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Music Review

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The Stiff Recordings (1977-1980)
(2018 Coloured Vinyl Reissue)


Artist: Ian Dury and the Blockheads
Label: Demon Records
Release Date: 30 November 2018

Ian Dury was one of the UK’s most iconic singer-songwriters of the 1970s and 1980s, and with the Blockheads achieved cult success after a strong of classic albums and singles. The Stiff Recordings vinyl box set contains the three albums recorded between 1977 and 1980, widely regarded as Ian’s classic period. The box includes New Boots and Panties!!, Do It Yourself and Laughter. The collection also includes a bonus 4th LP including non-album singles 'Hit me With Your Rhythm Stick', 'Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll' and 'Reason’s To Be Cheerful Part 3'. All four LPs are pressed on coloured 180gm translucent coloured vinyl...

Ian Dury was a performer who divided the masses right down the middle. Like Marmite, you either loved him or hated him. While he couldn't really hold a tune, his career was built on being a showman, a cheeky, outrageous rebel sticking it to authority with his naughty lyrics and punky attitude.

I was a little too young to appreciate The Blockheads's output in the '70s and only know Dury's music from the '80s, so the majority of these songs were totally new to me. One thing is clear, diversity and a huge amount of tongue in cheek were instrumental in keeping the band in the public eye. His lyrics, designed to shock, will still raise an eyebrow over 40 years since they were originally recorded. They will also bring a smile to the face of anyone with a sense of humour. Outrageous and pushing the boundaries of the time, the lyrics are just as funny now.

Notable bizarre lyrics include a description of wiping a dog's behind and Harold Hill sanding of another man's "winkle with his Black & Decker Drill" ('This is What We Find'); and the Thomas the Tank Engine spoof 'Over the Points'. There's plenty of swearing, some of which still packs a punch today.

It's the earliest album, New Boots and Panties!!, where the real gems are, including 'My Old Man', 'Billericay Dickie' and 'Blockheads'.

The fourth LP brought back memories from my teenage years, and I was surprised to discover that the production on each song is pretty timeless. This could have been recorded in the '60s, this morning or 30 years from now.

The album contains 45 songs (2 hrs, 46 min, 08 sec) and is lovingly presented on different coloured vinyl. If you fondly remember owning these in the dim and distant past then this is an essential purchase. And it, like me, you only know a handful of Blockheads songs, you might find this to be an amusing and enjoyable collection of true original songs - the likes of which have never been repeated. My one complaint? Why wasn't 'Spasticus Autisticus' included?


Nick Smithson

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