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Dexy's Midnight Runners

Dexys Midnight Runners are best known in America as one of new wave's ultimate one-hit wonders, thanks to their 1982 number one smash "Come on Eileen," a distinctive fusion of '80s pop, Celtic folk, and blue-eyed soul. In the U.K., however, they earned a fair amount of critical acclaim and made a greater impression on the public consciousness with their frequent changes in sound, wardrobe, and personnel.

Dexys were formed in 1978 by singer/guitarist/songwriter Kevin Rowland and singer/guitarist Kevin "Al" Archer (who changed his first name to avoid confusion). Both had been members of the Birmingham, England, punk band the Killjoys, and Rowland, who was ethnically Irish, had split his childhood between London, Ireland, and Birmingham, and soaked up the influence of Irish folk and the so-called Northern soul music popular in the Midlands. Seeking a new direction, Rowland and Archer decided to put together a full-fledged soul outfit and named it after the stimulant Dexedrine, a popular drug on the Northern soul scene (despite the strict no-drinking-or-drugs policy Rowland later imposed on the band). The lineup eventually settled on trombonist Big Jim Paterson, tenor saxophonist Geoff Blythe, alto saxophonist Steve "Babyface" Spooner, keyboardist Mick Talbot (who replaced Pete Saunders, was once a member of the Merton Parkas and later joined the Style Council), bassist Pete Williams, and drummer Andy "Stoker" Growcott (who replaced Bobby Junior). Acutely image-conscious, Rowland tried to reflect the band's working-class roots by dressing them as New York dockworkers, with a wardrobe lifted straight from the Martin Scorsese/Robert DeNiro film Mean Streets. The band struggled financially at first, especially given its large membership, and according to legend, Rowland organized (or at least encouraged) shoplifting expeditions to make ends meet.

Dexys didn't take long to release their first single; "Dance Stance" (aka "Burn It Down"), an attack on anti-Irish discrimination, appeared on EMI in 1979, but only scraped the lower reaches of the charts. However, their next single, "Geno," a tribute to American-born soul singer Geno Washington (who'd made his career in the U.K.), went all the way to the top of the British charts in early 1980. Dissatisfied with their share of the profits, the band stole the completed master tapes of their debut album, Searching for the Young Soul Rebels, and successfully reworked their deal. When the album was released later in 1980, it caused a sensation. With their bright, tuneful, horn-heavy take on Memphis soul (which predated Paul Weller's similar transformation of the Jam), Dexys were hailed as British rock's return to an organic, soulful sound in the post-punk/new wave era. Their third single, "There There My Dear," became a Top Ten hit, but Rowland insisted on following it with the inadvisable single choice of "Keep It, Pt. 2," which flopped. This was the last straw for most of the band, who had grown tired of Rowland's control-freak leadership and restlessness. Archer left to form the Blue Ox Babes, and most of the rest of the group wound up in the Bureau, leaving only trombonist Paterson with Rowland.

Rowland and Paterson regrouped Dexys, adding guitarist/banjoist Kevin "Billy" Adams (again renamed), drummer Seb Shelton (ex-Secret Affair), keyboardist Mickey Billingham, alto saxophonist Brian Maurice, tenor saxophonist Paul Speare, and bassist Giorgio Kilkenny (who replaced Steve Wynne). After the 1981 single "Plan B" (which featured a new wardrobe of boxing boots and ponytails), the new lineup left EMI and signed to Mercury. Their first single for the label, "Show Me," became a Top 20 hit, but the follow-up, "Liars A to E," flopped, and Rowland considered modifying the group's approach. Allegedly, he heard a demo tape of Archer's folk-influenced Blue Ox Babes material, and decided to reinvent Dexys in a similar fashion. He infuriated the Babes by not only borrowing from their sound, but recruiting violinist Helen O'Hara out of their lineup; he also added Steve Brennan and Roger MacDuff on the same instrument. The second Dexys album, Too-Rye-Ay, was released in 1982, and while their soul sound was still easily audible, it was now sitting alongside a strong Irish folk influence, making for a striking hybrid. The makeover was accompanied by yet another wardrobe change, this time to a scruffy gypsy/hobo image that wound up changing the standard of acceptable dress at many a restrictive London club. Dexys introduced their new sound on the single "The Celtic Soulbrothers," which was a mild success; however, the follow-up, "Come on Eileen," was a smash, becoming their second British number one. A few months later, helped along by the group's highly visual, MTV-ready appeal, "Come on Eileen" broke in America and went all the way to number one there as well. With their new folky direction thus established, the entire horn section (even the loyal Paterson) departed in the summer of 1982, as did keyboardist Billingham. Unfortunately, at the peak of the group's success, the rest of the lineup proved unstable as well, due in part to rifts with Rowland; eventually, the core of the group was whittled down to Rowland, guitarist Adams, and violinist O'Hara.

Rowland took Dexys to New York to work on the follow-up album, which -- slowed by his perfectionism -- took a year and a half to record. In the meantime, EMI released the singles compilation Geno in 1983. Paterson rejoined the group when Rowland decided to blend his soul and folk phases more thoroughly, and the rest of the instrumentation was filled out by hired session musicians. When Don't Stand Me Down was finally released in 1985, Rowland insisted that no singles were to be pulled from the album, wanting it to stand as a cohesive piece of work in the manner of '70s LPs. As a result, it sold much more poorly than expected and wasn't helped by lackluster reviews that slammed Rowland's attempts at Van Morrison-esque poetry. After a few weeks, a panicked Mercury -- who'd spent quite a bit of money to make the record -- released "This Is What She's Like" as a single, but the damage was already done. One last single, "Because of You," charted in 1986 after being used as the theme to a British TV show, but with Don't Stand Me Down having bombed, the group disbanded. Rowland mounted a solo career and returned in 1988 with The Wanderer, a mellow record flavored with country and lounge-pop, which failed to sell. A disheartened Rowland spent the next few years in a deep depression, fighting off bankruptcy and cocaine addiction. In 1996, he signed with Creation as a solo artist, but in typically idiosyncratic fashion, his comeback effort was an all-covers album; My Beauty was released in 1999 and sold abominably, probably not helped by Rowland's new wardrobe of dresses and suspenders.

After a couple years spent living down the album, Rowland returned with a new edition of Dexys Midnight Runners, with the stripped down name Dexys, in 2003. The new line-up began playing live shows and contributed two new songs ("Manhood" and "My Life in England") to the greatest-hits collection Let's Make This Precious. The group, which included former Runners Mick Talbot and Pete Williams, began recording in earnest in 2005 but the painstaking processes didn't yield results until the release of One Day I'm Going to Soar in 2012. Along the way, another former member, "Big" Jim Paterson, joined back up, and Rowland added new vocalist Madeleine Hyland, as well. The album was met with positive response from critics and signaled a triumphant comeback for the band. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Comments

Ohhhhhh always loved this song I was 11 and used to play over and over
oldjanxspiri t
lol
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of you life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will come on the scree n in big letters. This is so scary because it actually works!
fehrenbacher d j
I scared myself into posting this...I am sorry...

Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of you life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will come on the scree n in big letters. This is so scary because it actually works!
My mom had influenced me greatly in 80s and 90s by playing it everyday when I had come home from school so much it became normal music to me.I love it so much now.Way better than music today and I'm only 12!
you like this song, you should hear my hit single called Boner and friends
Does Eileen mind if you c u m on her?
Living room routine!! I luv perks of being a wallflower !
Love this song and the video :)
I have loved this song since I was a teenager. When I heard it in Perks of Being a Wallflower", I embarrassed my daughter by singing along!;)
Come On Eileen. I love this song. One of my favorites. Reminds me of my best friends and cousins the TOSTES IN HANFORD/LEMO O R E . ESPECIALLY EILEEN. I MISS YOU GUYS IF YOU'RE OUT THERE ANYWHERE. COME ON EILEEN. :-)
the best song of the 80's!
manowar68
Man, I miss 80's pop! It was the best!!!!
why did I think the cure did this one?
Looooove this song one of my favorites!!! <3
Sing it you Limey B**tards!!!!
whats grosser then gross...lol always the first thing that c*ms to mind when the first notes of this song begins
Come On Eileen. I love this song. It reminds me of one of my very best friends, Eileen Toste. I miss her and Deanna. Plus this song makes me want my Tartan Beret, guitar, and baby kitty. :-) Me and Deanna used to sing this song to Eileen all the time. We had great fun. I love you guys wherever you are.
One hit wonder wasn't it? So many 80's bands had only one two hits then faded off into obscurity sad.
Best song ever!!! IMO
Love this song "Tommy Boy" soundtrack lol
joyish. devauchery
They did the theme music for a British sitcom called Brush Strokes in the early 90s. Details at 11.
I have loved this song for like ever
Especially after it was on TPOBAW!
The Perks of Being a Wallflower Soundtrack
come on eileen rules
How did these namby pamby weenies end up on my Pandora ?
cant help but feel happy when this song comes on.
jeremy.benso n 5
Favorite bar fighting song of all time!
Dexy's adn Queen are both great but I don't know that I would put them in hte same bucket.
Make me remember the greathes 80
Bueller, Bueller, Bueller,.... l o l I ♥ the 80's! " im Capt. Chunk! HEY YOU GUUUYS,.... !
One of there best songs then.
Didn't the b flats beat them at the Grammys? Doh!
for those of you who didn't or don't like this song, i suggest u watch a kiwi film called STICKMEN. It's a bloody classic.
It will forever make me smile when i hear this song.
Dexy is a nickname for the prescription name of what is essentially Adderall.
tjlight00003
if you like this song, i recommended the a;bum Don't Stand Me Down
just love this song - it always makes me happy!
wanakami
I never get tired of this song!
I can see the Beatles singing Come On Eileen
525433228
Yes, no they made some pretty good celtic folk music. They should've stuck around. come on eileen. This song reminds me of Eileen Andrade and Deanna Toste. My best friends growing up. I miss them dearly.
One of their best hits! :) A one hit wonder!
jeanjacque2
to really appreciate this song and this band, one should visit and spend a year at least in Scotland or Ireland, to really appreciate the Highland Gaelic & Blues influence on this band. spent a year studying in Scotland and this song really resonates with me now.
Come On Eileen is unique, regardless of the genre into which it may fall. And, just like a lot of people, I can't help but smile whenever I hear it. Poignant, funny, addictive.
crewdud
Brilliant
A scurrilous bunch indeed.
bluchap
so much fun!
wanda1329
Can't stop smiling when hear this tune...
@ Cosmo Why is STYX on the Dexy's Midnight Runners sation?
It's a catchy tune even though I dont understand all the words.
Hard to believe it's been 28 years since Eileen. This really cracked the Top 100 charts back in the day. Yes, if you weren't a teen in the 80s, probably it makes no sense
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