Various Artists

Brand New Boots and Panties: Tribute to Ian Dury

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If you love Ian Dury, you might not be able to explain why -- his charms were that particular and idiosyncratic. Not inaccessible, though, since he had a big heart, a quick clever wit, and his own sense of style, all the more remarkable when you realize he was an old art school student-cum-teacher, stricken with polio at an early age, but never letting that keep him down. Anybody who witnessed the original Blockheads, either live or on illicit videos, will offer stunned, rapturous testimonials to the group's unrestrained power, but on record, that faded into the background and Dury's deft wordplay came to the front; not necessarily a bad thing, but the white disco that dominates his recordings might dissuade listeners who really come from the same vantage point as Dury. And that's why this tribute may offer a greater good than the average tribute, since it captures the spirit of Dury's distinctly British, wildly individual post-punk working-class poetry. This is still a very British record -- hell, he was a star in the U.K. while a barely noticed novelty in the U.S., so why shouldn't this not just be heavy on British celebrities, but have a British feel -- yet they wind up capturing the wonderful weirdness of Dury's body of work, particularly since most realize the joyous collequialisms and fun within his work. And there's a great deal of variety here, whether it's Billy Bragg capturing the off-kilter charm of Dury's rhyme on "Billericay Dickie" or Paul McCartney's pile-driving version of "I'm Partial to Your Abracadabra," recorded, like many of these songs, with the Blockheads. This is a tribute in the very best sense, because it captures the feel of Dury's records, but gives a personal spin from each artist -- a personal touch that has a real love for the artist. Dury still remains an acquired taste, but this will help the doubters understand why people love this man.

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