Aug 13, 2018

THE PROCLAIMERS - Sunshine On Leith (Chrysalis Records CCD 1668, 1988)

Born in Leith in 1962, Craig and Charlie Reid grew up in Edinburgh, Cornwall and Auchtermuchty in Fife. At home, they listened to early rock'n'roll and country greats such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Merle Haggard and Hank Williams. At school, they played in punk bands and formed The Proclaimers in 1983. With a fervent live following growing in Scotland, particularly in Inverness where they performed regularly, their first big break came late in 1986 when they were invited to tour with The Housemartins. Then in January 1987 they made a now seminal appearance on the Channel 4 pop programme The Tube, performing "Letter From America" and "Throw The ‘R’ Away". Singing in regional accents about Scotland – its emigration and its politics – they were a far cry from the mid-Eighties playlist staples of Rick Astley and Sinitta, and became a phenomenon almost overnight, signing to Chrysalis within a month and recording their debut album acoustically, "This Is The Story", a week later, produced by the man who also signed them to Chrysalis, John Williams. Voted NME Readers Best New Band that year, they toured the UK extensively and a new ‘band’ version of "Letter From America", produced by Gerry Rafferty went Top 3 in November.

Complementing their raw, stripped down delivery with the greater musical scope of a full band, they then embraced country and rock on their second album, 1988’s "Sunshine On Leith" produced by Pete Wingfield, which also saw them form their first full live band and go on a 9 month World tour. In addition to the deeply moving classic title track which has gone on to be an anthem for Hibs fans, the album featured hit singles, the raucous, euphoric "I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)" and "I’m On My Way". In 1989 "I’m Gonna Be" spent 6 weeks at number 1 in Australia and a was a top 10 college radio hit in USA. The song went on to soar to No. 3 during a 6-month reign in the US Billboard Singles Chart in 1993 after appearing on the soundtrack of the Johnny Depp film Benny And Joon. "I’m On My Way" also re-emerged in 2001 when it subsequently accompanied one of the pivotal scenes in the hit movie Shrek. In 1990, The Proclaimers had a huge UK & European hit with their "King Of The Road" EP.  The Proclaimers returned in 1994 with "Hit The Highway", an album that featured a three-piece brass section yielding the hit "Let’s Get Married". A longer than intended break then ensued before a fourth album, 2001’s "Persevere", was cut in Minneapolis. Produced by Chris Kimsey with an all star American musician line up, another fantastic collection of Reid/Reid songs re-established The Proclaimers as they went back on another mammoth year long World tour.

Since then, the band have barely stood still, following the 2002 release of their "Best Of" they continued to tour extensively and one of that year’s more unusual highlights saw them perform on the pitch at Hampden Park to over a billion TV viewers before the 2002 UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen. Two more acclaimed studio albums followed, 2003’s Edwyn Collins produced "Born Innocent" and 2005’s more soul orientated Mark Wallis/David Ruffy produced "Restless Soul". 2005 saw another live career highpoint, opening the bill at the Live 8 concert at Murrayfield Stadium. 2006 also saw a notable appearance in an episode of Family Guy. In March 2007, they topped the UK singles chart with a rousing new rendition of their classic anthem "I’m Going to Be (500 Miles)", collaboration with comedians Peter Kay and Matt Lucas for Comic Relief, raising over a million pounds for charity in the process. EMI relaunched their 2002 "Best Of" collection, re-entering the Album Charts at No 5 with sales soaring beyond platinum.  September 2007 saw The Proclaimers release their seventh studio album "Life With You" (Universal) in the UK to fantastic critical praise and great commercial success.  The Proclaimers kicked off their biggest ever UK & Ireland tour in October, 44 dates to over 100,000 fans. In Scotland, they sold more gig tickets than any other single act in 2007. 

Touring continued in 2008, with a huge 129 date, yearlong World tour, across Europe, two months coast to coast across the USA & Canada, followed by a variety of shows from Muscat to Bermuda, all brought to a triumphant conclusion with a concert at Edinburgh Castle. In 2009, The Proclaimers released their 8th studio album "Notes & Rhymes" (Universal) and hit the road for another 95 date World tour. In March, Craig and Charlie headed over to Austin, Texas to make their debut at SXSW where they performed a series of seven acoustic showcases, including a one-off Scottish extravaganza, sharing a bill with Glasvegas and Primal Scream. Whilst 2010 was spent mainly writing, The Proclaimers performed at 21 summer dates in Europe climaxing with a main stage T In The Park performance. In October 2011 special editions of The Proclaimers first three albums were released on Chrysalis ("This Is The Story", "Sunshine On Leith", "Hit The Highway"), each containing the original album plus a bonus disc containing B-sides, live tracks and previously unreleased radio sessions, all newly remastered at Abbey road Studios, London.

With producer Steve Evans at the helm, The Proclaimers released their 9th studio album "Like Comedy" in April 2012 to great acclaim by leading independent label Cooking Vinyl. One of their greatest fans, Matt Lucas made his director’s debut on the video for the single "Spinning Around In The Air" where he wrote a script for a Golden wedding anniversary descending into drunken mayhem and in the process managed to persuade Craig and Charlie for a career first, dressing them up as elderly ladies. The Proclaimers were then back out live with a busy summer in UK which included headlining the Hebridean and Big Tent festivals in Scotland, followed by another headline slot at Cambridge Festival, main stage appearances at the V Festivals in England and three shows at the Singapore Grand Prix. Another unique appearance occurred when The Proclaimers appeared on ITV’s Emmerdale – as headliners at Home Farm’s music festival, in an episode marking the beginning of the soap’s 40th birthday celebrations. October 2012 saw The Proclaimers head out on an eight week, 36-date UK tour, before finishing the year in style with a Hogmanay concert on the esplanade of Stirling Castle.

Craig and Charlie have reached the rarefied status that few have been able to achieve: with nearly three decades of career longevity, they are as innovative as ever and with every album and show played, they’ve continued to garner new fans. Their songs have been used extensively in adverts across the World and the list of movies they have featured in includes The Commitments, The Crossing, Mama’s Boy, Bottle Rocket, Benny & Joon, Shrek, Dumb & Dumber, Bye Bye Love, Burke And Hare, The Angel’s Share, Bachelorette, Perfect Pitch. The Proclaimers songs, too, provided the inspiration to an enormously successful, highly acclaimed, award winning musical, "Sunshine On Leith", put together by the Dundee Rep Theatre. Written by Stephen Greenhorn. The drama follows the highs and lows of 2 soldiers returning home from Afghanistan. Families, relationships and life in Leith are not all plain sailing in this exceptional love story about everyday life in Scotland. Directed by James Brining, the musical first toured Scotland in Spring 2007, returning in November 2008 for a 4 month run in Scotland and its first foray into England. The musical had its third outing a 4 month theatre tour (3 months in Scotland, 1 month in England) in Autumn 2010 with the cast for this run starring Billy Boyd, most widely known for playing the Character ‘Pippin’ in the movie The Lord of The Rings.

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