Released today in 1983: The Celtic Soul Brothers

Mercury DEXYS12

Mercury DEXYS12

Dexys Midnight Runners was perhaps the most unstable band in pop in the 1980s, operating something of a revolving door policy with people coming and going every few months. When bass player Giorgio Kilkenny joined in 1981, he was the twentieth permanent member to join since the band was founded some three years earlier. But even by Dexys standards, the changes to the line-up that occurred in the twelve months between the first and second issues of their single The Celtic Soul Brothers were drastic.

They had fallen out with their previous label EMI and their move to Mercury came with a change of image (dungarees featured prominently) and a reinvention of the sound of Dexys. The Celtic Soul Brothers was released in March 1982 as DEXYS8 with the following note: “The fiddles on this record were played by ‘The Emerald Express’: Helen O’Hara, Steve Brennan and Roger McDuff.” Elsewhere, the sleeve provided brief notes about the eight members of Dexys: Kilkenny, Kevin Rowland, Seb Shelton, Billy Adams and Micky Billingham, and the brass section of Brian Maurice, Paul Speare and Big Jim Paterson. The single didn’t quite reach the Top 40.

The subsequent success of the single’s parent album Too-Rye-Ay and one of its other singles, the huge hit Come On Eileen, caused Mercury to give The Celtic Soul Brothers a second stab at the charts. Just over a year after the first attempt, it reappeared as DEXYS12 with a new subtitle (‘More, Please, Thankyou’) and revised packaging depicting the new, lighter line-up of the group: Rowland, Adams and Shelton were still there but everyone else had gone. Joining the group though were ex-The Emerald Express fiddlers O’Hara and Brennan. This time the record was credited to Kevin Rowland and Dexys Midnight Runners. The notes on the sleeve gave the following information about the five members:

“A failed priest at the age of 11, a tramp at 19, a wandering minstrel by 21. Kevin Rowland now seems happiest as song and dance man with Dexys Midnight Runners… Where do we begin, Polish Sid, Sid the Polka, The Sergeant are but three of the many titles applied to this drummer’s many faceted persona. Seb, a resident of this country for many years, has adapted well to British ways but even now occasionally finds himself queuing outside the local bread shop at 5 in the morning. Says hard-working Seb: ‘Leisure is only sweet after work well done’… Steve Brennan describes himself as the ‘quiet, stay-at-home type’. The young fiddler’s idea of relaxation is to be tucked up by the fire reading a good play. It has been said he has much in common with his great-uncle Bernard Shaw… ’Cakeman’ is no longer an appropriate term to use when in the company of young Billy Adams, for volatile Billy has for six long months been single-minded in his determination to beat his passion for sweet pastries. He has by all accounts succeeded, although some say at the expense of gaining a reputation as something of a magpie. It has to be stressed that allegations of this nature are totally unfounded. The fact that some members of the group have taken to calling him ‘light-fingers’ after a series of unfortunate coincidences concerning their personal valuables is quite rightly dismissed by adamant Billy in the jovial nature it was surely intended… The eldest of seven children, not surprisingly the young Helen O’Hara had her hands full. When she wasn’t helping Mum with the cooking and cleaning, the Ballymena Belle practiced hard and long on the violin. Her efforts have of course paid off for tender Helen has now found success playing the fiddle in Dexys Midnight Runners. Mum and the kids are extremely proud and like nothing better than to gather round the telly and watch Helen performing on T.V.”

This time, the song made #20. Meanwhile, the former brass section of Maurice, Speare and Paterson, who left Dexys feeling that their role had been diminished with the arrival of The Emerald Express, renamed themselves The TKO Horns and embarked on a tour with Paul Young’s Q-tips, before entering the studio to record with Elvis Costello on his album Punch The Clock. They would later appear on Howard Jones’s Dream Into Action LP, amongst others.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Mar. 25
Gary NUMAN That’s Too Bad (Beggars Banquet BEG92)
Kevin ROWLAND and DEXYS MIDNIGHT RUNNERS The Celtic Soul Brothers (More, Please, Thankyou) [Reissue] (Mercury DEXYS12)


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