A-Z of Dead Man Singing: U

A-Z of Dead Man Singing: U

32 days ago

U is for Under the radar. There are a few bands that probably should have featured in Dead Man Singing, but for one reason or another didn’t. Dave wouldn’t necessarily have been aware of Deacon Blue, but his post-death backing group certainly would (Chris would have been a fan, I suspect), while I had originally earmarked Steve Earle as a Dave favourite, but somewhere along the line he fell out of the book.

The biggest omission is probably Texas. Their debut album, Southside, came out in 1989 led by the breakout hit single ‘I Don’t Want a Lover’. With a distinctive, atmospheric slide guitar courtesy of Ally McErlaine, it would have caught Dave’s ear, while the suits at Ultimate Records would have been keen for him to ride on its coat-tails. Why don’t they play a bigger part? The fault is entirely mine: I simply didn’t think of them until after Dead Man Singing had been accepted for publication and the final text agreed. I toyed with crowbarring in a reference at the album playback in chapter two, but it was just too disruptive to the existing rhythm of that scene, so I left it. I did find room for them in the Dave Masters 100 playlist though. 

After the first flush of success with Southside, follow up album Mother’s Heaven performed disappointingly, and the band decided that their trademark slide guitar sound had become something of a hindrance. A cover version of Al Green’s ‘Tired of Being Alone’ allowed singer Sharleen Spiteri to find her voice again and led to a new direction. Their second big break came when they stepped in at the last minute to fill a gap on Chris Evans’ TFI Friday (if I recall the story correctly, Spiteri happened to meet the show’s producer in a pub on the day of the show soon after someone else dropped out), ‘Say What You Want’ became their biggest hit single, surpassing even ‘I Don’t Want a Lover’, and prompted further success with the White on Blonde album.

Ally McErlaine left the band in 2022, but his side project, alternative country band Red Sky July, are well worth your attention. I saw Texas on the Southside tour, and later in my final year at Stirling University, the cleaner of my on-campus flat turned out to be Sharleen Spiteri’s aunt. My only other accommodation-related brush with fame came ten years or so later when the estate agent who rented me my first Bournemouth flat turned out to be Denis Payton, formerly the sax player with the Dave Clark Five.

What are your non-glamorous encounters with rock stars or their relatives?

Comments
Steve Couch

Thanks for that, Gore. I never knew Deacon Blue had covered that track. I had a couple of their albums back in their heyday, but they're one of those bands that I liked without ever really investing in, if you know what I mean. I have friends who adore them though, even now.

Gore

https://youtu.be/GR1Ollqb_mE?si=xdj3R843YjtEDns7

Gore

Deacon blue.two big life stories. Go for the cosy version. Gill and I newly weds. I got to see Weller. levellers .super fury . Her turn. Deacon blue. Ok but not a fan Went in hump. Came on .they in a mood.us two. A satire flag went up. Mood changed. Place went ballistic.

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