Release Date: Jun 3, 2016
Record label: Rhino
The covers that comprise Dexys’ fifth album are rather more inspired than its none-more-descriptive title suggests, from Irish folk standards such as Carrickfergus and The Curragh of Kildare through to a powerful rendition of Rod Stewart’s You Wear It Well and even a successful reimagining of LeAnn Rimes’s How Do I Live. Kevin Rowland hasn’t lost his ability to convey passion and empathy, qualities never more apparent than on The Town I Loved So Well, Phil Coulter’s mournful reflection on Troubles-era Derry. Lest that all sounds too downbeat, it comes sandwiched between deliriously joyful takes on Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now and the Friends of Distinction’s Grazing in the Grass.
Dexys Midnight Runners broke up before Kevin Rowland could realise his vision of an album of traditional Irish songs, but the added “country soul” tag means it now stretches as far as Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now and a shuffling romp through Rod Stewart’s You Wear It Well. Playful pop sits alongside the melancholy beauty of the instrumental Women of Ireland, with guest violinist Helen O’Hara back for the first time in 31 years. Eyebrows may be raised over the more idiosyncratic choices and interpretations, but Irish-parented Brummie Rowland’s emotional connection with these songs is audible.
Kevin Rowland has never been averse to a touch of aggrandisement. So there should be no surprise that the title of his new album should indulge in some third-person referencing. But we should cut Rowland some slack.
Let the Record Show may not be the record Dexys fans who love Rowland's original songs may have wanted, but it's a Dexys album through and through. Unpredictable, completely dedicated, and honest to the core, it packs an emotional wallop and is yet more proof that Kevin Rowland is still standing, just as proudly as ever. .
We all know Dexys. Or at least, we all know Dexy’s Midnight Runners. We’ve all seen our uncles sweating buckets to 'Come On Eileen' at a wedding, but when Kevin Rowland decided it was time to revive the project back in 2012 with the brilliant One Day I’m Going To Soar, it reminded us that Dexys are not just a wedding band. The brilliance of their first album, Searching For The Young Soul Rebels, should not be forgotten; it has massive importance to the post-punk cannon.
As last year's Glastonbury Festival geared up, there was a strange and wonderful mood-setter going on in The Park's Stonebridge Bar. The Thursday afternoon bill included a DJ turn from Kevin Rowland, once of Dexys Midnight Runners, now of Dexys, but effectively the same singer, same band, whatever the years had done to the man and the personnel. The latest incarnation of the shape-shifting group had headlined the Acoustic Stage the year before with theatrical panache, still pushing triumphant 2012 comeback One Day I'm Going To Soar, but this time Rowland was taking us through other people's records.