Friday, May 6, 2016

Plan B

I'm on a real Dexys Midnight Runners kick right now (Expect a week of them when I get to the letter D!), and because I have been ripping so much vinyl from the letter B, that includes splinter groups the Bureau and the Blue Ox Babes.

A few weeks ago I posted "There's No Deceiving You," the first of a mere three singles issued from the latter band. I didn't get many takers, and the few that did listen felt it was like Dexys but with weaker songs and vocals. I more or less concurred, but it left me feeling sad. I think it's because the whole Babes v. Dexys rivalry was so lopsided and so unfair. Although Kevin Rowland has come clean about Kevin Archer honing that "Celtic soul" sound first and, further, that he lifted ideas from the Blue Ox Babes for his band's "Emerald Express" period, Archer still had to watch his talented fiddle player change teams and listen to his excruciatingly similar riffs saturate the airwaves as 'Too-Rye-Ay' became a smash. In 1997, Rowland said that "the breakdown and build-up section of the song ['Come on Eileen'] was heavily influenced by a section of one of Kevin Archer's songs." Imagine the whirlwind of emotions Archer must have felt upon hearing those words so many years later.

That's why I'm here giving this another go. It's true "There's No Deceiving You" was the closest the Blue Ox Babes would come to a hit, but I'm not sure this was the best choice to convince you of the band's charms. So, today, I give you all three A-sides from the above singles, plus "What Does Anybody Ever Think About?" I'm including the B-side because that's the song most think Rowland was referring to when he spoke of the breakdown and buildup of strings that heavily influenced "Come on Eileen." This is one of the Blue Ox Babes' earliest songs and undoubtedly one of the demos Rowland heard prior to the 'Too-Rye-Ay' era. If you're in a rush, go to about the 2:55 mark of the song. OK, I'm letting it go now.

"There's No Deceiving You"
"Apples and Oranges (The International Hope Campaign)"
"Walking on the Line"
"What Does Anybody Ever Think About?"


George said...

The first two I played, Brian, were What Does Anybody.... and Walking the Line. Two splendid songs (although, to me, they sound like a Dexys tribute band, which is of course very unfair). Nevertheless, two very very good songs. Apples and Oranges, although it had that great crackly sound affect, not as strong.And Deceiving is trying too hard to be a hit.

Brian said...

Thanks for trying, George. Walking the Line has become my personal favorite, but I like all three singles.

The Swede said...

I thoroughly enjoyed all four of these, though the extent of Rowland's appropriation grew more apparent with each passing tune!

Listening this time around, I was struck by the rhyming of 'smiling' with 'telephone dialling' in 'There's No Deceiving You', an unusual couplet I've only ever noticed before in 'Solid Gold Easy Action' by T.Rex. I only mention this because I also spotted a Bolanesque vocal mannerism crop up in 'What Does Anybody Ever Think About It' - I wonder if Archer was a fan, or if I'm reading far too much into a couple of mere coincidences.

Brian said...

Swede, You are good.

"I wanted to form a group with a vocal style," Archer said. "When I formed the Blue Ox I thought Marc Bolan was a really good singer. I listened to a lot of T. Rex. The way he sang was really pure. I liked the vocal style, the way he vibrated his voice."

The Swede said...

Blimey. I literally typed my previous comment off the cuff as I was listening. Now that I come to Google Archer's name alongside Bolan's, I can see several mentions. All that trivial nonsense stashed in my head pays off sometimes!