JC writes:-

Dave has been contributing to the blog for many years, mostly through comments but with the occasional guest posting.

It turns out that BACK in June 2016 he fired over an e-mail with a guest ICA but for whatever reason I never received it.  Or if I did, I accidentally deleted it.  Honest!

Luckily, he had a copy of his e-mail and a recent posting as part of the Saturday series saw him get in touch and resubmit his ICA.  As I’ve said before, I never refuse an ICA submission (and would only do so if I thought that he band/singer’s music or viewpoints were offensive) and so I’m more than happy to have this appear today.  So over to Dave….

Hi Jim

Just read your Deacon Blue post and it struck a chord. I loved Raintown (and still do) and when they toured with it thought they were fantastic live (I remember seeing them play Leeds Poly and the crowd refusing to leave with the house lights on and the band eventually coming back again for the 3rd or 4th encore and sheepishly admitting that they had run out of songs to play). I despaired at the follow-up ,with its awful 80s production all big gated drums and stabbing synths. Luckily I missed the more political Ricky Ross ( think even he realised preaching independence to an English audience wasn’t the best career move) , I just sensed he was a bit worthy, and well a bit boring , both of which were forgivable. As a result I stuck with them. I realise that they might well be one of those bands you love to hate for a lot of regular readers, but there have been diamonds in the dirt. Here therefore is a post-Raintown compilation.

Side 1

Rae (from Homesick)

Deacon Blue have a tendency to start an LP with something understated and as a result some of their best songs are tracks 1. This is from Homesick (one of the “comeback “LPs) . When you strip away the bombast they can hook you in with a simple tune and this has a chorus melody to die for.

Love and Regret (from When the World Knows Your Name)

The 2nd LP was a bit of a car crash from the title onwards. There were a couple of shining lights and this is one of them . When he gets it right Ricky Ross can write a fine lyric and this is one of my favourites . It chugs a long a bit but is one of the few tracks that isn’t drowned out in over production and is allowed to breathe a bit. Reading the notes from the recent re released box sets there is a sense of a band not fully in control of their own destiny.

The Hipsters (from The Hipsters)

After a 10 year break they suddenly reappeared in 2012 with their best LP since Raintown. A radio friendly song that didn’t really get any radio play.

A New House (from A New House)

A couple of years after the Hipsters came A New House. A major disappointment , mainly down to the production which swamped the songs. This is one of the best things on it.

Back Here in Beanoland (from Viva Las Vegas)

The band always put a bit of effort into their b sides and Viva Las Vegas pulls together a lot of the post Raintown b-sides and various other bits and bobs. This I think is a “love” letter to Dundee where old ladies wrote letters to the local press complaining about a busking Danny Wilson.

Side 2

James Joyce Soles (from Fellow Hoodlums)

The 3rd LP felt like a conscious attempt to return to the feel of Raintown, helped by the fact they returned to Jon Kelly for production . However it all felt like they were trying too hard ( every song seemed to have to have a Glasgow street mentioned in it) However Twist and Shout is a great pop song and this is an ache of a song.

Laura From Memory (from The Hipsters)

Could have been any number of songs from the Hipsters LP but I like the way the words tumble over each other and the abba-esque piano

Your Town (from Whatever you Say , Say Nothing)

By the 4th LP (with yet another awful title) there was a whiff of desperation as Steve Osborne was drafted in to produce. The lead off single was a blast of fresh air but the LP didn’t really herald a brave new direction but instead often lapsed into stodgy rock. This is still a great track though.

The Outsiders (from The Hipsters)

Another big radio friendly song that was about 20 years too late.

Sad Loved Girl – long version (from When the World Knows Your Name )

The short version appears on the LP as a kind of not quite as good Born in a Storm. However in its full version on the re-release brings things to a low-key end.

Bonus – the piano songs

I recently saw Ricky Ross tour playing various songs across his career using only a piano a backing and met him afterwards for a quick chat. He was still a bit worthy , but whether age or comfortableness with life he was also full of self depreciating humour. It was good to hear one of their worst offending songs come alive in the stripped down version

Wages Day piano version
Circus Lights piano version
Bethlehem’s Gate piano version

I am pretty sure the above isn’t going to convert anyone and it isn’t really a case for the defence, more of a recognition that post-Raintown they could produce some stuff I love.



An unseemly spat broke out in the comments section on the last occasion I featured this lot on the blog. Hopefully nothing untoward happens after today’s posting.

Like many others, I fell for the charms of Raintown, the debut LP from Deacon Blue, as it looked and occasionally sounded like a bit of a love-letter to my home city at a time when we needed it most as we were just beginning to emerge from an extended post-industrial slump and about to kick-start different ways to be vibrant, energetic and economic. It was also great for my homesickness as I was at the time living and working in Edinburgh – enjoying myself for sure but never really feeling that I truly belonged.

I haven’t listened much to the band for many a year now, but I did recently put the debut CD on again in its entirety in preparation for pulling together this post. It still has some very good moments on it and the ballads in particular remain strong. But the years haven’t been kind to other songs, mainly as a result of what now sounds like a duff and dated production – but that’s a criticism that can be equally levelled at many other releases of that era. Maybe it’s also that too many bands have come along over the past 30 years and occupied the same sort of musical ground as Deacon Blue and what once felt bold and different has become too much of the bland and the norm.

It really is a record, however, that I can still appreciate by taking myself back to 1987 and recalling what it was like as a 20-something fairly unsure of his future and already feeling some pangs to return 45 miles west and try again. The previous posting highlighted three of the album’s songs that still have a sprinkling of magic. Here’s another:-

mp3 : Deacon Blue – He Looks Like Spencer Tracy Now

It’s a song that was inspired by a very detailed and sympathetic profile of Harold Agnew in Time magazine that was published in 1985.




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…..


Back on 8 October 2011, I started a series called ‘Saturday’s Scottish Single’.  The aim was to feature one 45 or CD single by a Scottish singer or band with the proviso that the 45 or CD single was in the collection. I had got to Part 60-something and as far as Kid Canaveral when the rug was pulled out from under TVV.

I’ll catch up soon enough by featuring 5 or more at a time from the archives..


(36) Copy Haho – Bookshelf  b/w Desert Belle : I Fly Spitfire Records 7″ (2006)

 A four-piece outfit originally from the town of Stonehaven which is just a couple of train stops south of Aberdeen in the north-east of Scotland. I saw Copy Haho as a support act at King Tut’s a few years ago and was impressed enough to buy a bit of vinyl on the night. Turns out it was their debut 7″ limited run of 500 which came out in 2006. Since then I’ve picked up a further two singles that were released in 2008 and 2009 but not their debut LP which was released in 2011


(37) Danny Wilson – The Second Summer Of Love b/w Growing Emotional b/w I’ll Be Waiting : Virgin 12″ single (1989)

Read more about Danny Wilson here



(38) David Byrne – Big Blue Plymouth (Eyes Wide Open) (extended version)  b/w Leg Bells  b/w Light Bath : Sire Records 12″ single  (1981)

Read more about David Byrne here


(39) Deacon Blue – Real Gone Kid (extended version) b/w Little Lincoln b/w Real Gone Kid (7″ version) : CBS 12″  (1988)

It is very easy to forget just how massive Deacon Blue were in Glasgow at the tail end of the 80s. The city that had just. for the first time in a generation, re-gained a sense of pride in its very existence thanks to a series of arts and cultural events that had culminated in Glasgow, to the sheer disbelief of millions of folk who only associated it with crime and grime, having been declared European City of Culture 1990.  Many of the city’s inhabitants now swaggered around awash in self-belief and confidence, feelings which Deacon Blue more than any other locally based band captured and ran with.   


(40) The Delgados –  No Danger (kids choir) b/w The Choices You’ve Made: Chemikal Underground 7″(2000)

Read more about The Delgados here

2013 Update…..

I just want to add that The Delgados, thanks to them establishing and maintaining Chemikal Underground all that stems from that, are probably the most important and influential music act to have emerged from Scotland over the past 25 years

Parts 41-45 next Saturday…..