I think it’s safe to say that Kevin Rowland means it (see Pete’s entry below). Meaning it is pretty much what Kevin Rowland does. There was a character in 2000AD called the Mean Machine, who had a dial on his forehead with numbers from 1 to 4 that regulated his aggression. Entirely predictably this soon got turned up to 4, and equally predictably it then got stuck there. Kevin Rowland has an invisible dial on his forehead that regulates his sincerity and it got stuck on 4 a long time ago.

‘Manhood’ is the new Dexy’s Midnight Runners single, their first since the theme from Brush Strokes towards the fag-end of the 80s. Kevin is in confessional mode; he croons, he cajoles, he scats, he talks to his backing band (yes! fanboy punches air!), he is as always unflinchingly honest (at one point he talks about a failed relationship with ‘Michaela’ and I would be fairly surprised if there wasn’t a real Michaela, called Michaela, out there listening and possibly wincing). If you’re in a nostalgic or fannish mood it’s all quite marvellous.

With more sober ears it’s a slight record, a jaunty slip of a thing built on a Motown groove not far from ‘Chain Reaction’, but it’s no disgrace. It would have nestled pleasantly on a Too-Rye-Ay B-Side: thinking of it as a 2003 single does it few favours. But as Tim pointed out to me once, Dexy’s Midnight Runners were one of the few bands never to have released a bad track: as of ‘Manhood’, this remains happily true.