You could lump the Scottish duo the Proclaimers into that bittersweet musical category for "one-hit wonders," but that would be unfair.
Sure, the song that immediately comes to mind in a discussion of the twins Charlie and Craig Reid is "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," the infectious theme song from the movie "Benny & Joon." The song climbed into the American top 10 in the summer of 1993. It sold a million copies and the Proclaimers launched a whirlwind U.S. tour, which included playing to a crowd of 22,000 at Madison Square Garden.
Most Americans assume that the "down-to-earth punters from Fife" (as they are described in their bio) faded into obscurity. Not quite. They have remained hugely popular throughout Europe and the British Isles, although many of their albums haven't made much of an impact on U.S. charts.
Maybe the Proclaimers's sixth studio album will offer a breakthrough. "Restless Soul," recorded this spring in London and released earlier this month, has already launched a 10-month tour that started with six sold-out dates in Scotland, and festival gigs at Glastonbury and at Edinburgh's LIVE 8 concert. The duo will tour the United States and Canada through next month, returning to the Britain and Ireland at year's end. They'll cover Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Middle East in early 2006. The tour brings them to the Birchmere on Wednesday.
The Reid twins' childhood was spent on Scotland's east coast, where they listened to Jerry Lee Lewis, Hank Williams and Ray Charles at home but formed punk bands at school. They built a following in the pubs of Edinburgh and Inverness for about four years before making their TV debut in 1987 with the song "Letter From America," an impassioned tune about emigration. Within a month, they were signed to Chrysalis Records and their debut album, "This Is The Story," went gold.
The pair's sophomore release, "Sunshine On Leith," came out in 1988, and the cut "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" became a sensation in the Britain, Australia and New Zealand, with some U.S. college radio play. It was as the Proclaimers prepared to record their third album, "Hit The Highway," in the early 1990s that "Benny & Joon" revived the song, making it a success in the United States.
Since then, the duo has been busy recording albums ("Persevere," "Born Innocent"), starting a record label, contributing to soundtracks ("Dumb and Dumber," "Shrek") and touring. If that's being a one-hit wonder, sounds like a great gig.
The Texas duo Deadman (Steven and Sherilyn Collins) opens Wednesday's Birchmere show. The pair's new CD, "Our Eternal Ghosts" echoes classic American sounds created by the likes of Gram Parsons and the Band. The duo recently wrote and recorded "New Orleans" to raise money for the American Red Cross's Hurricane Katrina disaster fund. The song is available at www.deadmanonline.com.
-- MARIANNE MEYER
The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $20. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com, by calling 703-551-SEAT, or at the Birchmere box office from 5 to 9 p.m. show nights. For more information call 703-549-7500 or visit www.birchmere.com. Live! loves your event suggestions. Send details to email@example.com. Please e-mail for correct mailing address before sending any other materials.