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Tuesday, July 7, 1998 Published at 09:26 GMT 10:26 UK


Ian Dury and the Blockheads

Ian Dury & The Blockheads - Mr Love Pants (Ronnie Harris Records)

In a world of production-line lyrics, it's a rare treat to hear a master craftsman at work.

Intelligent, funny and frequently foul-mouthed, Ian Dury's always had a unique way with words. For his new album, Mr Love Pants, he is back with his old sparring partners for the first time in 17 years, and has once more found the perfect setting for his thoughts.

Without any direct reference to the cancer against which he is battling, there's a reflective mood to songs such as The Passing Show, Bed O' Roses No 9 and Honeysuckle Highway.

You're My Baby, meanwhile, is a touching love song made all the more effective by its straightforward, matter-of-fact delivery.

Elsewhere there are loads of classic Dury stories and the kind of dazzling free-form wordplay which influenced later generations of songwriters such as Black Grape's Shaun Ryder.

Love in a sandwich shop is the subject of Geraldine ("When she's buttering my baguette I think I'm going to burst") while the stomping reggae of Mash It Up Harry could come straight from the classic Blockheads album New Boots and Panties.

Then there's more than a smattering of social comment in Itinerant Child, about Police persecution of New Age travellers, and opening track Jack S*** George - the tale of "a second-class person" living "beneath the bottom rung".

Co-writer Chaz Jankel has come up with some corking tunes and fizzing guitar-lines to match the quality of Dury's musings, while the band as a whole has lost none of the dextrous energy which marked it out as one of the great live acts of the late 70s and early 80s.
Nigel Packer

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