Fellow Hoodlums Q Magazine July 91

Deacon Blue: emotionally detailed songs about real people.

One million or so copies of When The World Knows Your Name isn't enough, it seems, for Ricky Ross and the playful combo known to the world as the Deaks. Instead of following up that album's commercially successful blend of style and content with more of the eminently bankable same, they've craftily gone back to one of Ross's biggest influences: "the desire to hold the song as of paramount importance". This move is fraught with danger, particularly when your leader has a penchant for reminiscing about Glasgie street life - where young tartaned tykes career around cheekily with boxes of fireworks and bottles of Tizer. As luck would have it though, Ross's return home is considerably less dull than it might have been, and the resulting Fellow Hoodlums turns out to be chockful of interesting and commercial songs. Part of the trick is that there's a lot of genuine cleverness in the material and the playing - as evidenced by In Your Swaying Arms, the current single which features an unbearably catchy bass line from man of the match Ewan Vernal

and a long, slow dancehall fade during which Ross and Lorraine McIntosh bill and coo at each other in a manner only husbands and wives can get away with. Just. This is an album full of rich contrasts. The deceptively gentle orchestral intro of James Joyce Soles gives way to the rough and tumble of the title track which more than nods towards the Bruce springsteen school of detailed, emotionally accurate, and rose- tinted reminiscence. By the time The Wildness ("oh, we're lovely and drunk now") has come and gone, it's clear that Fellow Hoodlums is a record of high quality. Ross's ascent miraculously switches from an effortless Yank into pure Scottish drawl when the occasion demands, and Ms McIntosh is a lively participant in some of the best moments, whether it's an excited squealing on Twist & Shout, or taking the lead on the folk/gospel Cover From The Sky. In fact, it's smiles all round for Fellow Hoodlums which manages to balance Deacon Blue's conviction that real people's lives are worth writing about, with the kind of pop sensibility that hit albums are made of.* * * * Rob Beattie