Let's look back: Save Dexys from oblivion!
Dexys Midnight Runners':
Hey kids, remember 1982? The release of Thriller? Effusive praise for Quaker Oats PB & J cereal? The first artificial heart transplant?
1982 was also the year Dexys Midnight Runners released their second album, Too-Rye-Ay, and "Come on Eileen" climbed to the top of the British charts (America would fall seven months later). I've chosen that album to begin my series, "Past Albums You Should Know About To Make You A More Informed Person" (or "Let's Look Back" for short).
Born to Irish parents in 1953, Kevin Rowland formed Dexys Midnight Runners in 1978, and two years later the group released their first full length, Searching for the Young Soul Rebels. [Fact Box: Dexys Midnight Runners gets its name from the amphetamine Dexedrine.] Dexys' original eight-man lineup produced music combining the New Wave sound popular at the time with something almost unheard of at that time– '60s soul and R&B.
Though the album's single, "Geno," hit #1 in May 1980 in Britain, that incarnation of the group soon fell apart– only Rowland and trombone player Jimmy Patterson remained as the creamy nugget of The Dexys: The Next Generation.
A drummer, a guitarist/banjo player, a keyboard player, a bassist, two fiddle players, and two saxophonists later, the band took on its most famous incarnation– even the sound was radically different. Suddenly, traditional Irish music was a chief influence, taking the place of much of the soul on release #1.
1982 saw the release of Too-Rye-Ay, which in spite of the US one-hit-wonder status of the group from "Come On Eileen" is a whole album of varied and shining pop, fit for continued complete spins.
The disc begins with "The Celtic Soul Brothers," and instantly the fiddles start off the song's primary instrumental melody line, as Rowland rips off, in a half-falsetto voice with Bowie-type presentation, "[falsetto] Introducing [normal] the Celtic Soul Brothers [falsetto] and featuring [normal] the strong devoted. Ladies and gentlemen, would you now please take your leave."
"Let's Make This Precious" features the saxes as the song's principal motivators, after Rowland's highly accented and pitched voice. Jangly guitar provides the song with a good base, as Rowland and the rest skate over it, taking their bows.
A cover of Van Morrison's "Jackie Wilson Said" is another pop nugget, while "Liars A to E," with its background soul singers, is a nod to Dexys' past, with the driving banjo that was part of the Dexys' present tense.
And then there's "Come On Eileen. Since almost everyone knows the tune, I won't spend time trying to describe its sensuous curves. Though there are a number of great possible pop hits on Too-Rye-Ay that never materialized, this song is plainly at the top of the heap. Instantly memorable, it gels elements found on the rest of the album– simple catchy fiddle, falsetto shouts, and that constant banjo strum– all elements supporting Rowland's phenomenally catchy melody and pristine vocal.
Too-Rye-Ay. Save a copy from its bargain bin fate today; it's really something.