The piano hook on UK hip hop urchin Chipmunk’s new single, ‘Oopsy Daisy’, is curious. By ‘curious’ we mean ‘hugely akin to “Wages Day”’ by Deacon Blue’. And by ‘Deacon Blue’, we mean ‘superb’.
History has been unjust to Scotland’s abiding social-pop conquerors. For beyond the ubiquitous jock-rock bombast of ‘Dignity’ and ‘Real Gone Kid’ roved a melodious, much-loved contingent who immortalised Glasgow walkways and skylines; who rallied for nationalism and against the poll tax; who loaded their albums with folk-rock apologues, vivid love songs and urban lullabies.
It’s hence with delight and colossal relief we report that Deacon Blue’s still-heartbreaking frontman, Ricky Ross, has swerved his attentions from penning James Blunt odes, to collaborating with his clarion-lunged DB co-vocalist (and other half) Lorraine McIntosh.
The fruits of their union fuse bracing Celtic folk with the tender Americana that has so long captivated Ross (from an enduring love of Bruce Springsteen to his specialist Radio Scotland shows), and are celebrated on their lovely long-player, The Great Lakes (Cooking Vinyl). Evoking Lone Justice, The Handsome Family and Fleetwood Mac, its highlights include the lambent aria ‘Bluebell Wood’ (McIntosh remains a highly under-rated vocalist); the title track’s balmy promenade; and the railroad hosanna of ‘Gloria’. There are, of course, affinities to Deacon Blue. The Great Lakes’ lilting highland hymns and McIntosh’s vocal prominence recall 1990’s harmonious treatise Ooh Las Vegas and the twilight swoon of Fellow Hoodlums (1991). There’s nary a throwback to ‘Wages Day’, right enough: clearly they’re leaving that honour to Chipmunk.
Oran Mor, Glasgow, Fri 6 Nov; Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Sun 29 Nov