When The World Knows Your Name
NME 8th April 1989
‘RAINTOWN’ IS two years in the distance. Where Deacon Blue once stood in puddles, now they sail across oceans. Everything about Deacon Blue ‘89 is bigger and broader and more watertight. Oh how they were hailed back before weather maps were computerised. The new Scottish conquerors sending rain-soaked postcards to the short sighted South; Pop music made of ‘tired eyes and tears and frowns” alright. And underneath it all, ‘Raintown’ was a brilliant album— never mind debut. Worth every one of the 350,000 copies sold.
And so to this, the second coming. With the press poised to call them Prefab Sprout, Deacon Blue file a bonanza 13 songs onto a grown-up album and walk the line from Raintown to Memphis with their heads held high, and no qualms about straying into the (gulp) middle of the road. ‘When The World. . .‘ is a proud and shameless assault on mainstream public consciousness. The singles— ‘Wages Day’ and ‘Real Gone Kid’ —are familiar, and rock-solid tub- thumpers both, but believe it or not, they’re eclipsed 11 times over before this album’s done. ‘Fergus Sings The Blues’ (the next single I’ll be bound) poaches from Phil Collins territory around chorus time, and is sprawling, king-sized proof that this band are just as likely to write a theme for Holiday ‘89 as a 40 Minutes about inner-city deprivation.
And, not wishing to Sound didactic or facetious,’The World Is Lit By Lightning’ is Duran Duran. “ We’re dancing under chandeliers” croons Ricky Ross, stirred on to make this wide-eyed, brow-beaten BIG music by his own inability to accept his situation. He sits there at Pop’s banqueting table, toasting confusion. How did get here? he asks. Lyrically ‘When The World. covers a wider canvas than its predessor, from dustbin to Disneyland, headlights to heaven, here to eternity—and the recurring theme is light (and for ‘light’ read ‘hope’.) “This changing light/These circus Christmas lights/The light that might just burn/the flashing neon sign” (false hopes?)—honestly, Deacon Blue shine so hard these days, you’ve gotta wear shades.
Yes, the World ought to know their name, but Deacon Blue will never fly the U2 flag—they’re too bemused by the bright lights to come overall standard-bearing. And the only thing that re-stokes the mostly glib Prefab Sprout connection is a song called ‘Queen Of The New Year’ which is their own road-running ‘Faron Young’ (and this town’s big enough for the both of them). This album, I’m pleased to report, is great value. Its wrapping, though overdone, is still outdone by sheer, unabashed, good ol’ fashioned content. Here’s to panoramic Pop. Solid gone, kid. (8) Andrew Collins