Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dexy's Midnight Runners

Note: This post is really drippy, for which I apologize, so try to ignore my terrible "blog-tone," and just listen to the songs. They're still great.

I love Dexy's. Without question.

If anyone knows of them at all, then they would know them for Come On, Eileen. Well, that's fine. Come On, Eileen, despite it's popularity and ubiquitousness on one-hit wonder lists, it's a great song!

The thing is that the rest of Dexy's catalogue are all equally great and catchy and wonderful as Come On, Eileen, if not more so.

Having done my research (as I do with all obsessions), I've dug into their library. And am a better person for doing so.

They've got three albums:

The first, Searching for the Young Soul Rebels, is a Northern Soul Dance Energy Explosion. It's horn heavy, which smacks of deadly ska, but rather than being terrible, it's got wild tempo swings, more heartfelt energy, and Kevin Rowland's wailing, soaring, amazing voice. I swear to god he doesn't get enough credit for his singing. Or for anything, really.

Tell Me When My Light Turns Green

The second, Too-Rye-Aye, switches gears a little bit. There's still hecka horns, but joining the fray are fiddles and banjos and other sorts of celtic fun. This is the era that most people associate with Dexy's, as the grungy look of Come On Eileen is from this album. But it's got tons more. You can find Eileen easy, so don't look here.

Celtic Soul Brothers
Plan B
Liars A to E

Then Dexy's threw everyone for a spin, releasing Don't Stand Me Down, a record-memoir of sorts, as it's content for the most part concerns itself with Kevin Rowland telling stories of his life, from day to day to back in the day. It's verse/chorus style is generally Kevin and the band talking followed by a soaring chorus. It's not irritating at all, in fact I think this album is one of the great misunderstood gems, ever. You could also say it's a neat precursor to the talk-rap-british style that's going on these days.

The other thing about Don't Stand Me Down is that behind the talking and reminiscing, there's really great musicianship, totally moving music. It's really great. I promise.

Kevin Rowland's 13th Time
The Waltz

Dexy's broke up (of course), and Kevin Rowland got weird (not in my opinion), put on women's clothing, and released a covers album, My Beauty. Personally, I would love to hear it, but as of now I'm having trouble finding it. The fact that they say it only sold 500 copies isn't helping that. But, today Kevin soldiers on, and apparently is brewing a new album for Dexy's. Too-rye-aye, indeed!!

P.S. The lyrics to come on eileen are really really dirty.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Smith vs. Corgan, Round I

People always say that when you're into a musician or band, you should go backwards and trace their influences. An alternate to that would be trace the web of collaborators, friends, etc.
But as for the former, it's been proven to me, more or less. I would have never heard Neu! if I never read a shit-ton of books about Bowie. So thanks, Bowie.

But really what I'm saying about the former is a revelation I'm having today. I'm listening to the Cure, and I've noticed that literally everything about the Smashing Pumpkins comes from this. You can hear everything Billy Corgan heard and said "Raaah! I'm going to totally steal this later on!" It's incredibly obvious in the Pumpkins' early work (Pre-Gish, I mean), but even after they seemingly assimilated their influences (or hid them under a sheen of Big Muff pedals), you can totally tell that Billy listened to The Cure everyday of his high school life.

Sure, he's said he loves The Cure a ton, but I've just never noticed how obvious it was before today.


Addendum: The real meat of this argument was that there's a Smashing Pumpkins song called She that has the lyrics "She is everything / Monday to Tuesday / Wednesday's another game / praying for Sunday." I always thought (before I got way into The Cure and had a vicious Wikipedia read) that this was an obvious ripoff of Friday I'm In Love, lyrically at least. I mean, the whole "day" thing, and the song was performed at a time when Billy was still trying to ape Robert Smith's voice (and failing).

But here's the wild thing: She was written years before Friday I'm In Love! I had no idea that Friday was an early nineties song. She was written in 1988! That's pretty crazy. It proves that Billy was such a big Cure fan, he went into the future to rip off his favorite band.

No hard feeling on She, though. It comes really close to being a catchy song, it's just held back by being performed by a band who hadn't found their feet yet.