The Proclaimers - Dentures Out (Cooking Vinyl) 2

The Proclaimers – Dentures Out (Cooking Vinyl)

It’s thirty-five years since The Proclaimers first emerged. Twins Charlie and Craig Reid understood that a debut single should be like a manifesto, and so it was. Their debut ‘Throw The R Away’ was a defiant celebration of the Scottish accent that they continue to sing in and they were told would hold them back in the music industry. Their second single and first hit ‘Letter From America’ compared the highland clearances with the effect that Thatcherite policies were having on Scotland in the 1980s. The 1987 debut album This Is The Story and its even better follow-up, 1988’s Sunshine On Leith saw them continue to combine astute social commentary with anthems and tunes would not only be played to this very day at their (and my) beloved Hibernian FC, but also feature in Hollywood films. The duo’s public profile may have ebbed and flowed subsequently, but the Proclaimers have a devoted and large fanbase not just in Scotland but across the world.

And suddenly we’re on the twelfth album. While it’s not a concept album, there is a theme of the United Kingdom being in a bit of a slump, to say the least. Given the events of the last week or so some will say that this is bad timing, others will say it couldn’t have come at a better time. A line like:

And though I feel I’m a rational man
Sometimes I’m sorely tempted
But worship of a past that never was
Is totally demented

from first single ‘The World That Was‘ pretty well sets the tone for the whole album. The title track and album opener attacks the nostalgia that can engulf a country. The track features the distinctive guitar-work of James Dean Bradfield of the Manic Street Preachers. If they seem unlikely bedfellows, both acts have had a remarkable longevity and have always understood that writing anthems and social commentary are not mutually exclusive. If you’ve ever rolled your eyes at a meme that seems to infer that the past was perfect, seemingly due to things that actually were far from great, the Proclaimers know. They’re eye-rolling along with you. They may have emerged in the eighties but they’re no nostalgia act, whatever may have happened to some of their contemporaries.

The droll ‘Sundays By John Calvin‘ looks back to a time when Sundays were less the day of rest, and just a long dreary day, with no fun at all, and in parts of Scotland would see swings in playgrounds chained up (even for those who were not religious, the elders may as well have told you that hands were for work and toil and not for the pleasure of oneself) and they link it to what it was like during lockdown. ‘Things As They Are‘ sounds like a Bond theme but it’s the press, not foreign spies who are the problem here: proprietors who wield too much power, journalists trying to blame something or someone who is not the problem.

There are those who will tell you that an act ceases to remain vital after a fixed period of time, say their first decade. Obviously these people never heard the final albums by David Bowie or Leonard Cohen but hopefully they’ll hear Dentures Out. The band are continuing to fire on all cylinders and this album – which has 13 songs in a very trim and concise 34 minutes – rates up there with their best work. Does it sound like their early work? In spirit, yes, but they’re far too smart to believe that their best is behind them and try to repeat themselves. If you only know the hits, here is as good a place as any to start.

Look forward to a better world with The Proclaimers.

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God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.