The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

J is for Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile) released by Dexys Midnight Runners as a single in October 1982.

Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile) was written by Van Morrison and is the opening track of the album Saint Dominic’s Preview, released in 1972.

Dexys Midnight Runners were just over two years removed from the success of Geno and the album Searching For The Young Soul Rebels when seemingly out of the blue, and sporting a whole new look and sound, they had the big hit of the summer of 1982 with Come On Eileen. The new album, Too-Rye-Ay became an instant success, entering the charts at #2 in its first week of release at the beginning of August. Come On Eileen was still riding high and so there was no urgency for a follow-up 45, and it took until October before Mercury Records opted for the cover version as being the most suitable.

It also proved to be a huge hit, reaching #5 despite the fact that it, and its b-side, could both be found on the album.

mp3: Dexys Midnight Runners – Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)

There are maybe some hints that Kevin Rowland would have preferred that the b-side had been chosen as the single. Its name appears on the front of the picture sleeve, and its lyrics can be found on the reverse. I’m surely not alone in thinking that this is a far superior song to the cover:-

mp3: Dexys Midnight Runners – Let’s Make This Precious

This one can be heard, more weeks than not, blaring out pre-match at Stark’s Park in Kirkcaldy as one of the tunes that I choose, in my role as match day announcer, to play prior to kick-off. It’s an uplifting and rousing sort of number, one that always help with gradual build-up of the atmosphere.



many_faces_of_dexysA re-run of a guest posting from August 2011

They took their name from the recreational drug of choice for the Northern Soul fans at the time of their formation, Dexedrine, a brand of dextroamphetamine, the “midnight runners” refers to ability to dance all-night after taking said drug !!

Formed in Birmingham by Kevin Rowland and Kevin “Al” Archer, they arrived on the music scene with their own distinctive sound and dress style, they didn’t want to be a part of anyone else’s movement they wanted their own.

Their look was described as being “straight out of Robert DeNiro’s film Mean Streets” with their Donkey Jackets, Leather Coats and Woolly Hats…. ..at the same time in Kirkcaldy I was wearing a Donkey Jacket……this had absolutely nothing to do with any music scene, I just thought it may make me look more attractive to the young Irish student Midwives that were studying in my home town in the late seventies/early eighties!!!! For the record I had little success!!!

Rowland had a whole manifesto for the band – among other things they lived together in a squat and used public transport, which they never paid for. I remember seeing footage of them jumping over the barriers at an underground station in London and fleeing from the ticket collectors enroute to a gig.

After their first album, Searching for the Young Soul Rebels, Rowland fell out with most of the music press and many of his band members quit over Rowland’s antics including his “press embargo”.
The NME accused the band of “emotional fascism”.

This didn’t stop Rowland, he recruited new blood and changed their image again, this time his mantra was fitness and the band was seen out training together and running. With this change came a new look, which included hooded tops, boxing boots and ponytails. Alcohol was banned and exercise sessions would take place before gigs, he felt now the band had the right fighting spirit.

Co-founder Archer had left after the release of the first album, he formed a new band The Blue Ox Babes and was to later claim that Rowland stole his Celtic sound with the fiddles from Archer’s new group.
The one member of the band that stayed loyal to Kevin Rowland, was the leader of the brass section, Big Jim Patterson, the Scottish trombonist. He remained in Dexy’s until he felt their presence in the band had been diminished by the arrival of a new sound that used mainly fiddles. Big Jim and the rest of the brass players left to form the TKO Horns who played on Elvis Costello’s album Punch the Clock. They also went on to perform with numerous artists including Madness, Squeeze, Nick Lowe and Howard Jones.

In a BBC 2 Documentary for the Young Guns series, Archer played a demo he had made before the unveiling of Rowland latest re-incarnation of Dexy’s that sounded very much like their first single with the new direction, The Celtic Soul Brothers.

Rowland recruited Helen O’Hara from The Blue Ox Babes to join his “new” creation the Emerald Express, who joined the remainder of Dexy’s for the album Too-Rye-Ay, and with it came another new look best described as raggytail Gypsy, with dungarees, scarves and waistcoats.

Dexy’s Midnight Runners had worldwide success with the single Come on Eileen and I’m sure that it will be a floor filler at wedding evening discos for years to come. It was the biggest selling single in the UK and USA in 1982 and sold over 1.2 million copies in the UK alone.

I bought their first single Dance Stance after hearing it on Annie Nightingale’s Sunday Night Radio One Show, while working at St Andrews’ University.

On the February 1st 1980, the band played at the St Andrews’ Student’s Union, it was a blistering gig with Kevin Rowland turning in a very charismatic performance and, “Big” Jimmy Patterson a standout on trombone on his return to his homeland. A short while later, in May 1980, Geno No.1 in the UK charts.

mp3 : Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Geno (live)

Through all their time as a band Dexy’s produced some wonderful singles, the best for me being, produced during the brass/soul period and these are particular favourites of mine:-

mp3 : Dexy’s Midnight Runners – There There My Dear
mp3 : Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Plan B

They also turned in some very good cover versions of the Northern Soul Classics, Chuck Wood’s Seven Days Are Too Long and Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon’s Breaking Down The Walls Of Heartache that showed where Kevin Rowland’s musical preferences lay.

mp3 : Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Seven Days Are Too Long

Over the years, Rowland proved himself to be a control freak and a bit of a prat, who liked to be a chameleon and change his appearance, at will, he took it too far in 1999, when after an absence of 11 years away from the music scene, he released his second solo album My Beauty complete with cover photo of himself in a dress and stockings!!!!

It has been said My Beauty was a good piece of work but many shied away from it because of the cover. He appeared at the Reading music festival to promote the album dressed as he was on the cover and was bombarded on stage with a hail of bottles.

FOOTNOTE : Best place seen wearing a donkey jacket:

Picture the scene it’s July 1982 in a nightclub in San Antonio, Ibiza. Everyone is dancing about wearing their finest shorts and t-shirts to show off their fast growing tans- when on the music system comes Rock the Casbah by The Clash and out of nowhere appears a guy wearing a DONKEY JACKET with NCB* emblazoned on the back!!!

* NCB means National Coal Board

John Greer, Monday 22 August 2011