The Famous Dixons - IT WAS LIKE THIS

It Was Like This
EMI, 1996
CD (7234 838122 2 6)

Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache
        B-side of Geno. It;s good to hear this one again, it has nice groove, it really swings.
Tell me When My Light Turns Green
       It sounds good. Kevin Archer and I sang this together. It was one of the first things I wrote after getting involved with music. I had the first half of the song for ages before finishing it.
The Teams That Meet in Caffs
       Written and arranged by Kevin Archer, it summed up the group's feeling. He may have titled after a few of us sat around in a caff talking about the group. We liked the idea of us as a team, as in a gang. I recalled a well known gang from my teenage years called Y.K.T. - Young Kingsbury Team. When Kevin showed it to us I felt excited about the future. It gave another facet to our music.
Dance Stance
        This remix sounds like the original version should have. We always hated the original mix of this, it was done without our knowledge and we were railroaded into releasing it.
        I wrote this after Pete Williams our basist made a derogatory remark about Irish people. His comment was just the straw that broke the camel's back. I'd long since felt hurt at hearing Irish jokes. Bad jokes aside, Pete Williams was a powerful and under acknowledged member of the group and a natural comedian. We knocked this mix off at the "Geno" sessions.
       It grooves much better than I remember apart from the vocal. Kevin Archer wrote the music, I wrote the words. On first hearing the music I felt jealous of Kevin's, by this time stunning songwriting talent and was relieved when he asked me to write the lyrics. I dug out the words which I'd written about a year earlier.
        At the mix down of the record there were two versions taped, the one we favured featuring loud brass and quieter vocals, plus another more traditional version favoured by Pete Wingfield out producer. When the session was over we made it clear to our A&R man at the record company that our mix was the one that should be used. He remained non-commital but we had the feeling we weren't being taken seriously. He suggested he himself, Pete Wingfield and the group should all be present at the cut (where the tape is tranfered to the disc) and we would then all decide on the best mix. To cut a long story short, the cut was done without the group's knowledge. We were assured the best version had been chosen but we were angry because we knew what was meant by this. About ten days later we recieved a call from the label manager who knew nothing of the conflict. The test pressing was jumping and was therefore unusable, and as Pete Wingfield was uncontactable and the A&R man was on holiday would we mind attending the re-cut? We certainly would not, but this time we made sure the proper version was used.
        A few weeks later the A&R man phoned us up, having returned from holiday and hearing "Geno" on the radio, he said it sounded awful. He made clear his anger that we'd switched mixes. Soon afterward "Geno" went to number one and he never mentioned the subject again
I'm Just Looking
       B-side of Dance Stance. I find it hard to listen to this version with all the echo on my voice. I don't like the mix. The feel is pretty good though. Pete Saunders had the music, Geoff Blythe added to it and I put the words on top. The intro was originally shouted but at the recording session the producer Bernard Rhodes suggested I whisper
Thankfully Not Living in Yorkshire it Doesn't Apply
       When we wrote this it was a really positive time in the group. Pete Saunders walked into the rehearsal room with the riff, the words came really easily. I liked getting stuck with the chorus live.
Seven Days Too Long
       This sounds great. We got the feel down. Pete Wingfield helped us a lot. That's him whooping just before the music comes in, down on the studio floor grooving away with us. It's a beautiful feel.
       I was introduced to the original Chuck Wood version of this song in 1968 by a kid named Robinson who I often travelled to school with in Harrow. Sometimes, instead of going to school, Robinson, my good self and one or two other scholars would instead repair to London's West End for the day. Once there, most of us would be content with the delights of Soho, except Robinson who insisted we went into every record shop we passed and pester the staff into playing "Seven Days Too Long." The unusual thing about Robinson was that he hated all current music, he liked only 1950's music like Chuck Berry and Elvis, except for this song. When we came to record "Searching for the Young Soul Rebels" we decided we wanted one cover version and I remembered this song, the power it had and Robinson's face. That's quite a common factor for me, experiencing things through other people, not directly.
I Couldn't Help It If I Tried
       I like this. It sounds fucking good. I like my singing on it. Jim used to talk about the ballad that he'd written but none of us had heard it. One day he walked in and very calmly showed it to us. I put words to it. We called it Jim's song for ages and properly titled it just before the recording.
       Recorded for David Jensen's Radio 1 Show. The group sounds really powerful, particularly Kevin Archer's backing vocals. We did a good version of this in the live shows, after a while it took on a different meaning, peculiar to the Famous Dixons as we affectionately referred to ourselves.
The Horse
       We used to open our live set with this. Some nights it sounded really confident like it doeshere. This is an outake from the first LP
Keep It
       Kevin Archer wrote the music just before we recorded S.F.T.Y.S.R. It sounded instantly great. I couldn't write any appropriate words so Geoff Blythe did the honors. I don't like the vocal now but the music gave us a new depth at the time.
Love Part 1
       My ideas about love at the time.
There, There My Dear
       Another one Kevin Archer wrote the music for just before the LP. I liked the sweet direct dignity of it. It reminded me of "Judy in Dusguise." I'd had the idea for an open letter to our fellow musicians for a while and once I'd heard kevin's music it was easy to finish it. It sounds pretty powerful now and I'm proud of it. At the end of the LP I sang "everything I do will be funky from now on," though I'd never heard the song that the line was from, I'd just heard a kid up Piccadilly sing it to himself in the street when I was about sixteen and I remembered it during the recording of the LP and put it on. Also we'd planned to re-record the songs on the LP leter in the year, all funked up and call it "Funking for the Young Soul Rebels." We never got around to it.
       It didn't mean a lot to me when this record reached number 7 in the charts in 1980, Top of the Pops was off the television during the life of the record and we felt the song didn't register into the national consciousness but mainly we had hoped it would be another number 1 to cement the groups success. Also we were exhausted from drudging around Britain in a minibus on the Intense Emotion Revue.
       Personalli I found it very hard to deal with the new found acclaim. I didn;t feel happy. I didn't feel confident, it was all toomuch. It didn't feel like a group, I had lost control. The audiences seemed more powerful than the group. There were endless chants for "Geno." Geno had given us a quick mainstream audience with many people only aware of that aspect of the group. Sad really.
       It was like we were on a conveyor belt of goups playing dance halls. I tried desperately to control everything and everybody. It was during this tour that I decided to try and play theatres from then on.
Keep It part 2 (Inferiority Part 1)
       I like this now. Kevin Archer wrote the music, I wrote the words. At the time of the writing the words and recording this track I was going through what felt like some kind of breakdown. The stress of it all was too much, and though it was sad and debilitating, it had it's beauty. This record became my obsession. I sang exactly what was going on with me onto the vocal track. The record was hated by most of the group. I didn't care, I needed it, it was all I had. I was so disappointed when the record company and radio people didn't like it because that meant it wouldn't be a hit. Although the signs of doom were everywhere, I kept a hope going that people would relate to the truth of emotion and buy it, that somehow without radio it would find its way through. I was very disapointed when it didn't sell and lost a lot of confidence in myself through it. This was the first time in Dexys I found myself to be widely and unknowingly out of sinc with commercialism. The mighty Kevin Archer supported me through the end, though I knew he found it hard. Everyone left shortly afterward except Kevin A, Big Jim and I.
One Way Love
       Sung by Kevin Archer, this song is in the B-side of "Keep it Part 2." It makes me feel sad to think about how I was in those days.
Plan B
       This sounds good. It was the first song with the new group and the new songwriting partnership of Jim and I and its beautiful. I honestly don't know how we did this. So warm, and I had so mush love.
Soul Finger
       This sounds a lot better than I remember it.

Its been quite hard for me to listen to some of these, and it's not possible for me to seperate this musical journey through the past, from my life in those days. Hence the tone of these sleeve notes.
Best Wishes,
Kevin Rowland