Album box-set: Ian Dury, The Stiff Singles + The Promo Videos + The Peel Session (Edsel)
This does exactly what it says on the box, albeit in the least resourceful manner possible, managing to spread the music content thinly over eight CDs, with an additional DVD of the audio-visual material rounding things off.
That's two more discs than The Kinks required to relate their entire history, and this set leaves gaping album-sized holes in The Blockheads' noble heritage. It seems to be an ill-judged digital version of the old vinyl strategy of re-packaging an artist's singles en masse in a snazzy box. The music, of course, is unsinkable: "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll" remains one of the great youth-culture anthems, and "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" may be the most effective funk groove ever created by a British act. And while the quality dips with "Superman's Big Sister" and "I Want to be Straight", the four tracks on the Peel Session disc offer an accurate impression of The Blockheads in their 1977 pomp, when New Boots And Panties was acclaimed as the punk equivalent of Dark Side of the Moon – an album that so perfectly summarised the attitudes, concerns and argot of its era that it became a staple feature of every music fan's life. Better buy that than this, though.
Pick of the Album: 'Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll', 'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick', 'Blockheads'