The original soul rebels Dexys Midnight Runners are back with a new line-up, extensive tour dates and a forthcoming book, so you can’t really blame them for rushing out this compilation that updates and extends the 1991 Very Best Of collection.
Dexys’ blend of Celtic folk, soul and pop made them one of the most ubiquitous bands of the early ’80s which is perhaps why, although it’s good to hear the likes of Geno and Come On Eileen again, they suffer from over-familiarity. More interesting are the tunes that might have slipped out of the memory, such as the Brush Strokes theme Because Of You, the boozy after-hours sing-a-long Let’s Get This Straight and the epic This Is What She’s Like.
Alongside semi-hits like Show Me, and high quality album tracks I Love You and My National Pride (both from the excellent Don’t Stand Me Down LP), the album features two new songs: Manhood, an apparent reference to Kevin Rowland’s late ’90s predilection for wearing women’s dresses, and the touching, autobiographical My Life In England, both of which sound strangely out of place in this company. Long-time fans will, however, relish the inclusion of a couple of tracks from early BBC sessions, Let’s Make This Precious and Until I Believe In My Soul.
Taken as a whole this compilation is a reminder of just how uneven Dexys could be, but also, on their day, how joyous. If the forthcoming tour, for which Rowland is joined by original members Pete Williams and Lucy Morgan, can capture at least some of the visceral energy of, say, The Celtic Soul Brothers or the Van Morrison cover Jackie Wilson Said, then few, surely, will go away disappointed.