Saturday 20 February 2010

Until I Believe In My Soul

"I'm on the train from New Street to Euston. And out to Harrow again. I'm trying to get the feeling that I had in 1972 ..." sings Kevin Rowland during Dexys' Until I Believe In My Soul. Well, at least he does on the Too-Rye-Ay version. By the time that LP came out in 1982 we were very familiar with some of the songs, from live tapes and indeed the astonishing Richard Skinner session on Radio One. The general view is that the earlier Projected Passion Revue versions are superior, but I'm not so sure now. It may have lost some focus but the LP recording of Until I Believe In My Soul is the one where I think they got it dead right. Maybe it is the very cinematic inclusion of the lines about Kevin catching the train from Birmingham back to London trying to recapture something that had been lost. I love that image. I know the feeling. In November 2003 Kevin Rowland and Dexys made a triumphant return to the London stage. Kevin entered the fray draped in a fur coat, a little like a Mafia don and a little like Bud Flanagan. He left, punching the air, like a champion fighter who had defied the odds. One of the highlights of the show was a performance of Until I Believe In My Soul which incorporated Tell Me When My Light Turns Green and the Officer and the Gentleman sketch. I don't think Kevin mentioned Harrow in that version, though it was definitely referred to in My Life In England with the lines: "'Cos accents like mine, in Harrow there were few. I learned to talk more cockney but thought about the Wolves. The sound of Wolverhampton, its toughness and The Doog". Harrow is also the setting for Geno, so that's very much a London song where Kevin tells of being a young kid and going to see Geno perform at the Railway Hotel. And this was the song that spoke to all the smart young men performed live at The Marquee in Wardour Street ...


  1. Easily one of my fave Dexy's numbers and the crown jewel on the "Too-Rye-Ay" LP (alonside the Northern soul-ish "Let's Make This Precious"). It's incredibly soulful and has that clever break where the band just veers off into a jazzy little interlude before landing right back into soulville. There's a lot of tunes from the 80's that no longer hold up for me, this ain't one of them!

  2. I always liked the idea of people buying the LP after the success of Come On Eileen and then finding this track. Unnerving thing about Come On Eileen is that it is my mum's name and she is a massive Johnny Ray fan ...

  3. Great post Kevin
    I used to go and watch Dexy's at the Barrel Organ in Birmingham, I remember their shows for their tremendous energy.
    Never got to see Geno Washington until a few years ago in Poole but they were still great. Personally I prefer the C.O.D's version of Micheal though.
    P.S. I wasn't best pleased to see "the Doog" staring at me though as I'm a Baggies fan ;-)

  4. I love Dexys, depending on my mood, my favourite band of all time (alongside The Clash, The Jam & Style Council, Saint Etienne). So when my dad became friends with Geno in the early 80s I was pretty impressed! My first gig was Geno, in the basement of his restaurant in West Hampstead playing some blues with his guitarist and drummer after hours.