Dexys’ “One Day I’m Going To Soar” Triumphs.

When news sur­faced of the return of Kevin Row­land and Dexys, they of the Mid­night Run­ners, there was an under­stand­able air of scep­ti­cism. Not anoth­er mid­dle-aged has-been try­ing to relive past glo­ries and cash in on a dusty back cat­a­logue. But very quick­ly, word got out that this was the real deal. An actu­al return to form.

One Day I’m Going To Soar is the fourth album from Dexys and their first since Don’t Stand Me Down in 1985, the inevitably doomed fol­low-up to the all-con­quer­ing Too-Rye-Ay 27 years ago.

The lat­ter had pro­duced the world-wide sen­sa­tion “Come On Eileen”, the best sell­ing sin­gle of 1982. Not to men­tion of course the Van Mor­ri­son cov­er “Jack­ie Wil­son Said”, anoth­er hit sin­gle which they per­formed so mem­o­rably on TOTP while hold­ing a por­trait of the Scot­tish darts heart-throb Jocky Wilson.

Incred­i­bly, to the com­plete shock of every­one work­ing in the music indus­try, as soon as they had achieved their overnight suc­cess Dexys prompt­ly imploded.

In fair­ness, of all the peo­ple sud­den­ly thrust into the lime­light, Row­land was prob­a­bly the least well equipped to cope with its glare. And after the tra­di­tion­al sack­ing of band mates, falling out with record labels and descent into drug addic­tion, he even­tu­al­ly pro­duced the ques­tion­ably hon­est solo album My Beau­ty for Cre­ation Records (imme­di­ate­ly before they implod­ed) in 1999. That’s him on its cov­er sport­ing a fetch­ing dress.

So it was to every­one’s amaze­ment and, frankly relief that the British music press began to report in May that the new Dexys tour was some­thing of a sen­sa­tion. The shy but ever reli­able Simon Price summed up their reac­tion in his Inde­pen­dent On Sun­day piece here.

And what all the fuss was about became blind­ing­ly obvi­ous when they appeared on Lat­er with Jools Hol­land where they began, ballsi­ly, with a per­for­mance of “Come On Eileen” which you can see here. That’s how you take the dry air of a tele­vi­sion stu­dio and set the build­ing on fire.

Essen­tial­ly a con­cept album, One Day I’m Going To Soar cen­tres around the five tracks that chart Row­land as he falls hope­less­ly in, and then just as unex­pect­ed­ly and as inex­plic­a­bly out of love with the object of his desire.

Lyri­cal­ly, it’s rem­i­nis­cent of Dylan in the ear­ly 70s. But when the lat­ter sang love is all there is, it makes the world go ’round, it was easy to miss quite how pro­found a real­iza­tion this was, despite com­ing from one of the most sophis­ti­cat­ed lyri­cists of the 20th cen­tu­ry as it was deliv­ered in such an off-hand manner.

There’s no mis­tak­ing the pain and heartache that have led Row­land to exact­ly the same con­clu­sion. You can hear it in that still remark­able voice, and it’s made all the more pal­pa­ble by his appar­ent inabil­i­ty to hold and hang on to love.

Bru­tal­ly hon­est, but glo­ri­ous­ly expan­sive musi­cal­ly speak­ing, there are any num­ber of echoes of the ear­ly and mid 70s through­out, from the Styl­is­tics and Sylvester to Sly and The Fam­i­ly Stone. But the prin­ci­ple con­stel­la­tion is still Van Mor­ri­son. And it’s one that Row­land and Dexys are com­fort­ably capa­ble of liv­ing with. A tri­umphant return and a stel­lar album.

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