Sunday, 3 February 2013

Deacon Blue versus The Blue Nile

Joe writes: I have been thinking about Deacon Blue recently. They were my favourite band for a while, until Aztec Camera released Stray. Real Gone Kid features on a current TV advert. I recently gave their classic debut album Raintown on vinyl to a friend for his birthday then ended up discussing Deacon Blue versus The Blue Nile with another party guest. While I know The Blue Nile are great, what I loved about Deacon Blue is how ambitious they were. Ricky Ross was trying to be the Scottish Bruce Springsteen. Personally I prefer artists who aim high and fall short than those who aim lower and reach their target.

Dignity was Deacon Blue's anthem and fan favourite. It's a nice story song that held a lot of appeal for me as a teenager. Maybe Dylan or Tom Waits could have got away with it.


Here's The Blue Nile with The Downtown Lights:



Here's how Aztec Camera won my heart with the Stray album, from which came Notting Hill Blues:



When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring) was Ricky trying to be the Scottish Harold Melvin. If he didn't quite get there in terms of performance, I really think he did in terms of songwriting. I'd love to hear this song covered by a true soul artist:



And for good measure and comparison, here's If You Don't Know Me By Now by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes:



Deacon Blue also helped Bacharach & David get the appreciation they deserve with the 1990 release of the Four Bacharach & David Songs EP, which reached no. 2 in the UK chart. As well as The Look Of Love and I'll Never Fall In Love Again with Hal David's wonderful couplet rhyming "pneumonia" with "phone ya", it also brought to light a couple of lesser known B&D songs, including this Are You There (With Another Girl), as recorded by Dionne Warwick:



Finally, here's a recent live version of Dignity that I found both heart-warming and a little sad:

3 comments:

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Eddie said...

Joe - I do take issue with you comment on ambition and the Blue Nile.

You are essentially criticising Blue Nile for holding back, for restrained execution, restrained playing. However, this restraint only intensified the emotion in their performances.

This hopelessness was crucial. It meant they were able to connect to thousands of despondent men.

You could criticise Steely Dan for the same discreet playing. Although from a completely different stand point, obviously. Their restraint was part of their power.

Ambition is great, and should be applauded but it's not advisable to measure every artist against Born To Run.