[17] Dexys Midnight Runners, ‘Show Me’

Dexys Midnight Runners

The great lost Dexys Mk II are greeted with a beam from Junior, and she really couldn’t have done anything else: ‘Show Me’ hares in on a brass-boosted dragster, all off-beat claps and parping trombones, crazed yelps and underpinning organ. It brims with adrenaline – and some under-the-counter stuff – and is tighter than your current mortgage lender.

Mk II then. Mild-mannered, democratic frontman Kevin Rowland had kicked half of the peerless Soul Rebels line-up into touch, returning a year later as boxers not dockers. This is the collective that never made an album, but could have been the best. Some of their singles had a gypsy-fiddle makeover to reappear on Too-Rye-Ay, although ‘Show Me’ only survived in counterpoint as ‘I’ll Show You’ – the point where that second album really begins to fly.

This benefits from its one-off single status – it emphasises its economy, conciseness, tightness. The brass is irresistible, reflected in Junior’s trombone mime, and the whole giddy rush keeps us smiling as we skid over the thaw.

[19] Japan, ‘Quiet Life’


Quiet Life was the first LP I bought. Sure, there were a couple of cassette albums before that – both by Duran Duran, naturally – but this was my first 12” vinyl breakout, along with Dexys Midnight Runners’ Searching For The Young Soul Rebels in the WH Smith bargain racks. It was March 1983, four years after its release, nicely in keeping with Japan’s own idiosyncratic chronology. You see, I bought it on the strength of their superb cover of The Velvet Underground’s ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’, which has just come out as a single – also four years after the event. And then there’s this, into the singles chart with a bullet, two years after its first appearance. They can’t have known if they were coming or going. In 1983 they were going.

Straddling Japan’s lurch from glam to Orient-obsessed electro-artpop, ‘Quiet Life’ veers in to the sound of helicopter blades – at least it sounds that way to me, and Junior agrees – and David Sylvian moans about – what? The break-up of the band, years before it happened? The changing state of the nation? His transitional football team? He was to take the quiet life to extremes afterwards, pootling around in the margins, crafting barely penetrable avant-pop, but still he carries on. So Junior identifies the blades, spots the handclaps, and sways to the slides, clips and ticks in the back of the car.