Tuesday, 12 June 2018

"The Studio Albums Collection" by IAN DURY (November 2014 Edsel 9CD Mini Box Set of Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Reasons To Be Cheerful…"

Like Nick Lowe and Kirsty MacColl – England’s Ian Dury has always been the musical underdog – beloved by devoted fans and occasionally stumbled on by newcomers. Perhaps this cool (if not too overpriced) box set will change all that. Time to get hit with that rhythm stick folks on round and skinny bottoms…

UK released November 2014 – "The Studio Albums Collection" by IAN DURY (and The Blockheads) on Edsel EDSB 4016 (Barcode 740155401634) is a 9CD Mini Box Set of Remasters that breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 - "New Boots And Panties!!" by IAN DURY (37:35 minutes):
1. Wake Up And Make Love With Me
2. Sweet Gene Vincent
3. I’m Partial To Your Abracadabra
4. My Old Man
5. Billericay Dickie
6. Clevor Trevor [Side 2]
7. If I Was A Woman
8. Blockheads
9. Plaistow Patricia
10. Blackmail Man
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album “New Boots And Panties!!” – released September 1977 in the UK on Stiff Records SEEZ 4

Disc 2 - "Do It Yourself" by IAN DURY & THE BLOCKHEADS (40:52 minutes):
1. Inbetweenies
2. Quiet
3. Don’t Ask Me
4. Sink My Boats
5. Waiting For Your Taxi
6. This Is What We Find [Side 2]
7. Uneasy Sunny Day Hotsy Totsy
8. Mischief
9. Dance Of The Screamers
10. Lullaby For Franci/Es
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album “Do It Yourself” – released May 1979 in the UK on Stiff Records SEEZ 14

Disc 3 - "Laughter" by IAN DURY & THE BLOCKHEADS (39:28 minutes):
1. Sueperman’s Big Sister
2. Pardon
3. Delusions Of Grandeur
4. Yes And No (Paula)
5. Dance Of The Crackpots
6. Over The Points
7. (Take Your Elbow Out The Soup) You’re Sitting On The Chicken [Side 2]
8. Incoolohol
9. Hey, Hey Take Me Away
10. Manic Depression (Jimi)
11. Oh Mr. Peanut
12. F***king Ada
Tracks 1 to 12 are the album “Laughter” – released November 1980 in the UK on Stiff Records SEEZ 30

Disc 4 - "Lord Upminster" by IAN DURY (38:35 minutes):
1. Funky Disco (Pops)
2. Red (Letter)
3. Girls (Watching)
4. Wait (For Me)
5. The (Body Song) [Side 2]
6. Lonely (Town)
7. Trust (Is A Must)
8. Spasticus (Autisticus)
Tracks 1 to 8 are the album “Lord Upminster”by IAN DURY – released September 1981 in the UK on Polydor POLD 5112

Disc 5 - "4,000 Weeks Holiday" by IAN DURY & THE MUSIC STUDENTS (39:47 minutes):
1. (You’re My) Inspiration
2. Friends
3. Tell Your Daddy
4. Peter The Painter
5. Ban The Bomb
6. Percy The Poet [Side 2]
7. Very Personal
8. Take Me To The Cleaners
9. The Man With No Face
10. Really Glad You Came

Disc 6 - "Apples" by IAN DURY (42:38 minutes):
1. Apples
2. Love Is All
3. Byline Browne
4. Bit Of Kit
5. Game On
6. Looking For Harry
7. England’s Glory [Side 2]
8. The Bus Driver’s Prayer
9. PC Honey
10. The Right People
11. All Those Who Say Okay
12. Riding The Outskirts Of Fantasy
Tracks 1 to 12 are the album “Apples” – released October 1989 on WEA Records WX 326

Disc 7 - “The Bus Driver’s Prayer & Other Stories” by IAN DURY (47:07 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 8 - "Mr. Love Pants" by IAN DURY & THE BLOCKHEADS (46:46 minutes):
1. Jack Shit George
2. The Passing Show
3. You’re My Baby
4. Honeysuckle Highway
5. Itinerant Child
6. Geraldine
7. Cacka Boom
8. Bed O’Roses No. 9
9. Heavy Living
10. Mash It Up Harry
Tracks 1 to 10 are the CD album “Mr. Love Pants” released July 1998 on Ronnie Harris DUR 1

Disc 9 BONUS CD by IAN DURY & THE BLOCKHEADS (48:11 minutes):
1. Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
2. Razzle In My Pocket (1 and 2 are the A&B-sides of a non-album UK 7” single released August 1977 on Stiff Records BUY 17)
3. You’re More Than Fair (non-album B-side to “Sweet Gene Vincent” – a UK 7” single released November 1977 on Stiff Records BUY 23)
4. England’s Glory (Live) (bonus track on the 1996 CD reissue of “New Boots And Panties!!”)
5. What A Waste (the A-side of a UK 7” single released April 1978 on Stiff Records BUY 27, non-album track)
6. Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick
7. There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards (tracks 6 and 7 are the A&B-sides of a UK 7” single released November 1978 on Stiff Records BUY 38, both tracks non-album, it was a UK Number 1 single)
8. Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3
9. Common As Muck (tracks 8 and 9 are the A&B-sides of a UK 7” single released July 1979 on Stiff Records BUY 50, both songs non-album)
10. Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3 [12” Version] (Euro-Only 12” Single mix on Stiff Records 12 BUY 50)
11. I Want To Be Straight
12. That’s Not All (tracks 11 and 12 are the A&B-sides of a UK 7” single released August 1980 on Stiff Records BUY 90, both tracks non-album)
13. You’ll See Glimpses (on the UK compilation LP “Jukebox Dury” released 1981 on Stiff Records SEEZ 41)

The 12-page booklet is a very basic and functionary affair – track lists, album credits and bugger all else – and the BONUS CD doesn’t even tell you what tracks are from what (I’ve put the info in above). Each of the discs have superb sound though – with remasters clearly used on the first 4 albums - and the others were well recorded anyway. Each of the card sleeves is a single with front and rear artwork copied and nothing else. John Turnbull, Davey Payne, Norman Watt-Roy, Chaz Jankel, Charley Charles and Mickey Gallagher (The Blockheads) are pictured on the last page.

Relistening to “New Boots And Panties!!” I’m brought back to bedsits where the ownership of this album seemed to be a rite of passage. So many greats tracks like the deceptively deep “My Old Man” (never home for long) and the acidic “Clevor Trevor” (just ‘cause I ain’t read Nuthin’) – you’re struck by the genius of the words and rhymes - allied with a killer rhythm section in The Blockheads. “Don’t Ask Me” is a perfect example – a catchy tune with words like “here I stand with a doughnut for a brain…” And I remember being told once there is something like 48 different wallpaper covers for the album “Do It Yourself” – I’ve certainly seen 15 or more.

Even with Dr. Feelgood’s Wilko Johnson on the plank - by the time it got to the Eighties and “Laughter” – the public was already disinterested and things only got worse despite signing to the major label Polydor with “4,000 Weeks Holiday” in 1981 and “Lord Upminster” in 1984. That isn’t to say that there aren’t nuggets like the slinky funk of “Girls (Watching)” and the difficult single Spasticus (Autisticus) – the first time I ever heard the word Autism used. A new signing to WEA say the polished “Apples” set appear in late 1989 – a fave is “Love Is All” – a duet vocal with Frances Ruffelle (“you’re not my cup of tea I fear…”). Many of the other songs are co-written with keyboard player Mickey Gallagher – some unnervingly pretty like “Looking For Harry” while Wreckless Eric puts in a witty turn on “PC Honey”.

The funk returned big time with the fab “Mr. Love Pants” as did his acid tongue. The opening track “Jack Shit George” goes after a terrible teacher with a brilliant question and answer routine – he asks the question – the band answers (“how many times were you intrigued…not many…”). There’s even Soulfulness to the tongue-in-cheek “You’re My Baby” and the ordinary love of “Geraldine” (“I’m in love with a girl in the sandwich centre…”) has rhyming couplets that will make you LOL. But it has to be said that the BONUS CD which mops up those non-album singles and B-sides may indeed outdo all the other discs - containing as it does nuggets like the extended 12” Version of “Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3” and the irrepressible Number 1 hit “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”, “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll”, “Common As Muck” and “What A Waste” – all ace and great fun into the bargain.

Never the hippest of artists but perhaps one of the most slyly articulate – Ian Dury is due a renaissance – and perhaps it begins here…

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