Ian Dury – Laughter (Epic 2017 #059)

The Epic 2017 Project #059: 170228

Ian Dury – Laughter (1980)

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The Blockheads had undergone a significant personnel change since their previous album, “Do It Yourself”. Chaz Jankel, who played keyboards and co-wrote most of that album’s songs, had left in the wake of a stressful tour. Jankel’s place on guitar was taken by Wilko Johnson of Dr. Feelgood. Johnson had considered retiring from the music business until he was asked by Davey Payne and Dury, old friends from their pub rock days, to join The Blockheads. The new-line up first appeared on the ‘I Want To Be Straight’ single, which was released before the album, and reached number 22 in the UK pop charts.

Although Ian Dury was becoming harder to work with, the production of Laughter had started out as a relaxed affair, without the presence of Jankel and Dury. Rehearsals commenced in early 1980 at Milner Sound in Fulham, after keyboard player Mick Gallagher had returned from an American tour with The Clash. The group was, at that time, on hiatus after the gruelling promotional tour in support of Do It Yourself. Spurred on by recording commitments, Dury took over the rehearsals to form the basis of his new album and brought in Wilko Johnson, all without consulting the rest of the band.

At that time Dury was an alcoholic, and also addicted to Mogadon, a brand of sedative. Coupled with his bad reaction to celebrity, and his bouts of depression, these addictions caused him to be cantankerous, confrontational, argumentative and controlling. Although these traits had come out during the recording of the group’s previous album, they were at their peak during the record sessions for Laughter. Attempts to question Dury’s judgment would cause explosions of defensiveness and aggression. He also insisted on synchronising the instruments to a click-track, which aggravated a number of the musicians, especially Wilko Johnson. To make matters worse, guitarist Johnny Turnbull suffered a head injury and was afflicted with mood swings. He eventually had a nervous breakdown.

The album was preceded by the single “Sueperman’s Big Sister”, intentionally spelt wrong so to avoid any copyright issues with DC Comics. The single, Stiff Records’ 100th, employed the label for Stiff’s very first (Nick Lowe’s “Heart of the City”) with the track names crossed out and the correct titles and artist (for “Sueperman’s Big Sister”) written in, as if by biro. Laughter was released the same month, November 1980, but the album was not well received by critics and its sales were mediocre. The “Soft As a Baby’s Bottom” tour to support it, however, was a sell-out success. Stiff and Ian Dury parted ways afterwards and he signed a short-lived deal with Polydor Records without The Blockheads.

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The Doobie Brothers – Takin it to the streets (Epic 2017 #058)

The Epic 2017 Project #058: 170227

The Doobie Brothers – Takin it to the streets (1976)

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This was the sixth studio album by the Doobie Brothers, released in 1976 and the first to feature Michael McDonald (of Steely Dan fame) on lead vocals.

Michael McDonald also wrote the third song on side 2 – ‘It keeps you runnin’ – which was the third single release from the album. ‘Wheels of fortune’ and ‘Takin it to the streets’ were the others.

Dizzy Rascal – Tongue in Cheek (Epic 2017 #057)

The Epic 2017 Project #057: 170226

Dizzee Rascal – Tongue in cheek (2009)

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The release of Dizzee Rascal’s 4th studio album was announced on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross when, in an interview, Rascal revealed details including track information and production. He confirmed in an interview on Radio 1 that he was leaving his grime roots behind, in favour of more mainstream pop music.

On 23 May 2009, Calvin Harris revealed on his Twitter that he was producing a Dizzee track. At the Evolution Festival in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, he confirmed that there would be two new singles from the album called “Road Rage” and “Dirtee Cash”. Dirtee Cash heavily samples The Adventures of Stevie V song “Dirty Cash.” Samples are also used on “Can’t Tek No More” (“Warrior’s Charge” by Aswad from the film Babylon) and “Chillin’ Wiv da Man Dem” (“Oh Honey” by Delegation).

In early August the track listing was confirmed in a preview of the album by music website NME.

Notably, Rascal designed a Nike-distributed Tongue n’ Cheek shoe, to be in released at the same time as the album. The proceeds from these shoes going to Tower Hamlets Summer University of which Rascal is a patron

Dire Straits (Epic 2017 #056)

The Epic 2017 Project #056: 170225

Dire Straits (1978)

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Down to the Waterline” is a 1978 song written by Mark Knopfler and released by Dire Straits as the first song on their debut album, Dire Straits. It was also included on the demo tape that the band sent to Charlie Gillett, which led to their first recording contract. It was subsequently released as the B-side of the “Water of Love” single.

The lyrics of “Down to the Waterline” tell of a brief sexual tryst.According to Mark Knopfler’s brother and fellow Dire Straits member David, the song’s imagery is based on Mark’s memories of walking along the River Tyne in Newcastle at night under the lights with his girlfriend when he was a teenager.

Delirious? – Glo (Epic 2017 #054)

The Epic 2017 Project #054: 170223

Delirious? -Glo (2000)

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Who’d have thought back in the day when we watched the as yet un-named ‘Delirious?’ play from the back of a flatbed on Littlehampton seafront for the annual ‘Cutting Edge’ summer thing, that twenty-five years later, the band would be on the verge of releasing their entire back catalogue on vinyl for the world they took by storm?

Long opener yes. But that’s about the nub of it. Martin Smith, worship leader of a small West Sussex Pioneer fellowship took Delirious to world-wide fame; one of the most successful Christian bands of all time with songs widely sung in Sunday morning church services all over the globe.

Delirious? formally disbanded in 2009 following a sell-out live performance at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. But their music lives on and the release this year of the back-catalogue on vinyl will make sure of that. ‘Glo’ was their third studio album.

Deep Purple – Machine Head (Epic 2017 #053)

The Epic 2017 Project #053: 170222

Deep Purple – Machine Head (1972)

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Famously recorded in Montreux, Switzerland on the shores of Lake Geneva, here’s what guitarist Ritchie Blackmore had to say about the recording…

We had the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit sitting outside in the snow, but to get there we had to run cable through two doors in the corridor into a room, through a bathroom and into another room, from which it went across a bed and out the veranda window, then ran along the balcony for about 100 feet and came back in through another bedroom window. It then went through that room’s bathroom and into another corridor, then all the way down a marble staircase to the foyer reception area of the hotel, out the front door, across the courtyard and up the steps into the back of the mobile unit. I think that setup led to capturing some spontaneity, because once we got to the truck for a playback, even if we didn’t think it was a perfect take, we’d go, ‘Yeah, that’s good enough.’ Because we just couldn’t stand going back again.