39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Don't Stand Me Down easily ranks up there with albums that flopped in their era, yet remain one of the greatest albums regardless (see also Third/Sister Lovers, All Shook Down, I, Laughing Stock...). Here we get the final reissue of DSMD, with an improved sound over the prior Creation reissue & the cover of The Way You Look Tonight is taken off and replaced with Kevin Rowland's 13th Time (which gives the album that Sgt Pepper/Smile feel in terms of cohesion).The remaining seven tracks stem from 1985's neglected album that is easily as great (yet as different) as the first two Dexys albums.
The Occasional Flicker gets straight to the point,"No, I don't want sympathy/I just want somewhere for these sins to go/Compromise is the devil talking...I was right the first time/I'll put it right with thirst now". Here the Van Morrison-influences most apparent on a track like Until I Believe in My Soul are advanced on; Rowland & co veer off into soulful abandon. Next up is the pearl of the album, the epic This is What She's Like- which is somewhere around 15 minutes in duration, not a second wasted. It opens with a droll conversation between Billy Adams & Rowland (sort of Mike Leigh does Ogden's Nut Gone Flake, with a hint of absurdity) & the song bursts into life as Rowland attempts the impossible taske of putting into words what she's like. Rowland, like Mark E Smith, Morrissey & Elvis Costello lays into certain kinds of people in our country: "Well you know how the English upper classes are thick & ignorant?...You're familiar with the scum from Notting Hill and Moseley, the CND?...you know the new wealthy peasants with their homebars and hifis?...You know the ones who parade all their possessions & put fabulous and super in each sentence?"- the lyrics are English Scheme, the music It's Too Late to Stop Now. The song drifts off into Brian Wilson territory, prior to a canny reference to Rowland's own Come on Eileen, as Rowland quotes lines from The Godfather & the impossibility of defining what she's like becomes apparent. This is purity, by the way!
Knowledge of beauty is something that informs the album, and KOB was the original title of My National Pride, another of the album's highlights. Here Rowland deals with his Irish roots & national identity, but not in the dubious manner which Morrissey executed similar themes on Your Arsenal/Vauxhall & I. It's a wonderful ballad with country inflections (courtesy of a steel guitar) & has a harmonic reference to the "bum-bum-bum" backing harmonics Bowie & Ronson did on Lou Reed's Satellite of Love. Rowland attempts to reconcile his national roots with his personal self and the world around him, concluding "My national pride is a personal pride"...
The latter half of the album is One of Those Things, which has a piano-motif reminiscent of Warren Zevon's classic hit Werewolves of London. It objects to the contemporary music of the 80s "it was Radio One/Sid Jenkins on the air/He had synthesisers and soulful guises...I'm not lodging any complaints or anything/there was just one problem (what was that?)/It all sounded the same!". This ties in with Dexys individuality and passion, but could come across as that trad notion of what passes for genuine as defined by trad-heads like Manics, Weller & Oasis. Rowland then amusingly contrasts the uniform synth music of the time with right on views regarding "Sandinista, Cuba's militia, the PLO..." with a direct reference to the Irish troubles. The responses...you guessed it!- all sounded the same!!! Again, this recalls facets of The Fall's English Scheme...
Reminiscence Part Two continues the kind of sequel to the Love-series of songs Dexys had produced, focusing on the Proustian-properties of The Kinks' Lola & Aretha's Respect. A great interlude before I Love You (Listen to This- Listen to This being the original song title and also the original title of Miles Davis revolutionary Bitches Brew from 1970)- a pulsing blast of soul that is even more centred than prior tracks like Burn It Down & Let's Make This Precious. Finally we get the epic ballad, The Waltz- a sublime song that builds up to a soulful symphony finally Rowland revealing "Here is a protest". This is up there with Springsteen's Tenth Avenue Freeze Out or Otis' Try a Little Tenderness; plus it features Mick Woodmansey from the Spiders from Mars!
Don't Stand Me Down is one of the peaks of the 1980s and the best of Dexys three great albums; it wipes the floor with an album like The Stone Roses- which often gets in the Top 10 albums of all time. At this price, it would be rude not to...so...listen to this!
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 17 April 2002
'Compromise is the devil talking' shrieks Kevin Rowland on opening track 'The Occasional Flicker'. Rarely has one line so aptly and succinctly described the sentiments of its creator. With Dexys Midnight Runners, Rowland constantly shifted (and expanded) his musical vision, incorporating frequent and reputedly ruthless line-up changes. 'Don't Stand Me Down' was the final Dexys album - a heartwrenching, intensely beautiful statement initially derided by baffled critics. It's fair to say that this is one of the most cruelly overlooked records of the eighties, its incredible depth and authority being ignored in favour of more immediate thrills. Now, it gets a second reissue (following the 1996 Creation edition that Rowland now admits was not definitive)and is finally restored to its intended running order.
For those who have already purchased the Creation edition - there are some benefits to investing again. Rowland has removed the 'stereo-enhancer' used in remastering the Creation edition, claiming that it resulted in a sound unfaithful to that of the original recordings. The difference is notable, the sound being more dry and less polished that on the Creation counterpart, but unless you're a real sound buff, you probably won't care. The real return here comes with the additional opening track 'Kevin Rowland's 13th time', at least as passionate and humorous as anything else on the record and set to a driving, soulful groove. This package also takes full advantage of recent technological developments, offering three videos in addition to the album itself. It is a shame that Rowland's awesome reading of Jerome Kern's 'The Way You Look Tonight' (a bonus track on the Creation edition) is not included here as it is an absolute treat, but there are more than enough extras to compensate and the CD is presented with equal care and attention to detail.
As for the music, it's as challenging, rewarding and powerful as ever. Rowland assembled a mighty ensemble for these recordings. Helen O'Hara's violin adds warmth and charm whilst some of the best session players have space of their own, rather than fading into the background. In fact, the Memphis rock-solid drumming of Tim Dancy and the wonderfully rhythmic piano of Vincent Crane help to define the sound, which seems partially indebted to soul and the way in which pop musicians adapted the soul sound to their own styles. Rowland namechecks 'The Wedding Bell Blues' on 'Reminisce' and the remarkable early singles of Laura Nyron do seem to be an obvious reference point. More literally, 'One of Those Things' is a direct steal from Warren Zevon's 'Werewolves of London', at Rowland's own admisson.
Yet, this is an outstanding and utterly unique record in its own right. The music floats and grooves with effortless clarity and style. It makes highly effective use of both melody and speech. The epic 'This Is What She's Like' begins with Rowland and Billy Adams talking, Adams trying to get Rowland to describe his latest love. He tries, but concedes that she is just too beautiful for words. 'Reminisce (part two)' is one of the most sentimental and whimsical vocals ever laid to record, Rowland narrating an account of an old girlfriend. In anyone else's hands, it could easily have been cloying and grating - here, it sounds honest and genuine. On the bulk of this astounding record, Rowland is at the height of his vocal performances, delivering virtuosic yet resoundingly unpretentious performances, varying dynamics and tone with unswerving commitment. If he'd only had more self-confidence in this talent and ability, he may have been recognised as one of the best singers this country has produced.
This is an uncompromising record, from the length of the songs to the prevalent Irish nationalist political agenda. It is also rampantly indulgent, Rowland giving away far more of his personal character here than on any other Dexys release. Despite, arguably even because of this, it remains a triumph - a record of manifest honesty, dignity and integrity. The latter two characteristics are probably things that Rowland abandoned forever with his extraordinary Reading Festival Performance in women's clothing surrounding the release of 'My Beauty'. This is a genuine tragedy. It's great to have these masterful recordings unearthed and restored again, especially for those who have missed out on them for so long. If compromise really is the devil talking, then maybe the devil doesn't have the best tunes after all....
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Two types of people will buy this LP. Those that have the vinyl and CD version (possibly two - original and reissue). They'll probably get it even if I say I can't instantly hear massive differences between the Creation version and Kevin's re-mastered one - so I'll talk to the other type. Maybe you've heard other Dexy's stuff or not but you need to be aware what this LP is all about. Brave, beautiful and bold. This LP stands alongside anything I have, from Stevie Wonder classics through Otis Redding and the Who - Brother Kevin means this. This LP is a gem. The strings, the horns all sound trademark Dexy's. The lyrics and themes explored put Rowland instantly into Van the Man territory. The first Dexy's LP spoke about cherishing records, holding them dear to your heart. I do that will all of the DMR's releases, but none more so than this one. When people speak of classic, groundbreaking and timeless LPs this should be right up there. Do not miss this, cherish it.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Don't Stand Me Down,Dexys'third album,was rather poorly received on release-
the lack of a supporting single to push the album probably didn't help either,
though if I Love You (Listen To This)had been released it would have been as
succesful as Geno or Come On Eileen,and the belated decision to release a cut-down
version of This Is What She's Like(one of the standouts)sold the album rather
short.The aforementioned songs,along with the literate,intelligent My National
Pride,now stand as the very finest Kevin Rowland ever did,even more than Liars
A To E,Burn It Down,etc;and Don't Stand Me Down overall is one of the greatest
80s LPs-as good as The Queen Is Dead,The Stone Roses,Spirit Of Eden,Daydream
Nation,Parade,Surfer Rosa,It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back,
Locust Abortion Technician,Psychocandy,Forever Breathes The Lonely Word,Hex
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 October 2003
Can only agree with the previous reviewer. I've been a fan of Kevin Rowland since the first album Dexys made, and have never understood how it is that Geno and Come On Eileen are the only songs that most people know. There is some strange industry silence around Kevin Rowland, despite the fact that he is one of the few artists in the history of, for want of a better word, 'pop', to really do what he does for it's own sake. His writing, voice and approach were responsible more than anybody for me picking a guitar up for the first time. This album was not a commercial success because, for what were in hindsight a myriad of reasons it seems, Kevin didn't write a hit single this time and didn't play the game. Somehow the album is even better for it though. Where Too Rye Ay arguably suffers from having such an overplayed song on it, this album benefits from it's anonymity. As the last reviewer said, it is a revelation, and if he was unaware of the depth of Dexys until rather late in the day, it must have been exceptionally so.
I can only urge you to buy this, and the other albums, and the new best of, and The Bridge video if you can find it, and discover the band that burned brighter than any other, if only for the shortest time.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 May 2014
Ok so i decided to collected the Dexys Albums on CD.Having already heard them back in the day on vinyl.This Dexys album there 3rd studio and released in 1985 is a pure masterpiece.Theres more to it than the 7 songs listed on the sleeve.The single taken from this album Tell me what shes like could have been 3 songs put together.Its around 12 and half minutes long this album version of the single.And if thats not enough a furthur 7 and half minutes instrumemal version rounds the album off in style.The other 6 tunes feated here are very unique in the fact that they suit Mr Kevin Rowland to a fine Jim Patterson Trombone.I can understand why this album took so long to make,as when released it was perfect,it could not have been cut any better.Its just right.Well worth having in your collection this one.Review by LAO 2014.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Dexy's Midnight Runners' third album Don't Stand Me Down, released in 1985, represented the next stage in band supremo Kevin Rowland's plan for world domination (albeit via the donning of American Ivy League garb for the album's cover shots). Following the release in 1980 of the band's debut masterpiece Searching For The Young Soul Rebels, and the rather more patchy follow-up Too-Rye-Ay, this third album finally confirmed the band's reputation as one of the outstanding 'soul' bands of their era. For the Dexy's incarnation on Don't Stand Me Down, Rowland was accompanied by the great trombonist 'Big' Jimmy Paterson (the only band member remaining from the original line-up), guitarist Billy Adams and violinist Helen O'Hara, plus additional musicians recruited for the album. Whilst, for me, the album does not quite reach the heights of their inspired debut album, it has rightly been acknowledged as something of a neglected classic.
Rowland's songwriting has never been more passionate, his lyrics never more poetic, witty or, indeed, romantic, than on this collection of songs. The band also experiment with innovative song structures, for example, in the form of the band's spoken monologue over the unashamedly nostalgic, but beautiful, Reminisce (Part One). Rowland also conjures up youthful memories in his spoken lyrics on Reminisce (Part Two), where he recalls two of his most fondly remembered songs from 1969, Leaving On A Jet Plane by Peter, Paul and Mary and The Wedding Bell Blues by The 5th Dimension, before embarking on a sublime mandolin-accompanied ditty. Rowland's Irish roots are the next topic for analysis and reflection on the heavenly melodic ballad My National Pride, which also features great piano from Vincent Crane and steel guitar from Tommy Evans, and on the song The Waltz, where Rowland invokes mythological figures from Ireland's past.
However, whilst many of the songs are musically quite restrained, Dexy's are on more established and familiar ground on the up-tempo I Love You (Listen To This), another Rowland lament for lost love on which the band (sax, trombone, violin and organ, in particular) really start to gel. Such instrumental exhibitionism is, of course, repeated and then taken to the next level on the album's highpoint, the epic This Is What She's Like. This majestic song begins with some vocal sparring between Rowland and Adams, the jist of which focuses on (the probably all too true) potential intra-band rivalries and jealousies. The song then progresses through three (or is it four?) essentially different songs, all blended together to form over twelve minutes of pure musical brilliance, featuring Rowland's part-spoken, part-sung, near-hysterical rant as he attempts to tell us, with great difficulty, what the object of his desire is not like - namely, people who put creases in their Levis, the newly wealthy peasants, the thick and ignorant upper classes, the CND scum from Notting Hill and Moseley, etc, etc. It really is a magical tour de force, ranking (for me) with other extended musical epics such as Marquee Moon, What Goes On, Lately, Blue Line Swinger, Cygnet Committee, New York City Serenade, Halo Of Flies, Stuck Inside Of Mobile, etc. Indeed, even if the rest of the album was only mediocre, it would still rank as a five star recording just for this song alone.
A great record by a great band.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 14 December 2002
I never really paid much attention to Dexy’s Midnight Runners since the early-80’s. Come On Eileen was one of a very few songs, which after a few drinks, could persuade me to join the dance floor. I could even nearly stamp my feet to the rhythm of that distinct drum crescendo.
A couple of weeks ago, just as I was about to switch off the TV and hit the sack, I noticed (or rather, heard) Noddy Holder presenting Rock Legends (ITV, UK) featuring … Dexy’s Midnight Runners? What? Dexy’s Midnight Runners – legends? I think not Noddy. Perhaps you’re more than a little biased due to your common West Midlands connection with their lead singer?
Incredulously, I decided to watch and prove to myself that I knew better than the Slade front man.
It only took a couple of minutes to change my mind. The more I watched and listened the more I couldn’t believe how I had missed the obvious genius of Kevin Rowland & co since 1985. The songs and videos featured came from “Don’t Stand Me Down”.
Before the show had finished I had purchase the album online.
Since it arrived through the letter box it has hardly left my CD. I can only describe the album as absolutely brilliant. Kevin Rolland and all concerned have performed on and produced this with obvious pride. He writes in the accompanying sleeve notes about “This is What She’s Like” that “when I listen to it now I’m amazed at how beautiful it turned out”. I can’t add more. The millions of second-generation Irish living in the UK should listen to the haunting words of “My National Pride”. So many, like Kevin, are struggling with their sense of identity, like trees without roots, scared to believe in themselves (I paraphrase some of Kevin’s words).
Am I exaggerating to say that had Kevin Rolland allowed it, this album could easily have become a classic, in the same league as, say any of Bob Dylan’s?
Buy it and decide for yourselves.
Well done Kev. (And apologies from a Coventry City Fan for your experience at Highfield Road).
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2002
There can be little doubt over the sincerity of a performer like Kevin Rowland - and here it is exemplified once more in, sadly, the last offering to date from Dexys. The album is a real journey of emotions, opening track, "The Occasional Flicker" is the exorcising of demons, and the resurrection of "that burning feeling" that served Dexys so well on their first two long-play outings.
There can be few song introductions like the monologue opening of This Is What She's Like. It is both an astonishingly original and comical way to begin a song that becomes a magnum opus weighing in at around 12 minutes.
Not for the first time Rowland openly attacks the manufactured chart music that "is 'alright'" but, "all sounded the same" when he switched on his radio. There's even moments of dewy-eyed reminisce, that again work spectacularly here.
It's hard to think of another singer/performer who has the inventiveness and gall of Rowland to write and perform such songs - it's a pity that nobody has had the bottle to take his mantle since. We can but hope for a return!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 July 2012
Bought this album on tape when it was released in 1985, and loved it then, I know it turned many Dexys fans off with the change of tack from earlier recordings but Rowlands lyrics are genius, Very brave LP aswell at the time as no singles were released from the it. I remember thinking that was commercial suicide. But this still has to make my to 10 all time favourite LP's. "So I turned it on, it was Radio One, Sid Jenkins on the air" Brilliant.