Thursday, 31 May 2018

"The Bus Driver's Prayer And Other Stories" by IAN DURY and THE BLOCKHEADS (March 2015 Edsel 'Deluxe Edition Hardback Casebound Book' Packaging) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Poo-Poo In The Prawn..."

Edsel of the UK have reissued six of Ian Dury’s albums in these 2015 Deluxe Edition Hardback Casebound sets – and natty looking things they are too. Here are the reasons to be cheerful...

UK released 2 March 2015 – "The Bus Driver's Prayer & Other Stories" by IAN DURY and THE BLOCKHEADS on Edsel EDSK 7083 (Barcode 740155708337) is a Limited Edition 2CD 'Deluxe Edition Hardback Casebound Book' packaging and pans out as follows:

Disc 1 (47:04 minutes):
1. That’s Enough Of That
2. Bill Haley’s Last Words
3. Poor Joey
4. Quick Quick Slow
5. Fly In The Ointment
6. O’Donegal
7. Poo-Poo In The Prawn
8. London Talking
9. Have A Word
10. D’Orine The Cow
11. Your Horoscope
12. No Such Thing As Love
13. Two Old Dogs Without A Name
14. The Bus Driver’s Prayer
Tracks 1 to 14 are the CD album “The Bus Driver’s Prayer & Other Stories” – released November 1992 in the UK on Demon Records FIEND CD 702

Disc 2 (36:21 minutes)
1. Amerlind
2. I Believe
3. Cowboys
4. One Love
5. Grape And Grain
6. The Writer
7. Whale
8. Itinerant Child

The 26-page booklet inside the hardback casebound cover features full annotation by known expert WILL BIRCH (done in 2004), lyrics to all the songs (including the outtakes/demos), unpublished photos, repros of his handwritten ‘5 poems’, original artwork and so on. These are the 2004 Edsel remasters done at Alchemy Mastering and they sound amazing while all of Disc 2 was Previously Unreleased at the time.

The glory days of Number 1 singles (“Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” in 1978) and Number 2 LPs (“Do It Yourself” in 1979) were long past for IAN DURY by the time 1992’s reunion with Mickey Gallagher, Chaz Jankel, Davey Payne and John Turnball (The Blockheads) took place. Not that the public seemed to notice nor care. The original Demon album didn’t even crack the top 50 and it would be 1998 with “Mr. Love Pants” before Dury would see chart action again. But as expert/fan Will Birch argues (he wrote the liners notes) – “The Bus Driver’s Prayer & Other Stories” is a bit of an overlooked gem in a catalogue of witty winners.

While both openers “That’s Enough Of That” and “Bill Haley’s Last Words” gamely struggle to capture that “New Boots And Panties!!” magic – it’s not until “Poor Joey” comes along (a song about the most typical caged bird in the world – the budgie) that we get Dury’s genius for brilliant words fronting a happy-go-lucky tune. “Old mother nature’s left me right in the lurch...” he drones in that deadpan way of his as one of The Blockheads punctuates the tune with his best strangled Budgerigar voice - “Hello!” My other crave is the fabulously titled “Poo-Poo In The Prawn” – where “if you go swimming in the’ll get worse than dermatitis...” where he waxes lyrical about all manner of turds coming at you through the plumbing and the briny. The lure of Ireland’s beautiful Donegal County floats rather prettily throughout  “O’Donegal” where you will feel a need to holiday in Ireland right quick. Back to home ground and the “rent book/laundry” reality of “London Talking” where paying bills occupies your mind and a Chelsea Bun seems like a good way to soften the depression. It ends on the one-minute “Bus Driver’s Prayer” where he takes the Lord’s Prayer and substitutes every famous line to fit bus destinations like Kingston, Wimbledon and Ealing (short but so damn clever).

But what’s genuinely shocking is the quality of the eight cuts that didn’t make the album – fully finished songs (beautifully produced). To my ears both “Amerlind” and “I Believe” are better than some tracks that made the album. Maybe stuff like “Cowboys” and “The Writer” with their distinctive keyboard sounds was deemed to be too lightweight – but I listen to them more than the CD cuts – and the sheer melody/lyrical power of the quietly-moving and hopeful “Itinerant Child” is just plain brilliant (play this beauty a lot).

“I think my eyes were blurred with tears...” - our Ian sang on “Itinerant Child”. And many of us felt the same way when he sadly passed away in 2000. Take a chance on his genius with this wicked looking casebound reissue...there’s joy in them there hardbacks...

PS: the IAN DURY March 2015 Deluxe Edition Hardback Casebound CD Reissues on Edsel are:
1. New Boots And Panties!! (Edsel EDSK 7080, 2CDs – Barcode 740155708030)
2. Do It Yourself (Edsel EDSK 7081, 2CDs – Barcode 740155708139)
3. Laughter (Edsel EDSK 7082, 2CDs – Barcode 740155708238)
4. The Bus Driver's Prayer (Edsel EDSK 7083, 2CDs – Barcode 740155708337)
5. Mr. Love Pants (Edsel EDSA 5034, 1CD, Barcode 740155503437)
6. Warts 'N' Audience [Live] (Edsel 5035, 1CD, Barcode 74015550536)

PPS: Amazon lump all the 2004 and 2015 reviews together in the one place (a nasty habit of theirs) – so if you want the Hardback Book Edition I’ve just reviewed from 2015 – make sure to use the Barcode I’ve provided above to get the right issue...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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