Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.
Under whose radar?, shout all the UK readers, as Dexys frontman and brand identity Kevin Rowland truly struggles hard to stay out the spotlight in his own land. (OK, struggles may be a stretch, he no wallflower in the publicity seeking stakes, as some of his sartorial choices all too brashly display.) His right to crave our attention today is twofold. You may have enjoyed our recent best one-hit-wonders covers of the ’80s extravaganza, here if you missed it, but, his presence came at some price, our US contingent knowing nothing much of him beyond drunken dance floor filler “Come On Eileen.” A fair old transatlantic barney took place around his right, or otherwise, to appear. Here in the UK, Rowland has been suffering for his art for nearly 45 years (voice from the back: So have we! Yes yes, hilarious, go away now), and we have borne witness to much, much more. (To be fair, longtime readers may recall a 2013 In Defense piece that popped up here, and might have alerted you to all of this. Forgive a little duplication.) But time’s old jet plane is still moving, and there is now an announcement of some forthcoming new, an all new album and a tour for the autumn.
Does any of that sound snarky? It shouldn’t, as I have utmost respect for Rowland and his ever-changing moods, even as, on occasion, he has strained both the credulity and the patience of his audience. I think he’s great, and have even the deemed dodgiest of his output proud on my shelves. I had tickets for his cancelled tour of last year, which a Dylanesque motorbike accident put paid to. A pity, as that was his opportunity to present the revisited remastering of his moment of most fame, 1982’s Too-Rye-Ay album, which spawned the song so loved and hated by Eileens everywhere. Unable to fulfil, give or take a book by then fiddle player Helen O’Hara, who had been re-recruited for that tour, he has, as ever, moved on to new climes. I can’t wait, but, until then, catch a handful (and some) of his influences, disguised as just covers. (Believe me, there is no such thing as “just a cover.”)