Town And Country Club, London Melody Maker 19th December 1987
DEACON Blue distrust anybody without a "decent" record collection Before they appear, this party line is being broadcast by playing "Love Train", "Money's Too Tight To Mention" and such standard, canonical pop. Tonight, Deacon Blue sound less bounded by soul.'pop than I'd expected, head for US MOR, for Dire Straits territory. But it's still "decency". They sound produced. It's a hothouse FM production, in which rock chords, fretted, tight funk guitar, and the melisma of Lorraine's soul/gospel backing vocals are a perfect laminate, a saturated but high-definition surface. Not a chink of doubt, just the even, proportioned, finish of pop's global consensus Tonight, it's "Looks Like Spencer Tracy". a Danny Wilson soundalike, that best articulates the abiding attachment to humanism and sanity that this music carries. Rick Ross chastises the tabloids for headlines about "monsters" of criminal deviancy. His faith is that "the man we sing about may seem a monster, but he's human and he cried all night long". Their upfulness is doctrinal.
When they play loaded, they don't just want an anti-materialist anthem, they want it to be our anthem "You can sing this yourselves". When "Dignity" begins, the audience know every word, and Ross just holds the microphone to them, has the spotlight put on them. Deacon Blue have to be seen to be speaking on behalf of all of us, articulating what we all want to say "This Town To Blame" doesn't succumb to bewilderment about collapsing communities, but turns to defiant hope, carnivore US rock. Like Springsteen, any dissent or despair gets lost in its jut and thrust. "Dignity"'s heavily- accented rock and relentless refrain about a nobody who escapes by dinghy makes me want to be an ungrateful barnacle on Deacon Blue's hull They persist in offering the defeated or inarticulate a voice. But how much more subversive babble or silences would be, than this managed, balanced and impeccably constructive sound. Paul Oldfield