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Posted: 2006 09-02


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Ian sings his Mantra of the Many -- in prime-time '78

Ian Dury was a key part of the historic Stiff Records crew that included Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, and later, Madness.  Although "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" was his #1 hit (in UK), it was "Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll" that was his –– and Stiff Records' –– defining song.

Here he is in early New Wave form, February ’78.  Although Dury was an older bloke, 35 years in fact at this taping, he was part of a “new wave” of gifted British songwriters and performers who were given a musical shot during this period.  Think also:  Joe Jackson, The ClashThe Specials, Graham Parker ....

The song is based around an instant-classic rock n roll guitar riff, some anthemic lyrics, and a wild vocal harmony climax that’s different in every performance.

If you don’t already know the song, I’m sure you’ll be agog for the first 2 minutes. If you are familiar with it, it gets really interesting after that –– turn it right up for the crackin' drum roll into that phat organ solo into some crazy sex drugs & rock n roll vocals by Dury and a wonderfully wacky Zappaesque chorus from the band –– in their prime, all.

Dury was a musical savant who was partially crippled by polio at age 7, then sadly diagnosed with cancer in his early 50s and dead by 57.  He left behind a legacy of clever, mischievous and expansive songs that inspired further reaches from all those around him –– Costello, Lowe, Parker and all the other songwriters of a genre and generation.  And here the old man shows how you do it.

Oh no, wait, sorry!  That's Peter Gabriel.  ;-)

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