We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to bring you a very special performance of ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’ from Ian Dury and The Blockheads at one fiery night in Paris, 1981.
Ian Dury and The Blockheads may well be one of the most literary punk bands the genre has ever produced. Admittedly, there are a few items of contention in that statement, namely that you may not deem the Blockheads ‘punk’ at all. But in 1978, when they broke on to the scene, they were like nothing anyone had ever seen before.
If you’re looking for a man who embodied the spirit of punk, it’s hard to find a better contender than the late, great Ian Dury. As the frontman of The Blockheads, he enacted the intelligence and feverish energy that gave the band their edge and helped them scorch an indelible mark on the British music scene.
Dury will go down in history as one of the funkiest punk poets Britain has ever produced. In tracks such as ‘Billericay Dicky’ and ‘Clevor Trever,’ he expressed his common tongue and firecracker intelligence with the kind of wordplay reserved for the Romantic poets of a by-gone age—after they’ve had a few.
He delivered lyrics over funky beats and pulsating new wave precursors, and he did it all with a face like a chip shop owner, a shaking of his hips, a shuffling of his dancing feet and a disregard for anything that tried to stop him.
That is where his punk spirit and the spirit of the band lay, like deep and unshakable steel within their collective soul to refuse to conform. Whether it was conforming to pop sensibilities that rang throughout his brilliant rhyming couplets or indeed fighting against the restrictions being imposed on what ‘punk’ truly was.
The band’s effervescent personality was brimming not only with tunes to make you want to dance your night away but with grit, fight and most importantly romanticism of the working class. It was a desirable concoction that swarmed the nightclubs and afterparty of late seventies Britain and left them asking for more.
This intoxicating mix was seen best when they performed live. Having Dury prowling the stage in his sometimes possessed state, backed by an impeccably rhythmic band. Seeing this combined together with the power of the music’s message must’ve truly been magnificent.
By 1981, Dury was beginning to set his sights on his solo career but he was still deeply emboldened by the band when he arrived in Paris that year. In the footage below, you can feel the unique creativity and original passion pulsating through every movement.
Even four years after punk purists would suggest that the genre officially died, Ian Dury and The Blockheads were a welcome heartbeat that spoke for the mind, body and soul.
01. “Wake Up (And Make Love To Me)”
02. “Sink My Boats”
03 “Delusions of Grandeur”
04. “Dance of the Crackpots”
05. “What a Waste”
06. “Hey! Hey! Take Me Away”
07. “Hit Me (With Your Rhythm Stick)”
08. “Sweet Gene Vincent’