CLASSIC PODCASTS WITH ROKPOOL
SFX CASSETTE MAGAZINE ISSUE 19 SIDE 1
Here at Rokpool we have been given exclusive access to the amazing iconic 80’s audio magazine SFX by its creator Hugh Salmon.
CLASSIC PODCASTS WITH ROKPOOL
RON LEEMAN INTERVIEWS… KEVIN ROWLAND OF DEXYS MIDNIGHT RUNNERS
Here at Rokpool we have been given exclusive access to these amazing rare and unheard Rock Star Interviews from the 80’s by interviewer Ron Leeman.
Recorded in Germany in the early 1980’s this is the original, un-edited interview which was subsequently edited to be broadcast on radio. The edited version was only broadcast once.
Dexys Midnight Runners are best known in America as one of new wave's ultimate one-hit wonders, thanks to their 1982 number one smash "Come on Eileen," a distinctive fusion of '80s pop, Celtic folk, and blue-eyed soul. In the U.K., however, they earned a fair amount of critical acclaim and made a greater impression on the public consciousness with their frequent changes in sound, wardrobe, and personnel.
Dexys were formed in 1978 by singer/guitarist/songwriter Kevin Rowland and singer/guitarist Kevin “Al” Archer (who changed his first name to avoid confusion). Both had been members of the Birmingham, England, punk band the Killjoys, and Rowland, who was ethnically Irish, had split his childhood between London, Ireland, and Birmingham, and soaked up the influence of Irish folk and the so-called Northern soul music popular in the Midlands. Seeking a new direction, Rowland and Archer decided to put together a full-fledged soul outfit and named it after the stimulant Dexedrine, a popular drug on the Northern soul scene (despite the strict no-drinking-or-drugs policy Rowland later imposed on the band). The lineup eventually settled on trombonist Big Jim Paterson, tenor saxophonist Geoff Blythe, alto saxophonist Steve “Babyface” Spooner, keyboardist Mick Talbot (who replaced Pete Saunders, was once a member of the Merton Parkas and later joined the Style Council), bassist Pete Williams, and drummer Andy “Stoker” Growcott (who replaced Bobby Junior). Acutely image-conscious, Rowland tried to reflect the band's working-class roots by dressing them as New York dockworkers, with a wardrobe lifted straight from the Martin Scorses/Robert DeNiro film Mean Streets. The band struggled financially at first, especially given its large membership, and according to legend, Rowland organized (or at least encouraged) shoplifting expeditions to make ends meet.
Dexys didn't take long to release their first single; "Dance Stance" (aka "Burn It Down"), an attack on anti-Irish discrimination, appeared on EMI in 1979, but only scraped the lower reaches of the charts. However, their next single, "Geno," a tribute to American-born soul singer Geno Washington (who'd made his career in the U.K.), went all the way to the top of the British charts in early 1980. Dissatisfied with their share of the profits, the band stole the completed master tapes of their debut album, Searching for the Young Soul Rebels, and successfully reworked their deal. When the album was released later in 1980, it caused a sensation. With their bright, tuneful, horn-heavy take on Memphis soul (which predated Paul Weller's similar transformation of the Jam), Dexys were hailed as British rock's return to an organic, soulful sound in the post-punk/new wave era. Their third single, "There There My Dear," became a Top Ten hit, but Rowland insisted on following it with the inadvisable single choice of "Keep It, Pt. 2," which flopped. This was the last straw for most of the band, who had grown tired of Rowland's control-freak leadership and restlessness. Archer left to form the Blue Ox Babes, and most of the rest of the group wound up in the Bureau, leaving only trombonist Paterson with Rowland.
Rowland and Paterson regrouped Dexys, adding guitarist/banjoist Kevin “Billy” Adams (again renamed), drummer Seb Shelton (ex-Secret Affair), keyboardist Mickey Billingham, alto saxophonist Brian Maurice, tenor saxophonist Paul Speare, and bassist Giogio Kilkenny (who replaced Steve Wynne). After the 1981 single "Plan B" (which featured a new wardrobe of boxing boots and ponytails), the new line-up left EMI and signed to Mercury. Their first single for the label, "Show Me," became a Top 20 hit, but the follow-up, "Liars A to E," flopped, and Rowland considered modifying the group's approach. Allegedly, he heard a demo tape of Archer's folk-influenced Blue Ox Babes material, and decided to reinvent Dexys in a similar fashion. He infuriated the Babes by not only borrowing from their sound, but recruiting violinist Helen O’Hara out of their line-up; he also added Steve Brennan and Roger MacDuff on the same instrument. The second Dexys album, Too-Rye-Ay, was released in 1982, and while their soul sound was still easily audible, it was now sitting alongside a strong Irish folk influence, making for a striking hybrid. The makeover was accompanied by yet another wardrobe change, this time to a scruffy gypsy/hobo image that wound up changing the standard of acceptable dress at many a restrictive London club. Dexys introduced their new sound on the single "The Celtic Soulbrothers," which was a mild success; however, the follow-up, "Come on Eileen," was a smash, becoming their second British number one. A few months later, helped along by the group's highly visual, MTV-ready appeal, "Come on Eileen" broke in America and went all the way to number one there as well. With their new folky direction thus established, the entire horn section (even the loyal Paterson) departed in the summer of 1982, as did keyboardist Billingham. Unfortunately, at the peak of the group's success, the rest of the line-up proved unstable as well, due in part to rifts with Rowland; eventually, the core of the group was whittled down to Rowland, guitarist Adams, and violinist O’Hara.
Rowland took Dexys to New York to work on the follow-up album, which - slowed by his perfectionism - took a year and a half to record. In the meantime, EMI released the singles compilation Geno in 1983. Paterson rejoined the group when Rowland decided to blend his soul and folk phases more thoroughly, and the rest of the instrumentation was filled out by hired session musicians. When Don't Stand Me Down was finally released in 1985, Rowland insisted that no singles were to be pulled from the album, wanting it to stand as a cohesive piece of work in the manner of '70s LPs. As a result, it sold much more poorly than expected and wasn't helped by lack-luster reviews that slammed Rowland's attempts at Van Morrison-esque poetry. After a few weeks, a panicked Mercury - who'd spent quite a bit of money to make the record - released "This Is What She's Like" as a single, but the damage was already done. One last single, "Because of You," charted in 1986 after being used as the theme to a British TV show, but with Don't Stand Me Down having bombed, the group disbanded.
Rowland mounted a solo career and returned in 1988 with The Wanderer, a mellow record flavoured with country and lounge-pop, which failed to sell. A disheartened Rowland spent the next few years in a deep depression, fighting off bankruptcy and cocaine addiction. In 1996, he signed with Creation as a solo artist, but in typically idiosyncratic fashion, his comeback effort was an all-covers album; My Beauty was released in 1999 and sold abominably, probably not helped by Rowland's new wardrobe of dresses and suspenders. Meanwhile, ska-punk revivalists Save Ferris covered "Come on Eileen" for a U.S. hit in 1997, a testament more to the song's enduring popularity than to the imagination of their rearrangement. ~ Steve Huey, All Music Guide
This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com
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Kevin Rowland was born in 1953 in Wolverhampton and is best known as front man of Dexys Midnight Runners. The first group of Rowland's was Lucy & The Lovers but that failed to survive for more than a short period. His next project the punk rock act The Killjoys were able to attain some recognition with the release of the single "Johnny Won’t Go To Heaven" in 1977. He separated from the band because of disillusionment with the punk scene and formed a new soul influenced band named Dexys Midnight Runners in 1978 with the guitarist, Al Archer.
Dexys disbanded in 1987. In the same year Rowland recorded a solo album named "The Wanderer" but the album was a commercial failure along with its three singles. His next album appeared in 1999, interpretations of classic songs named "My Beauty".
Dexys Midnight Runners was reformed by Rowland in 2003 with only one original member in the line-up of the band other than him, this was bassist Pete Williams.
The reformed band had a successful tour supporting their greatest hits album along with two newly recorded songs "Manhood" and "My Life in England". Even though these songs were boasted as new singles, they only appeared as airplay on national radio and were never released commercially.
Click here for an extremely rare interview with Kevin Rowland. This interview is totally raw and uncut. What that means is as it was recorded at the time without edits, so it contains everything from screw-ups, intro’s to tracks with no subsequent music, strange background noises, pregnant pauses and idle chatter but that is what makes it so unique. This interview has not seen the light of day in this format since it was recorded nearly 30 years ago.
This information is provided as a brief overview and not as a definitive guide, there are other sources on the net for that. If however you have a story or information that is not generally known we would love to hear from you. Content@rokpool.com.