NME 15th June 1991
HAMPDEN PARK, bottles of Tizer, macaroons, Bells whisky. Yes, it's trenchant
urban romanticism ahoy as Deacon Blue scour Glasgow's grimy streets in search
of the follow-up to the quintillion- selling 'When The World Knows Your Name'.
And why not celebrate the ordinary working life? The Blue Nile do it brilliantly,
amongst others. The trouble is Deacon Blue are crap at it. They don't celebrate,
they remorselessly sentimentalise. When I last took the empties back or popped
out for a piece of cod, I wasn't accompanied by swathes of sugary strings
or ladles of syrupy electric piano. Were you? Seven streets are mentioned
in the first five songs- this isn't an album, it's an A To Z.
Nostalgia, schmaltz and warmed-over rock cliches rub greasy shoulders on every track. Only in the lyric to 'The Day Jackie Jumped The Jail' is the darker Glasgow or Edinburgh of James Kelman and Alisdair Gray explored. All else is seen through the rose-tinted bike goggles of a hand-me-down Bruce Springsteen. Another thing, Ricky Ross is a talented, if uttterly misguided lyricist, but he has Van Gogh's ear for melody. The songs fancy themselves like mad when, in fact, they are as graceless as tractors. All bluster and adult mannerism. 'Closing Time' has a fine tune; sadly it belongs to Sly Stone. None of this will worry Deacon Blue. There are enough Radio 1 producers, amateur rugby players and young men in white towelling socks to ensure that they'll never go hungry. But what really galls is the conceit of this undertaking. 'James Joyce Soles'? Get a grip. This is decent, honest, blue-collar rock, the worst sort of music in the world. Sometimes it's better to be preposterous than dull. But Deacon Blue manage to be both. A class act, to be sure. (2 ) Stuart Maconie