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 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 7 June 2012
Was not sure what to expect but this is just great, mature, moving and full of soul - can't wait to see it played live
on 7 June 2012
I remember walking across the concourse at Victoria station one morning in 1985. I seem to remember it was warm and sunny and I had just purchased a cassette copy of 'Don't Stand Me Down'. I was 15. It had been out a week or two and I hadn't even realised, much as I adored both its predecessors. I put the cassette in my walkman and, erm, walked and listened. I'd never known a feeling quite like it. For all the music I loved, for the absolutely obsessive number of times I had listened to SFTYSR and Too Rye Ay, nothing prepared me for an album quite like this. On the face of it, it sounded so straight, so traditional and yet it was like nothing else. That was 27 years ago and I'm very happy to say that, whilst no album since has affected me so strongly, 'One Day I'm Going To Soar' brings all those memories and reactions swimming back into view. It's not the same as DSMD and only time will tell how it ranks against it for enduring quality, but it is absolutely exhilerating and captivating. I'm not sure it's fair to ask more than that of anything.
it's certainly my album of the year so far. In fact, probably my favourite new listen since 2006. Just for the sake of balance, I'll dare to say that I would have liked the drums a little quieter on a few of the tracks - they can intrude a bit - and equally some of the other instruments sound like they could be a little more forthright in the mix as the impact of some guitar licks and horn stabs sounds slightly hamstrung by the volume knob. Also, I think a couple of tracks could have been a key or three higher as that voice always gets me most when it starts to reach up, even if it can't go as high as it used to.
All that said, these are small niggles. As well as being packed with splendid songs (I'm Always Going To Love You, Nowhere Is Home and She Got A Wiggle particularly standing out at for me the moment, but the overall quality across the album is so high it's hard to choose really), it is thankfully the most natural sounding of any album I've heard for some time. Not a hint of the heavy handed use of compression so common these days, the album is allowed for the most part to breathe as if played live in front of you. One Day I'm Going To Soar can sit comfortably beside the other 3 Dexys albums on my 'Favourite Records' shelf. Not many things are worth waiting 27 years for, but this actually was.
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 June 2012
This is a vwey worthy follow up to the excellent Don't Stand Me Down, albeit after 27 years of waiting. Kevin is on fine vocal form, the band are truly great musicians and the songs are without exception brilliant - musicall and lyrically, beautiful arrangements, emotion and wit. After only a few hearings it's already up there as a classic and it's going to grow on me more and more. Don't think about this - buy it. And if you haven't got Don't Stand Me Down, hunt out a copy of that too and compare and contrast.
on 6 June 2012
Has the makings of a masterpiece. Dramatic, theatrical, poetic, soulful and utter majestic. Every track is like a short musical novel in itself.
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.