Casual fans of the ubiquitous '80s music classic "Come on Eileen" - a worldwide No. 1 pop hit whose majesty cannot be denied - may make the mistake of considering England's Dexy's Midnight Runners to be a mere one-hit wonder. Of course, British listeners probably make this assumption less often than we Americans do (the group enjoyed four early-'80s Top 10 pop hits in the U.K., including a pair of number ones), but the soul-inflected, Celtic-flavored roots rock outfit nevertheless doesn't always receive credit where credit's due. That's actually a considerable shame, not only because frontman Kevin Rowland is a memorably passionate singer but because the group's newly added fiddle players on 1982's Too Rye Ay create a delightfully organic signature sound. This isn't really new wave in any way, shape or form, but its acceptance by wide audiences certainly proves that the market for earthy and traditional pop/rock styles was alive and well in the MTV age.
"The Celtic Soul Brothers" failed to become a major hit even in the band's native land, but it certainly stands as a joyous romp with multi-layered feel-good overtones. The presence of banjo and even forceful fiddle riffs helps this song to stand up more than handily to the huge hit track that famously followed, but Rowland deserved a longer career as a relevant pop artist than the mere decade he enjoyed more than a quarter century ago. Dexy's Midnight Runners have far more to offer '80s music lovers than just one hit song and a nifty but lengthy band name, but don't depend solely on '80s flashback radio to remind you of that fact. Unfortunately, that's likely to leave you disappointed and unenlightened.
- Sample or download "The Celtic Soul Brothers" here.
- Compare prices on Dexy's Midnight Runners CDs here.
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Album Cover Image Courtesy of Mercury