Ian Dury and The Blockheads
Title: New Boots and Panties
Catalogue Number: Stiff SEEZ4
Review Format: LP
Release Year: 1977
There are albums that everyone should own and "New Boots and Panties" is one of them. Ian Dury and the Blockheads are what should be classed as a national treasure on the evidence of this album. It had been a while since this one had been on the old turntable - don't really know why - but just one spin served to remind us what music used to be like. You couldn't see Ian Dury getting a deal these days (and indeed if it were not for Stiff Records, he would not have got a deal back then either).
You have to admire what you get on this album. Putting aside the truly seminal tracks like "Sweet Gene Vincent" and (on this later pressing) "Sex, drugs and Rock 'n' Roll", the dry, dark humour of songs like "Billericay Dickie" and "Clever Trevor" express the way life seemed to be for the working classes. Unpretentious as it is, you can hear that there is magic at work. Every time the needle hits the groove, a bull's eye is scored. Not a weak track in sight. Oh, and the sound. That which is digital and supposedly perfect can't match what you hear here. It just sounds so right.
The playing is faultless. The Blockheads play as a unit. Charley Charles nails the beat every time and like all the best drummers he does nothing particularly flashy. He just gets it right every time. Chaz Jankel pounds the keyboards like an old time rock 'n' roller and DaveyPayne's demented sax playing is a joy. Perhaps that is it. The music is a neatly understated support to Ian Dury's character filled vocals and there is life in his words.
Way back in time, Bluesbunny (or at least two of them, anyway) worked security at an Ian Dury and the Blockheads gig. Given the time frame, it was, of course, little short of carnage. The Blockheads were right on form. Ian Dury showed a near cataclysmic intensity in his performance and the audience did the only decent thing and made with a stage invasion. Two Bluesbunnies and four other like minded souls held it back with only truly necessary violence. Remember that back then spitting at a "punk" band was de rigueur. So was kicking the sh*t out of anyone who did the spitting. The point being, however, that these were live performances that you remember for all your life. If you were there you don't forget it. This album just brought back tons of memories. It should be on the curriculum at Colleges as the way to do it. It's big and brash with cracking songs and being born on the cusp of pub rock and punk worked to its advantage. It is a great shame that music of this calibre is so rare these days.
September 6, 2008
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