And here’s a Glastonbury quiz question for you. Which band made their debut at Glastonbury last weekend and have had more number one UK singles than Metallica, Kasabian, Arcade Fire, Ed Sheeran and Bryan Ferry put together and were STILL not covered by the BBC? Nope, not Dolly Parton …
Dexys Midnight Runners emerged from the West Midlands at around the same time as the Specials and the other 2-Tone bands, but wasted no time defining themselves as separate, outside and better than the rest.
Paying as much attention to the image and the clothes as they did to the music, almost uniquely at the time outside of black music and heavy metal, this proved a smart move. Everybody knew what they looked like. And everybody had an opinion on it.
Dexys mainman Kevin Rowland has said on countless occasions – most recently in this month’s Mojo Magazine – that he does not like looking back which is fair enough but forgive me if I don’t share that feeling.
Simply put, Dexys in their various incarnations have been responsible for some of the best singles, the best albums and the best gigs I have ever attended.
Here’s some evidence.
Old Vic Theatre, 1981 – Soon / Plan B
This was an unbelievable set of gigs. During the gig I attended, Kevin stopped the show to argue with a heckler who wouldn’t shut up during the quiet bits. I actually thought he was going to lamp him.
Radio One Big Top Weekend, Newcastle, 1982 – Come On Eileen
As far as I know this was the first ever public performance of this song, which has of course become the ultimate wedding disco anthem. I maintain you can hear me bellowing loudly at the end of this, but it’s not conclusive.
Shaftesbury Theatre, 1982 – R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
The definitive version of the Aretha Franklin classic, Dexys anthem in the early days.
Shepherd’s Bush Empire 2012 Until I Believe My Soul / Tell Me When My Light Turns Green
One song from “Too-Rye-Ay”, one from “Searching For The Young Soul Rebels” from the triumphant comeback tour of a couple of years ago.
Glastonbury 2014 – This Is What She’s Like
And from the Glastonbury set, this is possibly THE Dexys song ..
I saw an interview with Kevin Rowland a couple of years ago where he said the new incarnation of Dexys was more about the theatre than the music. He’s entitled to his opinion, I suppose. But for me it’s always been the music, Not the theatre, or the clothes, although I get that these form the attitude, which informs and inspires the music, which is unique and agnificent whether the band is wearing tracksuits, dungarees, Brook Brothers suits or dresses.
If you want to hear some more live Dexys tracks old and new then check the current Beat City podcast here Beat City 30 – There’s No Beauty Anymore
Also features :
Elephant Man (om the Gwan Bad Riddim)
Colorama (fro the cracking new album “Temari”)
Bobby Womack RIP
plus loads more