Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Come On Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners - March 22nd 80's Quest Song/Band of the Day

"Come On Eileen" Dexy Midnight Runner's most famous song came out during my early years of high school.  Most people only knew the words to the chorus, and had no idea what the band were singing in-between.  I remember going to the corner store to buy an imported copy of the English music magazine Smash Hits because it always contained the lyrics to the popular songs of the day so that you would know how to sing along (Reminder:  This was waaaaaaay before the days of the internet when you could look up lyrics online in an instant.  If you wanted to learn the words to the songs you had to put in time with a pen and notebook and needle drop on your record player and play the song over and over again until you finally got all the words written down.  Or....if you were lucky enough to have a store near you that imported Smash Hits it took all the work out of it for you...but you still had to walk to the store and pay for it.).   Once you knew all the words, this song was even more fun to sing along with (I've provided them for you, if needed, at the bottom of this post).

This song also reminds me of good times at high school dances.  There's this part where the band starts singing "C'mon, I need too-loo-rye-aye, C'mon, I need too-loo-rye-aye...." that starts out slow and then steadily speeds up and gets very fast ending culminating with an instrumental crescendo before the band starts singing the chorus again.  This was the part when everyone on the dancefloor would do this kind of 1920's Charleston kind of step, progressively faster and faster until just jumping around and freaking out once the crescendo and chorus hit.  Fun times!  This is a song I never get sick of hearing. 
Dexys Midnight Runners are a pop band from Birmingham England, mainly active from 1978 – 1986.  Kevin Rowland (vocals and guitar) and Kevin “Al”Archer (vocals and guitar) were members of a band called The Killjoys.  In 1978 they formed a new band, Dexys Midnight Runners, which they named after Dexedrine an amphetamine drug that increases wakefulness and focus and decreases fatigue and appetite.  It was largely being used as a recreational drug in the Northern Soul music circles of England at the time.  And the “midnight runners” portion of their name refers to the energy the drug gave you to stay up all night.  Other original members of Dexys Midnight Runners were “Big” Jim Paterson (trombone), Geoff “JB” Blythe (saxophone), Steve “Babyface” Spooner (alto saxophone), Pete Saunders (keyboard), Pete Williams (bass), and Bobby “Jnr” Ward (drums). 
In 1979 Dexys Midnight Runners recorded a single called “Dance Stance” which was released on independent label Oddball Records.  The song reached #40 on the British charts.  The second single they released “Geno” did even better and reached #1 in Britain in 1980.  By this time Andy “Stoker” Growcott (drums) and Andy Leek (keyboards) and had joined the band (but Leek soon left because he disliked the taste of fame that he got from being in the band). The band, at this time, was wearing donkey jackets (kind of similar to a dark pea coat) and wool hats for their shows.  Rowland always wanted the group to have a theme and look like something.  Not just dress randomly.  He felt having an image was very important.
In July 1980 the band’s debut album, Searching for the Young Soul Rebels, was released on EMI Records.  The first single “There, There My Dear” was a hit in the U.K., but the second single “Keep It part Two (Inferiority Part One)” was a less likely and more uncommercial choice, and it flopped.  Most of the band quit Dexys Midnight Runners when this happened.  Apparently many in the band found Rowland and his personality difficult to work with.  They especially disliked his policy of not speaking to the music press.  In July 1980 Rowland imposed a “press embargo” on the band in response to some negative press the band had received.  The band was only allowed to communicate to fans by taking out ads in the music newspapers to express what they needed to.  
“Big” Jim Paterson (trombone) stayed on with Rowland and new members were added to Dexys Midnight Runners:  Billy Adams (guitar and banjo), Seb Shelton (drums), Micky Billingham (keyboard), Brian Maurice (alto saxophone), Paul Speare (tenor saxophone) and Steve Wynne (bass).  This line-up released a handful of singles from 1980-1981and took on a new image, this time wearing hoodies, boxing boots and ponytails.  Rowland also imposed a fitness regimen on the band, and required them to go out running together as a group.  They also did group exercise before their performances and were not allowed to drink alcohol before a performance.
The band entered into an unsuccessful dispute with EMI Records.  Dexys Midnight Runner claimed that since their contract option had not been picked up by EMI, they were no longer under contact; therefore they asked EMI not to release their single “Plan B”.  In March 1981 Rowland took out an ad in the music papers and said that members of the band were plotting to throw him out of the band and carry on without him under another name.  Apparently this did not happen because they released another single in Summer 1981 called “Show Me”.  It rose to #16 on the British charts.  The band appeared on Richard Skinner’s BBC Radio 1 show to preview some new music tracks that would appear on their upcoming new album.  Prior to its release a single “Liars A to E” was put out in October 1981.
Rowland recruited 3 fiddle players known as The Emerald Express (Helen O’Hara, Steve Brennan, and Roger MacDuff) and hired a new bass player (Giorgio Kilkenny). It was this line-up that recorded the new album Too-Rye-Aye which was released in 1982 on their new label Mercury Records.  Again the band adopted a new look which was like a scruffy, ragtaggle right-off-the farm look complete with denim overalls.    The first single from Too-Rye-Aye was “The Celtic Soul Brothers”.  It reached #45 on the U.K. chart.  It was the album’s second single, “Come on Eileen” that brought Dexys Midnight Runners the most acclaim and success. It hit #1 in both the U.K. and the U.S.  In 1982 it was the best selling single in the United States.   The third single was a cover of the Van Morrison song, “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile), which the band performed when they made a musical appearance on the English comedy television show “The Young Ones”.
The horn section (Paterson, Speare and Maurice) felt that their role in the band had been diminished by the addition of the fiddle players, so they quit Dexys and started a new band called The TKO Horns and went on to perform on albums with Elvis Costello (see 80’s quest post of March 3) and Howard Jones.  Dexys Midnight Runners continued to tour until 1983 with Rowland and Adams, O’Hara and Shelton along with an augmented group of other musicians.  Then the band took a two year break.
In 1985 the band came back and released an album called Don’t Stand Me Down on Mercury Records.  With this album they also had a new image.  This time they wore ties, pin-stripe suits and combed their hair neatly.  The critics were not kind in their reviews of this album.  Rowland refused to release any singles from the album.  By the time he conceded and a 3 minute edited single of the 12 minute song, “This Is What She’s Like” was released it was too late, and the album was a commercial flop.  Their single “Because of You” was used as the theme song to the British comedy television show Brush Strokes bringing the band a little more attention.
Rowland went solo and released an album called The Wanderer which did not do well at all.  He spent most of the 1990’s dealing with drug addiction and financial woes.  In 1999 he released another album containing covers of classic songs called My Beauty.  It too sold poorly and was virtually unplayed on the radio.
In April 2003 a new 6-piece line-up of the band appeared, shortening their name to simply Dexys.  A greatest hits album, Let’s Make This Precious, was released and the band toured in support of it in October and November 2003.
In 2007 a new single called “It’s OK Johanna” appeared on the band’s MySpace page, and in 2008 Rowland said that he was seeking a record deal and planning for a new album.  In 2011 Rowland announced that a fourth album existed and Dexys released a preview single called “Now”.  The release date of the new album called One Day I’m Going to Soar is June 4, 2012.
Poor old Johnny Ray, sounded sad upon the radio;
Broke a million hearts in mono.
Oh our mothers cried, sang along, who can blame them?

You've grown (You're grown up)
So grown. (So grown up.)
Now I must say more than ever.

(Come on, Eileen.)
Toora, loora, toora loorye aye.
We gonna sing just like our fathers.

Come on, Eileen,
Oh I swear (well he means) at this moment
You mean ev'rything.
You in that dress,
my thoughts, I confess,
verge on dirty.
Ah, Come on Eileen.

Come On, Eileen.

These people round here
Wear beaten down eyes sunk in a smoke dried face
So resigned what their fate is,
But not us (no never),
no, not us (no never),
we are far too young and clever.


Toora, loora, toora, loorye, aye.
Eileen, I'll hum this tune forever.

Come on, Eileen,
Oh I swear (well he means)
Ah come on let's
take off everything,
that pretty red dress, Eileen (Tell him yes)
Ah come on let's, ah come on, Eileen,
Pleassse …

Come On, Eileen, Tooloorye aye
Come On, Eileen, Tooloorye, aye, toora.

Now you're all grown (toora), Now you (toora) have shown (toora),
Oh! Eileen.
Said, you've (You) grown (toora) (it's strange that our feelings have grown),
so grown (toora) (about how you feel)!

Now (toora) I (toora) must (toora) say (toora) more (toora) than ever,
things round here will change.

I said, Toora (toora), loora, toora (toora), loorye (toora), aye (toora, toora, toora).

Come on, Eileen,
oh I swear (well he means) at this moment.
You mean ev'rything.
You in that dress,
my thoughts (I confess)
verge on the dirty.

Ah, come on, Eileen.

Come on, Eileen,
oh I swear (well he means) at this moment.
You mean ev'rything.
You in that dress,
Oh, my thoughts (I confess)
verge on the dirty.

Come on, Eileen,
oh, ho, ho, (well he means) oh, ho, ho ...

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