Excited? The Return of Kevin Rowland – the Brummy Irish James Brown!

23 May

There’s a buzz on the streets of on the streets of England. That buzz created by the forthcoming release of what promises to be another amazing, tortuous Dexy’s Midnight Runners album, One Day I’m Going to Soar. Except it isn’t quite, this time the amazing Kevin Rowland has opted to call the band Dexys, which most people did anyway.

I’m sure that if Kevin Rowland read the title of this post, he would give me a big kick in the shins with his two-tone brogues. But make no mistake, I meant it in the best possible way, I’m comparing him with the Minister of the New, New, Superheavy Funk. The Professor is very happy about this new coming.

The last album was way back 1985. Back then, I don’t think I would have understood the cult of Dexy’s Midnight Runners. It was only about 12 years ago when I first considered buying some of their music as before that time I had only associated Come on Eileen with shitty nightclubs or tacky DJs. I was heavily into my funk and soul music at the time and kept hearing these rumours that their first album, In Search of the Young Soul Rebelswas actually pretty good. I was curious.

I’ve always had a light-hearted side and an intense side. The intense side of me is reflected in the types of books, films and a lot of the music I like. After buying the CD in a CD/Record shop (remember them?), I took it home and put it on. I was slightly perplexed because it didn’t quite fit into any category I was listening to at the time, it was punky, poppy, soulful and powerful. Above all, it was one of the most intense albums I had ever heard. Like all good albums it just got better and better and better with every play and was permanently in my CD player for months and months and months and months (I could go on but I wasn’t actually counting at the time). At one point, I almost felt bad if I couldn’t play it or had decided to put on something else. I even took it with me on a trip to Copenhagen and got the barman in a pub to put it on for me. At this point in my life, I hadn’t been obsessed with any album for a long, long time. How do you top that? I thought or rather I would have thought if I hadn’t been consumed by the music. How do you top that? I say with the benefit of hindsight, this is/was as good as it gets!!

One day I was browsing a charity shop in Trinity Road, Tooting Bec, just up from the Wheatsheaf pub and I flicked through the selection of old Herb Alpert and Tijuana Brass and Top of the Pops 70s records. All of a sudden, I came across a creamy green album cover with what looked like a poor destitute hillbilly on the front cover. It was Too-Rye-Ay and that poor destitute hillbilly man was none other than Kevin Rowland!! Oddly, such was the influence of Come on Eileen upon my subconscious that I still hadn’t considered buying this, thinking that it was just a collection of records destined for middle-aged, middle-of-the-road parties or for girls with white handbags. I coughed up my £1, bought it and it must rank as one of my best ever purchases and definitely way above my Hopsack beige Farahs!

From the moment it starting revolving around my turntable I knew it was to be something special. Famously, in the 1986 World Cup TV coverage, co-commentor David Pleat said of Maradona that he believed he had just dethroned Pele. I myself screamed ‘I don’t believe it, they’ve just dethroned In Search of the Young Soul Rebels!’  It’s true there were a few more syllables in my exclamation than David’s but I don’t think it was any less effective for it, particularly as no one else was in the house at the time.

Now I had even seen (heard) Come on Eileen on its own terms and loved it. I was and still am obsessed with this album. Many times the Profesorette would come down the stairs to find out what all the racket was at 2 am only to find me dancing and singing along to Too-Rye-Ay in me underpants!!! I say singing along but if you’ve ever heard Kevin Rowland sing then you’ll know that there is quite a bit of wailing to be had. It is an all-consuming record for me and was ever difficult not to listen to the album in its entirety.

Dexy’s went on to release another quite stunning album in 1985 called Don’t Stand Me Down, this was an altogether slower burner for me but equally brilliant. All three of these albums have their own individual character and are pure class. The last was a very mature offering which I like to savour, much like a Thomas Hardy Vintage Ale, opting not to dance to it in my undergarments and preferring instead to listen to it in the bath or when I’m chopping onions (cooking and music are happy bedfellows in my opinion, or in this case, rather intense bedfellows since they both make your eyes water).

In the interests of balance, I should probably point out at this point that all that Kevin Rowland has done has not been perfect and sometime after Dexy’s disbanded there was a slightly odd cover album that he did with an ‘interesting’ choice of songs and a rather unnerving video for the song Concrete and Clay. Watch it for yourself if you dare but don’t come running to me if you can’t get to sleep tonight.

Dark days indeed for a fallen legend. Nevertheless genius doesn’t die, it just has tea and biscuits. And after the calamity of the rich tea falling into the teacup has come a whole new freshly brewed pot of organic fairtrade Lapsan Souchong. Yes, Dexys have been revived by a rejuvenated band leader and by all accounts the new record is every bit a Dexys classic. I’ll have to see (hear) about that but the early noises bouncing around the internet are very promising indeed.

So have I whet your appetite or are you still suffering from the prejudices of their past success? Conversely, maybe you just think they are shit? (Idiot)


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