Published on May 12th, 2010 | by Kev Adams
Taking the myth out of Dexys Midnight Runners (part two) – the “really” difficult third album
When we visited studios to choose where to record the third album we rated them according to the biscuits they gave us.
I can’t remember what biscuits we were given at Mountain studios in Montreux, Switzerland but I’m assuming they were pretty good as that’s where we went. The biscuits and the live room were pretty good actually. We were looking for a large live room for a large band to perform and record live in and that had become difficult to find by the mid-eighties. Musicians tended to record separately, rather than as a band as technical audio separation was considered more important than live music feel. So live recording was quite rare. Mountain studios was built next to an enormous room that was used for the Montreux Jazz festival and it was perfect. Also alongside beautiful Lake Geneva and far from UK distractions so that’s where we were booked into for a month, I think it was almost the whole of May 1984.
We’d spent over twelve months promoting the second album so it’d been a huge relief to stop and take time out then get back to writing new material. At the time it seemed like record companies expected artists to churn out a new album every year and then spend the time between promoting the last one. Tours, TV, radio, press then “hey when’s the new album going to be ready?” Often schedules, artwork, distribution, all of it planned before the material was even written.
So we took sometime out. A few months writing and then demoing new songs at Outlaw Studios in Birmingham. Followed by weeks of auditions looking for the right band to realise those songs in the studio and then weeks of rehearsal in preparation. Things were looking great though, we had the legendary Tom Dowd producing (although I don’t think this would be his favourite session somehow) and had put together an incredible band including Crusher Green (ex James Brown session man) on drums, Vincent Crane on piano, Trevor Burton on bass (who was uncredited on the first release of the album) and plenty of other great players, Nick Gatfield, Jimmy Paterson, Bob Noble and John Edwards. Plus of course Kevin Rowland, Helen O’Hara (Bevington) and myself who had become the nucleus of the band by late ’83- early ’84 after drummer Seb Shelton had left. We’d taken no shortcuts putting the band together and had literally spent weeks auditioning new players until we found a band that we were totally comfortable with. We’d block booked Phil Savages, Outlaw Studios in Birmingham for the auditions, then rehearsals and had always demoed material at Phil’s studio too.
What could go wrong?
It was a disaster. A fraught and frustrating month and nothing that we recorded was right, nowhere near as good as it had sounded in the small Birmingham studio during auditions and later rehearsals. Just one track worked out. At the end of the month we only had ONE finished studio track that we were happy with. “Listen to this”. It’s probably my favourite track off the album and possesses a raw power and energy that could only have been captured live. Following our month in Montreux we headed back to the UK where we began auditioning once more to find a band that could record the rest of the album. Weeks of auditions back in Birmingham followed by weeks of rehearsals and hunting for a new studio. Another awesome band then managed to record another (yes just the one) track for the album. Originally titled “The Waltz”. But that’s another story.
Hell of an album though when it was eventually finished. I’m rightly proud for the small part I played in it’s production. It took three full line ups with a few great players falling by the wayside in between too. I wouldn’t like to guess how many studios we visited either and by the time it was being finished I left Kevin & Helen to it. I thought I had limitless patience and dedication but it was too much for me and by the end it had left a huge dent in my enthusiasm for music. Final mixing and later changes were taken care of by Kevin and Pete Schwier in the U.S.