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Sex & Drugs & Rock'N'roll: The Life Of Ian Dury

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The biography of the late, great self-made Essex lad, Ian Dury. For this book Dury co-operated with author Richard Balls who has produced a vivid portrait, illustrated with many photographs from private collections.


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The biography of the late, great self-made Essex lad, Ian Dury. For this book Dury co-operated with author Richard Balls who has produced a vivid portrait, illustrated with many photographs from private collections.

30 review for Sex & Drugs & Rock'N'roll: The Life Of Ian Dury

  1. 4 out of 5

    Pete daPixie

    Well, the first thing I think is that the title of this book is incorrect. Goodreads displays it as 'England's Glory'. My book is titled 'Sex & Drugs & Rock'n'Roll'. Wiki goes with the latter title. Whatever Trevor, this biography of the life of Ian Dury by Richard Balls, published 2000, is a very well researched and classic rock biog. He arrived on the crest of the 'New Wave' genre of music in Britain in the late seventies. Fronting his band The Blockheads, Dury's persona was the hard man, Essex Well, the first thing I think is that the title of this book is incorrect. Goodreads displays it as 'England's Glory'. My book is titled 'Sex & Drugs & Rock'n'Roll'. Wiki goes with the latter title. Whatever Trevor, this biography of the life of Ian Dury by Richard Balls, published 2000, is a very well researched and classic rock biog. He arrived on the crest of the 'New Wave' genre of music in Britain in the late seventies. Fronting his band The Blockheads, Dury's persona was the hard man, Essex boy, cockney rhyming slang, Jack the lad. Like much of this new wave/punk image, it was false. (Mr. J. Rotten was as much an anarchist as my grandmother, and today butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. Elvis Costello was really Declan Patrick MacManus, The Clash's Joe Strummer was the son of a diplomat who attended a rich man's boarding school etc etc.) Ian Dury was born in middle class Harrow, his mother from Irish landowning stock and his father a Rolls-Royce chauffeur. However, Dury contracted polio as a child and Balls' biog documents the tough schooling that he came through. He first became a fine artist, some examples of his work are in this book, attended the Royal College of Art under Peter Blake. Like any good rock 'n' roll story this life is full of sex and drugs and alcoholic excess, a punch in the face from Omar Sharif, on film set with Bob Dylan and plenty of anecdotes from exasperated friends and band members. If this abrasive man's life was a constant battle, underneath was a diamond geezer who won in the end. Cancer killed him in March 2000 at age 57 and as per Ian Dury's wishes, 50p from every copy of this book is donated to Cancer BACUP. Our Farnham, who art in Hendon Harrow be Thy name. Thy Kingston come; thy Wimbledon, In Erith as it is in Hendon. Give us this day our daily Brent And forgive us our Westminster As we forgive those who Westminster against us. And lead us not into Thames Ditton But deliver us from Yeovil. For Thine is the Kingston, the Purley and the Crawley, For Esher and Esher. Crouch End.

  2. 5 out of 5

    F.R.

    I’m not sure what kind of impact Ian Dury really had outside the UK, but certainly by the time of his death he was a national treasure in this country. The way he sang/spoke his incredibly good cockney-slang lyrics, coupled with his unique stage presence (he was crippled by polio at a young age) made him a true one-off. Unfortunately there’s nothing so exciting about this book. ‘Pedestrian’ is probably the best word to describe it. The plodding prose moves neatly from one event of Dury’s life to I’m not sure what kind of impact Ian Dury really had outside the UK, but certainly by the time of his death he was a national treasure in this country. The way he sang/spoke his incredibly good cockney-slang lyrics, coupled with his unique stage presence (he was crippled by polio at a young age) made him a true one-off. Unfortunately there’s nothing so exciting about this book. ‘Pedestrian’ is probably the best word to describe it. The plodding prose moves neatly from one event of Dury’s life to another, without ever really involving the reader or given a real sense of time and place. Irritatingly there’s a lot of time spent giving background of those who crossed paths with Dury, this is fine with the various members of the Blockheads, but would anyone reading this actually need an explanation as to who The Sex Pistols were? Some of the more interesting events seem skated over: for instance Dury toured and feuded with both Elvis Costello and Lou Reed, and had a year long affair with Jane Horrocks. None of those parties give their side of the story. Now it might that they each turned down interview requests (although Costello at least always seems eager to talk) but they’re indicative of a book that is happy to skim across the surface of stories and never really look beneath them. Ian Dury himself is amusing company – even if the many drunken anecdotes frequently descend into boorishness – so the book isn’t a waste of time. However I can’t help thinking that the telling of such a life story should be a richer and more exciting affair.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dead John Williams

    In the beginning he quotes Ian as saying, "I don’t want a hagiography". At the end I'm not sure if he granted Ian his wish or not. I saw Kilburn And The High Roads back in 74-ish and they were good but weird. Then Ian Dury appeared an suddenly he was everywhere and there was someone singing in my language, both internal and external. Billericay Dickie has to be one of the finest pieces rhyme in the English Language to appear in the last couple of hundred years or more. And I ain't pulling yer plo In the beginning he quotes Ian as saying, "I don’t want a hagiography". At the end I'm not sure if he granted Ian his wish or not. I saw Kilburn And The High Roads back in 74-ish and they were good but weird. Then Ian Dury appeared an suddenly he was everywhere and there was someone singing in my language, both internal and external. Billericay Dickie has to be one of the finest pieces rhyme in the English Language to appear in the last couple of hundred years or more. And I ain't pulling yer plonker. This is Essex. This is how most of England really is and not the pretentious rubbish that the Guardian, Telegraph and LRB would like you to believe. I really think that just for moment we had our own Shakespeare there, for if WS was alive today he would be all over social media and reality TV. Instead he has been appropriated by the elite and disowned by the every people he was writing to. Anyway..... It was somewhat of a revelation to read that Ian Dury came from landed gentry and not the apocryphal Upminster of myth and legend. There was no doubt that he was a nasty bastard at times but his pettiness just permeates this biography. I guess the lesson is to never read a biography of someone that you had on a pedestal. Also a snapshot of the music scene at various times and the personalities within it. If you are interested give it a go.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ken French

    Not as good as Will Birch's biography of Dury. Not a terrible book, but just not that well-written. It is filled with long quotes from friends and bandmates, which often contradict each other. Balls makes no attempt to straighten it all out. Not as good as Will Birch's biography of Dury. Not a terrible book, but just not that well-written. It is filled with long quotes from friends and bandmates, which often contradict each other. Balls makes no attempt to straighten it all out.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lee Battersby

    A thorough investigation of Dury's adult life, with frustrating gaps where the author fails to follow a number of threads to their logical conclusion-- Dury's minders, for example, of which so much is made throughout the book, simply disappear. I had to take to the net to find out what had happened to Fred 'Spider' Rowe, who simply ceases to be mentioned after a while, which is not what i want to do when reading a biography. As an insight into the life of a person who can best be remembered as a A thorough investigation of Dury's adult life, with frustrating gaps where the author fails to follow a number of threads to their logical conclusion-- Dury's minders, for example, of which so much is made throughout the book, simply disappear. I had to take to the net to find out what had happened to Fred 'Spider' Rowe, who simply ceases to be mentioned after a while, which is not what i want to do when reading a biography. As an insight into the life of a person who can best be remembered as a brilliant pre- and post-punk lyricist and, less charitably, a complete shit of a person to know, the book is both wide-ranging and insightful, but it's lack of completeness-- we never find out what his much-discussed father or neglected mother felt about him or his career, for example-- leaves the reader feeling that we've been educated more about Ian Dury the public creation than Ian Dury the complex, driven, and ultimately, twisted man.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    I first began this book about seven years ago and just couldn't get past the first few chapters. It seemed bogged down with too much background information that I wasn't bothered about (just how far in someone's ancestry do you have to go to reveal the person they became?). However, picking it up again and ploughing through my initial reservations led to a fascinating - warts 'n' all - account of Ian Dury and his life in music. Irascible and likeable yet sometimes aggressive and disturbing, Dury I first began this book about seven years ago and just couldn't get past the first few chapters. It seemed bogged down with too much background information that I wasn't bothered about (just how far in someone's ancestry do you have to go to reveal the person they became?). However, picking it up again and ploughing through my initial reservations led to a fascinating - warts 'n' all - account of Ian Dury and his life in music. Irascible and likeable yet sometimes aggressive and disturbing, Dury comes off as a human being forged by his circumstances and neither devil nor angel because of it. Because the book is neither glowing or disparaging I found it a well-balanced read of this talented songwriter and recommended it for those interested in the music of those times.

  7. 5 out of 5

    FiveBooks

    Film director Mat Whitecross has chosen to discuss Richard Balls’ Sex & Drugs & Rock’n’Roll: The Life of Ian Dury , on FiveBooks (http://five-books.com) as one of the top five on his subject – Film Directing, saying that: “… When I started the film the only thing that was available was Richard’s book, which luckily is very good. It’s 500 pages and it goes into lots of details, which was difficult for me as a film-maker because we were trying to make a 110-minute film. So we decided to cherry pic Film director Mat Whitecross has chosen to discuss Richard Balls’ Sex & Drugs & Rock’n’Roll: The Life of Ian Dury , on FiveBooks (http://five-books.com) as one of the top five on his subject – Film Directing, saying that: “… When I started the film the only thing that was available was Richard’s book, which luckily is very good. It’s 500 pages and it goes into lots of details, which was difficult for me as a film-maker because we were trying to make a 110-minute film. So we decided to cherry pick moments from the biography.. .…”. The full interview is available here: http://thebrowser.com/books/interview...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pjebsen

    This well-researched biography is indispensable to anyone who had the pleasure of enjoying the multi-faceted talents of singer, songwriter, painter, actor, author Ian Dury. I still would have preferred a more objective view - Richard Balls clearly is a major fan of chief Blockhead Dury. I just ordered "Ian Dury: The Definitive Biography" by Will Birch ... let's see whether he does an even better job. This well-researched biography is indispensable to anyone who had the pleasure of enjoying the multi-faceted talents of singer, songwriter, painter, actor, author Ian Dury. I still would have preferred a more objective view - Richard Balls clearly is a major fan of chief Blockhead Dury. I just ordered "Ian Dury: The Definitive Biography" by Will Birch ... let's see whether he does an even better job.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Don Wilton

    Over indulged and wealthy middle class young man = well practiced, manipulative, egocentric, determined professional-cockney opportunist. A great reminder of my (not, in my opinion) misspent youth. Loving Awareness transformed into Blockheads.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    A solid biography of an unusual life. It doesn't gloss over his bad side either. Dury could be a nightmare to live and work with, and this is covered in detail here. A must read for any fans of Ian Dury and The Blockheads. A solid biography of an unusual life. It doesn't gloss over his bad side either. Dury could be a nightmare to live and work with, and this is covered in detail here. A must read for any fans of Ian Dury and The Blockheads.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Don Wilton

    Over indulged and wealthy middle class young man = well practiced, manipulative, egocentric, determined professional-cockney opportunist. A great reminder of my (not, in my opinion) misspent youth. Loving Awareness transformed into Blockheads.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    Pretty good review of Ian's career. Highlights his flaws honestly. A bit too detailed at times but generally an interesting read. Pretty good review of Ian's career. Highlights his flaws honestly. A bit too detailed at times but generally an interesting read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Angela Reeves

    a bit dull

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tim Moss

  16. 4 out of 5

    john bauld

  17. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  18. 5 out of 5

    Greg

  19. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  20. 5 out of 5

    Eddie G.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chigozie

  22. 4 out of 5

    David Holroyd

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andy

  24. 5 out of 5

    Luci

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tessa Brown

  27. 4 out of 5

    mr p j latham

  28. 4 out of 5

    Janny

  29. 4 out of 5

    d g mcareavey

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Fox

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