Aug 08

IAN DURY AND THE BLOCKHEADS – “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”

FT + Popular132 comments • 10,576 views

#432, 27th January 1979

What is the relationship between the charts and everything else? The charts are a show home for pop music, filled with its shiniest mod cons, but one stuffed with hidden doors and tunnels, records that can tumble you out of pop and into other worlds which have their own codes and rules and no cosy countdown to set things in order. And in those other worlds – some of them, anyway – the charts are a sunlit palace of temptation, but to step (or be plucked) into it is to risk having your life and art and the world it came from turned higgledy-piggledy.

Every so often a door between the palace of pop and one of these other worlds opens so wide that every visitor can’t help but notice it and the walls between what’s mainstream and what’s not suddenly seem very thin. “Double Barrel” is one of them, so you could argue is “A Whiter Shade Of Pale”. So is this: it promises a sharper, smarter, more dangerous place than Number One hits generally admit you to.

This wasn’t a fluke, either, a canny act taking advantage of the January lull: it sold close to a million copies, a megahit in an era of them. “Rhythm Stick” is the sound of a band well aware that they’ve written a smash, and pushing themselves to make the delivery count. There isn’t a wasted note or fluffed decision on the track, but the whole thing comes off as wonderfully simple – a darting, jabbing groove designed to seduce even the most stand-offish of blokes onto the dancefloor, and a superb backdrop for Dury’s amazing performance.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Ian Dury – like a lot of highly quotable songwriters, he works best for me quoted. But on “Rhythm Stick” he makes every word count, caressing the line-end “-o” and “-an” sounds, wheezing and gasping through the chorus, then kicking off on the coda as the guitar shrieks him on. This is one of the first number ones where the hip-hop concept of “flow” really seems relevant: riding a rhythm, racking up bonuses with multi-syllable combos. 

Like “Y.M.C.A.”, this is an ostensibly inclusive lyric, celebrating the universality of dancing (or screwing), but there’s also something mocking, even sinister about it: check the promo clip of Dury onstage, surrounded by darkness, blinking, contorting, urging the dance on but always apart from it. That goblinoid malice doesn’t come across so fully on record – “Rhythm Stick” got to No.1 because it was infectious and jolly as well as demented and sardonic – but it’s there.

The distance, as much as the playful aggression, might make this one of the most laddish dance records. It’s never beery or off-putting, though: there’s just a thread of cheek to it, which if followed might lead you quite out of pop and into some very rum places. Though just then the top of the charts was as rum a place as any. The people who didn’t fit in anywhere were getting their chance not just to make, but to define pop music: interesting times ahead.



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  1. 1
    Tom on 18 Aug 2008 #

    Bah! I was going to publish this tomorrow morning and had it all nice and saved and ready to go, but it turns out (Alan alert!) that if I put my “score” and “date” etc. fields in and save that it shows up on the reviews index page even though I hadn’t published it.

    So there you go – an early one.

  2. 2
    Erithian on 19 Aug 2008 #

    The 87th best-selling single in the UK up to 2002, and a cracker – takes me right back to struggling to school during the Winter of Discontent, where strikes had prevented the fuel supply to the school and one morning we actually sat there in our coats as the odd wisp of snow came in through a hole in the roof. Eee, they don’t know they’re born today.

    Dury was a real hero of mine, warts and all. The “Told To Fuck Off By Ian Dury Club” is not a small one – it includes a drinking buddy of mine as well as Chaz Jankel (in fact these were virtually the first words Ian ever uttered to Chaz, backstage at a Kilburn and the High Roads gig). But many members of said club attended Ian’s funeral. As Richard Balls’ biography said, not many funerals include a singalong, a punch-up and a four-star review in the Guardian.

    Now, you don’t get many bands where the bass player is the main attraction (non-singing bass players, that is, for anyone about to throw Phil Lynott, Sting or Suzi Quatro at me) (actually you can throw Suzi at me, I wouldn’t mind). Go to a Blockheads gig and the undoubted man of the match is Norman Watt-Roy. A lot less hair than back then, but flamboyant and a jacket soaked with sweat by the end of the night – and of course he plays THAT bassline to “Rhythm Stick” amongst many other tours de force. He’s also credited with a thumping bassline to a mega-hit single that was number one some five years later, of which more when we get there.

    The Blockheads are still touring (http://www.theblockheads.com/live.php) playing Clacton this very Saturday and a traditional pre-Christmas gig in London, with Phill Jupitus as occasional guest. The old favourites plus some strong new material – do yourself a favour.

  3. 3
    DJ Punctum on 19 Aug 2008 #

    “You know, Marcello,” my music teacher said to me in response to the Evan Parker record I had just played her, “the new Ian Dury single has passages very similar to that.” And didn’t I just know it.

    Dury has at least one thing in common with Kate Bush, for it is impossible to categorise him. New wave? He was three years older than Rod Stewart. The inevitable cross-breeding of post-prog pub rock and non-idiomatic improvised music? How does that fit in with “Sweet Gene Vincent”? A music-hall comedian with inklings towards Brecht? An avant-garde performance artist with traditional loves and passions? He was truly sui generis, and as a stage performer, as a theatrical musician, or a singing actor, his only serious competitor in the ‘70s was his great friend Alex Harvey; stricken by polio, he made no attempt to conceal it in concert – indeed he exploited it, used his stick as both weapon and seducer, hunched up confidentially around his microphone; and his aura was so effortlessly summoned that it all worked beautifully. Furthermore, he had sufficient resources of inherent cool to base an entire song (“Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll”) not only on an Ornette Coleman record, but on a Charlie Haden bass solo on an Ornette Coleman record (“Ramblin’”)!

    He rose from the Walthamstow Art College of the early ‘60s, besotted by Bridget Riley and Wee Willie Harris and Christopher Nevinson and Ornette Coleman; he was a sometime participant in the mould-breaking improv music/theatre group The People Band, several of whose members ended up in his pre-Blockheads band Kilburn and the High Roads, and one of whom, saxophonist Davey Payne (who came in for George Khan in the High Roads), remained as crucial a mainstay in the Blockheads as Dury’s writing partner, guitarist/keyboardist Chaz Jankel.

    With the Blockheads there was funk and soul as well as vaudeville and white noise, the whole of which united with transgressive brilliance in 1977’s New Boots And Panties!! It isn’t an accident that for many of my contemporaries – Simon Reynolds included – their love of music was sparked by this record; its long chart residency gave it the title of “the New Wave Tubular Bells,” though it was simultaneously above punk and the truest punk rock there had ever been. The gorgeously languid jazz-funk ripples of “Wake Up And Make Love To Me” blend with great naturalness with the matter-of-fact lyric and delivery. “Billericay Dickie” is avant-garde Max Miller, chirpy but cautious and always on the point of detonation. “My Old Man” is a very touching autobiographical portrait of his dad. “Sweet Gene Vincent” moves between and blurs the two poles of grief and celebration as few tribute songs have managed. “Blockheads” is a furious, rabid rant culminating in a freeform post-Eno/Mackay duel between Payne’s sax and Geoff Castle’s Moog. “If I Was With A Woman” foresees Jankel’s “Ai No Corrida” but climaxes with a Terry Riley minimalist vocal pinch. And you should have seen the look on my mum’s face when she walked into my bedroom just as the intro to “Plaistow Patricia” – “ARSE-HOLES-BAS-TARDS-FU-CKING-CUNTS-AND-PRICKS!” – made itself known. As with Escalator, it seemed that everything I liked about music in 1977 was in there somewhere.

    So it was with “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick,” and I can think of few more deserving number ones. It sees Dury and the Blockheads at the peak of their saturnine game. Lyrically it isn’t much beyond an inventory of places and races around the world who like to get off on the confluence between sex and dance represented by its title, but there are so many lovely touches: the furiously ecstatic bilingual switching from French to German, the smiling restraint of the verse next to the franticity of the choruses (“It’s nice to be a lunatic,” “Two fat persons, click click click”) and Dury’s phenomenal vocal performance, alternating between langourous cool (the emphasis he puts on the “Bom” in “In Bombay” to meet Mickey Gallagher’s upward-rippling piano stroke) and just-past-rational orgasm (the Glaswegian “HUT MEEE!” towards the end, and his call and response with Jankel’s hysterical guitar, his “Hit me”s become progressively more feral).

    And the music – that wonderful quivering organ sustenato throughout, the abrupt high-register piano clusters, the oooohhh spine-descending tingle of Norman Watt-Roy’s bass in tandem with Charley Charles’ crisp, Meters-inspired drumming (a natural British counterpart to what Bernard Edwards and Tony Thompson were achieving contemporaneously in Chic) – all leads to, climaxes in and leads away from Payne’s astonishing sax torrent, all Barbieri squeals and Ayler atonal flurries. Eventually Payne is left alone with the drums and rhythm with a sustained false register two-note tenor overblow, before a whistle blows, and he blows both alto and tenor simultaneously, in an explicit tribute to Roland Kirk before merging back into the music (on TOTP he continued to blow bubbles out of a pipe for the remainder of the performance).

    Uncompromised free improvisation on a number one record, and my improv-sceptical classmates dancing to it at the Valentine’s Day school disco – is it any wonder I rejoiced? The Blockheads would subsequently prove itself a group sufficiently broad stylistically to incorporate both Wilko Johnson and Don Cherry within its line-up, and Dury went on to become a rock Kerouac and Spencer of sorts; not in terms of any direct influence, but because of a similarly natural ability to rise out of and away from artistic categories and be completely and comprehensively true to himself, yet so open to everybody and everything else. “Rhythm Stick” hitting number one – and that summer’s follow-up, the top three hit “Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3” with its Adriano Celentano and John Coltrane namechecks – gave me the feeling that Our Side was winning, and that the so often unpromising arena of the British singles chart could still harbour unexpected magic. Ten out of bloody ten.

  4. 4
    Mark G on 19 Aug 2008 #


    Like Sparks bloke with the hitler moustache, one of those artists your great aunt remembers even today.

    It has to be a ten? Isn’t it?

  5. 5
    rosie on 19 Aug 2008 #

    Nothing new under the sun again. His brand of Jack-the-Lad rock ‘n roll goes back to the late sixties and early seventies: Kilburn and the High Roads was a staple of the weekend Union gigs at Liverpool. It probably has Max Miller as its godfather and its roots go way back to the Victorian music hall. So, new wave it is not. I can’t see it as punk either but I won’t object if others argue the toss.

    But Ian Dury was a true original. A kind of walking, singing Viz comic, pushing all the buttons of outrage with quite astonishing inventiveness and ending with a wink and a look of boyish blue-eyed (I haven’t a clue what colour Dury’s eyes were but you know what I mean) innocence that made me want to take him home and cuddle him. There are Dury songs I like a lot better than Rhythm Stick – just about the whole of New Boots and Panties for starters. But it was radio friendly. Can you imagine DLT playing Plaistow Patricia on the morning show? Traffic chaos would ensue for certain. Dammit, I like the B-side better – There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards, one of those cases of a relatively innocuous A-side covering up for a more contentious B-side? I like What A Waste more. But Rhythm Stick remains a damned good song.

    I’m a fan, in case you hadn’t guessed. My middle name is… Oh, sorry. The man is a sadly lost national treasure.

  6. 6
    Mark G on 19 Aug 2008 #

    You have, indeed, nailed Ian Dury’s broad appeal.

  7. 7
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 19 Aug 2008 #

    “a rock Kerouac and Spencer of sorts” <– stanley? (first of all i thought edmund then haha i thought frank)

  8. 8
    DJ Punctum on 19 Aug 2008 #

    Yes – Spencer with a C for Cookham.

  9. 9
    CarsmileSteve on 19 Aug 2008 #

    can’t really say more than tom and marcello have to be honest, an absolute classic, but i wanted to draw people’s attention (particularly anyone in edinburgh) to a fantastic show i saw on the fringe:


    it’s a two-hander between dury and spider telling the tales of dury’s life. yer man playing dury is excellent. thoroughly recommend it (i’m guessing it might tour later in the year too).

    and yes the title of the play is ABFCAP (as in the initials of the first line of plaistow patricia)

  10. 10
    mike on 19 Aug 2008 #

    Well, in a way that wonderful Barney Bubbles pic sleeve is the first clue: that the ground is fundamentally shifting, that certain key characteristics of chart pop are mutating, and that a whole new vista of as yet untapped possibilities are opening up. For just as we prepare to bid farewell to those cheerfully corny NUMMER EINS TIP-TOP SUPER-HIT IN GROSSBRITANNIEN! import sleeves at the top of each entry, so we prepare to welcome – for better and for worse – an altogether more visual, more design-led, more themed approach to the pop single.

    Forget the false dawn of “Rat Trap”; for me, the success of “Rhythm Stick” was, as Marcello says, a sign that Our Side were indeed taking over. As such, it marked a clear staging post, heralding the true start of not only my all-time favourite year for pop, but also the start of a whole new Golden Age, both for pop in general (unquestionably matching the glories of 1964-67 and 1972-74), and for me personally. For from this point on, and for several years to come, I felt that that much of the best pop was capable of precisely representing me – my generation, my outlook, my emotions, my concerns – and that I was a fully-fledged member of its natural constituency. (I’ll let you know when and why that Golden Age came to an end in the fullness of time, but suffice it to say that it won’t be for a long time yet.)

    Simultaneously with this glorious upswing in the charts – an upswing which had been heavily hinted at during 1978, and which was now starting to bear full fruit – a similarly major upswing started to take place in my personal life. Simply put, I began to get my shit together: gaining confidence, making friends, having adventures, “re-inventing” myself, as I dubbed it then and still view it now. 1979 was a year of fun, friendship, excitement and experimentation; of major milestones; of massive changes. I started the year as a nervous, fearful, virtually friendless, deeply immature 16-year old schoolboy; I ended it on the threshold of stepping out into the real world, beyond the cloistered confines of my Canbridge boarding school, making independent choices, earning a real wage, tearing up the past and beginning an unguesssable new chapter.

    A month or so earlier, with “Rhythm Stick” still climbing the charts, I saw Ian and the Blockheads in North London (Shepherd’s Bush Empire, was it?), supported by Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias, Humphrey Ocean & the Hardy Annuals, and a surrealist puppet show. Discounting various school bands, it was only my third gig – and coming after the disappointments of the first two (including being stuck behind a concrete pillar in the back corner of Earls Court for Bowie’s Stage tour, an experience which put me off arena gigs for the next decade), the Blockheads’ magnificent two and a half hour set came as a revelation. To this day, and even allowing for the novelty of the experience at the time, I have rarely heard any band play so wonderfully well together (drummer Charley Charles particularly standing out in my memory). And what excitement – again rarely matched since – to hear my favourite single in the charts being played while it was still actually in the charts!

    This, my friends, is where it all begins again: with a rasping misfit genius backed by the finest players in the land, right at the top of their game, performing what is quite possibly my favourite Number One single of all time. 1979, best year ever, bring it on!

  11. 11
    wichita lineman on 19 Aug 2008 #

    I wish I liked Dury more and hate to sound contrary, but a blend of pub rock and jazz funk with squawking sax to the fore is close to my idea of hell. This and What A Waste felt like jolly novelty records at the time to 13-yr old me, not much more, like (shoot me down for this heresy) a smarter BA Robertson. I did like the Theme From A Summer Place coda on Reasons To Be Cheerful, though.

    A Stiff 45 at number one certainly was a breakthrough for “us” but there’s something far more groundbreaking, for me at least, just round the corner.

    I must say that now we’re going through a period that everyone (bar Lex, any others?) can remember, the scores are going through the roof. This is tough on the non-contextual write-ups/scores on the earlier number ones, but pretty hard to avoid I suppose.

  12. 12
    Tom on 19 Aug 2008 #

    Context plays a part of course, but fear not WL, I am keeping a very close eye on the scoring, even though you’ve disagreed with the last two. :)

  13. 13
    wichita lineman on 19 Aug 2008 #

    I don’t disagree with the changing of the guard aspect of HMWYRS, though; as if to emphasise a great leap forward, in the same Top 3 was RAK’s last throw of the dice, Lay Your Love On Me by Racey. Apparently – I’m snaffling this story from another Popular contributor, so apols! – Racey were put together as a replacement for Mud, who had left RAK for Private Stock and to have a go at writing their own material (well, you can’t blame them with Rob Davies on the team). Bit of a time lag, but it does seem obvious when you know. Their hit in the spring of ’79, Some Girls, is pure Les Gray.

    Lay Your Love On Me is Tiger Feet redux. I sniggered along with Rhythm Stick as a kid and sneered at the vertically-challenged Racey singer with the permanently upturned collar (is this cool? Is it?). But I now much prefer the fairground organ, party noises (I’d like to think RAK were picking up on the early Sugarhill 12s), and expertly honed pop fizz of Lay Your Love On Me.

    Both hits appeared on K-Tel’s Action Replay along with a US no.1 that didn’t bother the charts here, even with a TOTP appearance – Nick Gilder’s Hot Child In The City. Beyond that it was almost a straight New Wave/Disco split: Supernature, YMCA, I Love America, Radio Radio, Hanging On The Telephone, Tonight’s Drummer Man. And in classic K-Tel fashion, it ends with Streetband’s bread-strike hit Toast (featuring a singer we’ll deal with some years hence) segued into Suzi Quatro & Chris Norman’s rather sweet Stumblin’ In.

  14. 14
    Conrad on 19 Aug 2008 #

    An absolute 10. A true classic and some of the most gorgeously fluid bass playing this side of What’s Going On.
    NW-R always reminded me of Jamerson with his constantly moving and bubbling runs, although it seems unfair to single out one great performer on a record bestowed with wonderful performances.

    As for the man himself, posts 3 and 5 capture his unique appeal perfectly.

  15. 15
    Billy Smart on 19 Aug 2008 #

    This scared me as a six-year old, whilst other children found it funny. I think that it was the clearly foolhardy and masochistic nature of asking to be hit above and beyond anything else. And the leeringness and roughness of Dury’s voice – always present as a threat even during the gentle and light passages – made him seem the sort of grown-up whom children should steer clear of. Even then, the music struck me as being exceptionally good, though, I think.

    Now, of course, it sounds like the best pop you could desire; the most rooted in lived experience, while transcending through imagination. Murk and gaiety!

    A word of praise for 1979’s ‘Do It Yourself’ Blockheads LP, which always tends to be neglected in the towering shadow of ‘New Boots’. Blocks of songs which crash into each other, a ceaseless funk, always becoming a greater and greater compounded experience for the listener, a sense of the world becoming more and more manic and lurching, through the nasty testosterone swagger of ‘Mischief’, the breakdown and desolation of the ‘Screamers’ Dance’ and finally reaching some sort of consolation with ‘Lullaby For Frances/is’. That’s not an album that you can possibly ignore when it’s playing.

  16. 16
    Martin Skidmore on 19 Aug 2008 #

    I saw Dury live on his first couple of headline tours – he was maybe the most entertaining front man I’ve ever seen, a stellar performer whose roots seemed to have more to do with music hall than rock ‘n’ roll. He was completely irresistible, funny and lovable. Having said that, this is a rare old favourite that I have wearied of a little. Can’t place why, exactly, but it would be down to something like an 8 for me.

    As for his placement, he felt part of what was termed ‘new wave’ – in the early punk days, Stiff were at the centre of that, and he was far from alone in having older pub-rock roots. Nowadays, it’s not so easy to distinguish what this sounded like from other rock, but genres aren’t solely about sonics. Within a few years, I was more inclined to think of him alongside someone like Kevin Coyne or even Ivor Cutler, other eccentric and inventive distinctly British national treasures like that.

  17. 17
    Jonathan Bogart on 19 Aug 2008 #

    wl@11: I don’t suppose I’ll ever count as being able to remember, as these charts are not my charts, and this is as much an exercise in exoticism for me as it is a trawl through pop history. Though I was only a year old at this point anyway.

    From the distant perspective of this side of the Atlantic, Ian Dury’s appeal is, shall we say, muted. I’ve enjoyed him on occasion, but the outpouring of affection above is making me want to revisit NB&P!! at least and see if I can tease out a bit more to like.

  18. 18
    a logged-out pˆnk s lord whatnot on 19 Aug 2008 #

    it’s interesting nearly everyone reaches — accurately yet somehow also vaguely — for the “music-hall” pigeonhole

    the element of menace in dury’s music — including this song — is much more (i think) the present-day jazz side of what he does: an element rare to the point of invisibility in UK number ones after c.1960 (and even before this, this present-dayness was distinctly backward-looking)

    tom calls it goblinloid and that catches some of it, i think: a song that opens up vistas down towards capering figures, bright in dark tunnels, where you suddenly realise these tunnels thread through all music, and all the plain ground and walls of ordinary pop

    multiculturalism in this group had a sinisister, thrilling, pirate-crew joy to it — not the defensive blandness of bureaucratic inclusivity, but a glimpse of spaces where the excluded somehow get along with each other fine, and YOU’RE the one left out, a timid overgrounder

  19. 19
    lonepilgrim on 19 Aug 2008 #

    loved this at the time and still do – it did feel as if the lunatics were taking over the asylum – particularly as it was on stiff.
    Was the album Do it yourself a bit more hardcore? I seem to remember loads of people buying it on the strengths of the singles and then seeing loads of copies in second hand shops pretty soon after.
    I think a 9 is about right because it is almost so self consciously clever that it resists the sense that anyone could access it in the way that, for instance, they could with the Beatles or Abba at their best. It reminds me of ‘Do the strand’ which with it’s globe trotting name dropping has a similar arch cleverness.

  20. 20
    admin on 19 Aug 2008 #

    Tom – i’m on the ‘unpublished popular’ post issue…


    (As a test I added popular scores etc to an old unpublished post and it doesn’t show up in the list.)

  21. 21
    Erithian on 19 Aug 2008 #

    Jonathan #17 – it’s great to see people enjoying the exoticism, and there’s plenty more of that to come this year. While revisiting NB&P!!, try searching out Dury’s swansong “Mr Love Pants” – not 100% consistent but some belters, in particular the very angry “Itinerant Child” which picks up where the Levellers left off. As I remarked to a friend at the time (Dury already had terminal cancer) – you don’t know what you got till it’s gone, but sometimes you get enough notice that it’s about to go so that you can treasure it while it’s still here.

  22. 22
    Billy Smart on 19 Aug 2008 #

    Re:21. See also Simon Gray, recently. Making sure that everybody knows that you are dying is an effective and sensible way of getting a decent reappraisal.

  23. 23
    mike on 19 Aug 2008 #

    #21 – Well, quite. It was partially the knowledge of Dury’s declining health that coaxed me into seeing him and the Blockheads a second time, towards the end of the 1990s – and what a show that was, with the irrepressible Norman Watt-Roy vyeing with Ian as the true star.

    I must get around to revisiting Do It Yourself, which I didn’t buy at the time as there were plenty of other copies floating around at school. It didn’t contain any singles – which although admirable, failed to prolong its shelf life – and despite wonderful tracks such as “Sink My Boats”, there couldn’t help but be a sense of general anti-climax after the glories of New Boots.

    Undaunted, the band bounced back with “Reasons To Be Cheerful”: the first ever rap hit anywhere, and given Chaz Jankel’s musical connections, presumably made in the knowledge of the newly emergent genre….?

  24. 24
    a logged-out pˆnk s lord whatnot on 19 Aug 2008 #

    if memory serves — i haven’t owned nbap for an age, and only ever heard the follow up in friends’ flats, never owned it — diy is actually a lot LESS hardcore and raw*, closer more of the time (musically if not lyrically) to chaz jankel-esque jazzfunk

    *my friends who preferred it were quite taken aback by punk, which of course — being a year-zero tosser — i rather held against them: they loved dury’s gifts as a writer, and liked them better in a less confrontational setting (if i’m remembering properly)

    haha “harold hill from harold hill”

  25. 25
    LondonLee on 19 Aug 2008 #

    Another very appreciative nod to the great Barney Bubbles sleeve from me. I have no idea what that thing is – it always looked like a deconstructed Cubist Dalmation turned into a kids toy – but it’s one of those sleeves that seems to come from a brain I couldn’t hope to touch for wit and invention. I’d say exactly the same about the record too, with this and the New Boots album they really hit the magic sweet spot. Maybe “only” a 9.5 from me though.

    A great b-side to boot, one of my favourite lyrics ever

    Van Gogh did some eyeball pleasers
    He must have been a pencil squeezer
    He didn’t do the Mona Lisa,
    That was an Italian geezer

  26. 26
    Billy Smart on 19 Aug 2008 #

    TOTP Watch: The Blockheads must surely be counted as one of the greatest of TOTP acts ever. Anyway, they performed this twice.

    19 January 1979. Also in the studio that week were; The Olympic Runners, Racey, Frankie Miller, Olivia Newton-John, The Three Degrees and Chic, plus Legs & Co’s interpretation of ‘This Is It’. The host was Peter Powell.

    26 January 1979. Also in the studio that week were; Doctor Feelgood, Doll (the eighties start here!), Judas Priest, Phoebe Snow and Donny & Marie Osmond (eh? The hits had dried up for them three years before), plus Legs & Co’s interpretation of ‘Cool Meditations’. The host was Dave Lee Travis.

    These running orders do indeed make 1979 look like something of a golden age.

  27. 27
    Venga logged out on 19 Aug 2008 #

    #25 – Well deduced LondonLee. All is revealed on the reverse side of the sleeve…


  28. 28
    DJ Punctum on 19 Aug 2008 #

    #24: “Dance Of The Screamers,” though, might be the most extreme thing they ever did – see my recent blog post on the subject.

  29. 29
    a logged-out pˆnk s lord whatnot on 19 Aug 2008 #

    this has come up a teeny bit before — david essex! — but it was definitely a THING in the early days of punk; that at last “we” were throwing off the oppressive cultural imperialism of the american accent in all pop; that only now could we speak in our own accents, about the romance of our own back-streets and strange suburbs

    dury didn’t sing “american” at ALL: and he didn’t sing about mepmphis or tulsa or new orleans; he sang about billericay, plaistow, harold hill! which was all incredibly (if with hindsight rather weirdly) exciting at the time; we have mythology TOO, and it’s RIGHT HERE IN YOUR HANDS ppl

    *goes writes songs about wem and clun*

  30. 30
    mike on 19 Aug 2008 #

    Ooooh, I have to link to the lengthy and copiously illustrated Barney Bubbles tribute post, from whence the image at #27 came (it also credits Popular’s own LondonLee, who supplies photos of the full Armed Forces artwork on a separate linked page).


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