Dexy’s Midnight Runners Play “Geno”

Listen to this track by British post-punk by way of soul music collective Dexys Midnight Runners. It’s their second UK single and first number one hit “Geno”, as taken from their 1980 album Searching For the Young Soul Rebels, their debut.

A few years before their Trans-Atlantic, and worldwide hit “Come On Eileen” for which they are best (perhaps solely) known outside of the UK, it was this song that made their name, eschewing the usual post-punk textures of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Instead, this tune embraces Northern Soul and ’60s mod-scene flavouring instead. Guitars, bass, and drums were therefore augmented by Hammond organ, and big horns – classic and essential soul elements, all.

Clearly there were links to the burgeoning second wave of Ska in Britain as well, with bands like Madness and the Specials using a similar approach, instrumentally speaking. But, in some ways, Dexy’s provided a stronger tie to music as created and championed in Britain from the mid-60s.

“Geno” is exhibit A, a tune that is named after Geno Washington, an American soul singer based in Britain around this same mid-60s period. Washington was the frontman to The Ram Jam Band, a popular showband who’s audiences were made up of US servicemen (like Washington himself had been), and British soul and R&B fans alike.

But by 1979-80, what was it that Dexy’s were saying about the state of musical play by the time this song came out? Read more