Ian Dury and the Blockheads

March 3, 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful

One of Britain’s most loved characters from the 70’s punk scene was the likable rogue Ian Dury. Despite being handicapped at an early age with polio, he would go on to give us a string of clever music hall/punk/disco hits which would become part of our everyday language. He coined the now familiar phrases “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” and “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” and was writing great songs right up until his death in 2000 and never complained.

A warm-hearted witty geezer, this guy was the real deal, no pop star make~up needed here! Ian was a barrow boy straight out of Romford market!

Signing to the brilliant London label Stiff Records and releasing New Boots & Panties in 1977, Ian with his Dickens street~urchin image along with the best jazz/funk band in London the Blockheads was to become one of the hottest acts on the live circuit during the early punk years.

Although Ian looked like he had just escaped from a local mental home the night before, he had a lovable if demonic warped sense of humour and was in his mid ~thirties when he hit the big time unexpectedly!

In his teens he attended the Royal College of Art in London before forming the band Kilburn & The High Roads who released their one and only album on Dawn Records in 1975 called ‘Handsome’. The album is well worth finding, but it was in Chas Jankel that Ian was to find a songwriter that would lead him in the right direction to forming the Blockheads.

Hello! I’m from Essex

Every song from  their first album New Boots & Panties is a classic! and listening to some of the lyrics you know that Ian was one of the boys who put the sex in Essex! even though he was originally born in Middlesex, still tracks like ‘Billiericay Dickie’ and  ‘Plastow Patricia’ conjure up life in the urban sprawl of the Essex towns east of  Mile End station on the London underground’s District  line.

Maybe Ian is one of the most important poets that England has produced in the last 40 years with lines like I could be the ticket collector at Fulham Broadway station” and “In the deserts of Sudan and the gardens of Japan from Milan to Yucatan every woman every man“. Now stick that on your ringtones!

Ian had a string of hits singles with ‘Rhythn Stick’  ‘What A Waste’ , ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful’  and ‘I Wanna Be Straight’ but it was the spirited song ‘Spasticus Autisticus‘ released from the Polydor album ‘ Lord Upminster’ which should have been his biggest hit!. Written by Ian for the Year of the Disabled this was a war cry from Ian to all the disabled people in the world but the single was misunderstood and was banned by the BBC and received very little publicity or air~play and is an absolute gem with Sly & Robbie supplying the bass and drums on the record.

Ian’s last album ‘Mr. Love Pants’ released in 1998 and was a real return to form with the Blockheads providing the backing after some indifferent Dury releases but overall all of Ian’s seven albums are worth exploring and if you don’t explore Ian Dury’s work you will never know what a rhythm stick is!

Mind the Gap!


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