Archive for The Proclaimers

Great Rock Albums of 1988: Fairground Attraction- First of a Million Kisses

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2022 by 80smetalman

I’ve discovered an interesting point about 1988. Between the heavy metal and synth pop, if there was music that was new and a bit different, people would listen to it. It could be a reason behind the success of such acts as Tracy Chapman, Tanita Tikarim and the Proclaimers, although the fact that they all made some good music had a lot to do with it as well. Thus, the same could be said for London based band, Fairground Attraction, who made their mark on the UK music scene with their number one hit, “Perfect,” from their debut album, “First of a Million Kisses.”

The big single, “Perfect,” which the band is most remembered for, is indicative of what the album is. There is an almost 1930s or 40s jazz sound to many of the songs. Many of which has that ‘make you snap your fingers along to the beat’ vibe to them. Other tracks have more of a folk flavour, especially the more mellower songs like “Moon on the Rain.” Researching the album, Wikipedia describes the genre as skiffle, which is said to be a mix of jazz, country, blue grass and the blues, a very interesting combination indeed but it’s probably the best way to categorize the album if one feels the need to do so. Before now, I didn’t know such a genre existed. I guess you learn something new everyday.

What I find very amusing is the contrast in the lyrics between the two biggest singles, (four were released), the fore-mentioned “Perfect” and “Find My Love.” On “Perfect,” vocalist Eddi Reader, sings that she is looking for someone who is perfect and she won’t settle for second best. However, on “Find My Love,” she is desperately seeking a boy out there who wants this girl. A bit of a contradiction don’t you think? But that’s my weird mind for you.

Speaking of Eddi, it’s her vocals that are the biggest element on the album. She has an amazing voice and unlike some singers at the time, she could change her vocal style to fit the song. She can sing the ballads with as much convincing conviction as she does the more jazzy songs. On “Fairground Attraction,” she stretches her voice way out there. Another brilliant example comes in the form of the hidden gem. Come on, there has to be a hidden gem and on this album, it’s “Clare.” She does that jazz vocals really well and of course, the rest of the band backs her up very nicely. I definitely like the clarinet in the song. However, I am still not surprised that she would eventually pursue a solo career.

Track Listing:

  1. A Smile in a Whisper
  2. Perfect
  3. Moon on the Rain
  4. Find My Love
  5. Fairground Attraction
  6. The Wind Knows My Name
  7. Clare
  8. Comedy Waltz
  9. The Moon is Mine
  10. Station Street
  11. Whispers
  12. Allelujah
  13. Falling Backwards
  14. Mythology

The last two tracks were only on the CD

Fairground Attraction

Eddi Reader- vocals

Mark E. Nevin- guitar

Simon Edwards- guitarron

Ray Dodds- drums, percussion

Guest Musicians:

Kim Burton- accordion, harp, piano

Robert Beaujolais- vibes, glockenspiel

Anthony Thistlewaite- mandolin

Steve Forster- mandolin

Ian Shaw- backing vocals

Will Hasty- clarinet

Fairground Attraction did bring something unique to the UK music scene in 1988 as their album, “First of a Million Kisses” proves. Many people really dug their brand of skiffle and while they weren’t metal, I found the album rather enjoyable, even back then.

Next post: Night Ranger- Man in Motion

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

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2022 by 80smetalman

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

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