Too-Rye-Ay is now finally living up to Kevin Rowland’s vision, with extras showing the battle to get it right, here’s our review…

Dexys Midnight Runners Too-Rye-Ayboxset

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Anyone who’s heard Old or Come On Eileen from the freshly polished incarnation of Dexys’ most commercially successful album might be wondering what the fuss is about.

Listened to on a phone, the new arrangements by Helen O’Hara and long-time Dexys producer Pete Schwier aren’t so different from the original mix by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley which has troubled Kevin Rowland so much for 40 years.

In that regard, this anniversary reworking should be approached in a similar vein to The Beatles’ recent mixes by Giles Martin.

It’s evolution, not revolution, or so it appears initially. After a while – and CP has been lucky to hear the new mix for most of 2022 – going back to the original jars.

O’Hara and Schwier have made Too-Rye-Ay warmer and crisper. Rowland’s lyrics are clearer without losing his passion, the fiddles bathe rather than assault the listener and the brass swings that bit more righteously.

I’ll Show You, previously superior filler, now sounds like Rowland’s manifesto for Dexys 2.0, ready to storm the gates.

None of this would matter if the songwriting wasn’t there, of course. You can’t blame Langer & Winstanley – producers of so many classic singles – for thinking Too-Rye-Ay wasn’t already good enough. Any album containing the incendiary Plan B and beautiful Let’s Make This Precious is onto a winner.

Buy Too-Rye-Ay: As it should have sounded vinyl boxset on HMV now

Taking two years – a lifetime in early-80s pop – Too-Rye-Ay is revealed here as the ultimate expression so far of Rowland’s devotion to music, abetted brilliantly by Big Jim Paterson helping craft Dexys’ most concise visions.

The first bonus disc houses the various B-sides and standalone singles. A possible album in its own right, you’re left wondering how the punchy Show Me failed to make the original LP, with the eerie monologue Love Part 2 yet another great Rowland plan for a better life.

Soon and Dubious are similarly superb B-sides, while the sweet and simple Let’s Get This Straight From The Start deserves to be remembered as better than the flop postscript to the album campaign.

The three outtakes, rare allowances from Rowland that his music didn’t just arrive like commandments from on high, are thrilling, especially Smoke Your Own – an early version of Liars A To E which starts with an a capella verse resembling Happy Days with menaces.

Completing the boxset is a previously unreleased 1982 live album from London’s Shaftesbury Theatre. At the height of Dexys’ pop mania, they make no allowance for the Smash Hits kids, playing full tilt.

It’s utterly magnificent, a band delighted their message is hitting home and grabbing any potential converts into the throng.

Already a touchstone, celebrate that Rowland finally knows Too-Rye-Ay was brilliant, too – and it’s now delivered without compromise.