Produced by Peter Jenner, Laurie Latham and Rick Walton
Label – Stiff
It’s quite possible that without the explosive shift away from tired conservative musical tastes and the rise of punk rock, acts like Ian Dury would have never found the inquisitive audience he and his backing band (The Blockheads) deserved. Indeed, the singer songwriter was a veteran of the London pub rock scene and his previous band, Kilburn & The High Roads had received modest attention since their formation seven years previously. His decision to turn solo was a necessary and brave move, particularly considering that major labels wouldn’t touch his brand of bawdy humour and industrial language with a barge pole. Only Dave Robinson and Jake Rivera’s Stiff Records understood the potential, with a brand built around the London pub scene, and links to established acts like Dr. Feelgood, Brinsley Schwarz and Elvis Costello. Whilst punk gave veterans like Dury a shoe in, his music bore only vague similarities, and his influences and styling were unique in comparison. Weaned on music hall comedy, “Carry On” sexual innuendo and his rock n’ roll idol Gene Vincent, his observations on oddball cockney characters bore many similarities with the witticisms of Ray Davies from ten years previously. His backing band, The Blockheads were a talented, versatile bunch that could effortlessly switch from genre to genre, with multi-instrumentalist Chaz Jankel, bass player Norman Watt-Roy, and drummer Charley Charles forming the nucleus.
Surprisingly, Dury’s breakthrough (“Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll”) wasn’t included on early pressings, and in hindsight this collection wouldn’t be as strong without its addition. As a call to question the mundanity of everyday life it’s a powerfully theatric treat that still has a place in modern society. The opener, “Wake Up And Make Love To Me’ still amuses with its references to the singer’s sexual ardour , and “Sweet Gene Vincent” pays homage with as much gusto as the maestro himself could have ever mustered. Although some of the melodies fail to fully match Dury’s ever interesting, wry observations of working class London life, the majority of “New Boots…” is the most consistently realised collection of his career. In future years he would release some blinding singles including “What A Waste”, “Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3” and the UK number 1 “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”, but as a stand alone collection this still remains his most endearing and important.
“New Boots And Panties” reminds every listener just why we should always cherish one of the most distinctive voices, one the most eccentric characters and one of the most carefree spirits popular music ever produced.
1 – Wake Up And Make Love With Me (8)
2 – Sweet Gene Vincent (8)
3 – I’m Partial To Your Abracadabra (8)
4 – My Old Man (8)
5 – Billericay Dickie (7)
6 – Clevor Trever (8)
7 – If I Was With A Woman (7)
8 – Blockheads (7)
9 – Plaistow Patricia (7)
10 – Blackmail Man (7)
11 – Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (9)