Friday, 11 September 2015

Radio Review: 11 September

Singer Ian Dury is fondly recalled by Sir Peter Blake

Written by Louis Barfe
Louis-Barfe-colour-176It’s just over 21 years since I attended the best gig of my lifetime. That’s so far, obviously, although I’m not expecting it to be toppled any time soon. The venue was the Grand in Clapham, and the act was Ian Dury and the Blockheads.

A combination of factors made the occasion. Lord Upminster and the chaps were on fine form, it was my first time of seeing them after a lifetime of fandom, I was nicely plastered and Lee Thompson of Madness asked if he could go up on my shoulders for a bit.

When Sir Peter Blake took to 6 Music last week to play a few of his favourite Dury songs and talk about Ian, it was a bit lovely (Peter Blake: Me And Ian Dury is available on iPlayer).

Blake was late for his first day at Walthamstow School of Art, and found his students, including Dury, in the pub. Instead of ordering them back to work, he bought them all a drink. You can see easily how the friendship began.

The recollections were warm and the music was well chosen, with a mixture of the obvious – Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, Reasons To Be Cheerful – and the less so, including a BBC session version of Sweet Gene Vincent and some of Dury’s later album tracks, like I Believe and One Love, which Blake regards as some of his finest work. I have to agree.

It was also fab to hear the great Max Wall’s cover version of Dury’s England’s Glory, one of those list songs (Winkles, Woodbines, Walnut Whips/Vera Lynn and Stafford Cripps) of which Ian was the master.

Blake recalled Wall getting a hostile response when supporting the singer. Dury came out and told them all to be quiet for a music hall legend. It had the desired effect, as did this show on a drab, rainy Sunday.

Louis on Twitter: @LFBarfe or email:

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