ERIC SCHACKNE – Hammers & Strings EP

Singer/songwriter/pianist Eric Schackne often showcases a gift for accessible upbeat arrangements topped off with a strong melody and hook.  With that in mind It is interesting, therefore, that on his second EP, ‘Hammers & Strings’, Schackne chooses not to play his strongest card straight out.

‘Well Dressed Future’ begins the release in a surprising fashion, with Schackne singing over some simply played electric piano chords.  As the track progresses, the vocals build, slowly adding harmonies until eventually Schackne’s voice is multi-tracked to offer something rather complex sounding.  Despite the brilliant use of multi-layering and a busy piano break approximately midway, the soft nature of this track makes it sound as if it would better suited to closing the EP as opposed to opening.  It’s with ‘This Classic Romance’ Schackne cuts loose and gives listeners the real deal – a brilliantly arranged piece of rock which shows the true depth of his musical talents.  The guitars crunch in a melodic fashion; the drums lay down a jaunty rhythm while Schackne’s multi-tracked voice has unexpected hints of Shades Apart’s Keith V.  Underneath it all, clanking piano chords hold everything together – not always as audible as they could have been, but they briefly break loose for the occasional flourish midway and again toward the end.

‘Art Can Change The World’ finds Scheckne moving away from the piano (at first), fronting a stomping arrangement which largely centres around acoustic riffs.  By the midpoint, the electric elements kick in and, naturally, underneath everything, Scheckne returns to his comfort zone and adds plenty of bar-room styled piano.  Individually, these elements could have sounded a little messy, but thanks to good songwriting, it’s all quite rousing and fun.   The softer ‘Miss Me Now’ (an uncredited seventh track), is incredibly strong with a mix of ringing guitars and pianos delivered in a way which is wholly reminiscent of John Ondrasik and his Five For Fighting project.  Here, the perfect blend of soft rock guitar chops and a pure pop hook makes for great listening; a great example of a blossoming talent.

The EPs best track ‘Loud and Clear’ is another very well balanced offering, once again allowing the guitar and piano parts almost equal space within the arrangement.  The vocals come fast – wordy, but never ridiculously so – and during the quietest moments, the rumbling pianos tip the hat to other more familiar sounding piano rock practitioners.  Schackne’s song writing may not be as cutting as Ben Folds or as emo-centric as that of Jack’s Mannequin, but he brings more than enough charm to the table here to win you over on his own terms.

After ‘Well Dressed Future’s slow-ish opening, ‘Hammers & Strings’ features material with potential to  grab the listener right from the off…material which, on occasion, makes the creation of radio friendly tunes and hooks sound relatively easy.  If you’ve ever had a soft spot for Five For Fighting, Jack’s Mannequin et al, chances are, you’ll find tunes with appeal here.

April 2012

TRAIN – California 37

Three years on from their multi-million selling ‘Save Me, San Francisco’ (and the uber-irritating single ‘Hey Soul Sister’), Train’s sixth studio album musically picks up where its predecessor left off, beginning with what is, perhaps, one of the best songs of the band’s career.

That may well be a big statement, but ‘California 37’s opening track ‘This’ll Be My Year’ is stupidly infectious.  In three and a half minutes Pat Monahan reels off various key elements of the past thirty years – mentioning “Back To The Future”, the divorce and death of Lady Di, the death of Freddie and end of Queen, the destruction of the world trade centre and invention of the all-compassing F*cebook and far more besides – over a hugely uplifting tune.  The idea of the “list song” is hardly a new phenomenon, and this addition to the many may never reach the brilliance of Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’, but on its own merit it’s immensely enjoyable and avoids being too clumsy.    Aside from various newsworthy elements, listeners are given a rousing chorus hook – complete with the necessary levels of ‘whoah’ over a hugely accessible tune which means you’ll possibly means the radio will pummel it into the ground.  It’s a great snapshot of the kind of adult pop this Californian band do so, so well when they hit the mark, and with such a strong opening statement, hopes are set high.

Perhaps too high.  Despite such thrilling beginnings – and a handful of great tunes scattered throughout its eleven cuts – much like ‘…San Francisco’, ‘California 37’ really suffers from filler material and an unnecessary love of lightweight calypso tendencies.  In fact, the best cuts from ‘…San Francisco’ and the two or three killer cuts present here could probably be compiled to make one consistently enjoyable pop-rock release.

With a combination of plucked acoustic guitars, mellotron sounds and harmony vocals, ‘Feels Good at First’ is something of a slow burner.  Monahan sounds vocally at ease and the tune itself is quite pleasing and at least to begin with, it’s a number which sounds a little empty.  After a few spins, its gentle nature becomes endearing.  Fans of acoustic pop in the vein of Lowen & Navarro will surely have heard much better in the past, but as part of this Train disc, it’s enjoyable enough.  When it comes to the more pompous side of the Train sound, it’s the piano-based stuff which really works for them…and the soulful ‘When The Fog Rolls In’ is no exception.  Backed by piano and strings, Monahan’s lead voice sounds better on this number than it has in many a year.  With echoes of the band’s 2001 hit ‘Drops of Jupiter’ (largely thanks that increased piano presence), the track rolls along gently eventually reaching a really classy climax led by Jimmy Stafford’s bluesy guitar lines.  Although ostensibly a pop band, it’s when exploring the slightly bluesier/soul-edged elements of their sound Train really excels.  Some older listeners may find themselves hoping that, somewhere down the line, Joe Cocker takes a shine to this song… Despite most of the album’s tendency for descending into fairly disposable pop, the presence of ‘When the Fog Rolls In’ and the aforementioned ‘This’ll Be My Year’ alone make the album worth checking out.

Although it’s always good to hear a band trying to bring new influences into their sound, it’s hard to know what Train were thinking with regard to ’50 Ways To Say Goodbye’.  The song features a reasonably enjoyable – if overly filtered – chorus but the verses are just horrible, filled with South American style mariachi guitars and trumpets. It sounds like music from a cheap package holiday as depicted by a bad 80s sitcom.   Likewise, the empty sentiments of lead single ‘Drive By’ – two chords and synth handclaps – is also destined for the forgettable pile…unless you’re twelve years old and think Olly Murs and Paolo Nutini somehow represent cutting edge listening.  Like ‘Hey Soul Sister’ it’s sunny vibe and overall simplicity is likely to make it a radio hit, but for slightly older Train fans who appreciate the band’s occasionally more sophisticated tracks (like ‘When The Fog Rolls In’), this just represents the band’s more frivolous/annoying [delete as appropriate] side.   Since ‘Hey Soul Sister’ proved to be a worldwide hit, you’ll be unsurprised to hear the ukulele making a return appearance on this album.  The offending track, entitled ‘Sing Together’, is a simple strum-along ditty which, if at all possible, makes ‘Hey Soul Sister’ sound as deep as the works of the young Bob Dylan.  The occasional use of brass and the addition of a choir provide nice flourishes, but ultimately nothing to pull this track from the quagmire of mediocrity.

‘Mermaid’ blends more easy calypso tendencies with a sing-along chorus which screams summer hit, ‘Bruises’ is inoffensive, overtly shiny country pop, while ‘You Can Finally Meet My Mom’ sounds like a reject from the previous album sessions.  On the latter, it’s great to hear the piano and strings creeping in and the ringing guitars have a pleasing quality; it’s just a pity the track is spoiled by the inclusion of a vocal which is the product of studio trickery.  It may be the fashion (circa 2009-12) to filter pop vocals as much as humanly possible, but since Monahan is more than capable of a decent live performance, it would be nice to hear more of his real voice once in a while.

Between the occasionally brilliant and the outright bad, ‘California 37’ is undemanding to say the least.  That’s not especially a bad thing, but based on material like ‘When The Fog Rolls In’ (not to mention some choice nuggets from their back catalogue), Train are capable of tunes with more depth than most of this album would ever suggest.  Many pop fans will likely find ‘California 37’ a more than pleasing follow up to the million selling ‘…San Francisco’, but for the more demanding listener, however, it’s a release which will only provide sporadic enjoyment.

April 2012

Posted in pop

RINGO STARR – Ringo 2012

Ringo 2012While Ringo Starr’s solo works have rarely gained the accolades of his former Beatle bandmates, many of his releases feature some great songs.  Never more was this more obvious than on 2003’s excellently titled ‘Ringo Rama’, 2008’s ‘Liverpool 8’ and 2010’s ‘Y Not’, for what they represent, are albums (almost) beyond criticism.  These albums – which are awash with tight, yet often unimposing arrangements, bolstered by autobiographical nuggets and themes of peace and love – deserve a place in the collection of any true Beatles fans.

In theory, ‘Ringo 2012’ – remarkably, Starr’s seventeenth outing – offers more of the same.  Sadly however, this time around, Mr. Starkey appears to be firmly on autopilot, on what is a short outing by most people’s standards, clocking in at just twenty nine minutes.  That, in itself, isn’t necessarily a problem, but ‘Ringo 2012’is also subject to a fair amount of what could be considered padding.  Ringo brings only five brand new songs to the table; the rest of the disc is filled with two re-recordings and two covers (one of which was released in identical form in 2011).

Despite the makeshift feel of this release, if you can take the songs at face value, ‘Ringo 2012’ is a fine enough record, though never really outstanding by any stretch of the imagination. ‘Anthem’ returns to a well-worn theme as Starr sings of peace and love, peace and love… While his instantly recognisable tones feel like a return of an old friend or a comfortable pair of shoes, maybe things are just that little bit too comfortable.  Musically, we’re presented with a marching beat – so distinctly the work of Ringo – over which jangly guitars call out slightly jagged chords.  Such a solid arrangement could make a good opening statement, but once Starr starts to sing “This is an anthem of peace and love”, it has to be asked if Ringo couldn’t have come up with something less predictable.  There’s nowt wrong with wanting peace and love, but with Ringo, it feels like he’s labouring a point now.  The same topic was tackled in a vastly superior fashion on his 2010 track ‘Peace Dream’, using a much nicer lyric and melody.

The lightweight blues-rocker ‘Slow Down’ is also okay but nothing special, despite sometime Eagles man Joe Walsh’s attempts to tear it up on slide guitar. Best described as workmanlike, it trots out the kind of mid-pace that Ringo is best at, while his voice occasionally gets a little lost with its lack of edge.  There’s something slightly amiss: maybe it could have been a little faster, maybe it needed a better hook, maybe more needed to be made of the organ part lurking in the back…  Whatever, you’ve also heard Ringo do this kind of thing better, many times.  ‘Wonderful’ pootles along in a sub-Wilbury style, with its mix of acoustic and electric guitars backed by old style organ.  Ringo adopts his usual optimism, while the rest of the band do their best to make his lyric nice and buoyant. Again, it’s not much more than Ringo Starr by numbers – especially for those familiar with the man’s previous couple of albums – but even so, an enjoyable lead guitar line and chirpy chorus make it worth almost four minutes’ listening time.  ‘Samba’, on the other hand, drenched as it is in Hawaiian style guitar work and accordions, has a general air of syrupiness and is just horrible.  There is no other word which fits the bill; it’s just horrible.  Some of the music sounds like tape that’s been warped – though this is probably not the case, it’s more likely the work of too many layers at once.  Bad music combined with Starr’s limited vocal, there are no redeeming features here:  simply put, it’s one of Starr’s worst post-eighties recordings.

On the previous albums, Ringo’s autobiographical cuts have been a high-point, and so it remains the same here.  There’s something utterly charming about such numbers, and while Starr could be accused of trotting out another tried and tested idea, there’s still that extra something which makes it endearing.  The guitars adopt another sharp, ringing tone as Starr tells us “in Liverpool the sun always shone in his mind” while recounting a tale of his old childhood gang and bunking off school.  A simple rumpty-tumpty passes for a tune – severely lacking the funkiness of ‘Y Not’s ‘The Other Side of Liverpool’ – and lyrically, although it’s not as heart-warming as ‘Liverpool 8’, it hits the goal it sets out to score.   Overall, it represents what Starr is best at; uncomplicated music coupled with an uncomplicated sentiment.

The two re-recorded numbers are surprisingly good – though good in this case is relative, since newly written songs would still have been preferable.   A track originally featured on ‘Ringo’ [Starr’s relatively popular 1973 elpee], ‘Step Lightly’ appears here in a superbly moody variation, where a warming bass and some old fashioned electric piano lines are a near perfect compliment for Starr’s slightly woozy voice.  In terms of arrangement, it’s similar to the 1973 cut, but replacing the clarinets and oompah horns with something more blues oriented proves a much better, much classier choice.  It’s one of the album’s sure-fire winners: certainly something which makes ‘Ringo 2012’ worth checking out.  Likewise, the re-jigged ‘Wings’ (originally from Starr’s 1977 flop ‘Ringo The 4th’) is enjoyable with its reggae chops, female harmonies and brass fills.  The sharper band and arrangement make the late 70s version sound flat and demo-like in comparison.  While artists revisiting old works to improve them can sometimes be disastrous (Kate Bush’s ‘Director’s Cut’ being a glaring example of such empty vanity), with this pair of tunes, Starr has made the right decision, since with his band of arguably superior musical chums in tow, these tunes have been re-worked for the better.

As for the covers, the Buddy Holly track is endearing but ultimately inessential (once again, though, Ringo and co sound like they’re having fun, and in lots of ways, that’s what Ringo’s solo career has always been about), but a cover of the old chestnut ‘Rock Island Line’ suits Ringo rather well (certainly much better than it suits Graham Bonnet!).  On this Leadbelly standard, with his steady drum pace and equally steady vocal, he sounds perfectly at ease, as if he’s played the song a thousand times (and probably has).  Augmented by some great slide guitar, a more than worthy solo and lovely bar-room piano, it’s a good, solid number.  Although nothing too out of the ordinary, it has to be said, at the centre, there’s the sound of Starr and his chums enjoying what they do, and even Starr’s most vocal detractors would be mean to deny him that.

It’s easy to feel short-changed by ‘Ringo 2012’ (certainly on the first few plays, at least).  While there’s some enjoyable material to be heard (and the re-recorded ‘Step Lightly’ has a very pleasing arrangement), this release feels like a total rush job – especially compared to a few of his previous efforts.  Being an ex-Beatle and certainly not having to attract an audience, you could argue that Ringo is Ringo and can do what he likes; however most would probably find it hard not to agree with the idea that even Ringo can do better, even after taking on board some of the album’s best moments.  Regardless of its patchwork quality, if you’ve dug Ringo’s output from the nineties and beyond, ‘Ringo 2012’ is still worth investing in, though…but only if the price is right.  For everyone else, the best advice is to give this a miss and give ‘Ringo Rama’ and ‘Liverpool 8’ a listen with an open mind instead.

February 2012

THOMAS KING – Last Night Living EP

Austrian born singer-songwriter Thomas King relocated to Los Angeles in search of his musical dream.  His first release, the 2010 EP ‘High On Life’ attracted some good press from various independent music websites.  King maintains the momentum with 2011’s ‘Last Night Living EP’ by picking up where he left off, resulting in four studio-honed pop tunes.  On paper, well crafted pop with a knowhow of the recording studio seems like a winning formula, but in reality, the studio trickery quashes most of what could be great about King’s material.

Nearly everything on this EP sounds like it’s under a metallic, fake sheen.  In the case of the throwaway but catchy ‘Round Again’, this is an approach which just about works, since the main chorus line adopts a simple, chantable ‘whoah’ in a way which screams Europop.  Similarly, ‘Stay With Me’ bounces merrily under a barrage of keyboards which nod to The Killers and so many other eighties revivalists.  On both these numbers, there are plenty of elements just tailor made for radio play and King’s knack for a chorus manages to shine from beneath the studio filters.

In terms of studio tweaking, he pushes his luck just too far with the title cut, as his voice is subjected to extreme levels of auto-tune.  No doubt this is for stylistic effect, but it doesn’t make it in any way enjoyable.  Even the most disposable of pop should be able to stand proudly without sounding like Cher’s ‘Believe’;  countless bands managed it throughout the 80s, after all – even the campest of Euro-poppers.  Attempting to get past the robotic vocal ugliness, there’s a one-two robotic beat which goes nowhere until the chorus where, unbelievably things get worse.  Swamped with the levels of auto-tune best reserved for r ‘n’ b trash, King delivers a chorus which is stupidly repetitive to the point of annoyance.

The best of these four cuts – without question – is ‘It Starts Tonight’ which fuses choppy new-wave guitars, a wash of keyboards and a catchy hook.  Sounding more like something from California delivered in 1987 (with another hint of the early twenty-first century thrown in for good measure) as opposed to Euro-pop, this shows Thomas King at his best.  Although still radio-friendly in the extreme, he needs to embrace this slightly tougher edge more often; those extra layers of guitar – and (very slightly) less vocal filtering really helps to give his song writing a lift.  The end result could stand proudly among similar post-millennial pop-rock workouts.

There are some good moments here – at least from a song-writing perspective – there’s absolutely no denying that ‘It Starts Tonight’ has a fantastic hook with the ability to stick, potentially in the long-term.  However, an over-reliance of that autotune knob – even if just for dramatic effect –is not only horribly distracting, but for your average adult pop-rock fan, it’s hugely unwelcome.  Yes, this is an artist who can write a chorus, but for best results, those choruses need to be delivered with some real human emotion – for King and his studio honed sound, there’s barely anything approaching such old fashioned luxury.

December 2011

Posted in pop

DEXYS MIDNIGHT RUNNERS – Searching For The Young Soul Rebels

At the end of the 1970s, as punk faded, there were various British bands keen to pay tribute to a musical past.  Each paying tribute to the 1960s in their own way, the 2-Tone label gave birth to a second wave of ska music, while The Jam, Dr Feelgood and various other bands paid homage to rhythm & blues and mod scenes.  Often gaining fewer accolades, Birmingham’s Dexys Midnight Runners were heavily influenced by soul – particularly of the horn-based variety, as championed by the legendary Stax label.  Their first album ‘Searching for the Young Soul Rebels’ captures the original line-up of the band in fabulous form; with plenty of ego and so much to prove.

The album is housed in a sleeve featuring a monochrome photograph of a young boy with his belongings on a Belfast street during the sectarian clearances of 1969.  This is not the only time the album pays homage to frontman Kevin Rowland’s Irish heritage: the choruses of the opening track ‘Burn It Down’ (released as a single earlier in a different version, titled ‘Dance Stance’) name-checks various Irish writers.  The track’s music may recall sixties soul, but the over-riding vibe is of something much angrier.  By the time Rowland orders “shut your fucking mouth till you know the truth” at the end of the second verse, it’s clear that this isn’t always going to be an easy ride.  The band, meanwhile, are very tight: while the horns of Big Jim Patterson, Steve Spooner and Geoff Blythe are often the dominant force, Pete Williams’s bass work is punchy and Andy Growcott’s mid-paced drum work does a great job in keeping everything together.    ‘Tell Me When My Light Turns Green’ sticks to a similar musical blueprint, but is vocally rather more striking, with Rowland’s distinctive wail drifting into falsetto, while more than ably accompanied by Al Archer adding a second voice.  While it doesn’t have the instant punch of ‘Burn It Down’, the band sound confident – Growcott’s drum fills are far more interesting a trombone solo (courtesy of Patterson) is suitably busy.

Driven by Growcott’s drums, ‘Thankfully Not Living In Yorkshire It Doesn’t Apply’ is a breezy workout showcasing a band who’ve honed their skills to perfection.  With a tinkling organ very high in the mix on the right hand side and punchy bass, the band bristle their way through three minutes without stopping for breath.  While musically it’s a top offering, vocally it’s rather off-kilter, since Rowland tackles most of the number in falsetto.  When combined with his favoured affectations, this makes most of the lyrics inaudible.  However odd it may appear, his yelping during the chorus sections is somehow rather pleasing, albeit in a perverse way.  Written by Kevin Rowland with Geoffrey Blyth and Peter Saunders, ‘I’m Just Looking’ really captures the pain in those old James Brown soul ballads of the early 60s, Rowland ringing every note out of his love it/hate it voice, sounding close to breaking point in places.  While it’s a very vocal driven performance, Saunders’s organ drones add to the melancholy air and the horns more than pull their weight, really punching for emphasis wherever required.  A similar styled number ‘I Couldn’t Help It If I Tried’ features great performances from everyone involved, but doesn’t work quite as well.  Rowland hammers a few of his lines into submission in a manner which occasionally irritates on record, but it’s easy to imagine this could have proved very effective in a live setting.

With regard to the cover of the Chuck Woods number ‘Seven Days Too Long’, Rowland tries his utmost to give the performance a frantic edginess and in places, more than succeeds.  As you may expect, the musical delivery is faultless, with the band capturing the energy and spirit of Northern Soul. Their love for the music really shines through.  In comparison, ‘Geno’ (a number one hit and certainly the album’s best known number), appears a little slow.  Written in tribute to Geno Washington (a man whom Blythe had previously played as sideman), it’s slower pace is possibly better suited to Rowland’s vocal style.  Its striking horn motif is likely to wedge itself inside your head after listening, but the vocal arrangements are also spot on, with a call and response between Kevin and Al Archer during the choruses and some well-placed harmonies lurking elsewhere (Rowland almost drowns these out, mind).

Similarly, the album’s other hit, ‘There There My Dear’ makes fantastic use of a horn riff, although it has a much bouncier arrangement overall (one which nods towards Dexys’ future).  Lyrically, it’s fabulous: structured as an open letter to “Robin”, Rowland spouts anger and rallies against the bands who name-check philosophers and radical thinkers.  The lyric is fudged to extreme levels to make something technically un-lyrical fit the frame of an otherwise accessible soul/pop number, but the fact that Rowland even dared to make this work at all is testament to his often misunderstood genius.  The spite and bile here is on a par with ‘Burn It Down’, although the technical brilliance of the one-two punch between music and lyric makes it the better number.  The fact that Rowland is able to take such phrases such as as “keep quoting Cabaret, Berlin, Burroughs, JG Ballard, Duchamp, Beauvoir, Kerouac, Kirkegaard, Michael Rennie” and “Perhaps I’d listen to your records but your logic’s far too lame and I’d only waste three valuable minutes of my life with your insincerity” and then make them work within the confines of a hit single should be applauded.  Here’s a thought: if bands with pretentions angered him so much back in 1980, one wonders how angry the Manic Street Preachers would make him in the 90s and beyond?  Once again, there’s plenty of musical gusto – so much, that perhaps ‘There There My Dear’ deserves to be as well known as ‘Geno’.  During ‘Keep It’ Rowland doesn’t quite achieve a pained soulful performance, but his style more than hits the mark here; his emotionally charged shriek counterbalanced in places by softer backing vocals.  There’s no chorus here to speak of; we are reliant on musical hooks for big thrills and with a horn sound befitting of Eddie Floyd, of Otis.  This is the sound of a band hitting a smooth groove – bringing the 60s into the 1980s as authentically as possible – and succeeding on almost every level.

Aside from the really great material, ‘Soul Rebels’ contains a couple of obvious fillers.  The instrumental number ‘The Teams That Meet In Caffs’ gives the horn section time to stretch out, although it’s general tone is rather melancholy; rather than a traditional Stax style workout, there’s something about it which, in places, has the air of a Bill Conti arrangement.  Below the horns, the organ work adds various florushes, while the whole thing is held together by the solid rhythm section.  During the number’s close, Steve Spooner breaks into an accomplished sax solo, which after a few jarring notes to wake the listener at the start adds a much needed sense of energy.   ‘Love Part 1 (Poem)’ borders on self-indulgence, as Rowland spits a short but angry poem over some jazz saxophone work.  As a standalone piece, there’s very little need for it here.

The album was a success, peaking at #6 in the UK chart, but the future for the band was decidedly wobbly.  Finding Rowland increasingly difficult to work with (among other things, he’d forbidden Dexys to give any kind of interviews to the press), most of the band quit.  Rowland gathered together a new bunch of musicians and with them, a new image – they donned hooded tops and boxing boots – Rowland himself appearing with slicked-down hair and a Terry-Thomas moustache.  This second line-up never managed to record a full album together, but during 1981, they released an excellent single (‘Plan B’), recorded a session for BBC Radio 1 and played critically acclaimed live shows. [This transitional year is documented on the archive release ‘The Projected Passion Revue’].

By the end of the year the band were augmented by a folk influenced trio The Emerald Express.  Their input steered Dexys away from the edgy soul influenced music of their past and further towards a hybrid of folk-pop and soul music.  This would herald a new era for the band – one which is undoubtedly their most fondly remembered…

Dexys Midnight Runners have never really had the credit they deserve for their music.  This is something which, possibly, has not been helped by Rowland’s inability to be content: constant changes in line-up, image and sound over the course of five years meant that the band never had time to settle into one identity.  The soul boys were traded in for rag-tag gypsies, which clearly didn’t always please Rowland either.  That line-up, while successful, only recorded one album and by the time Dexys returned with their third disc in 1985, the band and image was almost unrecognisable yet again.  While Kevin Rowland’s constant striving for perfection constantly pushed the band forward, it was ultimately their undoing.

If you’re unfamiliar with Dexys beyond a couple of hit singles and only associate them with being dungaree-wearing ragamuffins dancing outside corner shops, then you must check out ‘Searching For The Young Soul Rebels’.  If you like things with an angry stance and retro nature, you’ll almost certainly get pulled in by its vibrancy.

[In 2010, ‘Searching For The Young Soul Rebels’ was reissued as a deluxe 2CD set, featuring a bonus disc of period rarities and radio sessions]

December 2010/September 2011