Dexys Midnight Runners Searching For The Young Soul Rebels Deluxe Edition
Get It At Discogs
“A soul group with a brass section, and all looking good. We wanted to be a group that looked like something… A formed group, a project, not just random”. The words of Kevin Rowland, ex-punk, who in 1977 left band The Killjoys in a state of despair, pulled from the abyss by soul music and a vision, a search for the young soul rebels. Formed in 1978, his hand-picked group Dexys Midnight Runners were a tight, formidable looking outfit of fighters, dressed firstly in workmen’s clothes before adorning sports attire, the band engaging in physical activities before gigs and rehearsals. Sweating from their exertions, they stood out as a band who were impenetrable to the audience, a gang you could never belong to, with a clear leader who could only be admired for his intimidation of others. This spirit of isolation from popular culture is seen in the opening track on Searching For The Young Soul Rebels, here remastered with a second CD of rarities, sessions and b-sides. ‘Burn It Down’, a re-recorded version of debut single ‘Dance Stance’, opens with the disenchanted search of youth, sweeping the radio airwaves for a new sensation. The history of 70’s music is played as he scours the dial, the Sex Pistols, The Specials; but these do not hold his interest. As he flicks of the radio Rowland proclaims “For God’s sake, burn it down!” and we burst in, the strident brass of a different era matched with swirling Hammond and his unique vocal delivery, incomprehensible and full of intense emotional passion. There is little of their music that fits into the early 80’s, though the album is packed with pop moments, the confrontational sound sweetened with strong hooks and melodies. The interwoven horns and bass of ‘Tell Me When My Light Turns Green’ are a joy, and ‘I Couldn’t Help It If I Tried’ shows a slow and mournful edge, building in bitter intensity through the chorus. Single ‘There There My Dear’ again has an exuberant pace, Rowland’s vocal jammed with rolled rolling r’s amid the yelps and howls. It reaches its peak with ‘Geno’, their first number one single, a tribute to Geno Washington performed in his style. Completely at odds with the new wave moment of the time, it sounded timeless even then. For those like me born in the 70’s, listening to it now provides a feeling of nostalgia so intense I can almost taste the era in which I first heard it, May 1980 somehow implanted back into my mind. As a song, it feels to me as if it has always existed. The second CD of this release features a wide array of Radio sessions, both from The John Peel Show and Kid Jensen. It also includes the patchy singles released in the aftermath of their debut album, a period which saw the majority of the band abandon Rowland in frustration. A year after topping the charts with Geno, Rowland and his young soul rebels looked like a spent force. However, in 1982 they did something almost never seen before, reinventing themselves and becoming even bigger popstars than they were first time around. Rowland never truly found The Young Soul Rebels, finding instead The Celtic Soul Brothers with its jamboree of fiddles and mandolins. If you though have never experienced the tight precision of this exceptional debut, then this re-issue is highly recommended.