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When the World Knows Your Name

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Album Review

Their name may come from a Steely Dan song, but, as far as their musical makeup goes, Deacon Blue owes a lot more to Simple Minds and Prefab Sprout than the Dan. On When the World Knows Your Name, the band blends AOR, Celtic flourishes, and dashes of blue-eyed soul to create a polished album that, while it won't make any "best-of" lists in a hurry, has more than a few pleasures to offer nevertheless. Deacon Blue isn't on the mark all the time. They have their failings, notably a tendency to get overly precious and self-indulgent when trying too hard to be impressionistic on the slower songs toward album's end. But when they get it right, like on "Queen of the New Year," "Wages Day," "Real Gone Kid," and "Fergus Sings the Blues," their driving melodies and hooks are fine compensation. Ricky Ross' songwriting is accomplished enough when he's not striving too hard for poetic effect: his word-picture evocations of light and shade are particularly impressive. The material is mostly strong, if not uniformly so; the playing is rather more consistently focused and energetic. If Deacon Blue gets the balance right, and plays to their strengths, they could be rather more than the minor-league U2 they come off as on this album.


Formed: 1985 in Glasgow, Scotland

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '10s

Taking their name from a Steely Dan song, Deacon Blue were one of the best unknown bands in Scotland. Formed in 1985, the group performed its first concert as the opening act for the Waterboys' premier show in England. With the vocals of singer/songwriter Ricky Ross backed by jazz and soul-inspired melodies, Deacon Blue recorded several British hits in the late '80s. Their success, however, failed to carry over to American audiences. Frustrated by the inability to secure international popularity,...
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When the World Knows Your Name, Deacon Blue
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