Monday, November 17, 2008

One of Those Things — Dexy's Midnight Runners (1985)

Exactly 30 years after Warren Zevon scaled the pop charts with Werewolves of London, the song's addictive piano riff was once again all over radio this year — this time, as the foundation of the ubiquitous Kid Rock single All Summer Long. Sampling Werewolves proved a savvy move on Rock's part but not necessarily an original one.

In 1985, Dexy's Midnight Runners released Don't Stand Me Down, the difficult and willfully contrary followup to breakthrough album Too-Rye-Ay and its globe-straddling single, Come On Eileen. The Celtic soul sound and gypsies-in-dungarees look of 1982 were gone, replaced by long, conversational tracks and natty Ivy League attire. If Dexys leader Kevin Rowland was trying to befuddle his fan base, he succeeded. Time has revealed Don't Stand Me Down as an idiosyncratic masterpiece but, at the time, it was career suicide.

One of Those Things was one of the album's catchiest songs, thanks to its unmistakable piano riff. It's Werewolves of London. Except, when Don't Stand Me Down was originally released, the song was credited to Rowland ... and no one else.

"Basically, I'm amazed and quite embarrassed at my arrogance when I hear this," Rowland wrote in the liner notes of the album's 1997 reissue. "I stole the riff totally from Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London after hearing it on the radio. I didn't care that it was obvious and I ignored the danger that it might well be detected, feeling that what I was doing was more important, Ironically, I thought up a melody that was maybe as good to go over the chords ... but I still insisted on using Mr. Zevon's as well, such was my obliviousness. He now rightfully owns a portion of the song."

One of Those Things might have stood an outside chance at radio play if the first verse, you know, didn't piss all over the music played on the radio. Gotta say, though: The song's chorus and central complaint — "It all sounds the same!" — is more relevant than ever.

One of Those Things (link expired)

Also from Don't Stand Me Down, here's the video for This Is What She's Like, a phenomenal 12-minute album track edited into a four-minute flop single.

Buy it here

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