I’ve never hid my love for cover versions so you can imagine that I was quite excited to read that Kevin Rowland was working on an album’s worth of them and that the project was being bankrolled by Alan McGhee and Creation Records.
This was back in 1999 and the LP was going to be released more than eleven years after the debut solo record, a period in which the former Dexy’s frontman had dealt with all sorts of issues in his personal life and battled with addiction issues. What was there not to look forward to?
The thing is, I never did buy the album having been put off by the near-universal mauling it received from critics and fans alike. I remember one mate of mine telling me had bought it on the day of release from his usual record shop and the owner warning him it was actually worse than the reviews had indicted….so much so the owner offered my mate a 24-hour trial of the CD with a no quibbles, money-back back guarantee if he was proved right. My mate got his cash back….which I suppose is ironic given now that it is one of those CDs that is quite hard to track down and sells for upwards of £30-£40 on the internet.
I don’t think the value is anything to do with the quality of the songs, but more the fact that Dexy’s Midnight Runners have had a brilliantly received comeback in recent times and many folk are keen to plug the gap in their collection.
I’ve read variously that the LP is pompous, bizarre, schmaltzy rubbish, a tragic mistake, self-pitying, self-indulgent and laughable. But equally, there are more than a few folk willing to stand up and count it as something very special using words like inspired, passionate, provocative, emotionally honest, sublime and utterly unique, with many arguing that it was the controversial cover of Kevin in drag which led to such a negative reaction
I can base my own reaction only on the second-hand single that I picked up the other week:-
mp3 : Kevin Rowland – Concrete and Clay
It’s rather awful….it’s musically very dull and akin to the sort of bloke who entertains folks drinking in bars on holiday on the Costa del Sol or the Canaries with his mixture of bad jokes and less than average singing.
Here’s the instrumentals which were on the CD single:-
mp3 : Kevin Rowland – Concrete and Clay (instrumental)
mp3 : Kevin Rowland – I Can’t Tell The Bottom From The Top (instrumental)