Great Rock Albums of 1988: The Proclaimers- Sunshine on Leith

Technically, I’m a year late with The Proclaimers. They first came to the attention of Great Britain and mine in 1987 with their first single, “Letter From America.” When I heard it, I thought the song was quite amusing and better than the manufactured synth pop around at the time. However, KISS’s “Crazy, Crazy Nights” was also in the top ten at the time, therefore, that song didn’t get the attention from me as it should have.

One year can make a hell of a difference and when The Proclaimers again hit the charts with what is probably their biggest song, “”I’m Gonna Be (500 miles),” I was ready. I liked the thumping guitar intro to it. Plus, there is no question as to their Scottish nationality when these two twins sing. They say that twins have a bond and this is true in the case of Charlie and Craig Reid. Especially the way they sing the “den, den, den lendas” on it. It’s one of those songs which is still fondly remembered today.

What about the rest of the album? Well, I can safely say that The Proclaimers carry on their own version of Scottish folk rock throughout the album. On the second track, “Cap in Hand,” there is a “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” vibe on it. Yes, I’m talking about the Queen classic. Only two songs into the album and we already have the hit single and the hidden gem. “Cap in Hand” was used as a rallying song during the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum. That takes nothing away from “Then I Met You” which is has some good guitar hooks and an acoustic guitar solo to accompany the unique vocals provided by the twins.

“My Old Friend the Blues” proves that The Proclaimers were just as capable of turning about a ballad or two. What I didn’t know was that the song was written by Steve Earle, who will be getting a post on here in the not too distant future. They go from ballad to mid-tempo rock song on “Sean.” The guitar in the background makes the song and while I have already praised the vocals of the Reid twins, I think the guitar talents of Jerry Donahue need praising as well. He does deliver the goods on the album.

The title track closes out the first half of the album and it’s a mellow ballad. It seems to lament about a broken heart or possibly the depressing life many people in Scotland felt at the time. It’s definitely a melancholy ballad but it’s effective.

Maybe it’s probably best to listen to this album on vinyl or cassette. This way you get to prepare for the jump from melancholy ballad to the more upbeat “Come on Nature.” This would be a good sing-a-long track if you and friends were sitting around drinking beers, either in a pub or someone’s living room. Following that is the second single, “I’m On My Way,” which wasn’t nearly as successful as the first one but I really like it. Probably why it didn’t do as well. I love the tempo to this track and how the Craig and Charles bounce the “Uh huh’s” back and forth.

“What Do You Do” is another melancholy ballad but with a difference. The brothers Reid make their political feelings quite clear. My hypothesis is that the song was a reaction to the 1987 UK general election where the Labour Party basically swept Scotland but because the Conservative Party won big in England, especially in the South East, a Conservative government was elected. Furthermore, there was the North-South divide where the South of the UK seemed to be getting richer while the North was getting poorer. “It’s Saturday Night” is a tribute to those who go out and get drunk every Saturday night because that’s all there is to do. I do love the line “The drink that I had three hours ago has been joined by 14 others in a steady flow.”

“Teardrops” is an amusing acoustic number in which the twins have a lot of fun singing and I can say similar for the closer “Oh Jean.” It’s not acoustic but the song has a party feel but then maybe one of the brothers had a pleasurable experience from whoever Jean is. It ends the album very well.

Track Listing:

  1. I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)
  2. Cap in Hand
  3. Then I Met You
  4. My Old Friend the Blues
  5. Sean
  6. Sunshine on Leith
  7. Come on Nature
  8. I’m On My Way
  9. What Do You Do
  10. Saturday Night
  11. Teardrops
  12. Oh Jean
The Proclaimers

Craig Reid- vocals, percussion

Charles Reid- vocals, acoustic guitar

Additional Musicians:

Jerry Donahue- electric and acoustic guitars

Gary Hogan- steel guitar

Dave Whetstone- melodeon

Phil Cranham- bass

David Mattacks- drums, percussion

Paul Robinson- drums, percussion

What I realize now that I didn’t realize back in 1988 was how many decent non-metal rock acts there were. The Proclaimers definitely brought a unique sound to the music of the year as the album “Sunshine on Leith” shows.

Next post: Kansas- In the Spirit of Things

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

To sign the petition for a knighthood for Bruce Dickinson, click the link: https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson

On a side note, a women’s wrestling match, Autumn Rose vs. Lady Lolita, which I contributed on the script to is available to buy and download here: https://promixedwrestling.com/downloads/

4 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1988: The Proclaimers- Sunshine on Leith”

  1. I only know the big song (from school aerobics in the late 1980s!). I didn’t realise they had the Fairport guys playing on the record too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice review. I have a soft spot for them, good tunes and they’re funny with it.

    Liked by 1 person

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