WHEN IT ALL GOES PEAR-SHAPED

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I’m sure everyone of you has a similar story to tell……

A new band comes on the scene and the noise they make on the radio and in print is quite appealing. As a music fan, you invest some of your hard earned spare cash into buying product which doesn’t disappoint. You even make an effort to catch them live on stage and come away impressed. The next thing is that you’re telling your mates and work colleagues that said band really are a bit special and well worth checking out.

But then one day, something happens that irritates you. It might be an unexpectedly duff record. It might be something you read after the most prominent member of the band has said something really stupid or even offensive. Now you find yourself on the defensive about the band and no longer find yourself championing them. Before you know it, you take on the traits of someone who has reformed after a drink or drug addiction and become a bit holier-than-thou and start denouncing the band.

Welcome to the my relationship with Deacon Blue.

Formed in the mid 80s, I first came across this lot thanks to them being one of a number of unknown Scottish artists who were on a compilation cassette called Honey At The Core.

They had an elegant and eloquent front man in Ricky Ross. I particularly loved that, at a period in time when Glasgow had been dismissed by many as just another former industrial city with nothing going for it, Ricky Ross was someone who was prepared to argue just how special a place it was, and how it was more than capable of getting off its knees. The music he and his band were churning out was also enjoyable. It was just the right side of anthemic and it also had a bit of a political edge. A song like Raintown could only be about a city like Glasgow, and a song like Dignity could only be about someone who came from Glasgow. The cover on the debut LP, released in 1987, was a fantastic photograph of the Glasgow of old when it was famous for shipbuilding and engineering. Yes, there was a degree of nostalgia about it all, but at a time when I had not long left for the first time in my life and re-located to Edinburgh, it was the sort of LP that I could put on of an evening and think of home.

Unsurprisingly, the band began to grow in popularity and soon became regulars in the singles and album charts, particularly after the release of their second LP When The World Knows Your Name in 1989. The new songs were totally different from the debut – very radio-friendly and of such mass appeal that the band were capable of selling out more than one night at the 12,000 capacity hall at the SECC.

Some of the new stuff got on my nerves, as did the fact that Ricky Ross was all over the media saying how his songwriting was developing as a craft and that he was an artist who wanted to be remembered for the timeless quality of his songs. Nor did it help that he was also using his new found fame to jump on his soapbox and tell anyone prepared to listen that the only way Glasgow and Scotland make progress was through political independence.

In other words…he turned into a pretentious, pompous self-deluding arse….and the music the band were pumping out was becoming unbearable to listen to.

But you can never take away the magic of some of the early stuff:-

mp3 : Deacon Blue – Raintown
mp3 : Deacon Blue – Dignity
mp3 : Deacon Blue – Riches

If you think I’m being harsh on Ricky, you should hear me when the name of Pat Kane of Hue and Cry is mentioned…..

9 thoughts on “WHEN IT ALL GOES PEAR-SHAPED

  1. Not harsh enough IMHO JC. My own Ricky Ross moment came at Meadowbank Stadium. A charity gig. Several bands on the bill, Bhundu Boys, Soup Dragons, Aztec Camera. And Deacon Blue. I would say in terms of time frame it would be after the first album and before the second album. Anyway, Deacon Blue go down well and decide to do an encore. And to top it, his DB band mates decide to carry Ricky Ross back onstage triumphantly with his fist pumping the air in celebration of the reception he was getting. Like, forget about the charity they were supposed to be supporting. Let’s revel in some personal glory. It was stomach turning and I could never stand Deacon Blue or Ricky after witnessing it.

  2. Never remotely liked Deacon Blue myself and I used to cringe any time Dignity came on at a party. Those lyrics! The only person who’d call their boat Dignity is someone ashamed of their circumstances. Which defeats the idea of the entire song.

    Great artwork though.

  3. The old photos were by the late great Oscar Marzaroli who I revere. I think Ricky Ross is a native Dundonian , a Glasgow convert, rather than a native. – and also went to an independent fee paying school, the High School of Dundee like KT Tunstall and AL Kennedy perhaps he should be RA Ross, but could be AR Ross sounds quite like Arse. Like you I started out thinking he was alright but he became infatuated with his own fame, like Jim Kerr and Marti Pellow. Its a bad trait. I always thought his family were Close Bretheren, and he got kicked out for marrying Lorriane but his Wikipedia article makes no mention, so its probably his own myth. Anyway, as was once said of Simple Minds ‘Once upon a time’, a squat fart, straining to be released on mankind.

  4. Hiding under the table here writing this…I stuck with them When The World Knows Your Name and even saw them in the intimate Bottom Line Club in NYC. Fellow Hoodlums lost me though… But as fate would have it I really like the 2013 The Hipsters and 2014 A New House. I will admit that I never got so invested in Deacon Blue as to know the bloated ego of Ricky Ross as time went by.

  5. I don’t mind Deacn Blue, there were a lot of orse bands to get my high horse about back in the 80s and beyond and I think that Ross was genuine in his love of Glasgow. All lead singers from bands who get a degree of fame turn into arses at som time, even the Boy Wonder. Ricky Ross does the Sunday Morning show on Radio Scotland and also a show on Americana, Another Country, I think it’s called and he is a very good broadcaster. I’m sure that his background is Close Bretheren.

    Just a coincidence that you,take a dislike to him and Pat Kane, JC? Both vociferous in their support for Independence in the past. Although Kane is a total fud.

  6. I came across this. I’m sure I do/did come across as an arse. No problems with that. But to clear a few things up: My family were Brethren, but fairly ‘open.’ I do like writing songs – but make no big claim for them so that’s all fairly fine. If I become ‘infatuated by my own fame’ I think I might feel less happy than I am as really, I’m not very famous. But don’t let truth get in the way of a spicy online post! However never did my bandmates carry me onstage, though they might need to soon, as I’m getting on a bit though. Thanks for listening though.

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