Great Brit Swearing: Ian Dury, Culture Club, David Bowie & Up Yaws

487px-Ian_Dury_1Those of a nervous or sensitive disposition, look away now/cover your ears…

I’ve always had a penchant for good swearing in music. And long before those Parental Advisory stickers, there were some real humdingers.

Ian Dury’s oeuvre was of course an early landmark – his ‘Plaistow Patricia’ became a kind of forbidden, blasphemous classic as did Marianne Faithful’s coruscating ‘Why D’Ya Do It’. They both sounded like they really meant it.

David Bowie’s ‘It’s No Game (Part 2)’ would also have us in stitches. His rather random four-letter word, sung in Iggyish baritone, enlivened many a dull afternoon.

But then my uncle (it’s always uncles) passed me the following curio and the world of muso swearing was never quite the same again. Initially coming on like a first-rate pastiche of early-’80s UK jazz/funk as played by the likes of Shakatak, its gradual insertion of four-letter words and random insults never fails to provoke a titter.

It’s puerile, silly and childish, and I absolutely defend it as a piece of music. Rumours abound as to who’s responsible – the most likely candidates have emerged as sundry members of The Damned… (But if anyone knows for sure, please leave a message at the bottom of this post.)

Then there’s the whole subgenre of bands-getting-it-wrong-in-the-studio-and-swearing-alot. The Troggs Tapes are of course the industry standard, but a Culture Club outtake from 1983 recently came to light on a career-spanning box set (recently removed from YouTube, sadly…).

It features our four heroes (plus poor pianist Phil Pickett) trying to record ‘Victims’ with the underlying pressures of expensive studio costs, an out-of-tune fretless bass and Boy George/Jon Moss’s corrosive love affair.

Suffice it to say, things don’t go too well. But imagine trying to ‘produce’ this lot. Come to think of it, producer Steve Levine is possibly the one voice we don’t hear. Had he given up the ghost or was he all-too-aware of not getting involved and spoiling an audio-verite ‘classic’?

6 thoughts on “Great Brit Swearing: Ian Dury, Culture Club, David Bowie & Up Yaws

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