Whatever You Say, Say Nothing
Vox April 1993
Ricky Ross and crew have been landed with an unenviable role in British pop life since the release of their debut album, Raintown, six years ago. A big success with the punters-follow-up albums When The World Knows Your Name and Fellow Hoodlums entered the charts at Numbers One and Two respectively- they have been consistently and almost comprehensively reviled by critics. Pompous, bombastic, histrionic, shallow... the adjectives hurled Ross' way would have made many weaker men retreat into retirement. His wife and co-singer Lorraine McIntosh has fared little better: the wailing banshee cliche has been frequently applied to her vocal contributions-poor reward for anyone who cites early-era Dolly Parton as an influence.
Whatever their detractors have said about them, it's always been clear that Deacon Blue are triers: Ricky once taught school-kids for a living, so he has had something of a grounding in the execution of thankless tasks. The decision to work with the ultra-cool Perfecto team-an open invitation for yet another music press burying-is proof enough of that. The band's critics are in for a rude awakening this time round. This is an astonishing piece of reinvention by Britain's least fashionable band, and a worthy successor to Osbourne and Oakenfold's past triumphs with the Mondays, Massive Attack and Arrested Development. There's a sharp new focus to Ross' songwriting-the first single lifted, 'Your Town', was a near-perfect pop record, and there are contenders, too, in the Prince pastiche 'Cut Lip' and 'Only Tender Love'-and a multitude of weird and often wonderful musical textures. Best of all, new era Deacon Blue sounds almost completely unselfconscious, a first in itself. Many a hat will have to be eaten. . 8 Alan Jackson