Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Ian Dury - Book review

'Ian Dury: The Definitive Biography' by

If you're a fan of Ian Dury, then you might like to read this book. If you're not a fan, listen to 'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick' until you are!

Iain Dury wasn't a particularly great singer. His talents were as much in his considerable personal charisma and in his clever songwriting, both aspects came together in his unique performances. Who else could create such marvellous, clever, defiant lyrics as 'Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll,'  'Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick,'  'Reasons to be Cheerful, part 3' or 'Spasticus Autisticus'?

In spite of the dramatic subject matter, this book is slow to get going, I found the opening chapters dragged a bit. Even the author seemed slightly disengaged until around page 77. It slowly picked up pace and suddenly we were on the road with Kilburn and the Highroads and things really began to take off.

Ian then really hit the jackpot with the assembling of the Blockheads, all very talented musicians who lifted  his performance to new heights. Behind the scenes, his private life was usually in chaos and it was usually his fault. His disability (caused by childhood polio) didn't help, but he was an attractive, intelligent, usually charming bloke who refused to let it restrict either his love life or his ambitions.

As well as being a clever singer, brilliant lyricist and unique performer, Ian Dury was also an artist, training with Peter Blake at the Royal College of Art. He acted in a number of films including Peter Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover and Judge Dredd with Sylvester Stallone. He became an ambassador for UNICEF, visiting Sri Lanka to help promote polio vaccination.

Ian Dury was a complex, clever, talented and difficult man. I love his music, I enjoyed this biography once I got into it. I'm glad I wasn't his girlfriend but I'm very sorry I never saw him perform live.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

New Year, New Elephants

Ancient koalas munching in gum trees remember
many new years, once they were the first alive

in their gold-red lands under the wide sky.

No happy new year for unknown warrior-horses
who remember no poppies, only their boon

companions trapped in mud and blood, screaming.

Sir crow, summiting the naked cherry tree
remembers every ruby-fruit and can predict

their re-birth in the joy of summer light.

Lady camel transports vast burdens of memory
over baking deserts, while calculating that

the next dune is not too high for her calf.

Lord elephant remembers his enemy who
carries boom-stick and saw to destroy

his family, fire and axe to destroy his home.

To all creatures great and human I wish
a New Year of eucalyptus, poppy and cherries,

new life, safe haven and making new memories.
(In different cultures, many creatures are symbol for memory.)