If there's one thing that being a Dexys fan has taught me over the years, it's the importance of being true to your own beliefs and opinions. Sometimes this will leave you at odds with the views of others you generally regard as being "like-minded". That's an inevitable consequence of such a strategy. "Compromise is the Devil talking..." and all that. However, when you find yourself responsible for a website dedicated to celebrating the work of a particular recording artist, you become very conscious  that there is an apparent expectation on you to eulogise about everything they ever create. Especially when you've waited so long - and with such impatience - for some new material to eulogise about.


I've read reviews of "One Day I'm Going To Soar" claiming that it is the best ever Dexys album. Better than "Searching For The Young Soul Rebels", "Too-Rye-Aye" AND "Don't Stand Me Down". Personally, I believe this view is blinded by wishful thinking and excitement at there being a new product to enjoy after so many barren years. I realise that musical tastes are subjective and that, as such, it's pointless suggesting that somebody is wrong to prefer one piece of music to another but I wholeheartedly disagree that this is, by any stretch of the imagination, the best ever Dexys album. I believe that to try and claim such a thing is a betrayal of the brilliance - and creative genius - inherent in the albums which have gone before. Would I have become such a big Dexys fan if "One Day..." was the only Dexys album I'd ever heard. Definitely not. 


Somebody who was aware of my mixed feelings towards the new Dexys album asked me a while ago if I had grown to love the album yet. I had to admit that I still wasn't sure how I felt about it, having not listened to it in many months. And, of course, I realised that this actually answered the question - whilst asking another, more important one: What is it that makes you want to go back and listen to something again and again in the way that "Don't Stand Me Down" or "Searching for The Young Soul Rebels" has over the years? You have to believe in your desire for something in the first place in order to want to keep coming back to it. My belief in Dexys had kept me waiting eagerly throughout the wilderness years for the much-promised new material. Despite being unsure about some of the demos I'd heard, I'd still believed in Dexys enough to go and watch them perform their new album in its entirety at Shepherds Bush but, again, had not been completely convinced by what I'd seen and heard.


And so it was that I had something of a dilemma to deal with when I finally purchased the new Dexys album in June 2012. The following review of "One Day I'm Going To Soar" was first published just days after the album's release:



So... as far as my opinion of the new Dexys album is concerned... "I like it." "It's O.K." ("...I wouldn't want to be making any complaints about it or anything like that.") More than anything, it's sympathetically performed and well-recorded. Ironically - and, perhaps, significantly - the songs I'm enjoying most at the moment are the ones I'd never previously heard demos of, i.e.: "Me"; "Nowhere Is Home"; "Lost" and (to a lesser degree) "I'm Always Going To Love You". It's a lesson I've learned a little too late to be of any use to me with regards to this particular release!

In some cases (notably "You" and "Free" the songs are 'weighed down' for me by the level of expectation created by my love of the earlier versions I'd listened to and lived with for many years. Conversely, other songs (especially "Now" and "Incapable Of Love") suffer from being tainted by my recollections of cheesey-sounding demos rife with synthetic brass riffs.

'NOW': The first minute or so sounds really good, What more could we ask for of a new Dexys album after all these years? A lovely melody played out with real sensitivity. But, as I've mentioned before, I've never cared too much for the rather naff-sounding riff which punctuates this track. Having said that, it felt a lot stronger played live with Big Jimmy's trombone beefing it up - maybe that says more about my personal preferences than the quality of the actual music?! I was disappointed when I discovered that Paterson only performed on one of the album's tracks... even more so when I realised it was merely the last few seconds of the final track.

'LOST': As I've already stated, it seems as though the songs which have grabbed my attention early on are generally the ones I hadn't previously heard. I was fascinated by the comments made by Nick Gatfield in the recent Radio 4 documentary about "Don't Stand Me Down" that he regards the demos made for that album as far superior to the final product. Asides from making me desparate to hear a box-set's worth of 'out-take' recordings from that particular album, it resonates with my own perception that Kevin can be inclined to 'over-work' songs and deconstruct them to a point where the thing that attracted me to them in the first place is lost. Thankfully, with this song I have no previous point of reference to compare it with and it sounds great.

'ME': Perhaps my favourite track on the album. Back in 1980 Dexys had their own label entitled "Late Night Feelings" - this recording seems to define that description. If I was looking for a precursor from Rowland's back-catalogue to this jazz-styled gem, I'd probably have to pick out "This Guy's In Love With You".

'SHE GOT A WIGGLE': I'd heard two different demos of this song before I bought the new album - the first one from the early 90s suggested to me that there was a seductively soulful song lurking in the background (albeit in a slightly "Hall & Oates" sense of the word 'Soul') - the second one from around 2005 with its less sympathetic arrangement and plastic production made me fear for the future. This recording seems to fall somewhere in between the two although the reviews I'd read, stating that the released track sounded like an Al Green record, probably raised my expectations to a level reality was never going to reach. Having said that, I still think this is a better song than any of the versions I've actually heard.

'YOU': Like most Dexys fans I loved "If I Ever" when I first heard it on "Saturday Zoo" in 1993 [Listen to short extract, below]. When I first read the track-listings for this album I was disappointed that it didn't seem to have made the cut - and was pleasantly surprised when I realised that it actually had made it onto CD under a new title. Compared to some of the other reworkings I feel that this recording comes through relatively unscathed, retaining much of what i enjoyed about the original.

 'I'M THINKING OF YOU': The trouble with introductions is that a listener tends not to revisit a song regularly if they don't enjoy how it STARTS! That was the case for me with this song when I first heard its demo. The spoken intro - which felt far more laboured than on this version - and the countless repetitions of the title line in the early verses put me off listening to the rest of the song more than a handful of times. Which is a shame really because after the "oh-oh-oh-oh" backing vocals come in, right through to the "come on home" line this song really shines as brightly as anything I've heard in ages. Now this DOES sound like an Al Green recording - and deliberately so!

'I'M ALWAYS GOING TO LOVE YOU': This sounds more 'Philly-Soul' than 'Hi Records' to my ears but again it's a well-crafted recording. I wasn't a big fan of the dialogue between Kevin and Madeleine when I heard it at the Shepherds Bush show and I don't enjoy it that much on the album either though I do feel it works far better on this track than the one which follows.

'INCAPABLE OF LOVE': This song encapsulates both what I like and dislike about the album! It has unmistakable echoes of the classic Dexys sound - specifically Dexys' Celtic-flavoured reworkings of their own songs such as "Tell Me When My Light Turns Green" or "Burn It Down" as performed live in 1982. Even though the brass riffs aren't quite up there with Dexys' finest, they are at least recorded in a way that sounds really fresh and vibrant - although, once again, I feel they would have benefited from the addition of Jim Paterson's trombone. Some of Kevin's singing (the "no-no-no-no-no-no" bits spring to mind) is amongst the stongest on the album whilst other parts display a pedestrian rhythmic plodding ("eg: the "You're incape, you're incape..." parts.) I still find the interchanges between Kevin and Madeleine on this song a little too "pantomime" for my personal tastes but I also understand why they are crucial to the concept of the album. My brother described this song as "Dexys by Numbers" and I do understand what he means. I wanted to hear new songs which 'sounded like Dexys' and yet it feels as though the rest of the album points to a new, subtler Dexys sound which leaves this track feeling a little too anachronistic to me.

'NOWHERE IS HOME': By complete contrast, I think this is brilliant - cunningly-crafted both lyrically and melodically and set to another satisfyingly soulful groove. More please, thank you!

'FREE': I absolutley adored the Kevin Rowland & Tasha McCluney duet "Loving" when I first heard it about ten years ago [Listen to short extract, above]. Not only was it full of gorgeous melodies and great interplay between the two singers, it was (unlike most of the demos I'd heard) well-recorded with acoustic guitar and organ and a really nice "feel". I still prefer the lyrics and sound of the original to this reworked version but it's still fundamentally a great song and this is growing on me with every listen.

'IT'S O.K. JOHN JOE': My dislike of the 'My Space' demo of this was, on reflection, probably the starting point for my ambivalence towards the idea of a new Dexys album. This was the first song I knew for a fact would feature on it and what I'd heard didn't inspire me. Thankfully I find the rerecording far more engaging, giving the released track a far more poignant feel than I'd imagined possible.

It's been a long journey but I feel I'm almost "there."