Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Kevin Rowland and Dexys Midnight Runners [extended]

  • Searching for the Young Soul Rebels [EMI, 1980] B
  • Too-Rye-Ay [Mercury, 1982] B+

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Dexy's Midnight Runners: Searching for the Young Soul Rebels [EMI, 1980]
Perhaps it will clear something up to specify that this is not a soul record. It is a weird record. Never have soul horns sounded remotely as sour, and Kevin Rowland can't carry a tune to the next note. 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 on a good night--DNA, say. But DNA I understand. B

Too-Rye-Ay [Mercury, 1982]
Rowland's arrangements are impossibly busy and his vocals impossibly mannered, but on this record he does the impossible--makes me believe he's found some young soul rebels. The unison horn voicings and post-Stax fiddles impart an underlying simplicity that'll pass for Celtic, and if Rowland swoops and swerves where a real soul singer would just emote, his earnestness prevails anyway. B+