Four months on, the album's 11 songs played in order sound like a pub theatre musical-in-waiting. Emotional and geographical displacement, romantic yearning, fear of commitment and sheer hormone-popping lust are all in Rowland's loose-knit psycho-drama, pulsed by the music's joyously libidinous thrust.
It opens in darkness with keyboardist Mick Talbot playing an after-hours piano motif. Then the band bursts into life and the lights go up on Rowland and co, sporting various shades of Cotton Club chic, appear in front of a red velvet curtain. Rowland pimp-rolls the stage in synch with the music, or else sits astride a wooden chair for the ballads.
For She's Got A Wiggle, he and vocal foil Pete Williams conspire like the Dead End kids over celluloid images of Madeleine Hyland, the Bettie Page lookalike singer and actress from guerilla theatre company Factory Theatre, who in the flesh spars hammily with Rowland on Incapable Of Love. Eventually, on Free, Rowland finds the sort of liberation through self-inflicted pain that northern soul was built on.
But that's just the first act. The second rewinds for a well-worn routine with Williams dressed as a copper; trombonist Big Jim Paterson duels with fiddler Lucy Morgan on a glorious Tell Me When My Light Turns Green; and an extended Come On Eileen sounds heaven sent. As Hyland sashays back onstage like a classic B-movie diva during an epic This Is What She's Like, Rowland may be on his knees, but the return of Dexys is a triumph.