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Dexys Midnight Runners – Don’t Stand Me Down (1985)

February 29, 2016

UK

exemplary artwork by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

Made in the UK Artist #1: Duran Duran

Made in the UK Artist #2: The Charlatans

Made in the UK Artist #3: Elton John

Made in the UK Artist #4: Pet Shop Boys

Made in the UK Artist #5: Jim Dead & The Doubters

Made in the UK Artist #6: The Chemical Brothers

Made in the UK Artist #7: The Style Council

Made in the UK Artist #8: Super Furry Animals

Made in the UK Artist #9: Iron Maiden

Made in the UK Artist #10: Dexys Midnight Runners

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A bonus day in February this year, just enough time for one more UK review!

[Album 451/1001]

“It all sounded the same”
– Dexys Midnight Runners, One of Those Things

Do you hear what I hear?

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The question is, which was the first song that popped to mind? Was it:
a) Sweet Home Alabama

b) Werewolves of London

c) Sweet Home Alabama + Werewolves of London = All Summer Long

d) All of the above!

It all sounded the same

To my surprise (and likely chagrin of my former, younger self), such an overt music overlap no longer bothers me. Maybe I’m just getting old, my priorities are switching, it’s a frequently employed 5-4-1 chord progression, what’s the big deal?

And I quite liked the possible commentary on popular music, whether it was intentional I’m not sure. I’d like to think music would continue to diverge into new territory. However, for music to be commercially viable, it has to converge to fit in a marketable package.

So inevitably, or invariably, things will sound the same.

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But here’s where I’m left a bit puzzled: Don’t Stand Me Down was not a commercial success 220px-Dexys_Midnight_Runners_Don't_Stand_Me_Downas it was deemed too much of a departure from its more marketable predecessor, Too-Rye-Ay.

But to my ears, much of Don’t Stand Me Down feels like the slowed down part of Come On Eileen: the band keeps recycling that 1-3 chord progression when starting new sections & the singer is often wandering somewhat incoherently near the edges of his range.

Which is fine by me, I’m all for recurring themes and variations to make it feel like a unified album. I also certainly condone less-than-polished vocal performances but musically, it doesn’t feel like a departure for the group.

Instead, what’s changed here is the space among the musical selections: there are several barely audible spoken bits/conversations sprinkled throughout the album.

To my surprise (and likely bemusement of my former, younger self), such inaudible stretches mid-album no longer bother me. In my younger days, I’d be determined to decipher the dialogue, frustrated if I couldn’t figure it out. Maybe I’m just getting old, my priorities are switching, oh the band’s stopped playing and they’re talking about something again, what’s the big deal?

Personally, I refused to stop playing to hear what they were on about; their banter was possibly brilliant but probably not worth shifting my focus from play-time with my daughters.

That being said, we’ve had this on for a couple weeks while playing in the basement and not once did my kids say/sign ‘all done,’ so that’s a credit to the album! And any record that I associate with such a positive listening context is going to be remembered fondly.

Overall, perhaps the album is like some of the more audible lyrics from One of Those Things:

“Sure. it was alright. It was OK. I’m not lodging any complaints or anything, but there was just one problem…it all sounded the same.”

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To prevent my reviews from all sounding the same, time for a change of scenery.

I love the UK, I’ve relished this 2-month immersion, thank you British musicians for all your wonderful music.

And thank you wonderful readers for joining me on these travels, time to explore more of Europe!

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From → 1980s

17 Comments
  1. Europe ? Rock Now ..Rock The Night! Cool series Geoff! I dunno about the Song but that cover reminds of like a old Uriah Heep album cover! Yikes! Werewolves Of London comes to my mind….but your right about Dexy! They tried to keep the hits going …man that’s gotta be tuff when your creative tank is running on empty and you try and find ways to rekindle that sound that made you dough….but it never pans out!

    • Thanks Deke!
      Even if I wasn’t blown away by this one, I think they have the distinction of (at the time of the 2005 book) being the only group to have their whole 3 album catalogue on the 1001 list!

  2. Hackskeptic permalink

    I’m kind of intrigued by this record Geoff. Their debut is one of my favourite albums and the follow up was their commercial folly. This album barely sold, and yet I know it’s critically heralded as Kevin Rowland’s best work. I’ll be unconvinced as to whether it’s as good as “Searching For The Young Soul Rebels” but I’ll keep my mind as open as possible. Is it as good as their debut album?

    • For my $5 LP investment, I’m certainly not complaining. In my books, I’d rank them in order of release, putting this in the bronze.
      But yes, go in with an open mind – I may have had inflated expectations after being so pleased with the other 2. Perhaps if I’d heard it before the others, its ranking might have changed!

  3. Wow, I didn’t even know these people made more than that one album! You’re teaching me, Geoff! An interesting thing, for sure, and brave of you to stick it out.

    As for the song being repeated etc, people have doing that crap for years. There are only so many chord progressions, so it’s a question of whether it’s an homage or if it’s stealing (if it’s too close). That’s it. As BNL said, “and if I played the same three chords would you just yawn and say (oo-h–hoo) It’s All Been Done?” Yes. Yes I would.

    • Thanks Aaron – nice BNL quote!
      I remember hearing Slash (he may have been quoting someone else) talk about the trick is taking the same three chords and making them sound fresh. Yesterdays & Sweet Child O Mine follow that D-C-G pattern, they still sound fresh to me!

  4. Damn. I heard All Summer Long. I feel ashamed.

    But this is better 🙂 Thanks for posting this! I knew very little about this band. I never heard this song before.

    • Many thanks Mike!
      I remember hearing that Kid Rock Song for the first time and thinking, well that’s it, we’re officially out of ideas!

  5. Cool – I never bothered with their albums, just the singles. An intense bunch of folks by all accounts.

    • The first one (searching for the young soul rebels) may be worth a look if you can find it inexpensively. I’ve been able to get the LPs for $5 each, I’d say for 5 quid or less, it’s worth the investment!

  6. I’ve been meaning to snap up the first record for a while, but I’ve never quite been 100% committed to it. Dare say I will at some point, though … especially if I see it cheap enough. This one sounds intriguing … so I might have to check it out also …

    • I’d imagine that Glasgow market ought to have a cheap enough copy!

      • I wouldn’t be so sure, Geoff. Popped in a week or so ago and the place was like a ghost, er, market. First foray this year and there wasn’t a single slice of vinyl to be found! Still, at least there’s the Record Fayre!

      • Not a single slice of Vinyl? To quote Weezer, say it ain’t so!

      • Not a slice, Geoff! Not a slice …

  7. I’m glad to hear you are raising some mini-music critics!

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