He was the 35-year-old pub rock ruler and ge­nius word­smith, strain­ing to break out. A se­ries of for­tu­itous meet­ings led him to his dream writ­ing part­ner and the only band for the job. But how did it all come to­gether?

Mojo (UK) - - News -


“In 1976 I’d joined Ian in the Kil­burns, and we’d played to­gether for about nine months. He was the king of the pub cir­cuit, but I think he felt dis­sat­is­fied, tired even. When I asked him if he fan­cied writ­ing some songs, he said, ‘God, yeah’. He started ac­cept­ing less gigs and we started writ­ing. We were both pro­lific, I’d go to his third floor flat op­po­site the Oval (nick­named ‘Cat­shit Man­sions’) and we’d work from mid­day to 10, 11 in the evening. I had my Wurl­itzer elec­tric pi­ano parked there and he had this ba­sic Olivetti type­writer set up on this old wooden tres­tle ta­ble, and a pile of lyrics on top of his desk, which I’d wade through. I wrote three-quar­ters of what be­came New Boots And Panties!! with him over the course of a few months. His lyrics were so rich and dense, so well-crafted and po­etic, with so much in­for­ma­tion in a line. I think he saw him­self as the voice of the dis­en­fran­chised, writ­ing about heroin ad­dicts and racism, as well as bring­ing a lot of warmth and hu­mour. His strength of spirit and self-be­lief was like a steam train: life wasn‘t easy for him phys­i­cally, be­cause he’d had po­lio, so he’d grit his teeth and he had to be­lieve he was the best. Ian was def­i­nitely, hugely am­bi­tious. He said to me, ‘Chaz, you and I are go­ing to be as big as Len­non & McCart­ney.’ I also think that it was al­most like no one was chal­leng­ing him be­fore I met him. The Kil­burns were quite ec­cen­tric, very fired up and driven by Ian: be­cause I was tap­ping into Amer­i­can mu­sic a lot, I was com­ing from a very dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion to other mu­si­cians he’d worked with. He was an ar­chi­tect in the way that he could sense a really nice shape to the record, from the songs we’d writ­ten. Wake Up And Make Love With Me was the per­fect opener, Sweet Gene Vin­cent sug­gested his love of rock­a­billy and it all flowed from there. Side two was sig­nif­i­cant, it just got more fer­vent and more an­gry as it went on with Plais­tow Pa­tri­cia and Black­mail Man, which was very much his in­tent. Once he got that shape, that’s when he said we were ready to go in the stu­dio. We were demo’ing the songs in Alvic Stu­dios in West Kens­ing­ton, and one of the guys who ran the stu­dio, I can’t re­mem­ber if it was Al or Vic, said he knew this great rhythm sec­tion from a band called Lov­ing Aware­ness, as Ian and I didn’t play drums or bass. It was Nor­man Watt-Roy [bass] and Char­lie Charles [drums]; our in­flu­ences were funk and soul and jazz, which Ian loved, but no mu­si­cian up to that point had of­fered that as a mu­si­cal en­vi­ron­ment for Ian. Nor­man and Char­lie, God, they could. At this ses­sion we did Sweet Gene Vin­cent, Blockheads and maybe Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. Also, it worked the other way – I’ve heard Nor­man talk about how they loved the mu­sic but the real clincher was this English poet bloke as a front- man, with lyrics like they’d never heard be­fore. We went to a base­ment stu­dio in Ber­mond­sey where we demo’d the whole al­bum, then re-recorded it prop­erly at Work­house on Old Kent Road. Ge­off Cas­tle played synth, Davey Payne played sax and Ed Speight from the Kil­burns played gui­tar. The al­bum sounds very con­fi­dent be­cause we’d had a trial run at it. With New Boots…, things got more bal­anced. Ian wanted mu­si­cal de­vel­op­ment, with peo­ple who’d put the time into their craft. When we put the com­bi­na­tion to­gether we didn’t even know it was a genre we hadn’t heard be­fore. When Char­lie Gil­lett came down to the stu­dio we were record­ing I’m Par­tial To Your Abra­cadabra. He said, ‘Ian you sound like Barry White.’ He was like, ‘Right, fuck that.’ He went back into the Lon­don ver­nac­u­lar, which he never gave up. [Sin­gle] Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll had come out [on Stiff Records], with the al­bum fol­low­ing: Ian’s man­age­ment wanted him out on tour. Ian brought Davey and we asked Char­lie and Nor­man to do it, and they said, ‘Only if we can bring the rest of our band’.”

Dury mu­si­cian and co-writer Chaz Jankel re­calls am­bi­tion, anger and mu­si­cal free­dom.

Up­min­ster fully: (far left)Ian Dury and type­writer in ‘Cat­shit Man­sions’; on-stage with Kil­burn And The High Roads’ alumni Ed Speight (gui­tar) and Davey Payne (sax); (bot­tom row, from left) Chaz Jankel; Dury en­joys an oily rag; the al­bum in ques­tion; bassist Nor­man Watt-Roy and Char­lie Charles’s kit; Stiff promo badge; Lov­ing Aware­ness and Dury wax.

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