not celtic-punk but at least they’re Hibernian!
The Proclaimers have been around now for nearly thirty years and they have built up a massive following across the world, and not just of Scottish exiles and within the Scots diaspora. They first hit the charts with the wonderful ‘Letter From America’ way back in 1987 and they followed this up with a stack of hits that made them popular on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. Being one of the first bands to sing in their natural Scots accents rather than effect an English or American one might have held them back but their powerful songs and their leftfield politics hit a chord where pop, folk, new wave and punk all collide and though their star did wane somewhat they never went away and continued to plug away making their music and occasionaly troubling the charts and appearing on our television screens.
Born in Leith in Scotland in 1962 identical twin brothers Charlie and Craig Reid played in a host of punk bands at school before forming The Proclaimers. They rose to fame supporting The Housemartins on their UK tour in 1986 and an appearance on famed music show The Tube brought them to a nations attention and with the release of ‘Letter From America’ the rest is history. The brothers are fans of Hibernian Football Club and their 1988 hit ‘Sunshine on Leith’ has become the club anthem. Hibernian were the original Irish team in Scotland, based in Edinburgh, and their is more than a bone of contention on how Celtic who appeared some years later came to be the dominant force for the Scots-Irish. They have been life-long supporters of Scottish independence and donated £10,000 to the Yes campaign and threw all their weight behind the campaign last September and still continue to agitate for Scottish freedom. As the boys explain.
“The lyrics in Letter From America are about the job losses and closures that flow from Scotland not having control over her destiny — that is what happened in the 1980s, and that is why Scotland needs independence now.”
‘Let’s Hear It For The Dogs’ is the boys tenth studio album and from the first track ‘You Built Me Up’ the twins and their band rattle up a great rock’n’roll racket. Accompanied by their live band: Stevie Christie (keyboards), Garry John Kane (bass), Zac Ware (electric guitar) and Clive Jenner (drums) with additional guitars by Sean Genockey and an appearance by the Vulcan String Quartet, The Proclaimers sound as powerful as they havent done in years and producer Dave Eringa (whose past work has included The Who, Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey and The Manic Street Preachers) has done an excellent job capturing them and their differing styles of music but always keeping it within The Proclaimers broader sound.
‘Be With Me’ is another shorter number and Craig and Charlie’s band classic rock is still based around a folkish sound and the electric guitars do not diminish this. ‘In My Home’ has an orchestral sound that no doubt Dave Eringa had more than a wee bit to do with reminiscent as it is of the Manic Street Preachers. With the Independence referendum defeat its hardly suprising that their is a feeling in some of the songs of what might have been. ‘Tuesday Afternoon’ speaks of a love rekindled and of their love for Scotland and nostalgia for their beloved Edinburgh. They ramp it back up to eleven with ‘Then Again’, the shortest track on the album which sticks the boot into both the celebrity culture that allowed people on the television to commit sexual abuse and the untold amount of MP’s and person’s of power who seemingly unhindered got away with literally murder. Witty in a way that does not belittle the serious subject matter. Album standout track ‘What School?’ is a phrase many of us have heard but not in the way that some of you would think. As a kid I went to the only Catholic school in my town and if I ever did hear the words ‘What school do you go to?’ then it might sometimes be a good idea to be on your toes. How the boys bring their love of dogs into this is pure brilliance.
“I know he’s a big Wolves fan, but does he favour rebel songs or marching flute bands?”
Religious bigotry is alive and definitly kicking in the west of Scotland but like their beloved empire is surely on the way out and before long will hopefully be a thing of the past.
‘If I’m Still Around’ has the boys singing of love accompanied by a slow piano before the music builds to a climax. ‘The Other Side (Of Me)’ shows the Proclaimers singing of selfish men that make women cry. A good singalong that will have concert goers shouting along I am sure. ‘Forever Young’ has them rocking out again and has the twins voices working perfectly together. Country music is not unknown to The Proclaimers and the slow and moving ‘Ten Tiny Fingers’ a lovely song about fatherhood has a relaxed country feel to it that lulls you away. The church organ is a welcome touch. ‘Through Him’ is about religion while ‘Rainbows and Happy Regrets’ is set to become another firm fan favourite with the catchy tune and lyrics and its refrain of
“Scotland Forever- Erin Go Bragh”
The last of the albums thirteen tracks is ‘Moral Compass’ and as they sing
“your moral compass is not mine”
Witty, sharp and cutting this is a grand album and even though it contains no real suprises its a solid slice of Proclaimers life that covering subjects from silly to serious that will have you thinking as well as enjoying the music. Forged in Scotland there’s not a single weak song on this record it must be said and the boys continue to go from strength to strength and long may they do so.
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