On A Blue Note - Edinburgh Evening News 9th April 1994
Poor sales and poor reviews would disillusion most pop stars, but Ricky Ross is made of sterner stuff.Showbiz editor Aidan Smith finds the Deacon Blue man in philosophical mood.
THOSE who accuse Ricky Ross of being a musical magpie might be interested to
know that the Deacon Blue heid-bummer is dreaming about “doing a Proclaimers.”
That doesn’t mean he is ditching his wife, Lorraine Mcintosh, for along- lost,
identical twin-brother answering to the name Rocky... nor that he is nicking
Craig and Charlie Reid’s nerdy image — National Health specs, Auchtermuchty
accents, Hibs season-tickets, the lot. It simply means he is hoping his band can
repeat the Stateside success enjoyed by the duo with a song from a soundtrack.
The Proclaimers struck paydirt in the US last year after I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) featured in the film Benny & Joon. Now Ross is keeping his fingers crossed Deacon Blue can follow them to the top of the charts on the back of a new Jeff Bridges movie. While The Proclaimers owe their silver-screen hit to a famous fan, actress Mary Stuart Masterton, singer-songwriter Ross was commissioned to compose Blown Away. “The film’s musical director heard our last album, liked it, and asked me to contribute,” says Ricky speaking from the Glasgow home he shares with Lorraine and their daughter Emer on a rare day off for the group. Hopefully he will like this song as well and we can notch up a nice wee hit because America is still the market to crack.
“Sadly it isn’t as simple as that these days. The Proclaimers were lucky but, by and large, British bands are having a hard time making it in the US at the moment. Americans are parochial about pop; they like guitar groups which never fade away. They see the British scene as being very transient and adopt the attitude, ‘What’s the point in us getting into this — it’s probably out of date over there already’.” Ah, fashion. Few would ever accuse Deacon Blue of being fashionable. The album which attracted Hollywood’s attention, Whatever You Say, Say Nothing, was sneeringly described by one critic as an unholy alliance between Britain’s least fashionable band and Britain’s most fashionable producers. Unfortunately for Ross and Co, the revved-up sounds doctored by rave merchants Paul Oakenfold and Paul Osbourne failed to win the group many new fans.
“It sold terribly,” he admits it wasn’t a total disaster — it did go gold — but it was the least successful of our four albums, which was all the more disappointing for me because I still think it’s the best thing we’ve done.” But Ross, one of the most honest popsters you could hope to meet, takes everything on the chin — the slipping sales AND the snide asides. “I’m 36, but I was idealistic and impetuous once,” he says. “I can understand young guys on the music weeklies being aggressive in their attitude towards bands like us because I was like that when punk happened. “Pop fame is a fickle thing to set your sail by. Obviously, I would love us to be loved AND to be selling loads of records — who wouldn’t? But I guess only three groups are.
When we started out 1985 we couldn’t get arrested on radio and telly and lots of journalists wrote nice things about us. But when we eventually won some airplay, the nice things dried up. “I remember thinking at the time ‘Good reviews are all very well, but what use are they if no-one can hear the music?’ I kind of made my decision which I’d prefer there and then.” So there you are. He wants to sell records. He wants to makes it big across the Big Pond. And he admits Deacon Blue’s newly- released greatest hits album Our Town is a nakedly commercial venture. But does the compilation signal the beginning of the end for the band? “Far from it. Every group has a limited life, but the songs haven’t dried up yet and you’re not going to get rid of us for a while.” As yet, there have been no songs about 19-month-old Emer or his six-year-old daughter from his first marriage — and much as he loves them, there won’t be in the future. “I want to spare them any embarrassment attached to being Ricky Ross’s girls” he says with a wry smile. It is difficult enough, after all, being Ricky Ross. Aidan Smith