Anyone who can listen to this album all the way through and stay on the right side of consciousness deserves a medal. I have tried, gentle reader, really I have. Deacon Blue’s Singles has been on regular rotation in the car and on my MP3 player for two weeks.
After half a dozen listens I have no more recollection of these songs than I did when I volunteered to review the album. In fact I’m pretty certain they were responsible for my nodding off on the Piccadilly Line and awakening just as the train was turning round at Heathrow one muggy Thursday morning.
Before I started I could just about hum the chorus of Real Gone Kid and I was aware something called Fergus Sings The Blues existed in their canon. I have even sat down in an attempt to make notes on each track, one by one (and there are a bloody lot of them) and I still can barely distinguish one from another. If you want aural wallpaper, these are your boys (and girl).
Although they scored an improbable number of top 40 hits (17) in the ’80s (Why? How? I want to demand), soft-voiced popsters Deacon Blue existed in the critical shadow of Prefab Sprout. Just as Brotherhood of Man‘s suicidal shepherd boy Angelo was to Abba‘s Civil War singsong Fernando, so most of Deacon Blue’s polished harmonies and soft spoken lyrics were to Paddy McAloon‘s smooth, sweet-voiced pop.
But where McAloon’s imagery and musicality set off fireworks in your brain, Deacon Blue’s press the snooze control button. But for some reason they were vastly more successful; perhaps the watered down version will always chime better with popular taste.
What more is there to say? 21 years later the three new tracks, including current single Bigger Than Dynamite, sound just like some old songs they dusted off, and will surely please their fans. Someone will buy this blandage, it being the season of goodwill soon, but if anything Deacon Blue sound worse than when they first came out – old-fashioned as well as drab.