Sunshine on Leith (album)

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Sunshine on Leith
Proclaimers sunshine on leith.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 1988 (UK)
1989 (USA)
RecordedJanuary–February 1988
StudioChipping Norton Recording Studios
53:30 (2001 re-release)
LabelChrysalis, Nettwerk
ProducerPete Wingfield
The Proclaimers chronology
This Is the Story
Sunshine on Leith
Hit the Highway
Singles from Sunshine on Leith
  1. "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)"
    Released: 1988
  2. "Sunshine on Leith"
    Released: 1988
  3. "I'm on My Way"
    Released: 1989
  4. "Then I Met You"
    Released: 1989

Sunshine on Leith is the second studio album by Scottish folk rock duo The Proclaimers, released in August 1988 through Chrysalis Records.[3] The record spawned four singles: "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)", which topped charts in Australia,[4] New Zealand and Iceland; "Sunshine on Leith", a ballad that has become an anthem for Scottish football club Hibernian F.C.;[5] the No. 3 Australian hit "I'm on My Way"; and the Australian-exclusive "Then I Met You". The non-single "Cap in Hand" also came to prominence in 2014 with the Scottish Independence referendum.[6]

Sunshine on Leith marked a departure from the minimalist acoustics of the group's 1987 debut This Is the Story, toward a rock-oriented full band sound,[7] and was a major worldwide hit, particular in Australia where it was described as the band's "biggest success", reaching No. 2 in the ARIA Charts and being 1989's 12th highest-seller.[4][8] The album peaked at No. 3 and No. 6 in New Zealand and the United Kingdom respectively, while also charting in Canada and Sweden, ultimately selling over 2 million copies worldwide.[9]


Sunshine on Leith was recorded at Chipping Norton Recording Studios in Oxfordshire, England,[10] and was produced by Pete Wingfield.[1] The recording for Sunshine on Leith marked the first time that The Proclaimers had worked with a band,[1] having recruited a studio lineup including Fairport Convention drummer Dave Mattacks and Steve Shaw of Dexys Midnight Runners.[1]

Music and style[edit]

Musical style[edit]

At variance with the stripped-back acoustic nature of the band's 1987 debut effort This Is The Story, Sunshine on Leith embraced the rock-angled sound of a full band.[7] Describing the album's musical style, Chris Heim of the Chicago Tribune opined that Sunshine on Leith had a "lively folk-rock sound with hints of Scottish airs, American country and worldwide rock-n-roll [...] a synthesis [the band] have thoughtfully forged from their respect for their own culture and their interest in American music".[1] Rhino Insider characterized the record's sound as "stripped down pub-rock [...] enlivened by Scottish folk influences".[2]

Lyrics and themes[edit]

Many of Sunshine on Leith's songs narrated familial bliss, such as "Then I Met You" and "Sean", an ode to fatherhood.[10][11] "Cap in Hand" and "What Do You Do?" relayed the band's Scottish nationalist convictions.[12]

Alluding to the record's moods, Tom Demalton of AllMusic identified "a thread of optimism that runs through most of the album",[10] with Mike Bohem of Los Angeles Times similarly detailing that the band's blend of "ambitious, catchy melody with an earthy, unbridled approach to singing helps the Proclaimers put across songs of unabashed joy".[11]

Critical reception[edit]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Chicago Reader[12]Favourable
Record Mirror[13]
Rolling Stone[14]Favourable
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[15]

Sunshine on Leith has enjoyed positive critical reception. In a four-and-a-half out of five star review, Tom Demalton of AllMusic proclaimed the record to be "highly listenable and thoroughly engaging blend of folk and pop".[10]

Bill Wyman of the Chicago Reader remarked that Sunshine on Leith was a "magnificent" and "almost flawless" record.[12]

Rhino Insider remarked of a reissued edition that Sunshine on Leith offered "plenty more to enjoy" beyond the lead single, containing "fine originals" "("Oh Jean", "I'm On My Way") and "appealing covers" ("My Old Friend the Blues"), and opined the album to be "invigorating from beginning to end".[2]

In April 1989, Steve Hochman of Rolling Stone lauded Sunshine on Leith “a wonderfully guileless treasure of an album”.[14]


Sunshine on Leith was ranked No. 12 out of the 50 top-selling albums for 1989 in Australia.[8] In October 2003, The Scotsman ranked Sunshine on Leith No. 25 on their "100 Best Scottish Albums" list, the second of two Proclaimers' albums featured.[16]

Commercial performance[edit]

In Australia, Sunshine on Leith has been certified 2× platinum by the ARIA,[4] 1989's 12th biggest seller behind Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction.[8] The band's Craig Reid divulged that the album's Australian smash, retrospectively dubbed "Proclaimermania",[4] in 1989 was "the biggest success we’ve ever had anywhere".[4] The album reached No. 2, while "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" topped the singles chart,[17] Craig Reid describing this popularity as "madness".[4]

Sunshine on Leith failed to chart in the US on its original release. Regardless, in June 1989, SPIN Magazine ranked the record No. 16 in the US for the "Top 30 Albums Played on College Radio".[18] The selection of "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" for the soundtrack of the 1993 film Benny & Joon saw the single peak at No. 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 that year,[2] with Sunshine on Leith peaking on the Billboard 200 Albums at No. 31 on 7 August 1993,[19] and selling over 696,000 copies in the US as of 2001.[20]

At the time of June 2009, Sunshine on Leith had shifted over two million units globally.[9]

Promotion and touring[edit]

Sunshine on Leith's 1988 release was followed by a tour, complete with an electric backing band.[21] The 1989 leg of the tour saw the band perform to a crowd of 65,000 at the 1989 Glastonbury Festival.[22]

Stateside promotion for the record included US talk-show performances, inclusive of a 21 March 1989 appearance on Late Night with David Letterman.[23]

The 1993 vogue of Sunshine on Leith and "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" in the United States saw The Proclaimers perform at Madison Square Garden for the Z100 Birthday on 28 July 1993, alongside Terence Trent D'Arby, 10,000 Maniacs, Duran Duran and headliners Bon Jovi.[24][25]

Legacy and influence[edit]

Sunshine on Leith, a stage musical spotlighting the songs of The Proclaimers, was named in renown of the album and title track.[26] The TMAAward-winning musical debuted in 2007,[27][28] and the film adaptation, starring Peter Mullan and Jane Horrocks, was completed in 2013,[29] grossing over US$4.7 million after debuting at No. 3 in the UK box office.[30][31]

Noted for its Scottish nationalist tenets,[12] the album track "Cap in Hand" enjoyed a remarkable vogue in 2014 owing to the Scottish Independence Referendum, reaching No. 6 in Scotland and No. 62 on the UK Singles Chart.[6]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Craig and Charlie Reid, except where noted.

Side one
1."I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" 3:37
2."Cap in Hand" 3:22
3."Then I Met You" 3:46
4."My Old Friend the Blues"Steve Earle3:03
5."Sean" 3:19
6."Sunshine on Leith" 5:14
Side two
7."Come On Nature"3:32
8."I'm on My Way"3:43
9."What Do You Do"3:37
10."It's Saturday Night"3:23
12."Oh Jean"5:54
2001 release bonus tracks (originally released on King of the Road EP, 1990)
13."King of the Road"Roger Miller2:46
14."Long Black Veil"Danny Dill, Marijohn Wilkin3:02
15."Lulu Selling Tea" 2:08
16."Not Ever" 2:38


Adapted from Sunshine on Leith liner notes.

The Proclaimers

  • Craig Reid – vocals, percussion
  • Charlie Reid – vocals, acoustic guitars

Additional personnel




Year Title Chart positions
AUS US US Modern Rock UK
1988 "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" 1 21 11
1988 "Sunshine on Leith" 41
1989 "I'm on My Way" 3 43
1989 "I Met You" 64
1993 "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" 3 8

Other charted songs[edit]

Year Title Chart positions
2014 "Cap in Hand"[6] 6 62


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[41] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[42] 2× Platinum 200,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[43] Gold 7,500^
United Kingdom (BPI)[44] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[45] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ a b c d e Heim, Chris (9 March 1989). "Scots on the Rock". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Sunshine on Leith". Rhino Insider. 28 November 2017. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  3. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (2003). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Eighties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. p. 392. ISBN 1-85227-969-9.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Carew, Anthony (10 May 2019). "The Proclaimers' Craig Reid Wants To Walk 500 Miles Away From Brexit". The Music. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  5. ^ "Singing twins bring sunshine to Leith". The Scotsman. Johnston Publishing. 4 May 2002. Retrieved 13 October 2013. The Best Of album, due for release in the UK on May 13, features 20 songs drawn from the duo's 15-year career, including Sunshine On Leith, their famous anthem that is regularly played at Easter Road, home of their beloved Hibernian Football Club.
  6. ^ a b c "Scottish Singles Sales Chart - 7 September 2014 - 13 September 2014". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  7. ^ a b Monger, Timothy. "The Proclaimers - Biography and History". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  8. ^ a b c "ARIA Charts - End Of Year Charts - Top 50 Albums 1989". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Interview: The Proclaimers - He ain't geeky, he's my brother". The Scotsman. 10 June 2009. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d e Demalton, Tom. "Sunshine On Leith - The Proclaimers". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  11. ^ a b Bohem, Mike (28 April 1989). "Proclaimers: Guileless Love Songs in a Rich Burr Earthy Approach Helps Scottish Twins Put Over Paeans of Pure Joy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  12. ^ a b c d Wyman, Bill (27 April 1989). "The Proclaimers--Sunshine on Leith - Music Review". Chicago Reader. Chicago Reader. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  13. ^ Levy, Eleanor (17 September 1988). "33 - Album Reviews". Record Mirror. p. 31. ISSN 0144-5804.
  14. ^ a b Hochman, Steve (4 May 1989). "The Proclaimers - Sunshine on Leith". Rolling Stone.
  15. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195313734.
  16. ^ "100 Best Scottish Albums Nos 1–25". The Scotsman. 16 October 2003. Retrieved 8 January 2008.
  17. ^ Leeson, Josh (20 April 2019). "The Proclaimers on how songs can carry you 500 miles and beyond". Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  18. ^ "TDK Presents: Top 30 - Most-played albums on College and Non-Commercial Radio". SPIN. June 1989. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  19. ^ "Page 20 - Heatseakers - The Proclaimers". Billboard. 16 July 1994. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  20. ^ Dangelo, Joe (22 May 2001). "Proclaimers return with "Persevere"". MTV News. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  21. ^ Buckley, Peter; Buckley, Johnathan; Furmanovsky, Jill (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock (Illustrated ed.). Rough Guides. p. 823. ISBN 9781858284576.
  22. ^ "Glastonbury Festival 1989 Setlists". Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  23. ^ "Late Night with David Letterman - Full cast and crew". IMDb. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  24. ^ "Z100 Birthday Party - 07/28/1993 - Madison Square Garden". Concert Archives. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  25. ^ Dixon, Laura (22 December 2006). "Twin Geeks: from Leith to Legends". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  26. ^ "5 Reasons You Need to Watch Sunshine on Leith". Fame 10. 1 September 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  27. ^ Fisher, Mark (28 April 2007). "Sunshine on Leith: A Musical". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  28. ^ "Stewart, Goodman, Bourne Take Home TMA Awards". What's On Stage. Archived from the original on 16 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  29. ^ "Sunshine on Leith". TIFF. Archived from the original on 16 August 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  30. ^ "Sunshine on Leith". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  31. ^ "Prisoners locks up top spot again as UK's appetite for change diminishes". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  32. ^ " – The Proclaimers – Sunshine on Leith". Hung Medien.
  33. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 4630". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
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  35. ^ " – The Proclaimers – Sunshine on Leith". Hung Medien.
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  37. ^ " – The Proclaimers – Sunshine on Leith" (in German). Hung Medien.
  38. ^ "The Proclaimers Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
  39. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Albums for 1989". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  40. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1989". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
  41. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 45.
  42. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Proclaimers – Sunshine on Leith". Music Canada. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  43. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – The Proclaimers – Sunshine on Leith". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  44. ^ "British album certifications – The Proclaimers – Sunshine on Leith". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 26 December 2019.Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Sunshine on Leith in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  45. ^ "American album certifications – The Proclaimers – Sunshine on Leith". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 26 December 2019.