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.

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