Produced by Pete Wingfield
Label – EMI
As if to simulate the tribal landscape of the late 1970s music scene, Kevin Rowland’s Dexy’s Midnight Runners deliberately fashioned a closely knit gang of soul visionaries that narrowed their inspirations into a spectacular visual and aural show of defiant and intense spirit. Rowland’s focused intention was to carefully hone a team of quality musicians to a magnetic molding of the emotional soul and r&b of the 60s, combined with an approach that borrowed heavily from punk rock’s explosive anger. Visually, the band furthered their “outsider” image with donkey jackets, leather coats and black beanie hats. The look was more akin to New York dockworkers than flamboyant musicians as if to further alienate the band from any popular scene. The three piece brass section of trombonist “Big” Jim Paterson, saxophonist Geoff “JB” Blythe and alto saxophonist Steve “Babyface” Spooner are vital components to the overall sound providing many superb solo’s but more importantly, their upfront input dominates proceedings and provides many irresistible highlights.
Kicking off with the combative riposte to anyone who dare decry Irish culture, “Burn It Down” is a powerful rework of their debut single (“Dance Stance”). Rowlands ire peaks at the line “shut your fucking mouth ’til you know the truth”, only to return again for the tumultuous closer “There, There, My Dear” as he declares “we should welcome the new soul vision”. Both songs are superbly crafted reactionary bookends that house some equally thrilling contents in between. Jim Paterson’s excellent solo and the driving rhythms of “Tell Me When My Light Turns Green” keep the momentum burning, followed by guitarist “Al” Archer’s nostalgic instrumental “The Teams That Meet In Caffs”. Most UK fans would have been introduced to the band via the loyal tribute to Geno Washington on the chart topping “Geno”. The compelling brass riff allied with Rowland’s sentimental lyrics and a foot stomping rhythm make it easy to understands its place in the higher echelons of both critical and commercial acclaim. The sole cover is a frenetic version of Chuck Wood’s “Seven Days Too Long”, one of a number of top class re-interpretations the band recorded during their early days. The real tragedy is that this line up of Dexy’s didn’t reach their potential, as in-fighting and Rowland’s undoubted dictatorial and perfectionist leadership would split the band up soon after this wonderfully fleeting introduction.
You could pile superlative on top of hyperbole and still fail to capture the pride and passion that makes this a magical long player. It’s out there on its own for wilful individualism and outright originality. Nothing else sounded like this in 1980.
1 – Burn It Down (10)
2 – Tell Me When My Light Turns Green (9)
3 – The Teams That Meet In Caffs (8)
4 – I’m Just Looking (7)
5 – Geno (10)
6 – Seven Days Too Long (8)
7 – I Couldn’t Help If I Tried (9)
8 – Thankfully Not Living In Yorkshire It Doesn’t Apply (7)
9 – Keep It (9)
10 – Love Part 1 (Poem) (7)
11 – There There My Dear (10)