Mojo (UK) - - News -

ÒChar­lie, Nor­man, Johnny Turn­bull [gui­tar] and me had played to­gether for years, as Lov­ing Aware­ness. When that fin­ished, we all started do­ing ses­sions, and one that Char­lie and Nor­man did was for New Boots And Panties!! The next thing is, they wanted a band on the road, so they brought John and me in. We did three days re­hears­ing in some tun­nel in south Lon­don. The first song we did was Wake Up And Make Love With Me, and the chem­istry was there im­me­di­ately. With Ian there was a vibe of hav­ing known him for ages. They were im­pressed be­cause we were so tight. Add to that Ian’s lyrics and Chaz’s ar­rang­ing and it was a whole pack­age. Ian’s man­age­ment Black­hill had of­fices above Stiff Records on Alexan­der Street in west Lon­don, which was the meet­ing point for the tour. There was us, Elvis Costello And The At­trac­tions, Wreck­less Eric, Nick Lowe… it was like a school out­ing on a chara­banc, with­out the adults around. The magic of the tour was that noth­ing was planned, Stiff just thought, let’s stick these bands on a bus and send them round the coun­try like they used to do in the old da y s. It was like The Mag­nif­i­cent Seven com­ing to­gether. We were at the back of the bus, re­hears­ing. Ev­ery­body else was really into al­co­hol, we were more tok­ers. We didn’t get in­volved with the al­co­hol-fu­elled crazy stuff, like the ’24 Hour Club’, which was, ‘Let’s see how far we can push this.’ The one-up­man­ship caused ca­su­al­ties and up­set [see MOJO 47 for break­ing glass, blood and choco­late]. Part of our power was, we were really tight, so we be­came very quickly cultish, ‘Have you seen them? Check them out.’ When we started the tour, no one had top billing, we swapped or­der ev­ery night, but it soon be­came ap­par­ent that it ei­ther had to be Elvis Costello or Ian Dury. There was this men­tal tug-ofwar, this healthy com­pe­ti­tion about who was gonna get the best re­ac­tion, ’cos Elvis’s band were really good. So we al­ter­nated. One night at New­cas­tle Univer­sity, Elvis was clos­ing the show and it wasn’t Ian’s best gig. As he was com­ing off stage he paused as Elvis was go­ing on and said, ‘It’s yours tonight, Elvis.’ He con­ceded. But at the end of it we had the an­them, didn’t we? We had Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, they had I dunno, Ali­son. So we won when it came to the line at the Lyceum. The name was the last thing we thought of. [MC/press fixer/vibesman] Kosmo Vinyl was in­tro­duc­ing us as ‘Ian Dury and The Read­ers’ Wives’, ‘Ian Dury and The Dummkopfs’, dif­fer­ent things at ev­ery gig, and one night he just said, ‘Ladies and gen­tle­men, Ian Dury and The Blockheads!’, and Nor­man said, ‘That’s a good name in­nit, we should be called that.’ It was a glo­ri­ous tour: it had the vibe, the no­to­ri­ety, and it was on the cheap! By the end, Ian’s pop­u­lar­ity was such that Black­hill im­me­di­ately said, ‘Are you boys avail­able to go back on the road?’ They were think­ing about Amer­ica. The ducks were all in a row and it was magic for a while… we had the rain­bow, we just had to look for the pot of gold.” As told to Ian Har­ri­son

Three days af­ter New Boots… was re­leased, the Live Stiffs Tour took mayhem to the re­gions. Keysman Mick Gal­lagher re­mem­bers the fun…

De­mon re­lease a va­ri­ety of vinyl/CD 40th An­niver­sary ex­panded edi­tions of New Boots And Panties!! on Oc­to­ber 13. The Blockheads’ new LP Be­yond The Call Of Dury and a new doc­u­men­tary fol­low in Novem­ber. See the­block­heads.com


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