Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#711 in the Series) is Dexys, One Day I’m Going To Soar
Nothing’s changed, not really.
Despite all the personnel, stylistic and sartorial revamps over the years, Dexys have remained at heart a Soul band. The first album was fuelled by the passion of Northern Soul, the second infused by emotive Celtic Soul, and in 1985, the band’s masterful “Don’t Stand Me Down” settled into a slightly more sedate groove. That one is a real lost treasure and remains Kevin Rowland’s masterpiece. It was a total flop at the time but has gained in reputation over the years and been re-released at least twice, that I know of.
Kevin Rowland is famous for his perfectionism and being a control freak, which maybe explains why the new album has taken so long. In the first incarnation of the band he imposed a complete embargo on drink and drugs, made the members stick to a strict keep fit regime. It paid off, they were an awesome live band and had a big hit early on, and “Geno” reached No 1 in 1980. The band grew tired of it all and quit. He got a new band, a new image, and soared to even greater success. The classic single “Come On Eileen” made the top in the UK, Australia and the USA.
Things went slightly pear shaped after that though. The follow up album was a flop, Rowland insisting that it had to stand alone as a complete album; he refused to sanction the release of a single. With no promotion, it died a death. It was the best thing he’s ever been involved with so it must have been a painful experience. Bar a one off single “Because Of You,” that was pretty much that for Dexys Midnight Runners.
It’s been a long time coming but finally, after a mere 27 years, the new Dexys (note the shortened name) album has arrived. I’m pleased to report: it’s perfect.
Kevin Rowland has been talking about this album for a long time of course but as the years rolled slowly passed it began to seem like a pipe-dream, like it was simply never going to happen. Much has happened in the meantime, of course, but very little of it seemed to be concerned with music. Cocaine’s been mentioned, also bankruptcy and homelessness, most of it probably exaggerated. There were two solo albums (the last in 1999) and then in 2003, a couple of new tracks were released, on a “Best Of” compilation. It was accompanied by a tour on which a new line-up was revealed, with some old faces returning to the fold. This is it, fans thought. The new tracks (“Manhood” and “My Life In England”) were amazing and seemed to set the scene for the new album which would surely follow in short order.
And here it is, only 9 years later!
Mick Talbot (ex- Style Council) is still onboard, as are Pete Williams and Lucy Morgan. Long termer Big Jim Paterson is also still involved. Kevin has a new vocal foil, Madeleine Hyland. He likes to create little mini dramas and conversations within a song, a deft trick which has served him well over the years and has provided a few laughs also. Which is good because in the world of Kevin Rowland, things can get pretty intense.
It starts off with a kind of mini-suite of 3 songs, about national identity and Kevin’s hopes, dreams, fears etc. as a youngster growing up. National identity is one of his recurring themes over the years, he was the son of Irish immigrants and he’s written a lot about what it was like coming to England as a young kid and finding it hard to fit in. Feeling different from all the other kids at school, wondering if it was his fault. Which makes it seem a bit po-faced and that isn’t the case. The music is simply sublime throughout and his lyrics always have some sly humour attached. Pick of the early tracks for me is “Lost” with this great intro:
“I always think about the summers / they’re my favourite memories / I was always dreaming about something / like how my life could be / full of music , girls and clothes / I dreamed about beauty”
From there it’s on to the middle section which starts off with the infectious, Al Green-ish “She Got A Wiggle.” A tune which could have made the cut on a Willie Mitchell produced album easily. Songs here start of being about Kevin falling in love, obsession even, and the euphoria he feels. It continues with “You,” another sweet groove.
Naturally, this can’t last. By “Thinking Of You” things take an abrupt turn for the worse and the infatuation becomes a bit creepy. More stalker than lover! Halfway through “I’m Always Going To Love You” (such a great intro on this one) things take an abrupt turn and Kev decides that maybe things aren’t so simple after all, and it’s all his own fault. Just as the object of his affection tells him that he feels the same:
“I wasn’t thinking, i was so confused / I don’t know HOW to love you”
The old self-loathing again. Next track “Incapable Of Love” is fairly self-explanatory after this revelation.
The final section is articulating how he feels about his place in the world, telling us all about how he’s never REALLY fitted in anywhere, with anyone. How much of all this is true is anyone’s guess, which should always be the case with such a great songwriter really. Even if it’s fabrication, he makes us believe it.
“Free” is the most upbeat number , a stomping tune which gives way to the final, devastating soliloquy of “It’s OK John Joe.”
A classic Rowland track, in the vein of “Reminisce #2″ or “This Is What She’s Like.” Bleak and beautiful in equal measure, its inclusion makes the whole album for me. Absolutely perfect as our man pours his heart out.
“If I’m depending on another person I’m in trouble…..and so are they.”
Just at the end, the final minute when the man’s reached rock bottom, the joy and euphoria which life is capable of is reaffirmed with quite the most glorious ending.
It was always going to be good to have Dexys back, they do nothing by halves and the standard has never really dipped on any of the albums. To have a release quite so special as this though is a real treat, it will be an Album Of The Year without doubt.
Let’s make this precious..…..…………
- “She Got A Wiggle”
- “I’m Thinking Of You”
- “I’m Always Going To Love You”
- “Incapable Of Love”
- “Nowhere Is Home”
- “It’s O.K. John Joe”
- Kevin Rowland
- Mick Talbot
- Pete Williams
- Jim Paterson
- Neil Hubbard
- Tim Cansfield
- Madeleine Hyland
- Lucy Morgan
- Ben Trigg
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Here is an interview with Kevin Rowland…