Raintown : Making A Masterpiece
Despite never topping the album chart, nor any of it's six single releases breaking the top 20. Few would disagree that Raintown stands proud as perhaps Deacon Blue's finest album.
The perfect pop album, with songs of love and loss and of course 'Faith, Home and Work'.
It's stood the test of time, the songs it featured continue to litter every Deacon Blue live set and the messages they convey are as relevent today as they were the day they were recorded.
Spending 77 weeks on the UK chart peaking at number 14. Raintown was a slow burner gaining critical acclaim whilst slowly forging a solid fan base.
25 years on Glasgow Skyline looks back at the recording, artwork, promotion and song development of this incredible album. Including some vintage audience recordings and rare promo material.
Raintown was recorded at Air Studios in London between December 1986 and February 1987.
Associated Independent Recording (AIR), an independent recording company, was founded in London in 1965 by Beatles producer George Martin and his partner John Burgess after their departure from EMI.
The studio was on the fourth floor of 214 Oxford Street, over looking Oxford Circus which famously inspired Ricky Ross to write the song Circus Lights.
In 1991 AIR Studios relocated to Lyndhurst Hall in Hamstead, London.
The album was produced by Jon Kelly. One of the 'Great British Producers'. He has produced and mixed legendary albums for an incredible spectrum of artists including Chris Rea, The Beautiful South, Heather Nova, Tori Amos, Paul McCartney, Prefab Sprout and Kate Bush.
Jon Kelly later returned to produce the Four Bacharach And David EP and Fellow Hoodlums.
The band set up live in the studio and recorded together in the same room. This provided a great connection and energy much like their famous live performances.
Rarely is Raintown spoken about without the artwork getting a mention. The bleak yet beautiful cover shot, a stroke of genius, perfectly encapsulates the mood and feel of the album.
The photograph was taken by Oscar Marzaroli, admired by the band, his work was used on a number of other Deacon Blue records such as Loaded & Chocolate Girl and in later years Walking Back Home and Love Hurts. He also photographed the band before his death in 1988.
Oscar Marzaroli was an Italian-born Scottish photographer of post-World War II urban Scotland. He was born in Castiglione Vara in northwest Italy and came to Scotland with his family at the age of two. Marzaroli had a career in photojournalism in London and Stockholm.
But he also operated as a photographer on the streets of Glasgow and became famed for his iconic images of the city in the 1960s. He was best known for his images of the Gorbals area as the bulldozers cleared away the streets of the run down tenements.
Marzaroli's work came to national attention in the 1980s with the publication of three collections of his photographs by the Edinburgh publishing house Mainstream. He was also a film cameraman, as well as director and producer, for Ogam Films, which he founded with three friends in 1967.
Click image for a larger view
'Looking South From Park Terrace 1960'
For more Oscar Marzaroli photographs and to order prints, visit the official site.
Dignity is perhaps one of the most striking songs on Raintown, the lead single from the album it was the track that attracted the attention of Gordon Charlton who would later sign Deacon Blue to CBS. Written by Ricky Ross on holiday in 1985, this early Ricky Ross demo, whilst early in it's production shows the clear vision Ricky had for the track, capturing much of the feel of the finished record. Dignity (Demo 1).
By 1986 and now with much of the Deacon Blue line up in place this second demo shows how close the band were to having the final arrangement for the track. Dougie and Ewen's rhythm track is in place and Jim Prime's piano arrangement is also largely complete. Graeme's guitar part is very much to the forefront and there are still no backing vocals. Dignity (Demo 2).
Although Riches never made the final cut for Raintown the song was recorded by Jon Kelly during the Raintown sessions and has always been an important song for Ricky Ross. This early demo has a similar arrangement to the final recording but the inclusion of a drum track give it a more pop laden sound. Riches (Demo).
This demo of The Very Thing recorded circa 1986 was one of the tracks on the cassette that attracted Gordon Charlton to the band. Very similar to the final cut, the most noticable absence once again is Lorraine's backing vocal. The Very Thing (Demo).
Whilst recording Raintown it's said that Ricky Ross was sat at the piano playing this song and Jon Kelly suggested they record the track 'just like that' stripped back, more acoustic and soulful, with less production than Ricky's previous demo. The track was When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring). This classic Deacon Blue song began life sounding very differently as this demo shows. When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring) (Demo).
Songs often first premiere at gigs as the band try them out. This happened a lot with the songs that made it on to When The World Knows Your Name. Sadly very few recordings exist of Deacon Blue concerts before Raintown, in fact there are no known audience recordings in circulation. However on the 20th November 1986 just weeks before Deacon Blue began recording Raintown they played a gig at The Marquee, London. The show was recorded by the band and the tape has been in circulation for a number of years. Some of the tracks have now been officially released on the 2006 Raintown Legacy Edition.
Loaded was performed that night, and like the demo version that appears on the Legacy Edition this live performance features some alternate lyrics and slight differences to the finished arrangement. Loaded - Marquee 86.
An Introduction To Raintown
To promote Raintown CBS asked Ricky Ross to record a promo cassette with spoken introductions to all of the songs on the album.
These cassettes are now hard to find, but here you can listen to those introductions along side classic bootleg tracks from the era.
02 Born In A Storm - Birmingham Powerhouse 27.3.88
03 Raintown - Glasgow Cotton Club 3.10.88
05 Ragman - Liverpool Polytechnic 20.10.87
06 He Looks Like Spencer Tracy Now -Sheffield University 13.10.88
08 Loaded - Motherwell Civic Centre 20.7.87
10 When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring) - The Venue Edinburgh 3.7.87
12 Chocolate Girl - Glasgow Pavillion 17.5.87
14 Dignity - Town And Country Club, London 31.3.88
15 The Very Thing - Queens Hall Edinburgh 03.11.87
17 Loves Great Fears - Strathclyde University 8.10.87
19 Town To Be Blamed - Manchester International II 24.3.88
Perhaps the most iconic Deacon Blue song of all. Dignity the fan favourite was the track that caught the attention of A&R man Gordon Charlton which took Deacon Blue to CBS records in 1986.
In 2017 Ricky Ross Spoke to Nicola Meighan at the BBC about this incredible track and it's conception. You can listen to the broadcast here.