Deacon Blue

Deacon Blue are a Scottish pop rock band formed in Glasgow during 1985. The line-up of the band consists of vocalists Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh, keyboard player James Prime and drummer Dougie Vipond. The band released their debut album, Raintown, on 1 May 1987 in the United Kingdom and in the United States in February 1988. Their second album, When the World Knows Your Name (1989), topped the UK Albums Chart for two weeks, and included “Real Gone Kid” which became their first top ten single in the UK Singles Chart.

Taking their name from the Steely Dan song “Deacon Blues“, Deacon Blue were formed in 1985 following Ricky Ross‘s move from Dundee to Glasgow. Along with Ross, the group originally consisted of Lorraine McIntoshJames PrimeDougie VipondEwen Vernal and Graeme Kelling.

Ross, a former school teacher originally from Dundee, was the group’s frontman, penning the majority of Deacon Blue’s songs. He married vocalist Lorraine McIntosh in 1990. In 1986, the band contributed a track (“Take the Saints Away”) to a compilation cassette entitled “Honey at the Core“, featuring then up-and-coming Glasgow bands, including Wet Wet Wet and Hue and Cry.

The band’s debut album, Raintown, produced by Jon Kelly was released in 1987. It spawned the singles “Dignity“, “Chocolate Girl” and “Loaded“. The city that the album’s title refers to is Glasgow and the cover art of the album is a photograph (by the Scottish-Italian photographer Oscar Marzaroli) of the River Clyde‘s docks taken from Kelvingrove Park. It proved a commercial success and has to date sold around a million copies, peaking in the UK Albums Chart at no. 14 and remaining in the charts for a year and a half. On 27 February 2006, Raintown was reissued as part of Columbia’s Legacy Edition series. The reissue was expanded to two CDs, the first of which featured the original 11 track album. The second CD featured alternate cuts of all 11 album tracks, as well as the two original CD bonus tracks “Riches” and “Kings of the Western World”. The new edition did not include the varied bonus cuts (remixes and b-sides) that were found on the singles from the album.

The second album, 1989’s When the World Knows Your Name, was the band’s most commercially successful, reaching No. 1 in the UK Albums Chart and generating five UK top 30 hits, including “Real Gone Kid“, “Wages Day“, and “Fergus Sings the Blues” (all five singles from the album were top 10 hits in Ireland). The following year saw the band play in front of an estimated 250,000 fans at the free concert on Glasgow Green, “The Big Day”, which was held to celebrate Glasgow being named that year’s European City of Culture. The band also played Glastonbury and the Roskilde festivals that summer, as well as released Ooh Las Vegas, a double album of B-sides, extra tracks, film tracks, and sessions which reached No. 3 in the UK Albums Chart.

Jon Kelly returned to the producer’s chair in 1991 for the album Fellow Hoodlums. The album was met with more critical success and peaked at No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart.Fellow Hoodlums was followed up by 1993’s Whatever You Say, Say Nothing, a much more experimental album. The album garnered critical praise, but was not as commercially successful as the previous two albums, peaking at No. 4 on the UK Albums Chart. Changing from producer Jon Kelly to the team of Steve Osborne and Paul Oakenfold, this album presented a change in musical style for Deacon Blue. While the band’s songwriting remained based in rock and blues, many of the tracks moved into alternative rock territory in their presentation.

The band embarked on another sold out UK tour in 1994, after recording new material for their greatest hits compilation albumOur Town. This saw the band return to No. 1 in the UK Albums Chart and was one of the year’s top sellers, while “I Was Right and You Were Wrong” and a re-release of “Dignity” saw the band re-enter the Top 20 of the UK chart. The album contained the previous singles from the band, minus “Closing Time” and “Hang Your Head“. The album also contained three new tracks. “I Was Right and You Were Wrong“, the first single from this album, was an alternative rock track that continued and expanded the musical direction the band had taken with Whatever You Say, Say Nothing. “Bound to Love” and “Still in the Mood” were pop songs in the tradition of Deacon Blue’s earlier albums. The vinyl LP version of the album contained a fourth new track, “Beautiful Stranger”. “Dignity” was released, now for the third time, as the second single from the album.

With Vipond’s decision to quit the group in favour of a career in television, Deacon Blue split up in 1994.

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