Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Rowland’

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Dexys Midnight Runners ‎– “Searching For The Young Soul Rebels” is the debut studio album by Dexys Midnight Runners, released on this day (11th July) in 1980.

Led by Kevin Rowland, the group formed in 1978 in Birmingham, England, and formed a strong live reputation before recording their first material. Recorded during April 1980, the album combines the aggressiveness of punk rock with soul music, particularly influenced by the Northern soul movement.

Searching for the Young Soul Rebels has been widely acclaimed by critics. AllMusic critic Ned Raggett remarked that on the album, Rowland “takes a role that Morrissey would have in 1985 and Jarvis Cocker in 1995 – the unexpected but perfect voice to capture a time and moment in the U.K – the return of ‘soul’ to English rock music at the dawn of Thatcherism.” The album cover features a photograph of a 13-year-old Irish Catholic boy carrying his belongings after being forced from his home in Belfast, Northern Ireland because of civil unrest in 1971. The photo was included in the Evening Standard the next day and was picked up by the band nine years later. The boy later identified himself as Anthony O’Shaughnessy.

When “Come On Eileen” first became a hit in the U.K. In retrospect, it fits with what I now know to be Dexys’ R&B roots. But at the time, you just saw these people dressed in Dickensian street-Dockers clothes, doing this kind of fiddle song that had a number of catchy hooks, with a singer, you know, yelping. “Searching for the Young Soul Rebels”, released on 11th July 1980, through EMI Records.

That particular record, “Too-Rye-Ay”, was a bit of an apotheosis of where the band had been moving. Kevin Rowland is a singer of Irish descent from Birmingham my home city, and they had this whole Celtic-soul kind of thing from the punk era, with a little bit of that energy and edge. And I think the pinnacle of this earlier incarnation of Dexys is the song “Geno.”

It was a huge hit in the U.K.  It’s just a really great, horn section-driven song; I think it’s in this song that I started to realize what Kevin Rowland was doing with his warbly, emotive soul yelp — this Jackie Wilson, Wilson Pickett kind of shout-singing. In many ways, Rowland’s voice was the embodiment of that straddled position but you would be hard pressed to find a voice more emotive. It conveys alternately and simultaneously determination and desperation and, through all of the changes Dexys would go through (in both line-up and music), gives continuity to an otherwise schizophrenic catalogue. The sobbing style was conceived specifically by Rowland to set him apart, and though it may have put him up for parody to a degree, it is a small price to pay for the instant recall and nostalgia now evoked by his timbres in whatever setting they appear.

Released to numerous glowing reviews, the album went on to become a staple in the Top 100 British Albums of all time and has rightfully earnt a place in the ‘1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die’ series.

The record opens with ‘Burn It Down’, the reworking of original Dexys single ‘Dance Stance’, which kicks off with squealing radio frequencies after which Kevin shouts at Jimmy (Paterson, trombone) and Al (Archer, also called Kevin, but alas there could only be one!) to “burn it down” before launching into a soul-inflected ode to the Irish victims of ignorance – dropping names like Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and Laurence Sterne.

Instrumental ‘The Teams That Meet in Caffs’ goes on a bit, but is worth enduring as the following ‘I’m Just Looking’ proves itself an absolute jewel in Kev’s madcap crown. Never are his sobs more shoulder shifting or the brass interjections more dramatically staccato. Icy organ sends chills as Rowland moves from eerie whispers to rolling Rs and exasperated bellows, giving the warning “Don’t come any closer”

The only track coming close to being this moving is album closer ‘There There My Dear’, an open letter to what Rowland perceives to be a dishonest music scene. “Perhaps I’d listen to your records but your logic’s far too lame,” Rowland laments. “And I’d only waste three valuable minutes of my life with your insincerity”. Although the track begins akin to a Bar Kays jam sesh, horns build melodrama amongst another dabbing of literary name dropping until it culminates in a breakdown of rising action where Rowland bewails the vanishing of the young soul rebels.

The influences showcase continues with a cover of Northern Soul classic Chuck Wood’s ‘Seven Days Too Long’ that would not have been out of place spinning at the Wigan Casino, chugging along at speeds allowed by the Dexys’ namesake amphetamine.

‘Thankfully Not Living in Yorkshire It Doesn’t Apply’ is another beast entirely from the rest of the album. It’s completely incomprehensible, but irresistibly fun with playful organ, daft falsetto and a lovably silly “ooh ooh, aah aah” chorus.

“Young Soul Rebels – fierce, raging and passionate – remains one of the greatest debut albums of all time,” wrote Daryl Eslea for BBC Music.

“Ultimately, the myth-making around Kevin Rowland tends to obscure the fact that he’s been responsible for some truly soul-scorching music,” wrote Graeme Thomson of Uncut.

Mojo called ‘Searching for the Young Soul Rebels’ “the most incandescent and refreshing record” of 1980.

A rousing anthem delivered with passion – Rowland’s paean to the ‘greatest soul singer that every lived’ – “Geno” had such dance-drive that it was easy to overlook the sentiment: concealed within was a song about a kid bunking into a gig and experiencing his first musical epiphany.

This romantic vision was vibrant, deep and begat one of the greatest modern soul records of its day – and one that continues to deliver on the dancefloor.

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Originally released in 1999, “My Beauty” was the second solo album from Dexys/Dexys Midnight Runners’ lead singer Kevin Rowland. The album was mostly unfairly received by critics at the time, but in the years since has come to enjoy cult status. This reissue is the first time “My Beauty” has been available on vinyl and on CD with its originally intended track-listing.

“My Beauty” comprises twelve cover songs, personally chosen by Kevin and adapted to make the lyrics more directly reflective of his life. The result was an autobiographical concept record about his battle and recovery from addiction, and his own struggle with self-esteem, exemplified by his incredible version of George Benson / Whitney Houston classic ‘The Greatest Love Of All’.

Kevin’s choice of style for this record was men’s dresses – in stark contrast to the prevailing mood in the late 1990s of British lad rock. The cover design was a radical look for the time – silk dresses, stockings and make up, not cross-dressing but a look that was undoubtedly feminine.  The album was released on Oasis’ label Creation, after Kevin was signed by Alan McGee (who loved Kevin’s new look and labelled it “punk rock”). However, “My Beauty” was to be the last record released before Creation folded and the chaos that surrounded the label meant they hadn’t secured approval for the cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’. Despite its flowing, elegant music, the album was viciously savaged by most critics, with some focussing on Kevin’s choice of attire rather than the quality of the music.

Now in 2020, on the album’s 21st birthday, the world has changed and it’s high time to re-evaluate this modern masterpiece. Only ever previously released on CD, “My Beauty” has been remastered by original co-producer (with Dexys stalwart Jim Paterson) Pete Schwier and Marco Migliari. Two new videos have been filmed. The first – for ‘Rag Doll’ – is mimed by a young man in make-up, dressed in a gender fluid way. It’s a look that has become rightly incorporated into modern society, and by the end of the video, it’s revealed the man is Kevin’s grandson Roo, importantly closing the circle on what has been a painful experience for Kevin.

Over time, some music critics have re-evaluated “My Beauty” as a lost classic. Kevin has lived through all of this, and it was a painful experience to be outcast and dismissed. Now that attitudes have changed, hopefully the music can finally reach the audience it deserves and Kevin can tell his story.

Kevin Rowland’s brand new video for his interpretation of Rag Doll. Taken from the forthcoming reissue of My Beauty, out September 2020 on Cherry Red Records. Video directed by Jack Satchell. Original VHS footage of Concrete and Clay video kindly supplied by Daniel Cooke.

First time on vinyl for this long-overlooked classic and is a Limited Edition pressing on baby pink vinyl.

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Cementing his reputation as one of pop’s greatest contrarians, Dexys’ Kevin Rowland reacted to the huge success of Come On Eileen and Too-Rye-Ay by composing this whopper for belated follow-up album Don’t Stand Me Down. The opening couldn’t be more inauspicious – a minute of stilted, mundane, weirdly passive-aggressive chit-chat between Rowland and guitarist Billy Adams. But when the band kicks in, it’s glorious; an extended hymn to the inexplicable mania of new love, with an extended dig at ignorant poshos and “newly wealthy peasants” thrown in for good measure. Derided at the time, This Is What She’s Like finally found its natural place when closing out Dexys’ triumphant 2013 shows at London’s Duke of York theatre.

The return of Kevin Rowlands and a newly reinvigorated Dexys was one of the best things that happened to music in 2012. Backed by Pete Williams and Big Jim Paterson from the original line-up and with the addition of the Style Council’s Mick Talbot and the stunning new female vocalist Madeline Hyland their album “One day Im going to soar” was not just great it was in this reviewers humble opinion the best of the year. Equally it was outrage that a piece of music this good couldn’t get nominated for the increasingly irrelevant Mercury Prize. Rowland presented a work based around a loose concept of such sheer coherence that the yawning gap between “One Day” and his other great masterwork “Don’t Stand me down” was effectively bridged with no drop in quality. The bands gigs were on fire where they played the whole of the new album, an extra extended “Come on Eileen” and the storming show stopper “This is What She’s Like” where Kevin Rowland spat out the line “Well you know that the English Upper Classes are thick and ignorant”. The song of the evening however and of the new album was “She’s got a Wiggle”. It sounds like the daftest title of all time yet it is perfect. A four minute blast of British soul music as pulsating and sexy as anything Al Green produced to whom it owes an undoubted debt. Kevin Rowlands voice has got better with age and Madeline Hyland’s backing hits the spot. In a decent and fair world songs like this with bands playing in the flesh without massive production would be the default listening pleasure for all music lovers.

Taken from the album One Day I’m Going to Soar: the track ” I’m Thinking Of You “

Dexys playing this track called “I’m Thinking Of You” from their new album ‘One Day I’m Going To Soar’ on BBC 2’s The Friday Review Show – Broadcast on 1/6/2012 I just love Kevin Rowland over exaggeration of the lyrics,
[The Friday Review Show – BBC2] – June 1st 2012

also here is the audio and my favourite track from the return album – “I’m Incapable Of Love”