Searching for the Young Soul Rebels
|Searching for the Young Soul Rebels|
|Studio album by Dexys Midnight Runners|
|Released||July 11, 1980|
|Recorded||April 1980 at Chipping Norton Recording Studios, Oxfordshire|
|Genre||New Wave, Blue-eyed soul|
|Dexys Midnight Runners chronology|
|Singles from Searching for the Young Soul Rebels|
Searching for the Young Soul Rebels is the debut studio album by English pop group Dexys Midnight Runners, released on July 11, 1980, through EMI Records. Led by Kevin Rowland, the group formed in 1978 in Birmingham, England, and formed a strong live reputation before recording their first material. Recorded during April 1980, the album combines the aggressiveness of punk rock with soul music, particularly influenced by the Northern soul movement.
The album was preceded by and contains the hit-single "Geno", which topped the UK Singles Chart. It also contains two other charting singles: "Dance Stance" (re-recorded as "Burn It Down") and "There, There, My Dear". The album reached number 6 on the UK Albums Chart and is certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry. It has been widely acclaimed by music critics since its release and is included in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
In 1976 Kevin Rowland formed a punk band called The Killjoys, based in Birmingham, England, which gained minor success with the release of their single "Johnny Won't Get to Heaven"/"Naïve" in 1977. Kevin "Al" Archer joined in early 1978, but due to internal arguments and tension between Rowland and the rest of the group the band dissolved. On "a hot night in July 1978" Rowland decided to form a new band, which would eventually become Dexys Midnight Runners, telling Archer "I'm going to do what I really want to do: form a great group. We’ll wear great clothes and make soulful music." Throughout July Rowland and Archer auditioned 30-40 people to join the group, the eventual band consisting of 8 members. Later that summer the band would create their name, after the drug Dexedrine which was used by fans of Northern soul, and began a rigorous rehearsing and writing schedule, practicing for about 9 hours every day. In November 1978 the band entered the UK live circuit and gained a reputation for their strong performances, which included covers of classic soul songs and originals. Rowland and Archer employed a strict code of conduct, ruling out and drinking or drug use before performances, and introduced many of the band members to activities such as shoplifting expeditions and bumping trains.
In 1979 Rowland turned down an offer to join Jerry Dammers' 2 Tone Records after supporting his band The Specials and signed to Oddball Records instead. In November that year the band adopted their signature look for their early recordings, consisting of donkey jackets and woolly hats. It was inspired by New York dockworkers, such as in the film On The Waterfront. After the release of their first single "Dance Stance" in December, which entered the charts and led to the band signing to EMI Records, the band underwent a nationwide tour titled Straight To The Heart in 1980. Their lineup would change slightly at this point, with John Jay being replaced by Bobby Ward who was later replaced by Andy "Stoker" Growcott on drums and Pete Saunders being replaced by Andy Leek on organ. The band released their next single, "Geno", on March 15, 1980, which peaked at number 1 on the UK Singles Chart.
The band recorded Searching for the Young Soul Rebels over 12 days at Chipping Norton Recording Studios in Oxfordshire, England. It was produced by Pete Wingfield, who had previously recorded the hit single "Eighteen With A Bullet", which Rowland was a fan of. Organist Andy Leek left the group during the sessions, only appearing on two songs ("Geno", which was previously recorded, and "Thankfully Not Living in Yorkshire It Doesn't Apply"), leading to the return of Pete Saunders.
During their time with EMI Records the band consistently experieced troubles with their contract: upon their initial negotiations only three members of the group (Rowland, Archer and Geoffrey "Jeff" Blythe), called the "nucleus", were signed to the label, which caused a stir within the group. They were also only being paid 6% of the royalties, whereas most bands receive 10-12%. This led to Rowland threatening to steal the album from the studio and hold it ransom until their pay was increased, which EMI laughed at. However, on the last day of mixing the record, while Wingfield was out of the studio to get a cup of coffee, the members of the group locked the door to the studio, each taking a carton of magnetic tape and ran through the building to their getaway vehicle, a Morris Minor which belonged to Saunders' girlfriend, and drove to Rowland's parents' house in Birmingham. EMI demanded the tapes back but the band had already set off on their sell-out UK tour. The band gave the tapes back when EMI raised their pay to 9%, but they almost destroyed them by travelling through the London Underground, which could have demagnetized them and wiped everything.
Searching for the Young Soul Rebels opens with the sound of radio static, from which snippets of "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple, "Holidays in the Sun" by Sex Pistols and "Rat Race" by The Specials can be heard. This is then cut off by shouts by Rowland and "Big" Jim Paterson, which are followed by "Burn It Down", a re-working of the band's earlier song "Dance Stance".
Mojo summed up the sound of the album as "an energetic mix of pop, Northern soul and punkish attitude." The band intended to create a brassy sound mixed with the aggression and intensity of punk rock. The music mainly consists of up-beat soul music ("Tell Me When My Light Turns Green", "Geno", "Seven Days Too Long") inspired by labels such as Motown and Stax, and downbeat blues-jazz tunes ("I'm Just Looking", "I Couldn't Help It If I Tried", "Keep It"). "Seven Days Too Long" is a cover of the "Northern soul classic", originally recorded by Chuck Wood. Rowland's lyrics have been described as "a mixture of punchy bravado, deep disgust and a rather heroic flaunting of his insecurities, sobbed rather than sung," and concern subjects such as ignorance towards Irish people ("Burn It Down"), an open letter to the dishonest music scene ("There, There, My Dear") and a tribute to the soul singer Geno Washington ("Geno").
The album was released on July 11, 1980. It reached number 6 on the UK Albums Chart. It also charted on the New Zealand Music Chart for 21 weeks, peaking at number 11, and the Swedish Albums Chart for 4 weeks, peaking at number 31. Two weeks after its release the album was certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry. Three singles were released prior to the album: "Dance Stance" (originally through Oddball Records, re-recorded for the album as "Burn It Down") was released in November 1979 and reached number 40 on the UK Singles Chart. "Geno" was released on March 15, 1980, and reached number 1 on the UK charts and number 2 on the Irish Singles Chart. "There, There, My Dear" was released in June 1980 and reached number 7 on the UK chart. Another single titled "Keep It Part Two (Inferiority Part One)", a new version of the album track "Keep It", was released in October 1980 but didn't chart. Just before the release of the album the band underwent a sell-out UK tour titled Intense Emotions Review, with support from comedian Keith Allen. A remastered edition of the album was released in 2000 for its 20th Anniversary, including two additional music videos for "Geno" and "There, There, My Dear", and a deluxe 30th Anniversary Special Edition was released in 2010 including a bonus disc of outtakes and demos.
The album cover features a photograph of a thirteen-year-old Irish Catholic boy carrying his belongings after being forced from his home by Operation Demetrius during 1971. The photo was included in the Evening Standard the next day and was picked up by the band nine years later. The boy later identified himself as Anthony O'Shaughnessy. He stated that "There were tensions simmering for about three days. People did not know what was going to happen. I thought it was a dream and in the morning everything would be okay, I don't even remember the photographer doing the picture." Upon the choice of the image Rowland explained "I wanted a picture of unrest. It could have been from anywhere but I was secretly glad that it was from Ireland." The original sleeve also contained an account of the band's history along with various phrases printed with the song titles, including quotes from Brendan Behan's book Borstal Boy and the Book of Psalms.
|Drowned In Sound||9/10|
Searching for the Young Soul Rebels has been widely acclaimed by music critics. In 2008 the BBC stated that "Young Soul Rebels - fierce, raging and passionate - remains one of the greatest debut albums of all time" and later commented "this was the sound of a soul released from a straitjacket [and] still blazes as poetry." Pitchfork Media and Drowned In Sound gave the album 8.9/10 and 9/10 respectively, both calling it their most coherent and consistent record, Drowned In Sound adding "in fact it’s damned near perfect." Allmusic gave the album 4 and a half stars, explaining its importance as "Rowland takes a role that Morrissey would have in 1985 and Jarvis Cocker in 1995 - the unexpected but perfect voice to capture a time and moment in the U.K - the return of "soul" to English rock music at the dawn of Thatcherism." In a lengthy retrospective review Uncut gave the album 5 stars, concluding with "ultimately, the myth-making around Kevin Rowland tends to obscure the fact that he’s been responsible for some truly soul-scorching music. At 30 years of age, Young Soul Rebels continues to burn." Melody Maker gave the album 5 stars, calling Dexys "the best white soul band of all time. This album is still [a] new testament in truth and communication, clear ideas finding their perfect expression," while Mojo gave it 4 stars, calling it "the most incandescent and refreshing record of the year " Robert Christgau expressed more of a mixed opinion, giving the album a B, explaining "this is not a soul record. It is a weird record - There are horn interjections that make me laugh out loud at their perfectly timed wrong rightness, and with Kevin Rowland quavering through his deeply felt poesy and everybody else blaring away, I enjoy it in much the same way I enjoy a no wave band." David Hepworth, reviewing the album in Smash Hits, was equally as dismissive, saying that "potentially good songs are dragged down by mannered vocals and would-be epic arrangements".
The album was included in the 1980 "Albums of the Year" lists for Melody Maker, which was in no particular order, and NME, being placed at #10. It has since been included on numerous critics' lists and reference books, including The Guardian's list of the 100 Best Albums Ever (#93), Melody Maker's of the All Time Top 100 Albums (#42), NME's list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever (#16) and a place in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
|1.||"Burn It Down"||Kevin Rowland||4:21|
|2.||"Tell Me When My Light Turns Green"||Rowland||3:46|
|3.||"The Teams That Meet in Caffs"||Kevin Archer||4:08|
|4.||"I'm Just Looking"||Rowland, Geoffrey Blythe, Peter Saunders||4:41|
|6.||"Seven Days Too Long"||J.R. Bailey, Vernon Harrell||2:43|
|7.||"I Couldn't Help It If I Tried"||Rowland, Jim Paterson||4:14|
|8.||"Thankfully Not Living in Yorkshire It Doesn't Apply"||Rowland, Saunders||2:59|
|9.||"Keep It"||Archer, Blythe||3:59|
|10.||"Love Part One"||Rowland||1:12|
|11.||"There, There, My Dear"||Rowland, Archer||3:31|
|30th Anniversary Edition Bonus Disc|
|1.||"Dance Stance" (Single)||Rowland||3:44|
|2.||"I'm Just Looking" ("Dance Stance" B-side)||Rowland, Blythe, Saunders||4:23|
|3.||"Breaking Down The Walls Of Heartache" ("Geno" B-side)||Sandy Linzer, Denny Randell||3:24|
|4.||"The Horse" ("There, There, My Dear" B-side)||Pete Wingfield||2:22|
|5.||"Keep It Part Two (Inferiority Part One)" (Single)||Rowland, Archer||3:45|
|6.||"One Way Love" ("Keep It Part Two (Inferiority Part One)" B-side)||Bert Berns, Jerry Ragovoy||3:09|
|7.||"Plan B" (Single)||Rowland, Paterson||2:37|
|8.||"Soul Finger" ("Plan B" B-side)||Ben Cauley, Carl Cunningham, James Alexander, Jimmy King, Phalon Jones, Ronnie Caldwell||2:12|
|9.||"Thankfully Not Living In Yorkshire It Doesn't Apply" (Demo)||Rowland, Saunders||2:53|
|10.||"Hold On, I'm A Comin'" (Demo)||Isaac Hayes, David Porter||4:18|
|11.||"Breaking Down The Walls Of Heartache" (Demo)||Linzer, Randell||3:36|
|12.||"The Horse" (Demo)||Wingfield||2:40|
|13.||"I Couldn't Help If I Tried" (Demo)||Rowland, Paterson||4:18|
|14.||"Geno" (Peel session)||Rowland, Archer||3:29|
|15.||"Tell Me When My Light Turns Green" (Peel session)||Rowland||3:15|
|16.||"The Horse" (Peel session)||Wingfield||2:13|
|17.||"Breaking Down The Walls Of Heartache" (Peel session)||Linzer, Randell||3:29|
|18.||"Geno" (Kid Jensen BBC Radio 1 Session)||Rowland, Archer||3:26|
|19.||"Respect" (Kid Jensen BBC Radio 1 Session)||Otis Redding||3:35|
|20.||"Dance Stance" (Kid Jensen BBC Radio 1 Session)||Rowland||3:19|
|21.||"The Teams That Meet In Caffs" (Kid Jensen BBC Radio 1 Session)||Archer||3:56|
- Dexys Midnight Runners
- Kevin Rowland – Vocals
- Kevin "Al" Archer – Guitar, vocals, liner notes
- "Big" Jim Paterson – Trombone
- Pete Williams – Bass
- Geoffrey "Jeff" Blythe – Saxophone
- Steve "Babyface" Spooner – Alto saxophone
- Pete Saunders – Organ
- Andy "Stoker" Growcott – Drums
- Andy Leek – Organ on "Geno" and "Thankfully Not Living in Yorkshire It Doesn't Apply"
- Pete Wingfield – Producer
- Barry Hammond – Engineer
- Peter Barrett – Artwork
- Tony Cousins – Remastering (2000 re-release)
- Nigel Reeve – Enhanced CD Design (2000 re-release)
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