so incredibly bleak that it would be more appropriate on one of Pink Floyd's later albums than on Raintown, in fact it almost derails the whole album - if I had been in the band's position I would have left it off. This is a mighty shame as the album, up to this end point, is so consistent and successful in balancing hard social issue in Glasgow, with more upbeat, optimistic and radio friendly material. However this is mere taste more than anything else and as the rest of the album is so good I can happily forgive it this blip.

As such I am going to give Raintown an impressive and deserved 9/10 for I feel that it both captures a very exciting time in Scotland's music scene!

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