The Proclaimers Sunshine on Leith 1988, Chrysalis
I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)
Cap in Hand
Then I Met You
My Old Friend The Blues
Sunshine on Leith
Come on Nature
I’m on my Way
What do you do
It’s Saturday Night
Hands up if you’ve ever heard any Proclaimers song other than I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)? (Hibs fans don’t get a vote) Yeah, me neither, but they’ve actually released 11 relatively successful albums and they continue to tour around the world and to sell out gigs in Scotland, so I think they deserve their place here. This was twin brothers Craig (vocals and percussion) and Charles (guitar and backing vocals) Reid’s second album. Leith, near Edinburgh, Scotland is where the brothers were born.
I don’t need to tell you about the opening track since you definitely know it well enough to scream about havering as you leave bars at 3am. (incidentally it means “to talk nonsense” in case you’ve ever wondered). Cap in Hand is a jaunty song advocating Scottish independence - something the brothers have always been strong supporters of. It’s catchy and impressive that they manage to incorporate the Canadian province of Saskatchewan into the lyrics. Then I Met You is a sort of shouty love song with quite twangy countryfied guitars. It’s surprisingly likeable. Both My Old Friend The Blues and Sean are pretty forgettable. Sunshine on Leith which is played at Hibernian FC if they win big games is melodic, slow and beautiful. (There are a few videos on Youtube of the Hibs fans rendition of this after their 2016 Scottish cup final victory, that are surprisingly moving). Come on Nature is another contryfied track about unrequited sexual desire. I’m on my Way is a welcome return to their jaunty style that brings the mood up with a bit of a ‘50s rock and roll vibe, later Teardrops continues in the same vein. What do you do is a surprising highlight, another pro-Scottish independence song, sonically it is very reminiscent of Blur’s End of a Century (I should probably say it’s the other way around since this wasn’t released until 1994) but the lyrics here are by far the most thought provoking on the album, the gentle delivery of the lines; “I’ll never be constrained by another man’s ideas now” and “What do you do when minority means you?” show that these guys have a genuine depth to them. It’s Saturday Night is a rather more prosaic track about drinking but it’s still enjoyable. Oh Jean closes the album, it’s another pretty basic love song but the beat bookends the album well with the opener.
Overall it’s a bit too sentimental and country leaning for my taste (I was surprised by just how strong the country nfluences are) and although it’s quite patchy in terms of quality, there is enough good stuff on here to show that they are much more than just a one hit wonder. I wouldn’t necessarily listen to this whole album again but I’d certainly like to explore more of their catalogue.
It’s probably a stretch to say that The Proclaimers have had a major influence on UK music, but their continued success and longevity, especially in their home country shows that they remain a well loved part of our music scene. A film, also called Sunshine on Leith and including 14 Proclaimers songs was released to positive reviews in 2013.