Thursday, 9 May 2013

Desert Island Discs 8 Raintown by Deacon Blue



8 Raintown by Deacon Blue 1987

Not a concept but the 4 pillars of faith , rain , work and home are all over this lp. The whole thing was a perfect fit from the Oscar Marzaroli photograph of the Glasgow skyline on the cover (his striking images were also found on the early singles) to the echoes of Spingsteen in Jon Kelly's production and earnestness of Ricky Ross's lyrics.

The boy girl vocals fit perfectly and you get the sense that everyone was working towards a big idea where ambition would just outstrip time and money but only just.

I bought it on a whim and didn't like it at first for mainly the reasons that I came to love it. Soon though it was never off my stereo and I was boring people in halls of residence every time the drinking ended up in my room and dragging the same people along to see them live. One by one they crumbled and soon Raintown was on most stereos on our floor.

I still get a shiver whenever the first line "that hurricane day.." comes on the stereo



Overtime I convinced myself that the words Rain , Work , Faith or Home appeared in each song. Listening back of course they don't that would be just too forced but the few where they don't they are there in spirit , in the ghosting behind other words. Even the tracks that didn't make the final cut still keep those themes.

Oddly the one track that feels a tad out of place as it moves us to another country and another time , is still just about my favourite on the lp. I've posted before the article that inspired the song but here it is in Ricky Ross's own words

He Looks Like Spencer Tracy Now (live) - Deacon Blue

The only thing that jarred was they made such god awful videos! The bright, glossy, shiny nature didn't fit the music at all


Still it shows how much faith Columbia had in the band , the cast of guest and session musicians were more in tune with a well established big act rather than one on their debut. Although they were surely getting worried  when the big hits didn't come flowing , the first 3 singles bombed and the next 3 including a re release of Dignity all failed to get in the top 30.  What they didn't realise is they had a lp not a bunch of singles and one that had to be listened to as an lp. It became a classic slow burn , word of mouth grower. It only got to 14 in the lp charts but made platinum (which I think means a lot!)



3 years to write 6 weeks to record as Ricky Ross puts it in the recent reissue "that record , the experiences we shared in AIR studios and the songs we still perform today remain a testament to one of the best of times"

I doubt anyone will discover this lp after reading this blog or it will change anyone's view so here are a some differing takes

An early demo version of Loaded which is interesting in that it gives an idea of what the band would be like without Lorraine's vocals

Loaded demo version

A stripped and slowed down version of Raintown

Finally a powerhouse of a live performance that ends with a reference to another Glasgow lp coming a bit higher up , both of were the main part of taking my first job after poly as it allowed me to move to Glasgow where it did rain virtually every day

Town to be Blamed live

If you haven't already got it there is an excellent 4 discs and a dvd deluxe edition that you can buy here

18 comments:

  1. Love it! 'Raintown' has remained in my Top 10 since I bought it 25 years ago. 2nd CD I ever bought, a pricey Austrian import for $34.99; but I was pleased as punch since it had cool extra tracks "Riches" and "Kings Of The Western World" that weren't on the LP. Dignity is one of my favorite songs ever, a working-class underdog anthem & Spencer Tracy never fails to move me. Jon Kelly's production range remarkable - So many great moments... conga intro to Spencer Tracy, soul BGV's on Telephone Ring, Chris Rea's slide on Love's Great Fears, BJ Cole's pedal steel on Chocolate Girls, when the band punches it up on Dignity, etc. One of the best debuts ever...

    I knew there would be synchronicity in the slots as we reached the home stretch...

    #8 - DEACON BLUE - "RAINTOWN" (1987)

    PS: Any reviews on Ricky's new bare-bones protest album? Seems like an "iffy" proposition. Feedback appreciated before I shell out...

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  2. Sorry, just a question... One of my other absolute favorite DB moments - "Dignity" - right after Jimmy Prime's knock-out piano solo @ 2;30. What does Ricky sing... Saving up again? Set it up again? Standing up again?

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    1. I think it's 'Set it up again...'

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  3. Hi Tim - I'm disappointed with the RR solo lp especially after his last one and the DBs Hipsters. It is a set of protest songs all with a rootsy feel. Some nice simple sounds but all too dam worthy and serious for me. REminds me when he used to harp on about devolution around the time of fellow hoodlums
    I've always been stuck on this one I think he switches a bit between set them up and stand them up

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    1. Thanks for the RR heads-up. Protest songs not my cuppa...
      "worthy" is confusing word. Simon Cowell used it a few times on Idol. The folks seem to think it a compliment. I had to Google to realize the UK irony.
      And what's a Bosche Trev? A fridge or a stove? A Porche?
      TT

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    2. Spelling... Porsche?
      TT

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    3. Def one i wish i had spotified first

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  4. With you on that first line of the album David; it pulls you right in. I have a demo of 'Dignity; on cassette somewhere in the attic which was turned down by my mate at Zomba Records...
    And TT, ay, worthy young men are vital; attractive, worthy old men just bore the pants off me. You should try sitting with me after 'Question Time' or 90 minutes on the M40, or when some Eastern European car window cleaner breaks my wiper at a traffic light. I'll give you fecking worthy...
    Now, what rhymes with 'hands off, it's a brand new Bosche!"

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    1. Heathens! 'Bosche' is a brand of windscreen wiper...
      One broken, one nicked when I refused to pay...

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    2. Thanks for enlightening the ignorant Canadian. I'm just glad it wasn't a reference to a Porsche you were driving. I might've had to disown you for being too much of a yuppie...
      TT

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  5. By the way TT, have a look here:
    http://this-is-indie.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/lloyd-cole-late-night-compilation.html?showComment=1368088369691
    An interesting list with some unheard Lloyd... shame that the download doesn't work...

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    1. All tracks are from the last 3 records + a few from the box-set "Ashtrays". Last 2 acoustic tracks are new. Not sure the reason for this. I guess it's the "late night" concept... He's releasing a couple CD's of acoustic retreads of his older catalog soon.
      Brand new LC record June 21. Fred Maher, Matt Sweet back on board. Hope it's better than Broken Record...
      TT

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    2. That's a tad harsh Tim i quite liked broken record. Not as good as the one before but not a disaster

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    3. No, no not a disaster. Writers Retreat excellent, but the rest just kinda bland & disappointing. A lot of the tunes seem recycled. I've come to expect a lot from Lloyd, his only blunder being Bad Vibes. Next one will be a return to form I think.
      TT

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  6. An excellent album. I'm sure it's poor showing in my list (#56) is because I came to it quite late. I arrived in England for a visit back in 89 ,( later turned into a year long stay), and the radio and tv were filled with the sound of Deacon Blue with tracks from 'When the world knows your name'. I loved it! Never heard of them before. I played the album to death and went to see them up at Whitley Bay. It was much later that I bought 'Raintown' and realised that it was much better than WTWKYN , but I wasn't there at the beginning ,if I had been it would have been much higher ,I'm sure.
    # 8 The McCluskey Brothers - Favourite Colours
    An album filled to the brim with catchy sunshine pop. Not a million miles away from The Bluebells ,but more mature with sweeter harmonies. Contains two of my all time favourite tracks, 'She said to the driver' and 'Slip Away'.If you don't have anything by The McCluskey Brothers then go for the compilation 'Housewives Choice'.Fantastic album.
    Trev - Thanks for the link.Had no problem downloading. Press on the word MEGA at the bottom of the track listing.
    Phil

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    1. I've been curious about the McCluskeys for years. Not a lot of info or samples. I now see the Housewives comp on Amazon & will seek it out... Thanks!
      TT

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  7. What a great lp that is Phil as id their other one and a def oversight that not on my list. I am with on the 2 tracks you highlight

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  8. Managed the download, now need to listen to McClusky's.
    Too much music, not enough malt...

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