Originally released in 1985 as the follow up to the highly successful ‘Too-rye-Ay’ album, ‘Don’t Stand Me Down‘ has resurfaced on Creation, home to the likes of Oasis. Repackaged and with 2 extra tracks, it confirms what I thought 13 years ago – this is a F$%^ing excellent album. There is quite simply no other way of putting it. But, having said that, sales wise it bombed. HIROSHIMA style. Three years on from the ‘Too-Rye-Ay’ period with classic ‘ Come On Eileen‘, Dexy’s had been forgotten about by record buying public.
New sounds and bands had taken over their mantle, styles and attitudes had changed. Added to that there was no obvious ‘Too-Rye-Ay‘ hit’ single, as Dexy’s had changed stylistically and musically ( as they had in the period between ‘Searching for the Young Soal Rebels‘ and ‘T-R-A‘), they wore Ivy League suits, the record company failed to promote the new album properly and it was also released prior to any single being issued from it.
Trust me tho’, this album is a classic. But I disgress- let me tell you about it. The first 7 tracks are as per the original, with the notable title changes of two tracks. As previously, the band line up had altered, as Kevin Rowland continued his quest for new ideas/sounds/influences/inspiration…..only Bryan Adams(Banjo, guitars etc….the mutant creation of Billy Duffy and Craig Adams!!!!????) and Helen O’Hara(violin and backing vocals) remained, Big Jimmy Paterson (trombone) as the unofficial 4th member of the main line up. The remaining musicians were fresh blood, including Tim Dancy on drums, John Edwards on Bass and the late, great Vincent Crane on Piano (that was before Davie Anderson got there!! work it out!).
Lyrically D.S.M.D. is a triumph for Rowland, encapsulating so many topics in a style and manner no other can successfully pull off. This is part of Rowlands genius, but similarly part of his downfall as critics and the record buying public do not take time to try and understand where he is coming from. The opening track ‘The Occasional Flicker‘ creeps in with a quiet, slow gentle piano and guitar, before the soulful Dexy’s kirk in. As in every song the lyrics are of a personal nature:’….Compromise is the devil talking and he spoke to me…and yes he related to me…you might say that I’m trying to redeem myself…..I’ll deal with it…’. The opening minute of ‘This Is What She’s Like‘ is a conversation between Adams and Rowland before leading into a 12 minute classic. The conversational exchanges between them add to the mood of the song, allowing Rowland to break into a wonderful ‘Howling’ of ecstasy. The third track on the album started off its life as ‘Dave’ during the album’s recording before being changed to ‘My National Pride‘.
However, when it came to the album’s release Rowland lost belief in himself, in that he hadn’t the right to be Irish – basically, as he admits ‘I just didn’t have the courage’ and so it became ‘Knowledge of Beauty‘, However it has now been restored to its true title ‘My National Pride‘, a song gentle and thoughtful, about his father, his mother, love, regret, sadness,….. Ending so strong, powerful and uplifting both musically and with the line ‘My national pride is my national pride’.
It is worth buying the album for this track alone – play it load (play it proud) – it will leave a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye. Next up is ‘One of Those Things‘, a funky thumping number, preceding the contrasting ‘Reminisce (Part Two)’, about a lost love of Rowlands in 1969. ‘I Love You(listen to this)’ was originally called ‘Listen To This’ in 1985 and this song is the closest thing on the album to the ‘Too-Rye-Ay‘ period – bellowing trombones, jumping’ piano, thundering drums, etc, combine to form a fast, uplifting track. The last track on the original release was entitled ‘The Waltz‘ and here it sounds even sweeter. It also had an original working title of ‘Elizabeth Wimpole and Kathleen Ni Houlihan‘(wonder why Rowland changed it!), but it became ‘The Waltz‘ by the time the album eventually released. As the title suggests the tune is a beautiful, gentle, swaying one, all about Rowlands strong feelings for Ireland and what was going on there in the 60’s,70’s and early 80’s. It also contains the brilliant line ‘I’ve been to the promised land, I’ve been there, I’ve been down to the bottom and looked up in despair…Here is a protest’…. you can almost hear the gut wrenching twist of his soul as he sings these words with renewed vigour.
The two extra tracks on this reissue are ‘Reminisce (part one)‘ and a cover of Jerome Kern’s ‘The Way You Look Tonight‘. As with ‘Reminisce(Part two)‘ , part one is a reflection of Rowlands past, searching for the spirit of a great Irish poet, spoken throughout in a monologue with other musicians with a more upbeat musical backdrop than that of part two, finishing with the confusing line ‘Ken Livingston is a folk hero’!’The Way You Look Tonight’ was even touted as a possible single during the early recording of the album and deservedly finds its way onto the ‘Don’t Stand Me Down‘ album at the second attempt and is a fitting close to the album. Hopefully this review has given an insight into the album and that you will all flock to your record shops immediately in search of it, ‘cos it deserves to be heard and played a lot more to a wide and appreciate audience.
New material is rummaged to be on the way, following in the footsteps of the welcome return of other 80’s artists such as Spear of Destiny, Then Jerico and Echo & The Bunnymen (and the unwelcome return of Bananarama!! –AAAGGGHHH!). As I mentioned earlier, don’t be fooled or put off by the Ivy League look – it’s not a joke and was actually born out of Rowlands admiration for the American Ivy League clothes since his teenage years. They are a reflection of what is contained within the CD box in that the songs are works of art, carefully crafted from writing through to performance and that this album is timeless and will always remain a classic.
Taken from Scotland Calling (Scottish Music Network)