In the United Sates, Dexys Midnight Runners are regarded as a one hit wonder, on account of their 1982 megahit Come On Eileen. One may charitably ascribe such a narrow view to the insularity of a society that believes its biggest sporting codes enjoy such global popularity as to justify calling their national competitions “world series”.
Of course Dexys are not a conventional one hit wonder; in most parts of the Western world they had at least one big hit before Come On Eileen. Their 1980 tribute to R&B singer Geno Washington, titled Geno, was a #1 hit in Britain, and a big hit throughout Europe (follow-up There There My Dear was a UK #7 hit). It may well be my favourite single of the 1980s.
Geno came from the outstanding Searching For The Young Soul Rebel album. For that exercise Dexys sported the shorehand look; for 1982’s Too-Rye-Ay Kevin Rowland and his fellow nocturnal joggers adopted the Irish peasant look.
Searching For The Young Soul Rebel was one of the great albums of the ’80s. My view may be anathema to Dexys fans, but I consider Too-Rye-Ay even better. Oddly, Come On Eileen was only the fourth song from the album to be released as a single. It was #1 everywhere but in North Korea (though even there the Dear Leader locked himself in the toilet and secretly had his thoughts verge on dirty). Follow up Jackie Wilson Said, a cover of the Van Morrison song, was also an international hit. Even the sixth single off the album, Let’s Get This Straight, managed to be a UK top 20 hit.
Until I Believe In My Soul wasn’t a single, but is something of a centrepiece of the album, traversing musical genres from folk to jazz, glorious horns and fiddles, impassioned vocals, whistling, coughing, orgasmic noises and angry mumbling (including a bit of swearing), plus one of the best cynical laughs in pop, and a killer chorus.
By the way, the name Dexys takes no apostrophe. It’s a reference to the drug Dexedrine (which makes you run at midnight, you see).