Mention the late 80s, and acid house, Madchester and the first whisperings of grunge usually spring to mind. Yet two bespectacled Scottish twins touting acoustic guitars were also right in the thick of it. Calling themselves The Proclaimers, Edinburgh-based Craig and Charlie Reid were blessed with big voices and even bigger hearts, and – as their smash hit singles Letter From America and (I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles were to prove – they wrote impassioned, socio-politically aware songs that defined the times. Their second album, Sunshine On Leith, remains their best known, but the Reid brothers have now maintained an enviably high profile for over 30 years. To celebrate their enduring appeal, we present a countdown of the ten best Proclaimers songs.
Listen to the best of The Proclaimers here, and check out our best Proclaimers songs, below.
10: Throw The ‘R’ Away (from ‘This Is The Story’, 1987)
In their early days, The Proclaimers quickly found favour with like-minded socio-politically-inclined pop agitators, with Dexys Midnight Runners’ frontman, Kevin Rowland, producing their first demo, and The Housemartins offering them a crucial UK tour support slot. Initially, though, record companies baulked when they heard the Reid brothers’ rich Scottish brogue; as Charlie later told the Los Angeles Times, “They doubted that the accent would translate into record sales in England.”
The boys duly took the bull by the horns with their debut single, Throw The ‘R’ Away: an unrepentant yet wryly observed paean to their earthy vocal delivery (“I’m just going to have to learn to hesitate/To make sure my words on your Saxon ears don’t grate”). The song didn’t chart, but it introduced The Proclaimers to a wider audience – one that was only too delighted to embrace their seductive burr on their next single, the Top 10 smash Letter From America.