Ian Dury And The Blockheads - "What A Waste"
And now for something quite different. Ian Dury was undoubtedly original and unique. He certainly led the way in a new wave of artists and music firstly with his very own style of vocals, and lyrics and then when backed by an exceptional band, The Blockheads. His musical style was also hard to categorise, especially when backed by The Blockheads there was jazz, funk, a bit of music hall, rock and roll and much more.
Dury’s first single “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” was banned by the BBC when released in August 1977, which limited airplay and in turn sales. The ban was perhaps harsh as the lyrics were pretty tame even by the standards of the time and certainly in comparison to many other of Dury’s songs. It was the association of the words together in the title which worried the BBC, now they are a well recognised phrase.
The single though helped bring success for Dury in other ways. His album New Boots And Panties went platinum, he was joined by The Blockheads and went on a phenomenally successful Stiff record label ‘Live Stiffs’ tour with Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Nick Lowe and others. That led Stiff to promote Dury heavily and helped him take another single, “What A Waste” into the UK top ten, followed by “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” reaching number one in 1979.
While the latter track was perhaps part novelty with its fun lyrics, it did allow The Blockheads to shine alongside Dury. “What A Waste” though was always a favourite of mine. It too had the Blockheads in top form alongside Dury’s thoughtful lyrics and vocal style. Drury made you think about what you could do with your life, The Blockheads bookended his thoughts with their funk and jazz playing to the fore. An unusual but unique mix.
Other close contenders for my list came from Gary Numan, The Cure, Devo, Gary Numan, Television and Depeche Mode. The New Wave category, however, you define it, will still include some tremendous records.