Gone But Not Forgotten #2: Ian Dury

‘Music Hall Punk’; that’s the title of today’s playlist and it suits Ian Dury very well. After the Kilburn and the High Roads pub-rock years, new wave came along at the right time for the renaissance man.

Lyricist, author, actor, raconteur; Dury was a man of the arts and given the hand which life dealt him, he made the most of his talents in ways which put most of us to shame.

His life was depicted in the well-received film Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll, with Andy Serkis playing the lead role. The song itself had been banned by the BBC, although DJs such as John Peel played the b-side, The Razzle in my Pocket.

Like most, my first encounter with Ian Dury and the Blockheads was via Top of the Pops. On stage with the Blockheads in May ’78 with What A Waste. His suffering with polio wasn’t known at that point and watching a video of it again, camera angles appear to be used initially to disguise the disability the disease left.

The albums New Boots and Panties and Do It Yourself were unusual for not including singles on them, certainly on the original releases. I think that’s what makes them such a joy; the only guarantee you had was they wouldn’t be dull with a wide range of musical genres covered and some excellent lyrics. If you haven’t heard Plaistow Patricia before, it is the ultimate opening to any song of any era.

That genius didn’t falter toward the end, even if the hits had dried up. I doubt he cared that much, so long as he was earning a living and providing for his family. He’d been a minor star of stage and screen, while going up in my estimation for rejecting the chance to work with Andrew Lloyd Webber. Anyone who has no bones about calling the chinless wonder a “w*nker” in interviews is fine by my book. And Dury was right; Richard Stilgoe is crap.

Jools Holland and Suggs arranged this tribute to Dury’s genius on the album Small World, Big Band.

Some of his most outstanding work came in the latter years but not all of it is on Spotify so can’t be included. A shame really; rare musical originiality shouldn’t be hidden. Enjoy.

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