...all combine to make this an incredible monument to the timeless talent that Lord...
Chris Jones 2002
Let's face it; when you read the announcement that your fave pop monkey who has shuffled off this mortal coil has had a collection of 'unreleased' tracks compiled into a posthumous release, you tend to think: "Not good enough to release while they were still with us, eh?" Ah, callous reader throw away your doubts, for this album is truly the exception that proves the rule. With a modesty that marked the man in life, Dury and pals have done us all proud with this little number. Ten More Turnips From The Tip, assembled by Ian's family and friends, has absolutely no whiff of barrel-scraping about it.
The title seems to imply some kind of rejected product is on offer here. How far this is from the truth is immediately made plain from the sophisticated stroking of a Fender Rhodes that opens the first track "Dance Little Rude Boy". Tarred with the somewhat derogatory "pub rock" brush, the one quality that the Blockheads always had in spades was, well...quality. In later years Dury and chums came out of the closet about their love of studio doyens Steely Dan. Chaz Jankel's Blockhead's were nearer to these American legends than to Joe Strummer's 101ers, and it's the same incredibly funky mastery of each musical building block that left Dury free to express himself in his own inimitable way. This fitting testament leaves you in no doubt that Dury and Jankel needed each other in equal measure.
Several tracks do actually date from the intensely prolific period, paradoxically spawned by Ian's inevitable decline in the face of illness. You would never know it from the evidence. The aforementioned "Rude Boy", "Books And Water" and "It Ain't Cool" all bounce with robust good health with Dury's razor-sharp lyrics cutting a swathe through the smoothest jazz-funk this side of the Atlantic. Outtakes from the previous album Mr Lovepants ("Ballad Of The Sulphate Strangler" and " Happy Hippy"), with original Blockhead Davey Payne on sax and flute, exhibit an astonishing deftness of touch which is missing from most artists major output. Jankel's bubbling guitar, Norman Watt-Roy's funkalicious bass, Mick Gallagher's keyboard sweeps, and Dury's cockney shenanigans concerning legendary roadies, new age bliss and the sheer joy in life itself; all combine to make this an incredible monument to the timeless talent that Lord Upminster himself embodied.
It's topped off with Jock Scot's moving eulogy to Essex's finest son and a rendition of his last lyric completed after his death and featuring a vocal by Robbie Williams. Above all you're left with the sense of life-affirming fun that always flowed through the great man's work. Let's remember him this way. Oy! Oy!