The Dexys Midnight Runners are probably one of the most underrated bands that have emerged from the confusions of (post-) punk in the early 80’s. Although half the world knows them only because of the phenomenally successful world hit “Come On Eileen”, the Dexys have always been much more than this: they were a punk band, they were a soul band, they were an Irish folk band and they with “Do not Stand Me Down” they have released a masterpiece of New Pop, which flopped so bad that, after another two unsuccessful solo albums, mastermind Kevin Rowland had to retire from the music business.This is the story of a man who had been down so long, that he did not even know what the top feels like.
The Dexys Midnight Runners, with singer Kevin Rowland and guitarist Kevin “Al” Archer as its founding members, were formed in 1978 in Birmingham, Englan. Kevin Rowland is seen as the great lost son of British pop culture. Son of Irish immigrants, he was a rough-anarchist who was arrested 13 times, stole the master tapes of his record label as he felt cheated and wrote much-quoted lines like: “the only way to change things / is to shoot people who arrange things.” The name band originates from “Dexedrine”, a drug used by music fans known as Northern Soul , referring to the energy that the drug gives, driving to dance all night.
The debut album “Searching For The Young Soul Rebels” was released in 1980. Among the songs was “There There My Dear” – along with the radical line in which Rowland claimed that one could just change something in which you shoot those responsible. Kevin Rowland is still surprised today: “They probably just did not understand the lyrics, otherwise the song would never have come on the radio.” The musicians, especially those who had the wind instruments had to play as hard and loud as possible, up to the points at which their lips were bleeding – just to meet Rowlands vision: to combine the melodious passion of the soul with the raw energy of punk. With a new cast the Dexys released “Too-Rye-Ay” in 1982: The musicians wore dungarees, instead of the wind instruments played Celtic fiddles and with “Come On Eileen”, the band had a hit. On 23 April 1983 it reached number one of the U.S. charts. It reached # 1 on the charts in the UK in 1982 and in the same place in the Billboard Hot 100 the following year. Kevin Rowlan in this song tried to process the story of a girl next door – Eileen. It changed everything, as Rowland admits today, “I liked the song, but I liked all that was not what he caused.”
After two consecutive albums that flopped The Dexys separated in 1986. This was followed by dark years, with drugs and depression. In 1999, Rowland released an album with cover versions. He was ridiculed and pelted with bottles at a gig – not least because he was wearing on stage and the album cover women’s clothes. In 2012 the band released a new album One Day I’m Going To Soar under the name Dexys.