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Dexy's return proves they are one of rock's greatest bands

IT'S somewhat frightening to think that the last time Kevin Rowland released a record under the banner of Dexys was just under 27 years ago.

Then it was the much-maligned and misunderstood 'Don't Stand Me Down', a wilfully contrary follow-up to the massive 1982 hit Too-Rye-Ay which has since revealed itself to be one of the greatest artistic statements in popular music. Certainly, with Too-Rye-Ay and its global hit single Come On Eileen Dexys Midnight Runners caught the public imagination, but there are those fanatics who swear by the band's first incarnation, the incendiary brass-fuelled soul outfit who graced us with Searching For the Young Soul Rebels back in 1980. To say that Dexys are a band who inspire loyalty and devotion among music fans of a certain age and inclination would be to severely understate the matter so the return of Rowland, bassist Pete Williams, keyboardist Mick Talbot and crucial musical lynchpin Big Jim Patterson on trombone is one which is accompanied by great expectations. Thankfully, One Day I'm Going to Soar more than fulfills its remit.

Musically it's pitched somewhere between the first and third albums, the band slotting into soul grooves, allowing Rowland, whose voice sounds in great shape, to, well, soar. Always a ferociously committed singer and a production perfectionist to the point of semi-insanity, here Rowland is as fiercely believable as ever. The duet with Madeleine Hyland on Incapable of Love is a showstopper before the album winds down, leading to the half-spoken finale of It's OK John Joe, a typically Rowlandesque meditation on roots and fate which again acknowledges his Irish heritage. It's as moving and meaningful a piece as he's written and a fitting closer to a collection which reasserts Dexys as one of the greatest groups who ever existed. Now if only an enterprising promoter could get them to Vicar Street in the autumn...

One Day I'm Going to Soar is out on BMG