Tag Archives: Kevin Rowland

Rocks In The Attic #412: Terence Trent D’Arby – ‘The Hardline According To Terence Trent D’Arby’ (1987)

RITA#412Singing with conviction is a big thing for a pop singer. It’s one of the reasons Michael Jackson was such a superstar. Singing a song and making it sound like the whole world depends on the lyrics coming out of your mouth is a skill not shared by many. James Brown was born with it. As was Sam & Dave and dozens of other soul singers. It’s not just a black thing though – Kevin Rowland from Dexys Midnight Runners has it too, to name just one honky.

Terence Trent D’Arby definitely has it. It’s a technique with its roots in gospel. Conviction means believing in what you’re singing / saying, and if you’re stood singing in church it’s an extension of your faith. Move over momma, I love the Lord more than you! James Brown came from that gospel tradition, as did Michael Jackson, following very much in James’ footsteps.

Terence Trent D’Arby really started off strongly. He came out of the gates running, and so you wouldn’t be blamed for putting a huge stack of money on him to win. Pop music is a steeplechase though, not a sprint, and after a few jumps his career began to falter. I have a soft spot for She Kissed Me from his third album, but he’s just one of many artists who failed to live up to the expectations set up by their first offering.

Ultimately, more glue factory than Grand National.

Hit: Sign Your Name

Hidden Gem: As Yet Untitled

Rocks In The Attic #350: Dexys Midnight Runners – ‘Searching For The Young Soul Rebels’ (1980)

RITA#350I love this album. No matter how ridiculous the band got with their gypsy look on Too Rye-Ay two years later (still a fantastic single in Come On Eileen, although seriously overplayed at every wedding reception since), this album is untouchable. I know bands need to evolve over time – well, some do and some don’t seem to bother – but if I could give any band a pill to stop them evolving and turning into something different, it would be this version of Kevin Rowland’s band, circa 1980.

I’ve always liked the sound of brass – it might be the proximity of Lancashire, my birthplace, to Yorkshire, the home of brass band music; it might be John Barry’s brass-heavy scores for the Connery Bond films; or it might just be that when you play brass over rock n’ roll – The Who’s 5:15, , Aerosmith’s Chiquita, The Beatles’ Savoy Truffle or Got To Get You Into My Life – it sounds absolutely awesome.

King of awesome is Geno. What a tune! I love the way it initially sounds like a boxing workout, with a speedy opening tempo, before slowing down into something else completely – a hybrid of soul, reggae, rock n’ roll, and Rowland’s intelligible crooning jazz vocal. What the f**k is he talking about? A sweaty club? The Rocksteady Rub? What the hell? In fact, if you look the lyrics up online, and remove the word ‘Geno’, you’d have a hard time convincing yourself you’d ever heard the song before.

In fact, if I could give the band a pill to stop them evolving, I’d give it to them just as they recorded Geno. We might lose Come On Eileen, but maybe they’d still write that song, just with horns instead of fiddles, and dockworkers uniforms instead of gypsy dungarees.

Hit: Geno

Hidden Gem: Thankfully Not Living In Yorkshire It Doesn’t Apply

Rocks In The Attic #259: Dexys Midnight Runners – ‘Too-Rye-Ay’ (1982)

RITA#259I like to think that if I was in the first incarnation of Dexys – a Londoner drafted into the band due to my mean skills on the trombone or sax, and my love of Motown – and Kevin Rowland then sent the band into this direction for their second album – all fiddles, dungarees and ponytails – I’d probably want to leave the band. In fact, the second I saw somebody walk into the room with a fiddle, I’d punch Rowland in the face. Seeing Rowland dressed as a woman on a cover of a later solo album might lead me to believe I had very much made the right decision to leave.

That’s not to say that Too-Rye-Ay is a bad album. It’s not. The melodies are still there, and the homage to American music is very much still there in a cover of Van Morrison’s Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile) – with the band’s appearance on Top Of The Pops providing one of the best television bloopers ever, as the dance in front of a video screen featuring darts player Jocky Wilson – but their image had taken a turn for the worse. On Searching For The Young Soul Rebels, they had dressed as New York dockworkers in the style of On The Waterfront. Now they just looked like idiots.

Come On Eileen, even after its over-use at every party and wedding since 1982, is still a fantastic single – a trans-Atlantic number one, in fact. There’s hurt and emotion in there, in between the lyrics, hidden in a way I just can’t comprehend. I get the same feeling I do when I hear a Michael Jackson song, where a couple of seemingly throwaway lines in the bridge sound like the most important thing in the world.

I could still do without the fucking fiddle though.

Hit: Come On Eileen

Hidden Gem: The Celtic Soul Brothers