Lord Upminster's startling '77 debut goes deluxe with extra songs and demos
Punk rock threw up some odd coves, but none more compellingly odd than Ian Dury. An undersized chap with a limp and stick (the result of a childhood run-in with polio) who fashioned himself as a Cockney Cole Porter, he was one of the most unlikely rock stars of all time. And New Boots…, his 1977 debut, stood out from the three-chord, safety-pinned punk pack like a diamond (geezer) ring on a wart-encrusted fist.
Dury once declared that his true musical inspiration lay “in a place where your spirit and your arse land at the same time”. It makes as much sense as any other attempt to nail down how he managed to strip-mine musical gold by mashing up vaudevillian knees-ups, sophisto-funk, pub-rock riffola and garage-land jazz, topping and tailing with a gor-blimey accent and clever-dicky lyrics that sifted through the English psyche and came up with nuggets of rib-tickling truth.
This must-have deluxe two-disc edition generously boosts the original album with four extra songs, including the immortal “Sex & Drugs” and “Razzle In My Pocket”. There’s also an entire CD of demo versions that are worth the price of admission alone for a more expansive “My Old Man” and an early take on “Wake Up And Make Love With Me”, for which Dury adopts a Barry White-style accent with hilarious consequences.
But it’s the original 10 tracks that prove most seductive and enduring. From the punkish clatter of “Sweet Gene Vincent” through the Max Miller-ish “Billericay Dickie” to the uproariously rude “Plaistow Patricia”, with its still startling “arseholes, bastards, fucking c***s and pricks” opening. Every one a bleedin’ coconut, as Dury himself might have said. All of it as warmly exhilarating as anything thrown up by Tamla Motown?hard though it is to imagine Smokey or Marvin delivering a line like: “I had a love affair with Nina in the back of my Cortina/A seasoned-up hyena could not have been more obscener.”