You’re So Anti-Fashion

This is from the same year as yesterday’s bank holiday Jam special and from another of punk’s angry and intense young men, Kevin Rowland. There, There, My Dear explodes out of the end of Searching For The Young Soul Rebels, an album that has more than its fair share of musical and lyrical explosions.

The Stax v punk horns burst the song open and Kevin begins addressing ‘Robin’ and then takes him apart in a variety of ways, the most audible being ‘if you’re so anti-fashion, why not wear flares?’. Kevin follows up with a list of writers Robin likes to quote and disparages his claims of liking Frank Sinatra. On it goes, Kevin twisting his knife further and cramming more words into the lines than should really fit (and scan) until the spoken word section where he accuses Robin of hiding the young soul rebels, finishing with ‘Maybe you should welcome the new soul vision’. I don’t know who Robin is, whether he is a real person, an imaginary enemy, someone at the NME, an amalgam of people from other bands- he could be any of these. And whether Robin deserves Kevin’s criticism or not, its a undeniably exciting and exhilarating way to close the album.

There, There, My Dear

Let’s Get This Straight

I was listening to Dexys Midnight Runners on New Year’s Day. Not the young soul rebels Dexys of Geno or the misunderstood but not stood down Dexys but the more maligned raggle-taggle gypsy Dexys. This was sparked by two things. Firstly the younger child, now thirteen, singing the chorus of Come On Eileen and me wanting her to get the words right. And secondly a Top Of The Pops repeat from 1982 of the single Let’s Get This Straight (From The Start) where Kevin nails perfectly the Celtic soul thing- 50% Celtic and 50% soul. It’s also that great thing, a non-album single. While I’m here, although the styling wasn’t the best Dexys look, it was memorable and  I won’t have a bad word said about dungarees (not that I own a pair. I’m 46 for God’s sake).

Let’s Get This Straight (From The Start)

Listen To This

Dexys in 1985, when Kevin Rowland realised that nothing is further out than looking totally straight. They then released an album (Don’t Stand Me Down) that the press didn’t get but now can’t get enough of. I Love You (Listen To This) could easily be my favourite Dexys tune (One Of Those Things off the same record runs it close, with Kevin’s impassioned realisation that ‘It all sounded the same’). Here are the group on performing live on The Tube in ’85. Kevin’s dancing at the three minute mark is a joy to behold.


… we’ve waited a long time.
Because the new album’s out, two and a half decades plus after the last.
Because it’s Kevin Rowland and he is always worth listening to.
Because they look great.
Because Mick Talbot, Pete Williams and Big Jim, all ex-Dexys, are in the band.
Because they mean it.
Because he’s still searching.
Because it’s Dexys.

Nowhere is Home

‘I now know no romantic situation, no money, success- nothing, can make me happy’.

Kevin’s Beauty

Dexys are back with a new album and single pencilled in for June. No ‘Midnight Runners’ bit this time, which I suppose underlines it’s a new band/thing although the band changed every time first time around didn’t it? Back in 1999 Kevin Rowland released a solo album, the infamous My Beauty. Kevin recorded twelve cover versions, re-writing the lyrics to some of them to deal with his battles with various addictions. Bruce Springsteen objected to the new lyrics and forced Kevin to pull his cover Thunder Road prior to release. It included the song here, a cover of a Hollies song. The album lives in the memory for two other reasons though- first Kevin appeared on the cover wearing a dress (a man’s dress mind), make up, silky black knickers and stockings and suspenders. At the Reading festival that year he wore a white slip dress and was showered with bottles, some of which contained the traditional liquid of the Reading festival goer thrower. Second, it was widely reported to have sold only 5/50/70 copies (delete according to what you heard) in its first week on sale. Creation and Alan McGee (who released it) claimed to welcome this as evidence of its genius and the small mindedness of the record buying public, although rumours of total sales of only 500 can’t have helped anyone at the time, least of all Kevin. Of course legend beats fact, as usual- it went on to sell over 20,000 worldwide.

I Can’t Tell The Bottom From The Top

And Thoughts Of You Will Stay With Me

Before cds and re-issue culture ‘great lost albums’ were just lost. Dexys Midnight Runners’ 1985 album Don’t Stand Me Down was one of them, partly due to Kevin Rowlands bewildering insistence on changing everything about the band after each album. For Don’t Stand Me Down the band left behind the raggle-taggle gypsy, hit making folk-pop of Too-Ray-Ay and adopted preppy suits, slicked back hair and an album without any singles, several long spoken word tracks. It cost a massive amount of money and according to the saxophonist making it was ‘uncomfortable and unnatural’. As a ‘great lost album’ it is naturally a neglected masterpiece and has been re-issued at least twice, once by Creation. Which led to Kevin Rowlands solo album. But that’s another story. This song is a neglected masterpiece, re-named for the re-issue. It swings.

I Love You (Listen To This) ne Listen To This

Young Soul Rebel Version

Dexys Midnight Runners’ cover of yesterday’s northern soul smash isn’t too shabby either.

A couple of friends of mine bumped into Kevin Rowland in the street a few months back, both big fans. They approached him and one of them asked to shake his hand, telling Kevin how one of Dexys albums had been a key album in his life. ‘Which album?’ Kevin asked. ‘Searching For The Young Soul Rebels’ my friend replied. Apparently the look on Kevin Rolands’ face made it clear it wasn’t an opinion he shared. Which tells you something about artists, seeing as Young Soul Rebels is pretty much the only Dexys album to get universal adoration. It’s thirty years old this year, re-issued this month with the ‘legacy’ treatment- extra tracks, sessions, unreleased songs, booklet and so on. That’ll be the sound of a record company wringing a few more drops out.

06 Seven Days Too Long.wma

Dexys Midnight Runners ‘Because Of You’

This song came up in discussion at the pub quiz the other week (yes, I do a pub quiz). Kevin Rowland is one of the most unique pop stars we’ve ever had. Three seperate versions of Dexys, each with a different look and sound. What was your favourite? Searching For The Young Soul Rebels era New York docker look with donkey jackets and wooly hats? Raggle taggle gypsy, fiddle-loving Come On Eileen? Don’t Stand Me Down’s Ivy League suits and slicked down hair? Or even Kevin in a (man’s) dress for that solo lp that only sold 100 copies. I almost bought it just because I felt bad for him at that point.

This song, Because Of You, is a real gem, from Dexys version 3. It’s probably as well known to those of us who lived through the mid 1980s as the theme tune to a silly BBC sitcom Brush Strokes, about a window cleaner. It took Kevin and what was left of Dexys back to the UK top 20. By that point he’d stopped attacking journalists in the street, and soon after disbanded Dexys altogether. There was a series of documentaries on BBC2 a few years back called Young Guns Go For It, dissecting 80s pop groups. The one about The Smiths was excellent, as was the one about Dexys. It revealed the full extent of Kevin’s breakdown, illness and paranoia (from memory, he sacked Big Al from the band for wearing a red wooly hat because he thought the hat was an attempt to upstage and usurp Kevin as band leader). Like I said at the start, unique. And frequently brilliant.

This post is dedicated to fellow pub quiz team member NB, who became a father for the first time last night. Best wishes to NB, EB and baby GB.

05 Because of You.wma