So it turns out that Homer Simpson was right when he predicted in a classic episode of that great show "you haven't heard the last of Dexys Midnight Runners". True its taken some 27 years for the band to return with this album and much water has passed under the bridge with the controversy of Kevin Rowland's solo output, a short reunion tour in 2003 and a growing feeling that this new record which Rowland kind of promised in 2005 would never materialize. But here it is and it's wonderful. Let us pause at this point for a small detour since some critics are stating its Dexys best record ever. This is questionable since "Don't stand me down" remains one of the most precious bits of vinyl in many a discerning record collection and while "One day I'm going to soar" is a splendid record it contains nothing in its grooves like the incredible majesty of "This is what she's like". Nevertheless after this hiatus all sensible predictors could not have anticipated an album quite so rounded, thoughtful, cathartic and packed with great songs. The 58 year old Kevin Rowland remains one of the most potent and original forces in British music and while that voice might not be quite as soaring as it once was it has grown with stature and learned maturity into a truly brilliant instrument.
All shades of the human experience are to be found in the grooves of this record not least ageing, love, dejection and rejuvenation. On the lead single "She got a wiggle" we see a silly title hide one of the most gorgeous Al Green inspired songs that Rowland has penned. It's all dark and burning with passionate intensity. On the opener "Now" you have six minutes of brassy power commencing with a slow start and Rowland reflecting on college days until it kicks into a classic Dexys signature song, which harks back to "Soul Rebels". It is obvious from the outset that the band is tighter than an ill fitting pair of jeans and with Rowland's backed by Pete Williams and Big Jim Paterson from the original line-up and the addition of the Style Council's Mick Talbot and the sterling new female vocalist Madeline Hyland its hardly surprising, The second song is "Lost" and its a classic with Rowland singing better than ever and not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve as he regrets how his soul was "lost inside" pointing at the deep pain of his darker years. "One day I'm going to soar" is a very soulful record and the lounge lizard almost jazzy "Me" epitomizes a new level of relaxed depth with a tell tale spoken passage in the middle of a song which demands repeated plays as Rowland confesses that "all these people are depending on me... I don't know who's friend or foe". It is followed by the excellent "You" that rolls along like an old Stones classic and would require your feet nailed to your floorboards to stop them tapping. The big centre point of the album is the seven minute plus "I'm thinking of you" which just about stays on the right side of being repetitive and is lifted by a nice saxophone solo five minutes in. In terms of "I'm always going to love you" it musically starts like an old Philly sound record until Rowland trades sweet nothings with Hyland (it all ends in tears) in a song which has a one take in the studio ambiance. "Free" was performed with gusto on Jools Holland the other week in a great live performance and comes over on record with even more power and punch, but even better is "Incapable of love" where Rowland exchanges verbal punches with Hyland over his lack of commitment to a relationship. Finally "Its Ok John Joe" is pure Rowland with a lonely piano playing over a long spoken introduction where he confesses, "I'm only learning to operate in this this world". It rolls out slowly but surely over its eight minutes and sees Rowland quote Marvin Gaye and indulge in a therapeutic if questioning lament on the pitfalls of lost love.
Its difficult to describe in words the unadulterated joy that this splendid return after such a time brings to this reviewer. Rowland is a performer we should treasure and speak of in hushed tones. He has certainly dropped howlers aplenty and blurred the fine line between genius and fool. That however is the price you pay for a talent that refuses to lie down. Indeed you strain to think of any bands that dare to bare their souls and inject such heart into their music as Dexys. After listening to this scintillating album you can guarantee that for a time everything thing else will sound devoid of passion and guts.
on 11 April 2014
Twenty-seven years after the release of their last studio album proper, the disastrously received Don't Stand Me Down, soul impresario Kevin Rowland and a re-formed and re-christened Dexy's have returned from the wilderness with a wonderfully innovative record One Day I'm Going To Soar. Rowland, now 58, has spent the best part of three decades battling drug addiction and depression, To his credit he's been remarkably open about the part he's played in his own downfall " I know that I've been crazy and that cannot be denied he sings on bristling soul opener, Now. The full extent of his insecurity and paranoia though is fully revealed on his meditation on fame and fortune, Me, " people don't respect me, don't seem to like me, they take the p*** out of me". This may make the album seem something of a joyless affair, however the Rowland who penned all time classic pop songs like Geno and Come On Eileen is in evidence throughout. There are tender laments, ,tragi-comic show tunes,( with the scene stealing Maddy Hyland) anguished ballads and hand on heart monologues, all equally memorable in their own right. Quite simply there is no one else out there capable of writing songs in the uniquely stylised manner of the albums tour de force, It's Ok John Joe, an unutterably sad mea culpa on his life long failure to find lasting happiness. By the songs close Rowland's is forced to console himself with the pretence that "it's not the end of the world, I don't care, I don't care if I'm alone". Perhaps, though, there is a different form of consolation due him, at long last, in the universal acclaim afforded One Day I'm Going To Soar. This is a triumphant return for the old soul rebel.
on 12 July 2012
Its been a strange 30+ years with Dexys for me. They were almost my first gig back in 1981 at the tender age of 13 but I bottled it. Geno is easily my favourite No 1 of all time. There There My Dear possibly my favourite song to dance to, and yet back in the day I never bought an album of their's, God knows why not. I have them now but have never poured over them with the relish I would have got in my youth. And so along come this after 27 years, and boy is it worth it. First play, interesting second and third plays, you realise how much you remember the songs from the first play, whereas I have albums I claim to rate that after 10+ listens you still think "I've never heard this before", not surprising, just unremarkable.
After about 10 plays this is up there with the very best and can only improve its standing after seeing them Live in September (even though they wont do Geno or TTMD).
As for the drumming, dont be so harsh. What you are hearing is the sound of a drummer, (I am one, so I feel slightly justified in saying this). The recording of this album sounds so naked its almost as if there's no production at all. This is what bands sound like in the flesh, nearly all albums these days are compressed to hell. There's very little quiet allowed on the product. Play this one in the car however and you miss half of it, the quiet is quiet, the loud is loud, the drums are ... well drums. So its not bad drumming, its just real drumming.
For now though, the best record ever made!
...Did I really say that?
on 14 October 2014
For some odd reason Dexy's Midnight Runners' final album ("Don't Stand Me Down") often is given poor reviews, but in my opinion it fights with their second album for the championship. Left from those previous heydays is Mick Talbot (later also of Style Council fame) and a new and very welcome voice - Madeleine Hyland. This album is very uplifting, as we sometimes expect from an album with Mr. Rowland, and while the band is slightly less tight and the songs are slightly less strong as those on the two last albums proper with Dexy's Midnight Runners, this is a quite strong effort.
on 12 October 2015
Bought this as a result of seeing a BBC4 program about the return of Dexy's , found it very interesting and decided to buy the CD
Never having been a fan of the Original Dexy's Midnight Runners although they did release some fine music. This album has slowly grown on me
after initially being just an OK album, now I find the melodies going through my head, and I have to say that Kevin Rowland's voice is still quite strong, although obviously with the passage of time, not as strong as it once was. But overall a very fine return by him . If you are thinking of buying this album, don't hesitate just do it, you won't regret it.
on 7 June 2012
Let me start by saying that I don't write many reviews for albums. An album really has to impress me to want to write a review. Dexys new album is one such record. I won't go into the band politics and the extended time that it has taken for this release to appear. Suffice to say it has been worth the 27 year wait. What we have here is a majestic, sweeping, although intimate slice of soul heaven.
I would recommend that the listener tries to hear the album in one sitting. Although it is not a story, it can be approached as one which gives it more clarity and essence. I was lucky enough to have attended one of the live pre-release shows where Dexys performed the album in its entirety. The CD has the same power and the sound is fantastic. A special mention here must go to Mick Talbot, who has also co-composed all of the songs on the album and acts as its musical director. A special mention too for singer Madeline Hyland, who is Kevin's musical foil of a couple of the tracks.
The album is in the vein of Dexys last album, `Don't stand me down', with Kevin in converational mode on several of the tracks. I won't go into the CD track by track as I don't want to spoil the experience. What I will say is that the musicianship is superb, Kevin, with a slighter lower register to his voice is on excellent form and the variety in pace of the songs works really well.
Make sure you stick right to the end of the 8 minutes of the last track, the slow confessional, It's OK John Doe, because as Pete Williams said in the live shows, `We can't end it like this.' An album that will leave you feeling uplifted and glad that, believe it or not, Dexys never went away. Album of the year already, by a long, long way.
on 6 February 2015
This crept up on me from behind when I wasn't looking! I expected a good solid set of songs but what I found was an amusing, melancholy and at times uplifting collection. As someone who usually favours guitar based music, I wasn't expecting this to sit in my top 20 of all time but now it probably does (depending on how I feel on the day).
I was lucky enough to see this performed live and was blown away by the theatrical production put on by the band. The interaction between them all was outstanding and puts the songs into even more context. I came out singing 'Free' for the next day & a half.
This is a journey of soul searching (not for the young rebels), love, inability to love & realisation that sometimes you should be careful what you wish for. Highly recommended, particularly if you enjoyed Don't Stand Me Down.
on 16 June 2012
Let me firstly say that Dexys were a band that I saw live more than most bands in the early 80's - such was my devotion that I even went to a gig by their short-lived successors The Bureau. So I approached this album with some trepidation and uncertainty, reinforced by what I felt to be a rather unsatisfactory appearance on Later With Jools Holland just prior to release. I needn't have worried. Although it bears little resemblance to the original Dexys, especially with the beautifully pared down production compared to the old "big band" sound, what Kevin Rowland has presented us with here is just as odd, catchy, thoughtful and downright funny - yes, funny - as any album I've heard this year. The running storyline on the songs makes it sound like a musical in the making and I'll be at the front of the queue to see it performed.
on 6 July 2012
Kevin Rowland has an instantly recognisable voice unlike anyone else, but has been away from the music scene for some 25 years. After a stunning couple of highly successful (critically and commercially) early albums with Dexys Midnight Runners, his 3rd album got critically panned on its release and bombed. This is a soulful album with a great backing band including Mick Talbot ex Style Council on jazzy keyboards, , co- writing with Big Jim Paterson,and tasteful accompanying violins. He is in really fine voice, and the lyrics seem brutally honest, wearing his heart on his sleeve. Some of the songs show his state of mind, often with lust to the fore, such as She got a Wiggle, and I'm Thinking of You. It is very well produced, everything clear and crisp, the supporting playing is great, and his crooning really hits the spot nicely. Now approaching 60, most people probably have fond memories of his material from over a quarter of a century ago, but this mature sincerely honest work deserves to add a high quality new chapter to his career profile. The couple of duets with Madeleine Hyland ,on I'm Always Going to Love You, and in particular Incapable of Love, where they have a mock argument about the state of their relationship are great highlights. An unexpected but welcome long awaited return to form , that has been widely critically praised, one of the great albums of 2012.
The new 2012 album from Dexy's really is a remarkable achievement. Next to nothing from Kevin Rowland for nigh on 27 years (OK, Young Man was great) and then this - it (nearly) makes me take him seriously when he says the reason for the hiatus was that he 'wasn't ready'. I only hope that this state of unreadiness does not persist for the next 27 years (otherwise he will be 85 when the follow-up is released!). Indeed, Dexy's achievement should not be underestimated - OK, so Rowland was undoubtedly one of the most inspired songwriters of the 1980s (and, I would suggest, of his generation), but to return with such a great record after such an extended period is (as far as I can recall) unprecedented.
OK, so I do have one or two minor gripes with the record. Whilst the songwriting is pretty much up there with anything being released currently, for me, One Day I'm Going To Soar does not (quite) reach the heights of the debut masterpiece Searching For The Young Soul Rebels (quite frankly it would have to go some for this - as SFTYSR features in my top 10 albums ever) or that of This Is What She's Like from the Don't Bring Me Down album. Indeed, stylistically, the Dexy's sound has moved on quite dramatically from the earlier albums. Whilst there are some hints of the trademark full-on brass backing, the sound on ODIGTS is generally sparser - and this leads me onto my other minor gripe (noted in another review), that of the drum mix, which for me is at times too up-front (and heavy). Such drawbacks, however, are minor and do not detract from a magnificent record - indeed, I would normally not put pen to paper for a review until at least three months or so after a new release, but my 10 or so listens to the album in the two weeks that I've had it are enough to convince me that this is a 5 star album.
The album gets off to a great start with Now, a song which begins with Mick Talbot's deceptively low-key lullaby piano, accompanied by Rowland's similarly-styled dulcet tones, before the band launch into the song proper with a rallying cry of 'Attack! Attack! I said attack! Attack!'. Thereafter, instrumentally, Now features the guitar of Neil Hubbard, and some great brass backing by jazz-player Quentin Collins on trumpet and Mark Brown on sax. The song Now sits alongside three other up-tempo songs on the album - all of them outstanding. These include I'm Always Going To Love You and Incapable Of Love which form something of a pair (and are together in this order on the album) of songs, coming across (sound-wise) as something from a 70s Philly soundtrack or even a stage musical (such as Grease!). Both songs also feature Rowland duetting with Madeleine Hyland, whose vocal shortcomings are lost in what is a bravura turn of impassioned pleading ('It's all or nothing') with her true love Kevin. The marvellous Free completes this quartet, both stylistically and lyrically, as Rowland celebrates his maverick personality and the freedom it brings him ('Why would I want to buy a book when I could just join the library?').
Of the slower songs, each of Me, You and She Got A Wiggle are great exponents, with the latter song featuring a melody to die for (as well as outstanding string backing arrangements) and all three featuring outstanding vocal performances from the great man (and from Suzie Furlonger on Wiggle), as well as some beautiful ivory tinkling from Talbot. Nowhere Is Home (which was co-written by Sex Pistol Glen Matlock) is a beautifully paced song in which Rowland once again is (defiantly) searching for his own true (national) identity, if such a thing exists. For me, however, the album's standout song is the three minute gem that is Lost. From the first time I heard the song on Jools Holland, I recognised it instantly as one of Rowland's true classics (alongside the likes of This Is What She's Like, There There My Dear, Let's Make This Precious, I'm Just Looking, etc). From the initial Bacharach-esque la-la-la-ing, the song is by turns a celebration of everything Rowland was initially seeking ('music, girls and clothes') and a devastating lament to the search for his inner soul - simply breathtaking. Finally, a brief word on my (current) least favourite songs, I'm Thinking Of You and It's OK John Joe - both have their moments of course with some beautiful melodies, but both outstay their welcome. Really, Kevin, you should have put Lost as the album's closing track (well, that's my opinion anyway!).
As I listen to the album now, it just keeps getting better and better. An essential album from one of the most original and inspired songwriters of his generation.