Wednesday, 13 August 2008

dexys week: pre-empting the pogues

like kevin rowland, shane macgowan is a displaced irishman with a background in punk who found success in the eighties playing big-band folk-influenced barnstormers, until addiction caught up with him and clouded his muse. macgowan's biggest hit, 'fairytale of new york', is as ubiquitous on both sides of the atlantic as dexys' celtic-influenced 'c'mon eileen'. but rowland was the first to try the anglo-irishman-in-new-york idea with 'this is what she's like' from the final dexys album, 1985's don't stand me down.

a critical and commercial disaster, don't stand me down mixed marvin gaye, 70s AM rock, conversational interludes and preppy clobber. the accompanying live show, 'coming to town ... park street south', interspersed songs with dramatic set pieces. the full version of 'this is what she's like' features a rambling monologue about the italian word for 'thunderbolt', a spectacular beach boys-style middle section, and a cagey, nonchalant chat between kevin and billy adams. the hostility with which this record was received is baffling. look out for the hipster on drums.

'this is what she's like' (1985)

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