During it’s fetid late 70s heyday the US may have had mutant disco masterminds like James Chance or Cristina, but the UK had it’s own homegrown funk punk, the late Ian Dury and The Blockheads. The man himself was a triumph of adversity. Contracting polio from a swimming pool at the age of 7, Ian was left crippled. He was then relegated to a bleak British disability hospital but rather than marinate in self pity, his condition and environment would toughen him up. Something of a whiz in high school he would dropout early (with high marks) to go into art school. From there he went on to be an illustrator for UK Sunday Times as well as being a part time art teacher.
Not really satisfied with that life either he eventually found his calling in the tried and true panacea of “sex & drugs & rock & roll“. After various fits and starts during the early 70s Dury found purchase, as Ian Dury and the Blockheads, in the burgeoning punk scene. However unlike his 3 chord colleagues, Dury drew from the influences of his bandmates (including the incandescent Chaz Jenkel, watch for a future VG post) taking punks’s snarling energy and attitude and infusing it with disco, jazz, reggae, whatever he could grab hold to to come up with something unique. All packaged up in fancy Barney Bubbles designed sleeves, musical results included UK hits like Spasticus Autisticus, Reasons To Be Cheerful and today’s cover canapé, Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick. Kept at bay in a #2 slot by the Village Peoples’ YMCA, it would eventually squeak past to become a #1 in January 1979. While Ian kept himself busy for 20 plus years with a steady diet of making music, touring as well as acting ( with bit parts in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, the original Judge Dredd and others) he would eventually succumb to cancer in 2000. On that note if you haven’t had a chance see the Ian Dury biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll with one of my fave character actors Andy Serkis (AKA Golem AKA King Kong AKA Caesar from Planet of the Apes AKA John D’Auban), throw it to the top of your Netflix queue.
Ian Dury’s legacy lives on, not in the least of which is musical tributes.
Today we got not one, but two ,female leads taking control of Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick.
Fiirst is Telonious (from infallibale Gomma imprint) with and electro-disco cover and hot on the high heels is a fun lounge-y version courtesy of Brazil’s answer to Nouvelle Vague, Pastel Vespa.
PS Blockheads of Thee Versions Galore Facebook Fan Club, got orginal and a re-edit on the wall for ya…