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article imageReview: Ian Dury's back catalogue to be re-released as a boxset

By Adrian Peel     Aug 25, 2014 in Music
The Chief-Blockhead's eight studio albums, from 1977's "New Boots and Panties!!" to 1998's "Mr. Love Pants," have been repackaged together in this delightful-to-look-at vinyl collection.
Perhaps best known for the UK number one "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick," as well as "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll," Ian Dury & the Blockheads, formed from the remnants of Dury's first band Kilburn & the Highroads, were one of Britain's greatest pop acts and Mr. Dury, who contacted polio at the age of seven, remains one of the most creative lyricists our little island has ever produced.
This timely reminder of his quirky, off-the-wall genius comes in vinyl and includes work released with the band and under his own name. Aside from the two records already mentioned, the other albums that make up this comprehensive package are: Do it Yourself, Laughter, Lord Upminster, 4000 Weeks’ Holiday, Apples and The Bus Driver’s Prayer And Other Stories. The CD version also contains a bonus disc of all the singles.
Kicking things off is the aforementioned New Boots and Panties, widely considered a masterpiece of late-1970s British popular music and a solid piece of work, full of witty wordplay and stunning musicianship, that still sounds fresh today. Stand out moments include "Wake Up And Make Love With Me," "Sweet Gene Vincent," "Razzle In My Pocket" and "You're More Than Fair" (the last two are bonus tracks on a later edition of the album, included here on Disc Nine of the CD version).
Do it Yourself also came before the decade was out and was the first album to credit The Blockheads, which at the time comprised of Chaz Jankel, the late Charlie Charles, Norman Watt-Roy, Mick Gallagher, John Turnbull and Davey Payne.
While not as iconic perhaps as its illustrious predecessor, it nevertheless contains a few pop gems, such as "This Is What We Find," "Dance Of The Screamers" and "Quiet."
Next, in 1980, came Laughter, the last album Dury made with his famous backing band until 1998. Notable for featuring Wilko Johnson on guitar and backing vocals, highlights included: "Dance Of The Crackpots," the groovy "Uncoolohol" and the anthemic "
Fucking Ada."
Lord Upminster, released in 1981, was slightly disappointing (when compared to what had gone before) and was made up of only eight tracks. It did contain the brilliant but controversial "Spasticus Autisticus" (memorably used in the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Paralympics), however, and renowned reggae duo Sly & Robbie were also brought in to lend a hand.
Three years after Lord Upminster, Dury put out 4000 Weeks' Holiday, possibly his least impressive work up until that point. That said, it did have its moments, most notably: "Percy The Poet" and "Very Personal."
In 1989, Apples fared quite a lot better than its predeccesor and its breezy title track shone, as did "England's Glory" (both of these songs had actually been written while the larger-than-life singer-songwriter-poet-actor was still with Kilburn & the Highroads).
"Love Is All," "Game On," (both amusing duets with the lovely Frances Ruffelle) and "PC Honey" are also worth mentioning.
The artist's first album of the '90s was 1992's The Bus Driver's Prayer & Other Stories and it is often considered something of a return to form. This time around, I would say "Poor Joey," "Poo-Poo In The Prawn" and "Bus Driver's Prayer" are among my favourites.
Finally, comes 1998's remarkable Mr. Love Pants, an album with a cover designed by the late, great Storm Thorgerson, that I would consider to be a 'full-on' return to form and the last that the sadly-missed star, whose life story was later turned into a film featuring Andy Serkis in the title role, would release in his lifetime. It was also the first time he had worked with The Blockheads in 18 years.
Packed full of wonderful moments, if I had to choose four, it would be: "Jack Shit George," "Itinerant Child," the wistful "Bed O' Roses No. 9" and "
Mash It Up Harry."
Ian Dury passed away on the 27th of March 2000, at the age of 57, after a four-year battle with cancer. This boxset is a welcome and very worthy tribute to the talents of a man who, 14 years after his death, remains an inspiration to many and who was truly one of a kind.
Ian Dury: The Vinyl Collection will be out on October 27th on Edsel Records.
For more information, visit his official website.
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