There’s No Beauty Anymore

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

Colorama – Acid-folk with a psych twist.

Thursday November 10th, Slaughtered Lamb, LDN

I’ve never heard a band sound quite like Colorama.

Their website describes them as a psych folk / dream pop group, which sounds about right.

It is tempting for people to lump together all new bands without any screaming guitars in the “folk” category but that would do Colorama a grave disservice.

There are only surface similarities to the current folk revival scene, but this band is coming from a different direction entirely.

They sound unique in current music. There are elements of early 70s acid-folk – think Pentangle and the songs running through “The Wicker Man” – but there is also a psychedelic 60s element to the sound. Bandleader Carwyn Ellis’s singing adds yet another dimension, all yearning and pastoral.

The songs are beautiful slow-burning things that get into your head and under your skin. They’re split about 60/40 between Welsh and English. Now despite only speaking English I think I prefer the songs in Welsh – not understanding the lyrics lets me get lost in the music. I don’t understand German either, which is one of the major reasons I like Wagner. The composer that is, not the bloke off of X-Factor last year.

Colorama have been my late night listening of choice for most of what’s been an absolutely vile year on a personal level. The music has an unsentimental beauty that just draws you in.

I’ve been waiting a long time to see them live and tonight’s setting at The Slaughtered Lamb in Shoreditch is perfect. Basement room, people stood around at the bar or sat on sofas and armchairs.

There’s a red on black pentagram adorning the back of the stage, which seems to fit perfectly with Colorama’s sound.

The musicianship is astounding, on their records and also, as tonight proves, in a live setting. Any muso will tell you that is easy to amp it up to 11 and speed everything up on stage. If anything – and I wasn’t carrying a stopwatch so I can’t say for sure – Colorama slow it down. They’re not afraid of playing quietly, and thank God for that ‘cos these songs work best that way.

The band is currently a three-piece with guitars, drums and occasional forays into some weird and wonderful looking instruments that I’ve certainly never seen played live before, including an autoharp Its not a harp at all, as you can see. Its a zither, really. The campaign to reinstate the proper name begins here.

Colorama appear to be poised on the brink of a bit of success, at least in indie/alternative circles. The aforementioned folk revival in which we find ourselves can do them no harm. So if more people get to hear Colorama, I’ll happily put up with the presence any number of Whales and Sons and so on.

They have three albums /mini-albums out. Debut mini-album “Magic Lantern Show” is the most folky of the three. Full-length album “Box” gives more reign to the psychedelic side in places (check out “Candy Street” in particular, the best song Ray Davies never wrote) and they’ve just released “Colouring Book” which on the first couple of listens is well up to standard.

You should listen to this band. And go see them before they get too big. Next LDN gig is at Stokey Records Bar in Stoke Newington on Friday 9th December 2011.

Colorama website