What a terrific album. Released in 1980, at the height of Northern Soul madness, this record draws on the Soul sensibility whilst also experimenting with Funk, Ska, and booming Pop music. It is truly a record of its time; a powerful statement by Kevin Rowland and his eight-strong army of "boys", whose intense, 3-D sound was a new wave of fresh air in a music chart dominated by Punk bands.
The album begins with the brilliant, crashing Burn It Down - a passionate attack on all those who dare demean the Irish and their heritage. Rowland reels off a host of Irish literary giants in defense of this great nation - Oscar Wilde, Brendan Behan, Sean O'Casey, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Lawrence Stern to name but a few. The horns are exquisite, and the vocals thumping. One of Dexy's finest ever records. It is followed by Tell Me When The Light Turns Green - a rousing number once again brought to life by a brilliant horn section. The Team That Meets In Caffs is a tremendous, moody instrumental demonstrating the true power of this band. I'm Just Looking is a gripping song of longing with a stunning brass section, followed by the immense sound of Geno - one of the band's staple super hits. A dance floor filler and genuine feel good record, Geno is one of those songs that is seemingly impossible not to like.
Seven Days Too Long is quite simply a Northern Soul classic. This cover by Dexy's on Searching For The Young Soul Rebels is every inch as rousing as the original. I Couldn't Help If I Tried is a gorgeous ballad sang with raw emotion by Rowland, who flirts with falsetto throughout. It is bluesy in parts, jazzy in others, but at all times utterly gripping. A superb change in tempo on an otherwise lively album. Thankfully Not Living In Yorkshire It Doesn't Apply - just about the oddest song title of them all - certainly lends an ear to the Punk movement of the time with its machine-gun bass, but the Organ, coupled with Rowland's fascinating falsetto vocal throws the overall sound back into the Northern Soul scene. There is even a suspicion of Disco influence in this track - another feel-good groover that loosens the limbs somewhat. Keep It is very Soul orientated; it is not impossible to envisage Otis Redding or Sam & Dave belting it out amidst their own set of classics.
Love Part One is a unique, spoken word track complemented by a solo saxophone in the background. Lyrically it is very poignant; "They all dedicate lines to you/Thin lines - easy to see through/Of course they do it to be like others who/All feel something I wont pretend just for you." The closing track on the album, There, There My Dear, is an exuberant performance featuring dynamic backing vocals and a great lyric. A storming closer to a storming album. Searching For The Young Soul Rebels stands alone for me. It is so different from everything else, and yet so passionately pieced together by so many dedicated musicians and artists. An absolute belter of an album, and one so often overlooked in these greatest album polls. A powerful piece of work that captures the time so well - go out and find it, I swear you wont be disappointed.