World of Chig   


“With you in that dress, my thoughts, I confess, verge on dirty”

(Apologies - I'll have to leave this in a mess for now - being watched and it's hometime!)

#21 Come On Eileen Dexy’s Midnight Runners & The Emerald Express

#1 for 4 weeks from 07 Aug 82

Sitting at #1 right now in 2002 with Nelly and ‘Dilemma’, Kelly Rowland is not the first K. Rowland to hit the top spot. Here’s another one, from 1983. (Just as I’m posting this, ‘Come On Eileen’ is being played on the radio. Spooky!)

‘Come On Eileen’ was the second single of the Irish folkie/David Essex/gypsy phase for Dexy’s, after fiddle trio the Emerald Express had been recruited into the mix. The first one, ‘The Celtic Soul Brothers’ just missed the top 40.

Dexy’s Midnight Runners had been formed in Birmingham (hurrah!) by ex members of The Killjoys, Kevin Rowland and Al Archer. They took their name from the ‘upper’ drug dexedrine. The band pulled a great stunt when their first album was due out, by supposedly stealing their own master tapes from the recording studio and holding their record company to ransom until they negotiated a better deal.

Almost the whole band left in 1981 to form The Bureau, after already hitting #1 with ‘Geno’ in May 1980. This left just Rowland and Jimmy Paterson.

It can’t be underestimated how much I loved Dexy’s, but I prefer some of their other singles over this one. I own nearly every Dexy’s single on 7”. Geno was my own #6 for this survey, but it only managed to make #122 here, despite being in Chris A’s top ten as well. I loved the way Dexy’s kept changing their image, and I loved the literary pretentiousness, the passion and the bombastic front of Rowland himself. It didn’t matter that he was daft as a brush; he was the reason I wore a donkey jacket for most of 1980-81, and wanted to get my ear pierced (but wasn’t allowed).

This live Dexy’s video was the first video I ever owned. I won it in a competition, possibly from Smash Hits. Not that I could watch it, as we didn’t have a VCR, but my friend Claire did, so I watched it – once – at hers. And that was it. Never saw it again.

Of course, to us ‘real’ fans; the ones who had even bought first single ‘Dance Stance’, which only made #40, Dexy’s had completely sold out with the Celtic Soul Brothers look. And dungarees were a fashion faux pas too far. They had ‘gone commercial’, and although I must have danced to ‘Come On Eileen’ at a million parties and student discos, it was a far cry from the soulful earnestness of ‘Liars A to E’ and ‘Plan B’. ‘Come On Eileen’ was also #1 in the USA. The ‘Too-Rye-Ay’ album from which it came was released in 1982 and the brass section promptly left too. Next was the preppy look of ‘Don’t Stand Me Down’, but that failed to get anywhere. For some reason, I loved them once again.

This page is a bit scary, as it shows all my 7” singles shrunk and put on the interweb.
That first album, ‘Searching For The Young Soul Rebels’, was re-released last year on CD, with videos on it. I highly recommend it.

Observant readers will have noticed that the b-side of ‘Come On Eileen’ (this is the 12” sleeve above) includes a version of ‘Because Of You’, credited to ‘Kevin Rowland featuring Dexy’s Midnight Runners’. This track was later a single in its own right, credited as a solo release by Rowland.

Kevin Rowland later went through an Errol Flynn phase and released an album called ‘The Wanderer’ which failed to chart at all. Then years of nothing before coming back in late 1999 with the infamous album, ‘My Beauty’ on Creation – part of Alan McGee’s policy of reviving male lead singers of 80s groups which he’d started by signing Nick Heyward (and failing miserably, despite my best efforts!)

I’ve never heard anything from ‘My Beauty’, but I don’t feel I need to. Despite covering ‘Concrete And Clay’ (#46 in our countdown) it has some of the worst reviews I’ve read for an album….ever! According to Q magazine, it had sold only 500 copies by January 2000. Here’s a selection of reviews. First of all, the scary cover picture sleeve.

Superb review of My Beauty Scary cross-dressing cover.
Read a review in Slovenian.
This review makes the album actually sound SCARY!
Or have you ever read a review worse than this?
Would you spend a single penny on the album after reading this?
Or this?
How about ‘this may be the worst record I have ever heard’?

It’s all such a shame after the musical genius that the man exhibited in the past. Kevin now lives with his two Alsatians in the Malvern Hills and works as an accountant for Ann Summers.

The Celtic fiddling of ‘Come On Eileen’ has made this the #1 choice of my friend Dan, who has more than a bit of Irish in him(!) It was also featured in the top ten of Stuart ( and very highly in the list of Melvyn, whose wife just happens to be called….Eileen!

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