only for sheep


or, me and dexys midnight runners in my life today.
i am a big fan of the first album.... there is something about the synchronicity involved in it - the band sounded and looked like the last gang in town, they were a direct reaction to the guitar led RAWK music of the times, hijacking gigs and blowing the main band away in a wave of brass... which no cutting edge band was doing at the time.
they had instrumentals, poetry, spoken word...
i have that album on vinyl nowadays, and on unaltered cd(not the expanded version, i can't bring myself to mess with perfection just yet...)
the look was based on dockers from "on the waterfront" one of my favourites... and i have to admit i did sport a woollen beanie, black jeans/jumper and leather box jacket... with my white adidas holdall - around the one-horse town i grew up in, much to the mirth and merriment of the local cooler-than-thou punk cogniscenti who were all so-oh fashionable in their biker jackets(i've never owned a biker jacket to this day...).
searching for the young soul rebels became something of an epiphany for me... this big slab of emotion, like hearing my generation or elvis for the first time - the music press in the day ruefully printed the headline "dexys album actually quite good", as if they begrudged the fact that a group of brummies could actually do something that wasn't pastiche, but had real feeling.
each track spoke to me about my life back then... hanging out in caffs, running in the streets... the teenage thing.
there was something in-between the lines about it all, a mystical quality like pet sounds has(pet sounds being my benchmark for how a life changing album should sound)
ironically, now i live in the area that the band were from... the teams that meet in caffs, was perhaps a reference to the mythical little nibble on bearwood high street, about two doors away from where i catch my bus everyday...
we went to the nibble for a few saturdays, to smoke and eat greasy spoon food, but the seats were all from different tables, the sauce bottles were empty, and the clientele had long since gone over to the dark side... sitting amongst large old people in strange timeless raincoats who stared into space, or younger people who pinged the video-machine.
there was an air of impending gloom about the place - probably due to the fact that it was about to close, change hands and turn into a cafe bistro, which lasted all of five minutes (they got rid of the neat little curved window on the doorway), and now it's opening again as a take-away chicken shop....
kevin rowland used to live round here, he had a house in oldbury and got himself a flat on the hagley road, where he lived with his then girlfriend who played violin in dexys.
i met pete williams the original bass player a couple of times back in the mid-90's, he actually produced a demo for some band i was playing bass for, in some dingy flea infested underground recording studio.
he made of good job of it too(he was always busy working with local music and theatre groups).
me, i blanched when he mentioned "i used to play bass in a band", and i mumbled something and tried to carry-on without tripping up over the fact that someone who had orchestrated one of my favourite albums was in the room, watching me fluff my (bass)lines.
i ran into to him again, at a dexys convention, when after a night of having kevin rowland's brother hand out red marlboro to me, pete turned-up to meet the small crowd of rather drunk people who'd been watching videos all day.
he was looking for someone to re-issue the bureau album, and i had a contact who was interested in having it on his record label... so i gave him contact details and never heard from him again.
but pete was ever the modest man... i was impressed by his humility, and now i know the depth of his talent.
just finished reading the dexy midnight runners young soul rebels book by richard white.
reading the book, i never realised until now, just how much of a player pete williams was in the band... along with all the other members - i'd always been intrigued as to the make-up of the band and how they had arranged the music... it was a lot more democratic than was previously thought.
the dexys convention was a good day out, some nice people there, my first ever internet meetup i might add - back in the early days of such things... i got there and found someone had come all the way from new zealand, to sit and watch videos or attempt a karaoke, and discuss how much they all loved bruce springsteen's music.

needless to say, after the initial band split, i went with the bureau whose sound harked back to the early dexys... and i never got to hear the blue ox babes as they disapeared from the radar pretty quick, owing to the fact that the dexys sound borrowed heavily from theirs, but only dexys had the huge record company backing.
kevin archer turns out to be the real musical genius, coming up with a lot of the ideas and sound of both album one and two.
he's kind-of disapeared these days, which is a shame.
but back to the book - in fact, i admit i did skim through the recording of the 3rd album, as it had all got a bit boring by then, falling out with nameless session men, firing and hiring producers, touring the world and feeling unhappy, getting van morrison in to sing and he just sat there looking moody...
just regular music biz stuff really.
no, i was into that early period, when the sound was cooking... i never really got into the raggle, taggle gypsey thing(i'd heard it all before), and come on eileen was a turkey (or in kevin's case, an albatross), which i remember mostly for having danced to at a scooter beach party on the west coast at three in the morning(geno was connected to the day i was in bed feeling ill, and had the radio on with the song on heavy rotation...).
by the third album, it had all gone pop... drafting in seasoned session men, wearing suitzzzzzzzzzz, and i'd drifted off to other sounds.
the bureau had one good album, lots of that bluesy attitude - all the good bits, they had one shot at it and left the stage.
although they are together and playing nowadays...
now that i've heard the blue ox babes, and even got bounder to play them on his excellent radio show at the weekend, on a birmingham music special - i regret not digging them out before.
do you know, at one point i toyed with the idea of writing a dexys musical, now having read the book, i have no excuse not to(it was going to be a parable with king arthur connections in it), i mentioned the idea at the convention i went to all those years ago... but it didn't go down too well.... it would have been a one man thing, with backing music...
but thankfully, i never got to taint the memory of such a sound!

rowland is a genius, you can tell by the erratic way his life progressed, he said he had a plan, but the guy was a creative maverick, no doubt there, but he had some talented people backing him up in the beginning.
they had it all, genius.

1 comment:

Helen Highwater said...

Geno, Geno, Geno, Geno! Stop shredding the carpet you furry git.

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