My Beauty is a solo album from Dexys/Dexys Midnight Runners’ lead singer Kevin Rowland. Originally released in 1999 the album was mostly unfairly received by critics at the time, but in the years since has come to enjoy cult status. This reissue is the first time the album has been available on vinyl and CD with its originally intended tracklist.
My Beauty makes up twelve interpretations of songs chosen by Kevin and adapted to make the lyrics more directly reflective of his life; resulting in an autobiographical concept record about his battle and recovery from addiction, and his own struggle with self-esteem; exemplified by his incredible version of George Benson / Whitney Houston’s The Greatest Love Of All.
Released at the peak of British lad rock (Chris Evans, Zoe Ball, Reef, Wellend haircuts and ladettes), Kevin’s choice of style for this record was men’s dresses. A radical look for the time; silk dresses, stockings and make up – not cross-dressing but a look that was undoubtedly feminine and a jolt to the psyche of the Loaded magazine era of man-child.
Released on Oasis’ label Creation, having been signed by Alan McGee (who loved Kevin’s look and labelled it “punk rock.”) it was to be the last record released before Creation folded. The chaos that surrounded the label by their end meant they hadn’t reached out for approval to Bruce Springsteen for the interpretation of Thunder Road in time to include it. Despite the flowing, elegant music the album was viciously received by most critics, with some focussing on Kevin’s choice of attire rather than the quality of the songs. There was a bullying, ignorant and homophobic edge to the reception.
Now in 2020 on the album’s 21st birthday, the world has changed and it’s high time to re-evaluate this modern masterpiece. Only ever released on CD (now a collector’s item) – this time the album (co-produced by Dexys stalwart Jimmy Paterson along with Kevin and Pete Schwier} has been remastered by Pete Schwier and Marco Migliari with its full intended tracklist on CD and colour vinyl, with sleeve notes by Q Magazine Editor Ted Kessler.
Two new videos have been filmed, the first – Rag Doll, is mimed by a young man in make-up, dressed in a gender fluid way. It’s a look that has become rightly incorporated into modern society and by the end of the video it’s revealed the man is Kevin’s grandson Roo; importantly closing the circle on what has been a painful experience for Kevin.
There has been a genuine and representative shift in societies understanding of sexual fluidity on every level, and over time music critics have re-evaluated the record as a lost classic. Kevin has lived through all of this, and it was a painful experience to be outcast and dismissed, and now attitudes have changed, so hopefully the music can finally have the audience it deserves and Kevin can tell his story.
Greatest Love Of All (George Benson)
Rag Doll (The Four Seasons)
Concrete And Clay (Unit 4+2)
Daydream Believer (The Monkees)
This Guy’s In Love With You (Herb Alpert)
The Long And Winding Road (The Beatles)
It’s Getting Better (Mama Cass)
I Can’t Tell The Bottom From The Top (The Hollies)
Labelled With Love (I’ll Stay With My Drams)
Reflections Of My Life (Marmalade)
You’ll Never Walk Alone
Thunder Road (Bruce Springsteen)