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Reasons To Be Cheerful: The Very Best Of Ian Dury & The Blockheads - Ian Dury

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Genre: Rock - Classic Rock / Artist: Ian Dury / Audio CD released 1999-10-01 at Papillon

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      08.11.2010 20:04
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      greatest His from the wordsmith of punk

      Watching the recent film "Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll" chronicling the life and works of the late, great Ian Dury I was struck by two things. One was what an unlikely pop star he really was and secondly how g ood his fusion of punk, rock, and roll reggae, funk and a dash of music hall really was. It made me dig out my dancing shoes and my copy of "Reasons to Be Cheerful: the Very Best of Ian Dury & the Blockheads ". He has had a number of greatest hits compilations mostly released post posthumously after his death from bowel cancer aged 57 in 2000. My version was released in 1999 just before his death and is a one CD compilation containing 18 tracks.

      "ITS NICE TO BE A LUNATIC"

      Ian Dury was born in 1942 making him older than most pop stars when he hit the big time with his band the Blockheads in 1978. Dury was also an unlikely pop star due to being a raspberry ripple (cripple, his words not mine) having contracted polio as a child leaving him with a withered arm and leg. Despite this Ian Dury and the Blokheads scored a number of hits including a number one with "Hit me With Your Rhythm Stick" in January 1979.

      "REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL PART 3"

      Although classed as New Wave coming from the late 70s and early 80s the music is far more complex with Dury bringing together assorted influences. The greatest hits have a liberal dose of funk and a bit of disco with strong bass lines, guitar and organ riffs that are really groovy. There's even a bit of a cow bell on "Reason's to be Cheerful Part 3" whilst the piano is is particularly infectious on "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" . Other songs such as "Lullaby For Francis" and "Mash it Up Harry" have far more of a reggae influence to them. Mixed in there's traditional rock and roll (Sweet Gene Vincent") and heading even further back to Edwardian music hall and vaudeville in tracks such as "Billericay Dickie" and "There Ain't Half Been Some Clever Bastards" which has a real Noel coward feel to it and not unlike what Neil Hannont of he Divine Comedy is doing nowadays.


      The album has all the big hits that are obligatory for a good compilation. "Reason's To be Cheerful Part 3" is your original list song long before Billy Joel "Didn't Start the Fire". Its just such a joyful song with the cow bell and whistles chiming whilst the Blockhards chant "Why don't You Get Back into Bed" On top of this Dury recites s a cascade of random phrases, places and people with everything from "Buddy Holly, porridge oats and saying Okay dokay" Its the punk funk version of "These are my Favorite Things" from the "Sound of Music" and is sheer genius.

      My introduction to Ian Dury was, as a child an older friend playing " Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" . Its a song that has mass appeal and works on many levels. It has a real nonsensical feel to it which reminds me slightly of a "Goons" song complete with nonsense lyrics "Eskimo, Arapaho move their bodies to and fro" combined with lyrics in German and French, Ian the showman is particularly evident there with his extremely theatrical delivery of the song

      It is said Dury coined the phrase !"Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll " in one of his best know hits. Its a funky little number that reminds me a little bit of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" but its my least favourite of the big hits , as it seems less theatrical and the lyrics are not as memorable.


      Dury introduces us to a veritable feast of tales of Essex lads and lasses in his character songs such as Clever Trevor" Billieicay Dickie" This is What We Find" and "Mash it Up Harry . These songs borrow a lot from the Music Hall tradition with their again clever (however whatever Trevor") rhymes and use of bawdy humour, innuendo and double entendre which would not be out of place in a Carry On film or sit com of that era. Billericy Dicke's antics with Nina in the Cortina ,Sandy randy on brandy and Thanet Janet "bruising her Pomegranate " are just superb.

      "Mash it Up Harry" is about the prim potato like office worker " who wants a bit of Wembley up his Ponder's End" is perhaps a lesser known song. However I have a fondness for this reggae influenced number ending with an unexpected football chant.

      "I come awake with the gift for woman kind"

      Starting with a piano riff similar to the contemporary "I Don't Like Mondays" "Wake Up and Male Love to Me" bursts into a disco tinged number about a gentleman's desire for carnal pleasure due to is morning glory. There's a real early morning vibe with Dury's vocals soft and intimate. I always chuckle at his pronunciation of body in this song. Despite being about such an intimate subject its not that smutty more sensual with lyrics such as a "proper wriggle In the naughty naked nude " and "What happens next is private. It's also very rude"

      Dury could do poignant and beauty when he wanted "Sweet Gene Vincent" is a tribute to his hero. The first part is sweetly slowly sung until the tempo changes completely. turning the song into a full on old fashioned rock and roll song with a boogie woogie piano reminiscent of something by Jerry Lee Lewis Elsewhere on the CD Dury plays tribute to his bus driver turned chauffeur Father William Dury . Following on from this is the delicate little reggae tinged l"Lullaby for Francis" again with Dury singing and softly bringing the CD to a gentle end.

      "HELLO TO YOU OUT THERE IN NORMAL LAND"

      Perhaps the most controversial song on this collection is the 1981 hit Spastacus Astisticus.. The song written as a protest to 1981 being the International Year of the Disabled Person was banned by the BBC, as it was deemed offensive due to the use of the word spastic. The song is a response top the patronsisng attitudes of people when it comes to disabilities with lyrics such as "So place your hard-earned peanuts in my tin, And thank the Creator you're not in the state I'm in" ending with a parody of the film Spartacus .

      WHAT A WASYE

      Inevitably there are always weak links that you just skip over. Inherent Child has a great Hammond Organ riff and is about a gypsy life and the troubles they lead . The lyrics are pretty funny with descriptions of "long haired children and one eyed dogs" (well until th dog's neck is broken). Its a fairly political song but it lacks the zest of some of the other songs on the compilation. Blockheads is more a straight forward raucous punk rock number with shouted rather than spoken vocals that i find just a bit too noisy . "In Betweens" is another slice of disco tinged funk that just does not seem to go anywhere with less of the flair, great lyrics or theatrics that characterises Dury's work.

      Ian Dury was certainly one of pop's more colourful characters and we have lost a showman and a poet. Although not perfect I would recommend "Reasons To Be Cheerful" as a goo introduction and retrospective to the great man's career with the Blockheads. .

      I can't remember how much I paid for this CD. It not in production anymore but you can pick it up on Amazon or Ebay fairly reasonably.

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      • More +
        06.03.2010 23:43
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        5 stars. A great compilation

        Ian Dury was born in London in 1942, at the age of 7 he contracted polio and spent some time in Chailey special school for disabled children before moving onto High Wicombe Royal Grammar School, it was here where he developed his interest in art and eventually studied art under Peter Blake at the Royal College of Art.

        Ian Dury formed his first band Kilburn and the high Roads in 1970, they became very popular amongst the London "pub rock" scene and influenced the UK 1977 punk explosion, the band released two LPs and a couple of singles. After numerous line up changes, The Kilburn's eventually became the Blockheads and Ian Dury released his first LP "New Boots And Panties" in 1977.

        This CD documents Ian Durys career from "New Boots" right up to his last LP "Mr Love Pants". the track listing is

        1. Reasons To Be Cheerful
        2. Wake Up And Make Love With Me
        3. Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick
        4. Clevor Trevor
        5. What A Waste
        6. Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll
        7. This Is What We Find
        8. Itinerant Child
        9. Sweet Gene Vincent
        10. I Want To Be Straight
        11. Blockheads
        12. Mash It Up Harry
        13. There Ain't Half Been Some Clever Bastards
        14. Billericay Dickie
        15. Inbetweenies
        16. Spasticus (Autisticus)
        17. My Old Man
        18. Lullaby For Francis

        The title track of this compliation "Reasons To Be Cheerful (part 3)"was a top 3 UK hit for the band and is a classic slice of funk which the Blockheads play so well, there is an awesome guitar solo in this by John Turnbull. Ian's lyrics are like a shopping list of "reasons" and showcases some of his excellent command of the english language and colloquialisms; the song title itself has become part of the english language as well as "Sex And Drugs And Rock N Roll".

        There are a few songs on here off Ian Dury's first LP which although isnt credited to The Blockheads, most of them play on it. "Wake Up And Make Love With Me" was also the b side to "What A Waste" and opening track off "New Boots And Panties", there's some great keyboards on this song and of course great lyrics. Another early favourite is "Clevor Trevor" (note the miss-spelling!) it is a slow paced song off Ian's first LP and contains one of my favourite Ian Dury lines "it takes a lot longer to get up north...the slow way".

        The song "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" is without doubt the bands most popular, it was number one in the UK charts in 1979. It was this first song which got me into Ian Dury, the song has a very funky feel about it and a superb saxaphone solo by Davey Payne.

        Another well known and successful song is "What A Waste" This song was a single released in 1978, in the lyrics Dury questions his life and what else he could have been instead of "the singer in a six piece band".

        Ian Dury was very outspoken; his song "Spasticus Autisticus" is deliberately provocative and was denied airplay by the BBC. The song was considered to be in bad taste even though the writer was himself disabled.

        Ian Dury was one of a kind, he was a true English legend and he is sadly missed. He influenced many bands (most notably Madness), I am so glad that I managed to see him live supporting Madness in 1992, I remember John Lydon joined him onstage for "Sex and Drugs and Rock N Roll" which was great.

        This CD contains a good span of Ian Dury's career, but there are many gaps and I can think of many other songs that could have been included, that said it is an excellent collection of some of his most successful moments and a worthy starting point to anyone not familiar with Ian Dury.

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          30.12.2008 10:22
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          Ian Dury, best of.

          Ian Dury & The Blockheads

          Reasons to be Cheerful:
          The very best of Ian Dury & The Blockheads

          1999 Release. Important, as there are two 'versions' of 'Reasons to be Cheerful', one subtitled 'The Best of' and the other (this one) subtitled 'The Very Best of Ian Dury & The Blockheads'. This is by far the better version.

          Ian Dury died in 2000, this album was released just a year before his death and seems a fitting epitaph to an Icon of the British Punk scene.

          Though to say he was simply 'punk' negates his rock n roll influences as seen in 'Sweet Gene Vincent' or his poetic lyrical style, which to me, puts him alongside John Cooper Clark as one of Britain's finest.

          He was also a fine artist, having been a student at the Royal College of Art, however this is not a review of Ian Dury, or the Blockheads, but of this album.

          I could genuinely write reams about most of these songs and almost any one alone would have encouraged me to buy the CD, which can be got around a fiver on Amazon, but I suspect 3000 words plus would not go down to well on this site so I will stick to a few 'best of best'.


          ~~~Highlights~~~

          ~Reasons to be cheerful (pt 3)~
          This is without doubt one of the most memorable and commercial of Dury's hits and for good reason. A fusion of styles incorporating an almost rap style, before rap was popular. Bongos, whistles and a saxophone (tenor) to die for.

          Lyrically it is sublime with Dury clearly letting rip about all his favourite things, no pun intended on his managing to mention 'John Coltrane Soprano'. This song defies genre, defies time and zeitgeist, quite honestly it is brilliant and always makes me cheerful.

          ~Hit me with your Rhythm Stick~
          Another commercial success and very catchy as a song, the lyrics and meaning are perfect, musical is Universal and he portrays this with not only talking about different geographical areas, but throwing in the odd non English phrase.

          Great honky tonk piano going on in the background, and the customary use of sax. You just have to love this.

          ~Sweet Gene Vincent~
          Dury's homage to one of the unsung stars of rock n roll. A wonderfully dark yet in the same way, uplifting song.

          We get to hear that Dury is more than just sarcastic and angry, or daft and bonkers, the two extremes often associated with him. I am not a fan of rock n roll much, but this is a powerful song, evocative of his passions, his youth and his influences. Not a great commercial success, I love this song all the more because of that. It almost makes me want to listen to early rock n roll.


          ~Spasticus (Autisticus)~
          One could not mention Ian Dury without including this track. Dury was himself disabled from childhood polio and to pen a song (in the International year of the Disabled) that was absolutely stark and in your face did him no favours commercially.

          Yet, the fact that he did this increased debate, which ironically is exactly what he wanted. Some people loved it, some hated it. The BBC actually banned it, which was the supreme irony. A hard hitting song about the disabled, written by a disabled man, got banned by the able bodied (in his view) BBC.

          The whole point of the song was to stand up and be counted......Remember "I'm Spartacus?" This mans' genius shines in this song.

          I could go on about 'Clevor Trevor' and 'Billericay Dickie' too as evocative of my East London/Essex upbringing, both great songs, but methinks, time to stop, lol.

          ~~~Finally~~~

          Ian Dury was a poet, an artist, a songwriter, a singer and ever so underrated, which is a real shame. Clearly The Blockheads are incredibly talented too and we should not forget that musically, as well as lyrically, the songs on this album are fantastic.

          To me there are no 'weak links' on this album and there are some outstanding pieces of social commentary put to song.

          Not only that, this album, and the songs on it have stood the test of time and still have me leaping about singing (or what loosely passes as singing) at the top of my voice. A classic album in my opinion.


          ~~~Track Listing~~~

          1. Reasons To Be Cheerful
          2. Wake Up And Make Love With Me
          3. Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick
          4. Clevor Trevor
          5. What A Waste
          6. Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll
          7. This Is What We Find
          8. Itinerant Child
          9. Sweet Gene Vincent
          10. I Want To Be Straight
          11. Blockheads
          12. Mash It Up Harry
          13. There Ain't Half Been Some Clever Bastards
          14. Billericay Dickie
          15. Inbetweenies
          16. Spasticus (Autisticus)
          17. My Old Man
          18. Lullaby For Francis

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        • Product Details

          Disc #1 Tracklisting
          1 Reasons To Be Cheerful
          2 Wake Up And Make Love With Me
          3 Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick
          4 Clevor Trevor
          5 What A Waste
          6 Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll
          7 This Is What We Find
          8 Itinerant Child
          9 Sweet Gene Vincent
          10 I Want To Be Straight
          11 Blockheads
          12 Mash It Up Harry
          13 There Ain't Half Been Some Clever Bastards
          14 Billericay Dickie
          15 Inbetweenies
          16 Spasticus (Autisticus)
          17 My Old Man
          18 Lullaby For Francis