The Blockeads

by Mostyn Taylor-Crockett

Photo credit: Tammy Lynn Photography/Sonic PR.

Backing Ian Dury as he helped shape new wave made The Blockheads infamous among British music fans. In the late 1970s they were, alongside Elvis Costello’s Attractions, one of the best bands out there owing to their outstanding musicianship. Guitarist Chaz Jankel, alongside Dury, was the band’s driving creative force and drew on influences from jazz to reggae in realising the Blockheads’ unique sound. The band are responsible for some of new wave’s seminal songs. Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll, the band’s first single, and possibly their best known song, embraces funk and jazz with its driving bass line and expressive piano licks.

The band is still comprised of all of it original members (Jankel, Norman Watt-Roy and Davey Payne) with the exception of Dury and founding drummer Charlie Charles. Throughout the band’s history a number of members have left and, in some cases, rejoined. When Jankel left in 1980, he was replaced by Wilko Johnson of the Essex blues band Dr. Feelgood. Since Dury’s death in 2000 the they have continued to play together with Dury’s friend Derek Hussey fronting the band. They have released a number of albums including 30 Live At the Electric Ballroom which marked the 30th anniversary of their first album New Boots and Panties. The range of artists, from Robbie Williams to Paul McCartney, who played on the tribute to the band’s first album, Brand New Boots and Panties, shows the transcendental nature of their influence. After years of playing together live, The Blockheads have become consummate performers and are sure to be at the top of their game.