The Marquee, London Melody
Maker 29th November 1986
BONNIE Scotland does seem to have a monopoly on these kind of latterday local heroes. Songwriters who can tangle up the bittersweet bits of other people's lives with their very own, restore humanity into politics. compassion into passion and catalogue the crimes of human nature and at the same time manage to give good cause for optimism all round. All set of course, to a cool jazz lilt. Most however, are only rockers at heart, looking for a reason behind the insight they've been blessed with and searching for the soul they sold long ago. Deacon Blue are different, though, to all intents and purposes, visually they're the same - 501s and flat tops, baggy trousers and braces, sweaty grins and girly singers. A five piece, they parade their detached north of the border cool with a nervous energy. Songs are fraught with the same mystique and melancholy, pride and prejudice of compatriots Mike Scott and Llyod Cole but while singer Ricky Ross harbours the formers inescapable lust for life he's occasionally prone to the loners oft dreadful word smithery.
Ricky writes songs the way You'd expect a former English teacher to. But though he's a master of the clever couplet. the emotion that burns behind the cloud of literacy is as vivid as life itself and sung with a howling conviction. Big Town dreams are dreamt, enjoyed and dashed in the space of a one hour set as Deacon Blue prove that they are the best thing to come our of Scotland since Scott and co and will probably be just as durable, sharing as they do a similar sense of ethnic Americana in songs like "Dignity" and "Raintown". Songs of substance that are a world away from the hollow swagger of their pop contemporaries. Ross is a man who doesn't trust people without a decent record collection. For that alone we should put our trust in him. Mat Smith