Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Reasons To Be Cheerful (Part Three)

Ian Dury may have arrived commercially via the Punk and New Wave explosion of the late 70s, but his music always felt gloriously old to me.

What a wonderfully odd star he was. He may have been physically compromised by a childhood bout with polio, but he was a vibrant and commanding presence, both on stage, and off. His records would share bin space with bands made up of snotty-nosed punks with their practised sneers and three-chord workouts, yet he was already as old as some of their dads.

He came across as more vaudeville than punk rock, yet he was afforded much respect from punky punters and performers alike. Rather than speedy, anger-fueled faux-anarchy tales, though, Ian came armed with crafty songs that were ripe with bawdy humour and a sort of cheeky old-time music hall sensibility.

The colourful characters in Dury's vignettes — Plaistow Patricia, Clever Trevor, Billericay Dickie et al — were rough around the edges to be sure, but even with his gruff, often half-spoken and occasionally profane vocal delivery, there was always the sense that he was singing with affection, and it all had this sort of positive, life-affirming quality about it; a gentle naughtiness that warms the cockles to this day.

"Reasons To Be Cheerful (Part Three)" came hot on the heels of his UK chart-topper "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick", and it's basically a jumbled list of ...well, reasons to be cheerful. Hard to argue with that, really. Hard to argue with the musical delivery either, as it happens. Dury recites (some might say, raps) over a stellar, funky (some might even say disco) backing, courtesy of his always brilliant band, The Blockheads, and although it's not really even my favourite song of his — that honour most likely goes to the lovely "You'll See Glimpses" — but it's still a little gem. Like most of Ian's music, it still makes me smile whenever it floats by. I really wish we still had him around.

Apparently, Ian Dury once declined an invitation from Andrew Lloyd Webber to write the lyrics for "Cats", ostensibly turning down a small fortune in the process. His response when asked for a reason, was simple and brutally honest — "I hate Andrew Lloyd Webber. He's a wanker, isn't he?".

That just might be more "punk" than anything Johnny Rotten ever did.

Listen Here

Why don't you get back into bed?
Reasons to be cheerful part 3

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Summer, Buddy Holly, the working folly
Good golly Miss Molly and boats
Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet
Jump back in the alley and nanny goats

18-wheeler Scammels, Domenecker camels
All other mammals plus equal votes
Seeing Piccadilly, Fanny Smith and Willy
Being rather silly, and porridge oats

A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it
You're welcome, we can spare it - yellow socks
Too short to be haughty, too nutty to be naughty
Going on 40 - no electric shocks

The juice of the carrot, the smile of the parrot
A little drop of claret - anything that rocks
Elvis and Scotty, days when I ain't spotty,
Sitting on the potty - curing smallpox

Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3

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Reasons to be cheerful part 3

Health service glasses
Gigolos and brasses
round or skinny bottoms

Take your mum to paris
lighting up the chalice
wee willy harris

Bantu Stephen Biko, listening to Rico
Harpo, Groucho, Chico

Cheddar cheese and pickle, the Vincent motorsickle
Slap and tickle
Woody Allen, Dali, Dimitri and Pasquale
balabalabala and Volare

Something nice to study, phoning up a buddy
Being in my nuddy
Saying hokey-dokey, singalonga Smokey
Coming out of chokey

John Coltrane's soprano, Adi Celentano
Bonar Colleano

Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3

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Yes yes
dear dear
perhaps next year
or maybe even never

in which case...