100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s #62 Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Geno

Released : 1980

Not for the first time in this decade the fallout from punk created a new and vibrant, risky, creative direction: the messy dissolution of The Killjoys in mid-1978 left Kevin Rowland temporarily devastated, before the man who would later become one of the most maverick domestic figures in music set his heart on a new curve ball venture – soul.

The idea was bold to the point of recklessness, but famously instilling an almost unheard of work ethic in his proteges – the troupe would rehearse for seven hours a day for two years whilst claiming unemployment checks – Rowland’s vision sharpened and through Clash manager Bernie Rhodes, they secured an unlikely major label deal.

Their most famous song in this donkey-jacketed first incarnation was inspired by an uninspiring concert by Geno Washington attended by the singer as a 15 year old  in 1968, the signature chant a memory of the crowd’s reaction. With it’s pumping horns and terraces pleasing refrain, the running-on-the-spot tempo shifts and strutting gait were an antidote to the era’s raincoat wearing miserabilists and their cold, cold synths. Geno was the band’s first number one.

Dressing up like navvies, working like them and playing music which had never really peaked in Britain seemed like a route to little more than perma-dole obscurity. But if punk had taught it’s dilettantes anything, it was to do it anyway.

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