Friday, 16 March 2007

Strange and Wonderful Albums: My Beauty by Kevin Rowland

Kevin Rowland
My Beauty

In 1999 the ex-lead singer of Dexy’s Midnight Runners was coming out of a period of post-fame bankruptcy and cocaine addiction. He was deeply into therapy, fragile and emotional. Luckily, Alan McGee from Creation Records was on hand to expose him to national ridicule by enabling the release of one of the most bizarre solo albums of all time.

The cover image is a showstopper. Kevin in a midnight blue dress, hitched up to reveal stockings and a pair of manky pants, and pulled down to show his nipples.

It’s rumoured that when he was in recovery, he had listened to an hour of easy listening greyhair station Magic FM, and covered every song he heard. In order. As Rowland says in the sleevenotes, "These songs started to penetrate my frightened world. They reawakened something I'd only fleetingly sensed before… it was beauty… my beauty."

Witness the insanity. Whitney’s The Greatest Love of All, with a whispered intro, “Mother…” before Rowland’s soaring tenor breaks. Kevin isn’t afraid to personalise lyrics – Squeeze’s ‘Labelled With Love’ is renamed ‘I’ll Stay With My Dreams’. Kevin also trounces The Monkees’ ‘Daydream Believer’, The Unit Four Plus Two’s ‘Concrete And The Clay’ and ‘The Long And Winding Road’ by The Beatles.

The anguish of an over-therapised man audified, My Beauty sold only a handful of records. Shortly after its release, I saw him perform at the Reading festival wearing a white dress and stockings, accompanied by two strippers. It was one of the single greatest live performances I’ve ever seen. Rowland bravely struggling with a terrible sound, a breaking voice, and a field of mud being thrown into his face. Afterwards, as I saw him being assured by McGee that the show was amazing, I thought I was going to cry.

Happily, Dexy’s reformed and Kevin now seems in fine fettle. My Beauty just remains as a peek into his fall into the abyss.

Here's a video of Kevin singing The Concrete And The Clay from the album. Enjoy...

1 comment:

Blogger said...

I've just downloaded iStripper, so I can have the sexiest virtual strippers on my taskbar.