From the start of his Dexys career, Kevin Rowland's inherent miss-trust of journalists led him to develop
a combative approach to interviews. Often challenging interviewers with
questions of his own or engaging in monosyllabic responses, he gave few journalists or TV presenters an easy ride. However
of all those interviews none were quite as openly hostile affairs as the one conducted by Muriel Gray in September 1985
for the Channel 4 show "Bliss". Sitting in the open air beneath the "blazing sunshine", Kevin Rowland,
Billy Adams and Helen O'Hara soon realised that what was meant to have been an appearance to plug new album "Don't Stand Me Down"
had quickly turned into an assault on the band's attire and the perceived commercial failure of the album.
Dressed in a multi-coloured outfit typical of the decade which style forgot, Muriel Gray
opened the interview antagonistically by asking "Now first of all tell me about the visual image of the reappearance
of Dexys after about three years, I mean, why the change from the sort of 'Country Hicks' to 'Double-Glazing Salesman'
From that moment onwards, Kevin Rowland went on the defensive:
"What double-glazing salesman look?" he replied, clearly aware
that Muriel Gray was having a dig at Dexys' stylistic transformation from 'Celtic
Soul Brothers' to 'Brooks Brothers'.
It is interesting to note at this point
that the 'Preppy' look embraced by Dexys during this period has stood the test of time far
better than the outlandish outfits worn by most mid-80s artists - and indeed by the
presenter quizzing Rowland about his fashion sense! "This isn't an image for
us, you know, it's just... these are just the clothes that we wear." countered Rowland,
refusing to take the bait.
they're the clothes we've been wearing for about the past two years now." added Billy Adams.
"We'll probably wear them for another five or something." Rowland concluded
with a prediction which would prove (somewhat predictably) to be rather inaccurate!
Throughout the interview the strains of
"This Is What She's Like" played away in the background, providing a soundtrack
to this tense and torrid affair - and also a clue to anyone listening carefully enough that there were
at least two sections of interview edited out from the broadcast programme. The length
of these gaps in "This Is What She's Like" also allow us to calculate how long
the "lost sections" of this interview must have been. For instance, following the conversations
about clothing there is a gap of one minute and forty-seven seconds in the background music before Muriel
Gray asks "What would you say Dexys' music's all about?". One can only speculate what further
dialogue was edited out at this point.
However there is a clue to the contents of at least part of the next missing segment in the
comments which follow it. A gap of three minutes apparently precedes Muriel Gray's question "What
are the things that drive you on personally? Are you a passionate person or a very calm, cool person. And don't just
say 'I'm alright' - that's a boring answer". Since Kevin didn't utter that
particular phrase during any of the footage shown it seems safe to assume that he had fielded at least
one of Muriel's un-broadcast questions with this comment. Whatever was discussed during those three
missing minutes it is quite noticeable that the atmosphere between interviewer
and interviewee had become even more fraught and fractious as a result.
"Well, what about YOU?" asks Rowland,
deflecting the question back on to Gray.
"This isn't about me. The audience isn't the slightest bit interested
in me." she replies.
"I'm sure they're
not." retorts Rowland.
the fascinating one." taunts Gray.
"Is that right?" Rowland responds sardonically. "Well, you know, I have more than
one facet, I hope."
The sense of tension between
the two was hardly helped by Gray's following questions:
"What do you think Dexys are going to do if this album isn't received
"What do you mean 'received
"If it doesn't sell
in enormous amounts?"
"Well, our success
came when the L.P. was finished" replied Rowland, skilfully side-stepping the sensitive
subject of album sales.
became so infamous that 27 years later when journalist Pete Paphides
told Rowland during a BBC radio documentary that there was one interview
he remembered in particular, Rowland was at once in no doubt which one he was
"Do you know what I'm going to say?"
asked Pete Paphides.
"Muriel..." replied Rowland"
The excellent "Don't Stand Me Down" documentary ( part of
the "Follow-Up Albums" series broadcast in 2012 - and featuring
a recording of the Muriel Gray interview from the dexys.org archives!) included
the recollections of both Rowland and O'Hara of this unforgettable
I remember it. I don't know, what can I say about that? Do you know what I mean? You
know, some people just haven't got a clue." concluded Rowland.
"We really hated her actually after that," observed Helen O'Hara, "I
mean, because she was SO nice to us before, it was like a different person."
Perhaps the biggest surprise about
the whole interview is that it seems to have reached its conclusion without descending
into an actual fight - or either party departing prematurely. Almost 30 years on
it still ranks as one of the most remarkable interviews ever broadcast.