C’mon Dexys: Photographer recalls band’s ’80s edge; new release planned

March 28, 2012 | By David Corio | Archive, Entertainment

Editor’s note: The following post is by David Corio, who photographed Dexys Midnight Runners in the 1980s. Have a listen, and pay attention — the band, known for their West Side Story look, ska-esque horn section, soul influences (and, oh yeah, the much covered ‘Come on Eileen’) is planning a new release this June. Enjoy…

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Dexys Midnight Runners  Bull Ring Centre, Birmingham 1980

This is Dexys Midnight Runners before their first major single, “Geno” had become a hit. I spent a few days in Birmingham with them before seeing the band perform or knowing anything about their music. When I finally saw them live in London a few weeks later, they blew me away.  With a mighty horn section and stomping rhythm tightly controlled by lead singer Kevin Rowland, this was one of the most powerful shows I had the good fortune to attend.

Journalist Gavin Martin and I met up with them several times, for an NME article,  around the drab sprawling Bull Ring shopping centre in Birmingham,  always in working-mens’ cafes for endless cups of tea and cigarettes and to hear Kevin’s philosophy on life. He would talk in the third person and sometimes sound like he was trying to channel himself through Al Green or Jackie Wilson. 

Kevin controlled the band completely –  banning alcohol (although trombonist ‘Big’ Jim Anderson managed to sneak a hip flask in his pocket) and enforcing a strict dress code of white tees, donkey jackets or leather coats and woolen docker hats and hold-all bags. They reminded me of the gangs in West Side Story. Suddenly Kevin would break out into a song and the band would start clicking their fingers and join in. It made it very easy to photograph them as they were so image conscious. Somehow he managed to persuade the others to partake in regular early morning runs, long before jogging became fashionable.

As their music changed, so did their image – moving  towards a more folksy dungarees style seemed to soften them, and by 1986 the band was no more.

Kevin’s reluctance to do any interviews  – more often having his statements published in music papers — didn’t help his relationship with the press, and when he tried some solo ventures best remembered for his live appearances wearing women’s dresses, he was panned by his critics.

Going back to his original roots, a new version of the original band – just called Dexys — are due to release a new album set for release in June 2012.

Images in slider include:

Image 1: Dexys Midnight Runners posed in Birmingham in March 1980. Lead singer Kevin Rowland at front.  (Photo by David Corio/Redferns)

Image 2: Dexys Midnight Runners pose in a cafe in Birmingham, England in March 1980. Lead singer Kevin Rowland is sitting  3rd from right of the group. (Photo by David Corio/Redferns)

Image3: British group Dexys Midnight Runners pose on a street in Birmingham, England in March 1980. Lead singer Kevin Rowland is 2nd from left. (Photo by David Corio/Redferns)

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