As a special treat this week to celebrate the returning of ‘Cuppy’ the 28 year old Mini (my 1985 998cc Mayfair in Opaline Green with chocolate velour interior) to the road after a two year hiatus, I will only be listening to cassettes from the early 1980s to recreate the musical ambience that may have existed for Cuppy’s first owner when she was newly delivered by Louis Smith’s Motors in Barnard Castle, County Durham.
Of course, when new, Cuppy was only fitted with a ‘push-button’ mono radio with the single speaker mounted centrally on the rear parcel shelf, but putting that historical motoring inaccuracy aside we’re going to start the week with one of the biggest releases of 1982, Kevin Rowland and Dexys Midnight Runners’ “Too-Rye-Ay”.
I’ve got to be honest here and admit that I never fully embraced the whole rolled-up dungarees and black plimsolls look – I was always concerned (justifiably, I felt) that I may snag a stray nipple on the dungarees’ shoulder-strap buckle. Plus, I have extremely unimpressive sparrow’s ankles – so much so that every morning I give thanks to the person who invented socks, whoever that was. My money is on some Monks.
I would urge you to forget what you think you know about this album; the dungarees, the hype, the presence of a track that when played at parties inexplicably compels the most reserved guest to dance on the nearest table. Listen as if for the first time and you’ll find a simple, exuberant, infectious pop album that can induce a broad grin at a range of approximately 827 metres.
Misrepresented to some extent by overpowering party favourite ‘Come on Eileen’, which is wisely tucked away at the end side 2, this is not the stringy album that I remember, but much more of a horny affair and closer to ‘Searching for the young soul rebels’ than the intervening 31 years might have you believe.
Kevin, who seems to have taken on top-billing here, refers to himself on various occasions in the third person, as has become his usual preference. My favourites here are the opening ‘The Celtic Soul Brothers’, the thoughtful closing track on side 1, ‘Old’ and the wonderfully fiery first track on side 2, ‘Plan B’.
‘Until I believe in my soul’ paves the way for some of Dexys’ and Kevin’s subsequent releases, with a more complex, stop-go structure – I still have my reservations about the jazz interlude at around two minutes in though.
A much better album than I remember – and I’ll bet it’s better than you remember it too!
More early 1980s classics from Cuppy the Mini’s stereo over the next few days.
Label – Mercury
Year – 1982