Random Album Selector For Today

So I find myself with about an hour or so alone in the house and have already played several albums but am undecided as to what to play next. I mentioned previously the Random Album Selector function of the Discogs app, so let’s try that shall we?

Ok, here goes, wish me luck……..

and the winner is………

r-1159754-1484101153-4513-jpeg

Right then, let’s give it a spin.

Tracklist
Sueperman’s Big Sister
Pardon
Delusions Of Grandeur
Yes & No (Paula)
Dance Of The Crackpots
Over The Points
(Take Your Elbow Out Of The Soup You’re Sitting On The Chicken)
Uncoolohol
Hey, Hey, Take Me Away
Manic Depression (Jimi)
Oh Mr Peanut
Fucking Ada

Top 31 Albums of 1977

This list was for a Radio Show that I never recorded. As it was 40 years since 1977 it seemed a good time to look back and see what was really the best, album wise, from that time. Now that it is 2018, 41 years doesn’t seem quite the same milestone so it is now a list instead, and like all lists of this nature it is entirely subjective, based on my own experiences, likes and dislikes. If I’ve missed something obvious do let me know though, it can always become a top 32, or 33 or 34.

31  Abba – The Album
abba_-_the_album_28polar29

I don’t think that anybody can really deny that Abba were a hit making machine and, that they were damn fine songwriters and performers. They aren’t for everyone of course and, if I recall correctly, they never really made it massive in the US as they did in Europe. I’m not the biggest fan at all and I find a lot of it a bit too saccharine for my liking, on the other hand, some of it is actually very dark indeed

 

 

30 Ennio Moriccone – Excorcist ii
r-1678264-1446792941-4663-jpeg
A genuinely terrible fim that mamages a 20% rating at rotten tomatoes, and quite rightly. I think the majority of the budget was spent on Richard Burton and getting Morricone to do the score, which is really excellent, unlike Burton in this role, although, he will always find some redemption with his voice.

 

 

29 Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
fmacrumours
I can understand why some folk might think that this album should have a higher position but I think it has worn me down over the years. There are several albums to come that I would just rather listen to, in fact, I can’t remember when I last put this on the turntable and gave it a spin. It is undeniably a great album, but maybe too FM Radio friendly for my tastes nowadays, still, I’ll undoubtedly contradict that later.

 

28 Vangelis – Spiral 
Vangelis_Spiral

Apparently, this album is based on a dancer’s appreciation of the universe and how it spirals into infinity, a concept which came to Vangelis through his own pirouettes. That may be true but what is certain is that this is one of Vangelis’ most accessible recordings, and remains essential listening for fans of electronic music in general, in my opinion.

 

 


27 Joan Armatrading – Show Some Emotion

4f69e034e928021c80c9547f247de1f3.1000x995x1
I have repeatedly spoken of the quality of Armatrading’s songwriting and of her vocal delivery, she is underrated I think, or if not that, then somewhat forgotten. Her early output is great and pretty much unwanted with albums in perfect condition selling for a £1. It’s no risk, pick a few up if you see them.

 

 


26 10CC – Deceptive Bends

5425266

We had this on cassette when it came out and it was played to death.  ‘Good Morning Judge’ is a great opener followed by the single, ‘The Things We Do For Love’. There are a couple of iffy tracks on it but I loved it as a kid and, for the most part, still do.

 

25 Motorhead – Motorhead
Motörhead_-_Motörhead_(1977)

I can’t claim to have known much about Motorhead back in 1977, I think my first experience was with ‘Bomber’ in 1979, but that opened the door to the two earlier albums and this, the debut, is rock solid.

 

 

 

24 Junior Mervin – Police & Thieves
R-609735-1216477982.jpeg

I heard the Clash first which led back to this, backed by The Upsetters , produced by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, it’s a winner. The title track is well known of course but every track on the album is quality, if you haven’t checked it out already give it a go.

 

 

23 Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True
R-471422-1360610856-9540.jpeg

This is what you get for £2,000 worth of recording sessions. VH1 named it as the 80th greatest album of all time, and Rolling Stone 168th. I think that represents good value for money. The original release did not include ‘Watching the Detectives’, it was added on subsequent pressings after it became a hit single. I’m not sure if it is better with or without to be honest.

 

22 Blondie – Plastic Letters
R-622102-1229546973.jpeg

The album before the one that sent them stratospheric, but the one where they first came to my attention with the cover Randy & the Rainbows Denise, re titled Denis. I loved Blondie, I was a teenage boy, so of course I did. It was Parallel Lines where I really got into the music, but this album has some real high points as they move towards the Disco-Pop-Punk that was to come.

 

21 Queen – News of the world
R-475599-1454715265-7842.jpeg

I had this on cassette and I would tape my portable cassette player to the handlebars of my chopper pushbike playing it as loud as it would go as I cycled up and down the street. The neighbours must have bloody well hated me. I know the album so well and the two opening tracks, perhaps the most obvious to like, are not my favourites from it, if pushed I’d pick Sheer Heart Attack and Spread Your Wings. Best album Queen made I think.

20 ELO – Out Of The Blue
ELO-Out_of_the_Blue_Lp

I absolutely coveted this album in ’77. Every track that was released as a single and made the charts I taped off the radio, there were 5 I think. I never owned it back then, although I did get the next release (Discovery) from WH Smith’s in Didcot, I had to take it back twice as it was scratched in the same place both times.

 

19 Grace Jones – Portfolio
R-6492979-1496205526-5552.jpeg

I am of the opinion that Ms Jones is rather undervalued. Some of the albums she has released during her career are quite brilliant but I get the sense that she is better remembered by her antics than the music, although one does inform the other a little.  On this album there is a 7 minute 27 second version of the Edith Piaf track La Vie En Rose, and it is an absolute belter.

 

18 Rush – A Farewell to Kings
Rush_A_Farewell_to_Kings

I discovered this one a few years after it was released, probably in ’79 but saw them perform several of the tracks on the ‘Exit Stage left Tour’ back in the 80’s. The era of Rush is not my favourite really but, well, it’s still Rush and I do remember how big a deal they were among myself and my peers at the time, including the back panels of denim jackets having Rush artwork painted on them with airfix paint.

17 Talking Heads – 77
R-1384049-1214990625.jpeg

I have convinced myself that I watched the Old Grey Whistle Test where Talking Heads performed Psycho Killer. I’ve seen that performance so many times since that the memory is smudged, but it is possible even though I would only have been 11, actually, 12 as it was ’78.

 

16 Yes – Going for the One
WPCR-17611

An album we had in the house, it was my brothers but it spent some time on the downstairs turntable so I played it a lot. At the time I was mostly interested in the shorter tracks on this but over time I’ve grown to enjoy the whole thing and do still listen to it on a regular(ish) basis.  Wonderous Stories made the charts of course and at that age that was my main source of music.

15 David Bowie – Low
R-216166-1275625649.jpeg

Part of the Berlin trilogy of albums and considered by many to be his best album, though not by me. Probably the reason for that is that I haven’t really given it enough of a chance, which I really should do. I missed it when released and have had just a few occasional listens over the years, it’s extremely good, of course it is, and the cover is a pun, which is funny.

14 John Martyn – One World
R-1094304-1428914102-4651.jpeg

A masterpiece, simple as that. The album is notable for parts of it having been recorded outdoors. In particular, “Small Hours” was recorded late at night in the English countryside. The sweeping soundscapes on the album are partly due to the consequential presence of ambient sounds (such as water from a nearby lake) and natural reverb, there’s also a collaboration with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, and Steve Winwood was on there as well.

13 Television – Marquee Moon
marquee-moon

Another album I totally missed at the time but I’ve played it to death since I stumbled across it. The title track itself at 9:58 is worth buying it for on its own, quite where that came from at that time from this group I don’t know but it is rightly regarded as a classic nowadays.

 

 

12 The Damned – The Damned
Damned_-_Damned_damned_damned_album_cover

What can I say? Ilike the damned, that they didn’t seemto take themselves too seriously nd that they are credited with releasing the first UK punk single in New Rose, which is on this album and is great. If  you ever want to know what pure unadulterated rock ‘n’ roll is then play them this album.

 

 

11 Peter Gabriel – 1 (Car)
Peter_Gabriel_(self-titled_album,_1977_-_cover_art)

The first four Gabriel solo albums are brilliant, and this is number one of the four, not as commercial, containing experiments that perhaps don’t quite work, but when they do, they are a glorious thing to behold. It is the one with ‘Solsbury Hill‘, that’s on side 1, but I prefer the whole of side 2. ‘Here Comes The Flood‘ is probably my top track from it.

 

10 Iggy Pop – The Idiot
theidiot-640x640

I’ve grown to like Iggy more since listening to his Radio 6 show fairly regularly, but this album, co-written with David Bowie (except for one track where guitarist Carlos Alomar is also credited) is packed with quality tracks that I find myself repeatedly going back to. I’ve been streaming it asI don’t have a copy but I will be on the look out for one.

 

9 The Clash – The Clash
The_Clash_UK

The album opens with one of my favourite Clash tracks, Janie Jones and is packed with great tracks, there’s the Junior Mervin cover, Police & Thieves, White Riot, Career Opoortunities, it’s a great album and speaks to what was happening to music at the time as the mainstream was being challenged.

 

 

8 The Stranglers – Rattus Norvigicus
MI0000589856

I’ve had a copy of this for at least 35 years and love it as much today as I did when I first heard it. It is dark, visceral even at times and seems to have a coating of grime over every track, and that is what makes it great. Anybody whohas never listened to this album all the way through needs to go away and do so right now.  I saw them live in 1983, loved it.

 

7 Kraftwerk – Trans Europe Express
Kraftwerk - Trans Europe Express_0

Kraftwerk always seemed to be years ahead of everybody else and this still sounds as though it could have been released yesterday, in 2014, the LA Times called it “the most important pop album of the last 40 years.” which is high praise indeed, but it is a claim not without merit. I tried to get tickets to the recent tour but the damn things sold out in seconds.

 

6 Pink Floyd – Animals
e11f96e5d1392e886c221ad94baece10.1000x1000x1

I understood Dark Side of the Moon but it took me a lot longer to figure out Animals, It was a concept album that provides a scathing critique of the social-political conditions of late 1970s Britain, I was 11, I couldn’t really be expected to figure that out for myself really. I read Animal Farm at school in 78 or 79 and then started to make some connections. Now I love it.

5 David Bowie – Heroes
david_bowie_heroes

The second Bowie album of 1977 and the one of the two that I’ve connected with more. The album was marketed with the strap line “There’s Old Wave. There’s New Wave. And there’s David Bowie …” which pretty much summed up most of his career.

 

 

4 The Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks
Never_Mind_the_Bollocks,_Here's_the_Sex_Pistols

I had several of the singles back then, but not the album. My friend had it and I got to listen to that when I went round his house. To be honest, it was the perfect album for a somewhat rebellious 12 year old. It is now pretty much the same for a not so rebellious 50 year old. Every track a classic.

 

3 Steely Dan – Aja
R-368605-1331756756.jpeg

The peak of their album output in my opinion, everything that had gone before had been leading to this.  Fagan ands Becker were an incredible writing partnership, absolutely precise in what they were doing and able to sound like nobody else. Brilliant album.

 

 

2 Ian Dury & the Blockheads – New Boots and Panties
61Pb6YEv0EL

I’ve written about this album extensively before. It’s an all time great and it is a very thing dividing line between what is at number 1 and this. It could have gone either way.

 

 

 

1 Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus
Bob_Marley_and_the_Wailers_-_Exodus

Every home should have one. In 1999, Time magazine declared Bob Marley’s Exodus, released on June 3, 1977, the best album of the 20th Century. I’m not sure about that, but it’s down as my best of ’77 for sure. This album is on the turntable a lot, even after 40 years, it just doesn’t get old.

 

And what would yours be?

Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Part 2

1446847

Lord Upminster (6.5)

Here we go with part 2 then and ‘Lord Upminster’ from 1981. This is the Sly and Robbie album, as The Blockheads and Dury had parted company, although Chas Jankel did fly out to Nassau to write and record for this album. Dury and Jankel had no material and did their writing on the flight out and during the recording, which is an issue as Dury could take a very long time to create lyrics that he considered ready, after many many re-writes, and the short gestation period of the tracks on Lord Upminster was not wholly successful.

Side 1 of a fairly short 8 track album is quite forgettable to be truthful, it really is quite disappointing and no matter how much I want to like it greatly, I can’t, I don’t dislike it either, it’s just OK. Side 2 is much better, as though they saved all the good tracks for it. The closing song is one of my favourites of all Dury songs.

ian-dury-spasticus-autisticus-polydor-2

“Spasticus (Autisticus)” was written in 1981 as a protest against the International Year of  Disabled Persons, which Dury quite rightly considered to be patronising.  The repeated refrain of  “I’m Spasticus, I’m Spasticus, I’m Spasticus Autisticus” referenced the line “I’m Spartacus” from the 1960 film Spartacus. Dury was considering touring under the name “Spastic and the Autistics” for the record, playing on his own disability and the term “blockhead”, but his friend Ed Speight suggested that the song should be about the freed slave of the disabled.

The term Spastic had been used in the UK as a derogatory term, calling people spastic or spaz was an insult. It was rather unkind to sufferers of cerebral palsy as well of course. The BBC decided that the lyrics were offensive as did the majority of other radio stations and it received no air time. The record company weren’t that interested either. This indicates fairly clearly that they didn’t actually listen to the song or understand the lyrics, it wasn’t a piss take, it wasn’t offensive, it was a rallying cry.

The song was performed live on television and broadcast worldwide during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Paralympics, by Orbital and members of the Graeae Theatre Company, which I really had no idea about. I went to the Paparalympics in 2012 and it was brilliant, but today is the first time I’d seen the video below (stick with it, it’s worth it)

How bloody brilliant is that, 30 years on and there it is again.

A1 – Funky Disco Pops
A2 – Red Letter
A3 – Girls Watching
A4 – Wait For Me
B1 – The Body Song
B2 – Lonely Town
B3 – Trust (Is A Must)
B4 – Spasticus Autisticus

I saw Spasticus performed live at the Oxford Apollo or New Theatre, whatever its name was then,  in 1984, at least I think it was, Dave probably still has the ticket stub, Dave? It was a stunning performance with Dury walking on stage wrapped in, what appeared to be, real barbed wire. The tour was in support of  the next album.

9d72af2ea9aed6b384de956a560cf3e1

4000 Weeks Holiday (8.4)

Released in 1984, this was the first Dury album that I bought. Everything prior to this I had only as singles, the rest I heard in Dave’s bedroom. For whatever reason, the Blockheads were out of the picture and Dury now had backing from ‘The Music Students’, either by choice or at the insistence of Polydor, the record company, accounts vary. There had been a delay in releasing the album as Dury was insistent that the track r-2963892-1503177722-7480-jpeg‘Fuck Off Noddy’ be included and the record company weren’t happy about it. There were rumours about the Enid Blyton estate threatening to litigate, there was also a track about Billy Butlin that didn’t make it, amid allegations of Butlin kiddy fiddling, it was all  a bit delicate.

I don’t think the album would have been any better from having either track included, I’d even say it is better without them. It’s a really good album that has actually become better over time.The single “Really Glad You Came / (You’re My) Inspiration” was released during that time, the songs were two different lyrics put to an almost identical tune and the single

ian-dury-and-the-music-students-very-personal-polydor

was a total failure, even though these are the two tracks most often used on Greatest Hits compilations. It’s a shame this single bombed as these are really good tracks, though not necessarily what the record buying public would be expecting from Dury. Its follow up single “Ban The Bomb / Very Personal” was mocked by critics, and to be honest, it is probably the weakest track on the album.

The album also contains “Peter the Painter” which was written following a request from British Pop artist Peter Blake, who had been Dury’s teacher at London’s Royal College of Art. Blake was having his own exhibition at The Tate Gallery, London and asked Dury to compose a theme tune for it. “Peter the Painter” was the result.

PETER THE PAINTER

Who’s got the toughest brush with the sweetest strokes?
At the Royal Academy for Jack-the-Lademy
Mr. Blake is the actual bloke at the Royal College of Useful Knowledge
He plays his part without complaint at the Royal Society for Insobriety
Gets his pencils and his paint from the Royal Commission for Intuition

It’s not a fake, it’s a Peter Blake
It’s navy blue, it’s crimson lake
It takes the cake and no mistake,
For goodness’ sake take a look at those Blakes

As mentioned previously, Dave and I went to Oxford to see Ian Dury & the Music Students and, to this day, it is still one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to some bloody good ones. A lot of it was about the stage presence of Dury, he really owned it when he was up there, and his Spasticus performance, wrapped in what appeared to be real barbed wire, was outstanding. I am convinced we also saw a very you Supergrass as one of the many support acts, but I have no proof of this. Three lads of the right age, from Oxford, there’s a good chance it was them.

Below is a playlist of some of the tracks from the album. I couldn’t find a decent ‘Ban The Bomb’, which says a lot about how well it was promoted. Looking on Discogs, only 1 person on there owns a copy, which is most unusual, and makes it rather a rare thing and probably expensive to buy, even though it’s not all that good.

Below is 40 minutes audio of a concert as Ian Dury & the Music Students from 1984, so the same tour I went to:

Also, because I recently picked up a 12″ singles of it and because Big Dave (who is not big but is Dave) has it in his top 10 bass lines, here is a quick snippet of you’re my inspiration playing at home, sort of sideways.

Tracklist

A1 (You’re My) Inspiration
A2 Friends
A3 Tell Your Daddy
A4 Peter The Painter
A5 Ban The Bomb
B1 Percy The Poet
B2 Very Personal
B3 Take Me To The Cleaners
B4 The Man With No Face
B5 Really Glad You Came

s-l1000

Apples (6.9)

Not as bad as portrayed pretty much sums up this album, which is a collection of songs from the short lived stage musical of the same name.  Critics pointed out that the songs were not as good as Dury’s ‘old stuff’. though two of the tracks, “Apples” and “England’s Glory”, were written over 13 years earlier while Dury was still in Kilburn & The Highroads.

The show, which had several more songs than were included on the album, only lasted 10 weeks before closing, reviews were not favourable and, presumably the ticket sales weren’t either.

I’ve only heard the album a couple of times and it’s the only one I don’t actually own, but there is a particular track that I really like and which is included in Radio show 8, called ‘Love Is All’ which is down below along with the title track ‘Apples’.

Love is all:

I did find a short clip of ‘Englands Glory’ being performed on the stage set:

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Apples” Dury, Rod Melvin 4:18
2. “Love Is All” 4:34
3. “Byline Brown” 3:06
4. “Bit O’ Kit” Dury 2:07
5. “Game On” 3:08
6. “Looking For Harry” 3:34
7. “England’s Glory” Dury, Melvin 4:14
8. “Bus Driver’s Prayer” Traditional, arranged and adapted by Ian Dury 0:56
9. “PC Honey” 3:21
10. “The Right People” 2:55
11. “All Those Who Say Okay” 3:51
12. “Riding The Outskirts Of Fantasy” 4:08
To be honest I’m not really sure if this should be classed as an official release, it is more of a collection of songs from a musical than a deliberate attempt to release an album, if you see what I mean.

77f0d40c2292419cbe0594907a2ec85a

The Bus Driver’s Prayer & Other Stories (7.6)

This album was released in 1992 and, even though it followed a successful Blockheads reunion tour following the death of their drummer Charley Charles, it was not a Blockheads album, but it does feature them all at certain points, except bassist Norman Watt-Roy.

The album began life as a result of the 1991 film After Midnight. Dury was asked to produce music for the film and he recruited Blockhead Mick Gallagher and Music Students member Merlin Rhys-Jones to help out. Two of the songs, “O’Donegal” and “Quick Quick Slow” appear on the album, and another, “Bye Bye Dublin” doesn’t.

Lyrically, the album was very much regarded as a return to form for Dury, examples of this being:

From Poo Poo In The Prawn

I was a very hungry fella
I defrosted my paella
Came down with Salmonella
Three weeks intensive care

They failed to send technicians in
To check the air-conditioning
Which was unfortunately transmissioning
A case of Legionnaires

There’s a malaise
In the mayonnaise
There’s a poo-poo in the prawn
Where we missed them
In the system
Little germs are being born
There’s no respite
From the cess-pit
There’s no shelter from the pong
Where the hell did we go wrong? 

From Poor Joey

This is my routine: first I ponder and peck
I look in the mirror and I shit on the deck
I try to fly, I bang my head
I think of something creative instead

I ruffle my feathers and have a good scratch
Spend at least half an hour trying to undo my catch
Not as though I want to be deleted by an owl
I’ve got to fight this awful situation somehow

Though the story of poor Joey is seemingly about a Budgie, it is, I would suggest, an allegory for how life can become entirely routine and one can become trapped in this routine, a prisoner of ones own repeated actions.

mb196752w595

As far as I am aware no singles were released from the album but there are a couple of contenders on there.

Demon Records were unhappy with the final album and hardly promoted it, despite favorable reviews including in the March 1993 issue of Vox where it was awarded six out of ten stars (which is an ok rating, although not great). Mick Gallagher continues to praise the album as one of his favorites, and noted in the book Song by Song that it was the album by which he personally mourned Dury following his passing in 2000.

Apparently the album received criticism for its use of a drum machine, even though the drummer had recently died, which seems a little unfair.

  1. “That’s Enough of That” (Dury, Gallagher, Rhys-Jones) – 4:49
  2. “Bill Haley’s Last Words” (Dury, Gallagher, Rhys-Jones) – 3:12
  3. “Poor Joey” – 3:50
  4. “Quick Quick Slow” – 3:14
  5. “Fly in the Ointment” – 2:55
  6. “O’Donegal” – 3:53
  7. “Poo-Poo in the Prawn” – 3:17
  8. “London Talking” – 1:15
  9. “Have A Word” (Dury, Gallagher, Rhys-Jones) – 3:57
  10. “D’Orine The Cow” – 3:18
  11. “Your Horoscope” – 4:00
  12. “No Such Thing As Love” – 3:38
  13. “Two Old Dogs Without A Name” – 4:43
  14. “Bus Driver’s Prayer” (traditional, arranged and adapted by Ian Dury) – 0:59

61oa28kausl

Mr Love Pants (9.0)

This was the last album to be released while Dury was still with us, and the last I will be talking about here. There was a live album, ‘Live! Warts ‘n’ Audience’ from 1990, and, posthumously released,  another called ‘Straight From The Desk’ in 2001 as well as studio album ‘Ten More Turnips From The Tip’. Added to that there was a series of re-issues that had lots of out takes and alternate versions that Dury never wanted to be released, but they were released anyway.

But back to this album, this is a real, actual return to form and as far as I’m concerned it is up there with the first two albums. Released 6 years afrer Busmans Prayer it is an entirely different proposition, with the the Blockheads back on board and playing brilliantly, the quality shines through. I’ve listened to this album many times and can put it on shuffle with New Boots and Do It Yourself and nothing seems out of place to me (although production values are different of course, I mean the songs).  In a  BBC documentary Dury dismissed all of the albums between Do It Yourself and Mr. Love Pants as inferior, and as a whole I’d tend to agree.

MI0002663931

  1. “Jack Shit George” (Dury, Merlin Rhys-Jones) – 4:23
  2. “The Passing Show” – 4.24
  3. “You’re My Baby” – 3:30
  4. “Honeysuckle Highway” – 4:49
  5. “Itinerant Child” – 4:46
  6. “Geraldine” (Dury, Mickey Gallagher) – 3:37
  7. “Cacka Boom” (Dury, Merlin Rhys-Jones) – 4:49
  8. “Bed O. Roses No. 9” – 5:19
  9. “Heavy Living” – 5:08
  10. “Mash It Up Harry” – 5:55

“Itinerant Child” was to be released as Ian Dury & The Blockhead’s first single in 18 years (since 1980’s “Sueperman’s Big Sister”) and a video was recorded but the record label, East Central One, rejected the idea. “Mash it Up Harry” was released instead on both CD and 12″ record. As far as I know the video for ‘Itinerant Child’ has never surfaced, although it could be out there somewhere. Bad call by the record company I think, as a single, ‘Itinerant Child’ is the better option. Perhaps the record company were swayed by the football chant at the end. Though it almost certainly isn’t true, the Harry of the song is Harry Redknapp in my head and the team is Tottenham Hotspur, hence the Spuds references. I read somewhere that it is a song about a gay man, but that sounds like crap to me gleaned from alluding to sticking things up ones bottom in the lyrics, which would be a perfectly normal thing for Dury to write.

Here, from ‘Jack Shit George’, which is fairly heavy on the profanity, is a sample of what are curiously beautiful lyrics:

You can’t bear another’s beauty, you can’t emulate a grace
You can’t filch another’s mystery, occupy another’s space
You can’t do another’s duty, or take a special place
In another person’s history when they’ve sunk without a trace

The man could write, and I don’t think it was particularly about being clever with words but more about taking time to find the right ones and not being afraid to use them, not going for the banal or obvious but the words that really allowed him to say what he wanted to say in the best possible way.

3904956609

Here, for no particular reason, is a ‘Rare’ footage of Dury that I found.

As a special treat, a complete concert to listen to from the Hammersmith Odeon recorded in September 1979, it is over there on the right, you may have to scroll up or down to find it but it is there.

I do think that Ian Dury was a one off, we’d never seen his like before and never will again, he took all his influences and turned them into something new, making the best of what he had and giving us something memorable and wonderful to keep. To finish with a quote from ‘The Passing Show’ would be apt I think:

But when we’re torn from mortal coil
We leave behind a counterfoil
It’s what we did and who we knew
And that’s what makes this story true

Ian Robins Dury (12 May 1942 – 27 March 2000)

 

Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Part 1

I worked from home today (Monday) and as I did so I listened to records. Usually I’ll play various albums, not really thinking about what I’m choosing, just whatever is nearest the record player, but today the first record I played was ‘Lord Upminster’ by Ian Dury that I picked up for a few pounds at a recent record fair. This resulted in pulling all the Ian Dury albums I had and playing them all. This subsequently resulted in this post.

Where to begin? With ‘New Boots and Panties’ of course, where else. Well maybe Kilburn and the High Roads but I don’t have any of their albums, so that didn’t seem like a good idea.

New Boots and Panties!! (9.8)

iandury_newbootscover

Credited to Dury rather than with the blockheads as they hadn’t officially formed as a band at the point the album was released in September 1977, that happened afterwards during the ‘Live Stiffs’ tour, and two of the Blockheads don’t actually play on the album. ad2The album is often included in Punk lists but it isn’t Punk at all, it was just released around the same time as that scene was on the rise, it’s actually full of stories about working class people and closer to music hall and pub rock than Punk, but it did have a feeling of anti-establishment about it and seemed to align itself quite naturally with the punk scene.

‘Sweet Gene Vincent’ was released as a single from the album but failed to chart, the next 2 singles were top 10 hits but neither were on the album, ‘What a Waste’ and ‘Hit me with your rhythm stick’ kept the interest in the album high though I have a suspicion that a few people bought it expecting the hits.

In case you wondered, the title of the album came about because Dury bought most of his clothes second hand, except for boots and underwear, so now you know. Also, the lad on the cover is his son, who has a musical career all of his own which you can check out here – Baxter Dury

TRACK LISTING

A1 Wake Up and Make Love with Me
A2 Sweet Gene Vincent
A3 I’m Partial to Your Abracadabra
A4 My Old Man
A5 Billericay Dickie
B1 Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
B2 Clevor Trever
B3 If I Was With a Woman
B4 Blockheads
B5 Plaistow Patricia
B6 Blackmail Man

Here is the entire album played live at different times and at different venues (Blockheads is out of order as it’s part of the same video as My Old Man)

Following Dury’s death the album was re-released with outtakes and different versions, which, I read somewhere, is something Dury didn’t want to happen, but you can’t stop record companies its ion they see the chance of making a few quid. There was also a tribute album, which is good in places, called ‘Brand New Boots And Panties: A Tribute To Ian Dury’, listen to it below if you like.

Tracklist
1 –Sinéad O’Connor  – Wake Up And Make Love With Me
2 –Robbie Williams  – Sweet Gene Vincent
3 –Paul McCartney – I’m Partial To Your Abracadabra
4 –Madness – My Old Man
5 –Billy Bragg And The Blokes – Billericay Dickie
6 –Wreckless Eric – Clevor Trever
7 –Cerys Matthews – If I Was With A Woman
8 –Grant Nicholas From Feeder – Blockheads
9 –Shane MacGowan – Plaistow Patricia
10 –Keith Allen – Blackmail Man

On it’s release the album was exceptionally well received by the music press. Allan Jones of Melody Maker described the album as “a tense, harrowing account of urban degradation, that conveys with more vocal, musical and lyrical vehemence than any so-51rblujecgl-_sx356_bo1204203200_called ‘new wave/punk’ combo has yet been able to muster, the desperation and squalor of the social conditions (and the effects of those conditions upon individual personalities) it so provocatively illustrates.

In Sounds Vivien Goldman gave the record a five-star rating, saying, “Lawless brats from council flats have finally found a voice that speaks from, of and about the people. A voice that combines passion with the vernacular ‘she got into a mess with the NHS’ – sage street advice, plus cinematic observation, plus humour.

Roy Carr in the NME said, ‘… it’s impossible to bag Ian Dury, except to say that he has taken the essence of the Cockney music hall and utilised rock as a contemporary means of expression. On occasions, Ray Davies has dallied with a similar approach, but Dury has none of the self-conscious pretentions that Davies exposed in his flawed Flash Harry caricature. Ian Dury feels no need to adopt a transatlantic voice to comply with his subject matter, preferring to deliver ribald and bittersweet monologues in the tone of voice he was born with … Whether or not you buy New Boots and Panties at least make hearing the album a priority. It’s your loss if you pass.

In The Guardian Robin Denselow praised the honesty of Dury’s songwriting, saying that the singer “has refined (if one can use such a word of Dury) his early style into a remarkable, distinctively London-orientated blend of cockney music hall, rock, and Bowie-style electronics. This is mixed, with no nonsense and no frills, with a set of powerful, forthright and honest lyrics that will send self-consciously daring punks scurrying back to the safety of their dole queue clichés. I admire him for the way he throws himself full tilt into his emotions, using a backdrop as squalid as the worst of the East End for songs of unashamed sexuality, admiration, or hate. The tribute songs – straight and never mawkish – are to Gene Vincent and to Dury’s father, and equally honest are the demented, stream of consciousness tirades.ad

On a side note, I really rather miss the old music papers. I’d often buy Sounds or Melody Maker and occasionally NME as well. In pre-internet times it was one of the only ways to get any information on new or old music and about gigs, also, the writing was often more considered and better written than we find nowadays, even though I didn’t always agree with it all.

This brings me not at all neatly to the two top ten singles and what is going on with ‘Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll’, well, it wasn’t on the original album but appeared as the first track on side two of early repressings of the album, including a gold vinyl pressing in 1978, but was not credited on the sleeve or label, presumably so the sleeve and label didn’t have to be re-done. Interestingly, it was originally released in August 1997 but deleted after only two months having sold only 19,000 copies, that would get you in the charts nowadays.

‘What A Waste’ was released in April 1978 and peaked at number 9 in the UK charts with ‘Hit me with your rhythm stick’ being released in September 1978 and hit the number 1 spot. Dury had a policy of not including singles on albums at the time but I don’t know if these were held back from the album, weren’t finished in time or didn’t seem to fit. Regardless, they aren’t on there.

I remember back in 1978 being at my Dad’s girlfriends house (now my step-mum) and I did a full miming rendition of ‘Rhythm Stick’ including much jumping about and pretending to have a walking stick. It must have been cringengly embarrassing for anybody watching, but I was 11 and was enjoying myself thoroughly.  ‘Rhythm Stick’ is, in my opinion, one of the greatest pop singles ever released, in any era.

ian_dury_the_blockheads-hit_me_with_your_rhythm_stick_s_3

Of course, one of the key things about Ian Dury & The Blockheads were the lyrics, Dury used to have reams of paper covered in lyrics that he whittled down into individual songs, but also how tight The Blockheads were, the guitar solo from ‘Rhythm Stick’ is still one of my favourites. Lyrics wise though, I prefer ‘What A Waste’, it’s poetry:

What a Waste

Ian Dury & The Blockheads

 

I could be the driver an articulated lorry
I could be a poet I wouldn’t need to worry
I could be a teacher in a classroom full of scholars
I could be the sergeant in a squadron full of wallahs
What a waste
Because I chose to play the fool in a six-piece band,
First-night nerves every one-night stand.
I should be glad to be so inclined.
What a waste! What a waste!
But I don’t mind.
I could be a lawyer with strategems and ruses
I could be a doctor with poultices and bruises
I could be a writer with a growing reputation
I could be the ticket man at Fulham Broadway Station
What a waste
Because I chose to play the fool in a six-piece band,
First-night nerves every one-night stand.
I should be glad to be so inclined.
What a waste! What a waste!
But I don’t mind.
I could be the catalyst that sparks the revolution
I could be an inmate in a long-term institution
I could dream to wide extremes, I could do or die
I could yawn and be withdrawn and watch the world go by
What a waste
Because I chose to play the fool in a six-piece band,
First-night nerves every one-night stand.
I should be glad to be so inclined.
What a waste! What a waste!
But I don’t mind.

Do It Yourself (9.5)

ian-dury-and-the-blockheads-do-it-yourself-3-cd

There are a ridiculously large number of different covers for ‘Do it Yourself’, somewhere around 34, although nobody seems to be absolutely sure. Do It Yourself was released on 18 May 1979 and the sleeve variations were part of a huge publicity stunt: Stiff Records initially released the album with at least 31 sleeves, each one a different Crown Wallpaper design. Crown also wallpapered all of the sets for the Blockheads’ subsequent promotional tour. The sleeves greatly helped sales and there were reports of fans travelling to different towns and even importing more sleeves that were released abroad; in addition. various badges, combs, watches, paint brushes and wallpaper ties were distributed, mostly the creations of designer Barney Bubbles, who also created the Blockheads’ ‘clockface’ logo.

the_blockheads_logo

There are folk who have collected all the covers, which is a hell of a task and, to be honest, a little bit mad as it is only the covers that are different. I am not one of these people but whoever took the photograph below is:

idealhome_35

The cover at the front, quite by coincidence, is the version I have, which is handy. So ‘Do It Yourself’, well, again we have a single that isn’t on the album, this one being ‘Reasons to be cheerful pt.3’, which is a brilliant track and was a top ten hit. The album sold 200,000 copies and reached number 2, kept off the top spot by ABBA’s Voules-Vous, a fine pop album of its time but I think history would have prefered ‘Do It Yourself’ to have taken the top spot. Sometimes history isn’t cool.

Tracklist

A1 Inbetweenies 5:16
A2 Quiet 3:33
A3 Don’t Ask Me 3:16
A4 Sink My Boats 4:13
A5 Waiting For Your Taxi 2:51
B1 This Is What We Find 4:10
B2 Uneasy Sunny Day Hotsy Totsy 2:09
B3 Mischief 3:35
B4 Dance For The Screamers 6:35
B5 Lullaby For Francies 4:58

There were some calls for ‘Rhythm Stick’ to be included on this album and for ‘Inbetweenies’ to be released as a single, but the lack of singles didn’t seem to do it any harm from a sales perspective. Listening to it again today, immediately after ‘New Boots & Panties’, I think you can feel the connection between them, with several of the tracks started during the sessions for the first album and the album being recorded in the same studio, though the production is a little ‘softer’, the tracks themselves are a logical progression.

3029270034-2
Because there were no singles from. the album there are no videos, but there is the one below of ‘Inbetweenies’ that somebody made showing several of the covers, photos and memorabeelia.

and here is a live version of ‘This is what we find’:

As an album it is another corker, perhaps it is actually better to not have the singles on the albums, particularly now as I know them exactly as they are and when you listen to an album a lot the sequence of the tracks becomes really important, putting another track in there where before there was something else would make it seem, almost, unauthentic.

Favourite lyrics? Well it’s these for me, they remind me of school days when we were immortal and didn’t give a shit;

MISCHIEF

Popeye Pearce is pimple, Laurence Smith is hard
Ricky loves a kicking and he wants to join the guards
Barry breaks the windows of his broken home
Have a guess. His tiny mind’s been scarred

Lionel touches women when they’re walking through the park
He goes in people’s gardens nicking laundry in the dark
Roger left a sleeper across the District Line
His dad’s a shipping clerk

Boys let’s have a laugh
Let’s have some mischief

Fill a Durex full of water
And throw it on a bus – that would be mischief
Take a pigeon to the pictures
Let’s cause a bit of fuss – a bit of mischief
Let’s go bloody raving mad
Let’s do something really bad
They won’t forget the day you had
Some mischief

Jack and Stan are tossing pals like monkeys in the zoo
When they got caught by Gonad Gibbs they had to wank him too
Incentive didn’t want two of Dave – Get it?
He failed his interview (failed his interview) – Oh yeah?

She’s got crinkly hair
Underneath her underwear
I know because I’ve been there

(Anticipation, anticipate)

Wow!
Wow!

Don’t let’s hang about
Let’s have some mischief

Here, pour locking fluid on a Bentley, then let down his tyres
Hahahahaha
Let’s go and kill some kiosks, start a few more fires
Could this be mischief?

Let’s go completely over the top
Let’s do the bop that just won’t stop
Let’s go and have another drop
Of mischief

I’m sorry I done it, I’m sorry I done it, I’m sorry I done it, I’m sorry I done it, I’m sorry I done it,

I’m sorry I done it, I’m sorry I done it, I’m sorry I done it, I’m sorry I done it, I’m sorry I done it,

I’m sorry I done it!, I’m sorry I done it!, I’m sorry I done it!, I’m sorry I done it!, I’m sorry I done it!

Laughter (8.0)

r-1159754-1484101153-4513-jpeg

The first album to actually have a single taken from it, although one had been released prior to the album which was left off, this was ‘I want to be straight’ which reached number 22 on the charts. The Blockheads had undergone a significant personnel change since the previous album, with Chaz Jankel, leaving in the wake of a stressful tour. Jankel’s place on guitar was taken by Wilko Johnson of Dr. Feelgood. Johnson had considered retiring from the music business until he was asked by Davey Payne and Dury, old friends from their pub rock days, to join The Blockheads. His first appearance was on the single:

Tracklist

Sueperman’s Big Sister
Pardon
Delusions Of Grandeur
Yes & No (Paula)
Dance Of The Crackpots
Over The Points
(Take Your Elbow Out Of The Soup You’re Sitting On The Chicken)
Uncoolohol
Hey, Hey, Take Me Away
Manic Depression (Jimi)
Oh Mr Peanut
Fucking Ada

The album was released on the 28th November 1980 but wasn’t well received and didn’t seem well, although the accompanying ‘Soft as a baby’s bottom’ tour was a sellout. This was the last album for record label Stiff and, in my view it is underrated. With the first two albums being pretty much classics, it was always going to be difficult to keep up the quality, particularly as Dury was an alcoholic at this point and had issues with depression, both conditions being reflected in some of the albums tracks. ‘Uncoolohol’ being about the former and ‘Manic Depression’ and ‘Fucking Ada’ about the latter.

‘Suepermans Big Sister’ was deliberately mis-spelled to avoid copyright issues with DC comics, although I would have thought that they could probably have pursued it if they really wanted to. I seem to recall that I was a little disappointed with it as a single when it was released but listening to it todays I really don’t know why as I really like it.

‘Oh Mr Peanut’, well, I have no bloody idea to be honest, Dury just seems to be having a bit of a laugh at somebody expense;

Oh, Mr. Horribleness
That’s enough of that
You’ll call me a ninny
And you’re a stupid twat

Oh, Mr. Horsebreath
Why don’t you piss right off?
Stick your finger up your nose you toff

In a later interview, Dury did admit that ‘Hey Hey, take me away’ was about the time he spent at Chailey’s Special School while stricken with polio, which clearly wasn’t a happy time.

Dury also revealed that he called the album ‘Laughter’ because he thought that doing so might cheer him up.

Let’s have a bit of ‘Dance of the crackpots as well

I like this album but it needed ‘I want to be straight’ on it to take it up above an 8.0 I think. They were difficult times for Dury and he was making things difficult for those around him, and it shows in the finished product, but as a wordsmith he’s still producing, just not quite to the highs of the previous two albums.

Ian Dury – On My Life

Part 2

Bring Back The Old Grey Whistle Test

I miss OGWT, there is nothing like it on TV today, in fact, music in general is sadly under represented on TV nowadays. BBC Four and Sky Arts have the odd programme that is worth a watch but so much is a load of talking heads being nostalgic interspersed with too short clips. MTV should re-brand itself, Music Television it is not.

OGWT was the album version of Top of the Pops. The 45’s appeared on TOTP but it was 33 1/3 on OGWT and much the better for it. The first time I ever saw the show was in the Seventies, when presented by ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris, who it is fair to say, had difficulties with the punk scene around 1977 as it developed on independent label 45’s on bob_1943392cnot on the major labels, and not albums. He left in 1978, or was more likely moved on, to be replaced by Annie Nightingale, who I thought did a marvellous job of presenting the show. Not so her replacements though. From 1982 the show was presented variously by  Andy Kershaw, David Hepworth, Mark Ellen and Richard Skinner but I never really took to them. Not that there was anything I could put my finger on about them exactly, I think it was more to do with it being different from what I had first seen and I never really got used to it.

There were some amazing performances on this show, the sort of thing you couldn’t really see anywhere else at the time. I put the following forward as an example (and don’t forget, there were only 3 TV channels available in 1973):

Where else could you see this? I would suggest nowhere. I had a look at a 1973 top 30 chart run down, 29 white acts and the Detroit Spinners at number 10 (Gary glitter was number 1, oh dear) and not just that, the style of music wasn’t really represented either, along with others. Here’s the chart run down which you can see for yourself if you like:

Although unless you are already immune to the cheesiness of Tony Blackburn it might be better not to watch it.

There is a huge amount of music out there currently which is massively under represented. I know we have youtube and other places to view things now, but I have always liked a show, properly structured, along the lines of ..Later With Jools Holland but including some documentary and on location films. The OGWT could really fill that gap.

Here are some performances from the show that I’ve liked, not all of them, there are loads, just some:

There’s a list of who was on which show here if you are interested:

http://www.edensongs.com/recordings/setlists_3/OGWT_AllInfo.txt

#bringbackOGWT

A trip to the shops

I had no intention of buying records today, but I popped in to town and ended up getting a few things from the used crate: 

 
5 things in fact:

The Beatles – with the Beatles

Wings – Wild life

Plastic Ono Band – Plastic Ono Band

Ian Dury & the Blockheads – Laughter

The Police – Outlandos D’amour

I had the last one already but lost it at some point so this re-completes the studio albums. 

The covers are in ok condition but the vinyl looks very good. I’ll find out when I get home. 

Whats In The Bag? (2)

IMAG0451It’s 1977, and I know absolutely nothing about this album or about who the band where. It wasn’t until 1979 (I was approaching 12 years old) when ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’ appeared and I loved it immediately, and still do.  It initially came as a massive disappointment to me that it wasn’t on this album, and it isn’t on any album (unless you look at later collections or expanded editions, but back in the day, we didn’t have those) but the tracks here are fabulous, including what is probably the most well known, ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock And Roll’, which is, after all, all a brain and body needs.

IMAG0457_20150220155317899I went to see Ian Dury and the Music Students at the Oxford Apollo sometime in 1984IMAG0458 I think it was, but I never saw the Blockheads, which was a shame as the tracks from ‘4,000 weeks Holiday’, the only album Dury made with the Music Students, were pretty good but not as good as with the Blockheads. On a side note, I happen to think both the front and back cover images are brilliant.

9/10