Any doubts about the grass roots resurgence of The Proclaimers were ground to dust by their enormous crowd at this summer’s T In The Park. The brothers occupied a late afternoon slot but punters came and came by the thousand, until Craig and Charlie Reid were cheered home by an audience equalling that of the evening’s headliner, R.E.M. The obvious point being: The Proclaimers were always a band for the people, however the media snobs and cooler-than-thou pluck-ribbets have mocked. And nowadays, as our music industry squirms, trying to find a shape to fit the richness of its product, finally, real people can begin to make their choices heard.
'Born Innocent' is The Proclaimers’ fifth album and comes hot on the heels of their successful 'Greatest Hits' collection, which in turn followed closely behind a comeback record, 'Persevere'. Before that they’d been in hiatus for seven years, putting family before career. It's thrilling to see this return to the fray stretching out into a real second wind. 'Born Innocent' bowls along at a brisk pace, mixing earthy semi-acoustic rock with a soulful, retro feel, heavy on the Hammond. The boys are in superb voice, pulling off both their fantastic trademark hollerin’ two-part harmony on the fast songs, as well as some lovely ‘proper’ Scottish soul singing when it slows down. Of the former, ‘Blood On Your Hands’ is an angry highlight, blasting out the speakers with enough energy to hint of the young rock’n’roll pretenders like The Hives, while still firmly on safe ground for the Radio 2 boom. The cover of Sixties classic ‘Five O’Clock World’ is also a killer, though I hope they resist making it a single when they wrote so many good tunes themselves.
Appreciation of this record - and in fact their entire catalogue - essentially boils down to whether you can cope with those two astounding voices. If you need your country rock sung by a deep-throat West Virginnian or New York radio announcer, then mayhap their Scottish lilt ain't for you - but it's your loss, dude. At least deal with the truths involved: here be fine, fine songwriting indeed, particularly when self-dissecting without vanity. There’s a jaw-dropping depiction of an overlooked son and even the slushy romantic moments refuse to glycerine the lens, maintaining gritty honesty throughout.
Seeking a down side, Edwyn Collins’ production isn’t a hundred percent successful, coming across a bit like a compromise between kookiness and cleanliness. In the scuffle, a modern rough edge is lost and at least one twangin’ Duane Eddy-style solo is criminally low in the mix. The threesome-gone-wrong ‘tribute’ to The Sun’s agony aunt, ‘Dear Deirdre’ is also annoying and smacks of playing to the thickos, though I could be overlooking an ironic undertone. But these are minor complaints. 'Born Innocent' is a fiery winner and should still be a car stereo album of choice when the nights draw in. Act your age.
8Toby Jarvis's Score