Light Macs NME 30th May 1987

RICKY ROSS - it's the type of name that must determine your destiny. Like Reed Richards: Reasonable Superhero or Bruno Brookes: Burly Deejay or Dickie Davies: Deadly Hairdo.Yep, as sure as beanz is beanz, it'll be Ricky Ross: Rock Star. The Deacon Blue boss'ship may have been a long time coming up the Clyde but judging by the production and personnel on 'Raintown' - Chris Rea, slideguitar; B. J. Cole, pedal steel - CBS and Ricky will soon be counting big bucks.Which doesn't mean it's any damn good. In terms of quality and originality 'Raintown' is less of a Scottish invasion and more of a Border skirmish; the grey-day-in-Glasgow sleeve and wet wet title ill-prepared me for mid-Atlantic accents, keyboard washes and truck-driving rhythms.

In fact, I'd expected more Ross songs of the calibre of' Dignity'-Blue's smart single about a roadsweeper saving up to buy his dreamboat - and fewer shallow, heartless love songs like 'Love'sGreat Fears', 'The Very Thing', and the throw-away-tomorrow 'Loaded'.'Born In A Storm' may be pure, uncluttered and brief but, by the time we've drizzled through the title track and 'Ragman', I'm wondering where are the promised insights into Glasgow life and why - as Thrillsy asked in his Deacon Blue cover story - isn't there more of Lorraine McIntosh's voice?

The Steely Dan/Prefab Sprout comparisons are unavoidable and, while 'Raintown ' manages to sound as safely pleasant as 'Aja', there's nothing as warm or as lyrically perfect here as 'Cruel' or'When Love Breaks Down'. Take Ross' crass chorus to 'Chocolate Girl': "He calls her the Chocolate Girl/Cause he thinks she melts when he touches her/She knows she's the Chocolate Girl/Cause she's broken up and swallowed/And wrapped in bits of silver".

And if CBS are looking for a Mcspringsteen rather than another McAloon they'll have to give the Dundonian Ross and his Glasgow-based Deacons more guts and less of the gush paraded in the hoarsely Bruce-like 'Town To Be Blamed'. Or is it 'Born On The River Tay'? Clearly Ross and his record company have been so careful to include all the right chart ingredients that 'Raintown' is a largely unsurprising, uninspiring affair.

Too few risks are taken and only the intriguing 'He Looks Like Spencer Tracy Now' - a tearjerker about Harold Agnew who took illegal photos of Enola Gay - and 'Dignity', save Deacon Blue's debut from complete blandness. Ricky, don't lose those numbers!

Len Brown