BBC Radio One Live |
Griffin Music, 1995
CD (GCD 334-2)
Looking back, this particular show turned out to be of the most interesting in the group's history, and musically came fairly close in terms of spirit and intensity to what I think we were trying to acheive at that time. In any event, it turned out to be pretty good for a 40 minute set, in a tent on Newcastle's Town Moor, late in the afternoon.
It was the time in the group's history - a period of limbo on the one hand, yet changes on the other - that made the show so memorable for me.
Too Rye Ay, the 2nd LP, had been recorded earlier in the year, and this was to be our first live performance in over 6 months. The type of show - a Radio One special - didn't help matters, with only a short sound check, a host of uninterested radio technicians, and an unknown audience - well, Dexys had been very low profile for about 18 months and had never been considered a pop group. We were expecting a hard time but were surprised and relieved by the large number of fans in the audience.
There was also a lot of internal tension at the time. It was to be the last show for the members of the horn section who had unofficially "left" the group prior to the recording of the LP, but then later agreed to play on the LP and do this show as a "favor" on a session basis. (Dexys had been big on commitment, small on favors, so this had caused some discontent among the ranks.) Just as it was goodbye to this particular horn section, (they were later replaced by session players) so it was hello string section; the first ever performance of "The Emerald Express," (whose recruitment had been the main reason for the horn section's discontentment in the first place!) How would these new, relatively inexperience players react on a big stage and with a large audience? Would they cope? It was also the first Dexys as an 11 piece and the first time that the group had used session musicians, (they in fact outnumbered the "band members" six to five on this occasion.)
It was preview time for a lot of new songs including "Come On Eileen" which was to be released as a single two weeks later, and it was the unveiling of the new "Too Rye Ay" image, which was not popular with some players.
The final ingredient for the day was that none of us really knew what the future was going to hold. The previous 10 months had been very hard. The group was massively in debt and had decided earlier in the year not to disband but to hang on and record Too Rye Ay because we owed it to ourselves after writing and rehearsing it for so long. Once recorded, although we thought it was good, there were no real expectaions for it saleswise, or for the future of the group. The first single taken from it, "The Celtic Soul Brothers" had been released in march and failed commercially, so if "Eileen" wasn't a hit of some kind, the feeling was that it would be goodbye Dexys. In fact, not long after the show, bass player Georgio resigned in the belief that the group had no future. The truth was that no one had any inkling that a song that was going to be played publicly for the first time that day was soon to become one of the biggest selling singles in the history of the UK record industry.
Well that was the background and the setting. The show itself? Historically a great one, and definitely fuelled by emotion in the Dexys Tradition.