In 1984, Dury released 4000 Weeks Holiday, which was his last full studio album until 1998, when members of the Blockheads and Dury reunited to record Mr. Love Pants. Earning much critical acclaim, the album spawned a sold-out UK tour. In addition to recording, Dury also focused on a stage and film career, acting in films such as Roman Polanski's Pirates and the Bob Dylan movie Hearts of Fire. He worked with UNICEF and cancer research fundraising groups as well, despite his 1996 colorectal cancer diagnosis. His condition became terminal after doctors found tumors in his liver, and he passed away on March 27, 2000. In their obituary, the Guardian wrote that Dury remains "one of few true originals of the English music scene, the only man to successfully combine the energy and excitement of rock 'n' roll and funk with the bawdy humour, wit and home-spun philosophy of music-hall."
Yes, Dury was not a traditionally skilled singer. He looked like a punk rocker, yet lived the rock and roll life with a wink and a smile. In addition, he refused to adhere to the rules of lyric writing, instead incorporating sophisticated puns, offbeat imagery, and words that might cause discomfort. In short, Dury was a true original in his voice, lyrics, and ability to span various genres. To this day, he defies easy categorization which, I suspect, just might have been his goal all along. While Dury's albums can be difficult to locate in the U.S., seek them out to experience one of the most unusual artists you'll ever encounter.
Some Essential Ian Dury Tracks:
- "I'm Partial to Your Abracadabra" (1977, New Boots and Panties)
- "Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll" (1977, New Boots and Panties)
- "Wake Up and Make Love with Me" (1977, New Boots and Panties)
- "Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick" (1978 single)
- "Inbetweenies" (1979, Do It Yourself)
- "Reasons to be Cheerful, Pt. 3" (1979, Do It Yourself)
- "I Wanna be Straight" (1979, Do It Yourself)
- "Superman's Big Sister" (1980, Laughter)
- "Spasticus (Autisticus)" (1981, Lord Upminster)