Album #455 – Searching For The Young Soul Rebels

Album #455

Listening to this album couldn’t have come at a better time. Last week, I watched The Commitments for the first time. It’s a story about a group of teenagers from Dublin who form a band that plays covers of soul songs from the 1960’s. The power of that fictional band reminded me of Dexys Midnight Runners on this album. Soul from that era has been a huge inspiration to many Irish musicians including: The Boomtown Rats, Hothouse Flowers, U2 and Van Morrison. Dexys Midnight Runners are British but, their music bares many similarities with their Irish counterparts. Their first album, Searching for the Young Soul Rebels, takes it’s name from one of the album’s tracks. It starts off with the scanning of the AM band of a radio, with various songs fading in and out. This was probably a nod to their influences as much as it was an audio picture of what Dexys Midnight Runners were not going to be. Kevin Rowland and company successfully combine the energy of punk with the honesty, musicianship and good feelings of soul. It would become something of a trademark for the group. This was two years before Come On Eileen, a single that would peg the group as one-hit wonders in North America. Searching for the Young Soul Rebels actually had three UK top 40 hits: Burn It Down, There, There, My Dear and the band’s first #1, Geno. A big influence on the band was Northern Soul, a form of British music which like many, successfully combined American and British influences. Even before their big hit, this band knows how to create an upbeat mood with their music. Many of their songs are danceable and make you feel good. Their are also some ballads on this album that contrast the upbeat tracks. Through it all is Kevin Rowland’s distinctive voice. Whenever you hear it, you know it’s him. It’s part whine, part smooth velvet yet distinctive. The lyrics are reflective of their times, touching on everything from the politics of Thatcher-era Brittan to the state of music. But, it’s done in a way that only soul music can do: powerful and positive. Two years ago, Dexys Midnight Runners reunited as Dexys and continue to tour and record new music. But, in some ways, they waited too long. Dexys Midnight Runners are a band that came along at the right time and once again, show that the 1980’s are a decade more musically diverse than the one before it. It will be interesting to listen to this album’s follow-up, Too Rye Ay, and see what changed musically about this one-hit wonder that should have been bigger in North America. Other highlights include: Tell Me When The Light Turns Green, I’m Just Looking, Seven Days Too Long, Thankfully Not Living in Yorkshire Doesn’t Apply and Keep It. Overall, I give Searching For The Young Soul Rebels, 4 out of 5.

Next: Back In Black by AC/DC

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