Today’s POP RESCUE from an uncertain fate, is the 1989 second Deacon Blue album When The World Knows Your Name. Does this album make you feel like a Real Kid again, or does it leave you feeling Blue? Read on…
This 13 track album opens with the snare drum intro of fifth and final single Queen Of The New Year. Guitar, bass and bass drum join in to create a chugging platform for Ricky Ross‘ crisp vocals to effortlessly take us through this track. It’s definitely a foot-tapper. Ricky is joined by the soft backing vocals of Lorraine McIntosh (the pair throw in some great ‘hoo hoo hoo‘s) and a fun little fiddle section. This song gets faster and faster as it draws to a close, in what seems like a drums and vocals vs fiddle play-off. This was a moderate hit in 1990, reaching #21 in the UK.
Next up it’s Wages Day, the second single. This track sounds a little familiar – and it’s catchy use of pianos against a strong up-tempo beat, keeps it bouncing along. Ricky’s vocals is strong and confident again, and the contrast between him and Lorraine’s occasional backing vocal contributions really help to keep the song up-beat and light.
This is followed by lead single and big hit, Real Gone Kid. I remember this song well, and I had it on my Brit Awards ’89 double cassette album – although sadly they didn’t win anything. This song is fantastically up-beat – Ricky and Lorraine have a much more even balance of vocals – and Lorraine’s vocals really given a central role. Again the ‘ooh oh ooh oh ooh oh’ feature, and the piano is scattered throughout, all building up to a brilliantly rocky vocal duel at about 3m 15s in. This catchy track gave them a #8 UK hit – which by that time was their biggest. It also contains a great lyric mondegreen ‘And a plate of Baboons‘ turns out to be ‘And the paperback rooms‘ – my 80’s childhood is shattered.
In contrast, Love And Regret follows, with delicately tinkling piano but then suddenly we’re into rock ballad territory. Chugging guitar and beats lead us into the verse, which instantly reminded me of Starship‘s 1987 Mannequin-themed hit Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now meets John Waite‘s 1984 hit Missing You. This was the 4th single from the album, but it scraped into the top 30, reaching #28 in the UK.
Fifth track, Circus Lights feels a bit like a filler, if it wasn’t for the chorus lyrics of ‘you wanted to display your charms on this bright night‘, and it’s mention of Christmas, it would pretty much forgettable. Otherwise, musically it just kind of ‘happens’ with little real redeeming moment.
This Changing Light is a bit of a contrast, roaring in with electric guitars. Ricky’s vocals sit comfortably alongside these, and he, Lorraine, and these guitars play cat and mouse through the chorus, giving quite a nice catchy and building-up moment. The song has a mellow moment around 3mins 15, where Ricky takes centre stage, with support from Lorraine’s backing vocals.
Next up is a short 1m 11s track titled Sad Loved Girl, which sees Ricky pitched against a piano and double bass and not much else. Lorraine offers up some dreamy backing vocals. This is a delightful little track, that really stands out as being unlike anything else on this album. It’s short, and very sweet.
Fergus Sings The Blues follows this, and this track was the album’s third UK single, and it reached #14. From the off, there’s a great little bass and piano line. There’s almost an echo of disco here, but thankfully they keep themselves on the 80’s rock-pop mould side of it. There’s some great brass going on here – thanks to trumpets and trombone. Again, Lorraine’s here with some perfectly placed backing vocals. Mr 80’s Obligatory Saxophone gets to do a little sultry outtro.
Next up it’s The World Is Lit By Lightning – a great title. This track is laden with synths and is less rocky than some of their songs. Again, there’s plenty of piano, and some brass moments. Ricky is briefly joined by Lorraine for some vocal parts, but the vocals are a little quiet in comparison to the music. The use of contemporary keyboard sounds seems to dominate, leaving their vocals a bit buried.
Silhouette is quite a simple little track, seeing the return of the double bass, ‘woo hoo’ vocals, and a light sprinkling beat and guitar section for the chorus. This song really helps to show off Ricky’s vocals, but thankfully lets Lorraine take a lead at about 2mins.
This is followed by One Hundred Things, which really is quite a nice up-beat track. Vocally, musically and even lyrically (that ‘case of old photographs‘ is back again) feels like a companion track for Real Gone Kid. The track has a great musical and vocal pace to it – leaving it feel catchy and as if it should have been a single.
Up next is penultimate track Your Constant Heart, which brings the pace down again. This is definitely well in the 80’s stadium pop-rock genre. Musically it feels a bit busy with a lot of background layers going on, which includes guitar and harmonica. Ricky’s vocals vary from sounding like he’s singing on stage to singing in a cupboard.
The album closes with the brooding drums and piano of Orphans. This is almost lullaby-esque. Ricky’s vocals feel raw here, aided perfectly by the softer backing vocals of Lorraine and a swelling synth. I could easily imagine this being sung by Sinéad O’Connor instead. This is a wonderfully gentle ending to an album.
Where are Deacon Blue now?
Deacon Blue saw their greatest success with this album, and Real Gone Kid remained their biggest single until they released their Four Bacharach & David Songs EP in 1990. This gave them a #2 hit with the cover of Bobbie Gentry’s 1969 hit I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.
Ricky Ross married fellow band member Lorraine McIntosh in 1990. Since then, Ricky has released solo albums and worked in radio, whilst Lorraine has appeared as an actress in Taggart, Hope Springs, and River City. The duo formed McIntoshRoss and have released under that name.
As a group, Deacon Blue split in 1994, when drummer Dougie Vipond left for a career in television. The group re-formed in 1999 and continued to record and release. Their most recent charting single was 2001’s Everytime You Sleep but it stalled at #64 on the UK chart.
Guitarist Graeme Kelling sadly died from pancreatic cancer in 2004.
This album was re-issued in 2012 as a 3x CD set with DVD featuring a large number of additional tracks, edits, and live performance recordings.
Over all, this is quite a good album, and a good example of late 80’s music, although it’s #1 charting feels a bit generous. It is without doubt that their lead single Real Gone Kid helped them grab the attention that they needed to achieve that.
There’s a few echoes here from their chart predecessors here, but their sound remains pretty unique to them. Sadly, Lorraine doesn’t get as much exposure that she perhaps deserved. Her vocals and vocal duelling that you get glimpses of, really should have been explored further.
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 3 / 5
- 1989 UK ALBUM CHART POSITION: #1
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from a Poundland store.