Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Roots of Madness:Kilburn And The High Roads

KILBURN & THE HIGH ROADS-Rough Kids/Billy Bentley U.K. Dawn DNS 1090 1974

As I grew wiser (and older) I began seeking out obscure British things from the early 70's that weren't glam.  Way back in the early 90's I'd heard Dr. Feelgood's "Down By The Jetty" and immediately had The Jam's debut LP "In The City" sussed. About  6 or 7 years ago I heard Kilburn and The High Roads....yes

Kilburn And The High Roads

and I had Madness sussed. Wow, I knew The Nutty Boys had some different influences, but this was completely their sound and the song that hipped me to this was "Rough Kids" that appeared on a "Mojo" CD that I think, was called "The Roots Of Punk" (I could be wrong).  "Rough Kids" was the band's debut 45 issued in the U.K. in November 1974.  For those who don't know the band were formed in the late 60's by Ian Dury and numbered among their line up a guitarist Keith Lucas (now known as Nick Cash, the lead singer of 999) and pianist Russel Hardy (who co-wrote much of their material with Dury). They are best remembered also as being one of the more eccentric, but short lived acts in the mid 70's U.K. pub rock scene.

"Rough Kids" has a slight ska feel to it from the mock West Indian accented lead vocals (not unlike The Kink's "Apeman") to the sax (which is also crossed with Dury's beloved 50's rock n' roll).  There's also a music hall feel on the piano and a slight almost "contemporary" bit with the female backing vocals sounding like most records from 1974's top ten.  Overall it's totally unique and bears absolutely no distinct resemblance to any one genre as Dury and Co. skillfully mish mashed a variety of influences, as he did throught much of his career.

"Billy Bentley" follows Dury's beloved Cockney/music hall influence (again an area absorbed by Madness lock stock and barrell) and later quite apparent on Dury tracks with The Blockheads like "My Old Man", "There Ain't Been Half Some Clever Bastards", " Billericay Dickie" or "Plaistow Patricia". Complete with Dury's cheeky banter, tasty sax lines and moments where the track slows down and disloves into a jaunty little piano trill (again QUITE Madness-like).

Both tracks are available on CD on the reissue of their sole LP "Handsome"

Hear "Rough Kids":

Hear "Billy Bentley":

Groovy lookng PRT 10 " E.P. I missed in the 80's when we were all buying them on the cheap (Kinks,Bowie,Searchers,Sandie, Foundations etc)

Hear Madness play "Rough kids" with Ian Dury live 12/21/85:


C said...

Oh, I think you would've loved the first episode of the recent BBC4 series 'Punk Britannia'. Quite a bit about K & the High Roads (as well as Dr Feelgood) - very interesting. (Actually I suspect you'd have liked all three parts, but this post specifically made me think of that one!)

John Medd said...

Suggs has never been shy when it comes to acknowledging the debt Madness owes Dury. For what it's worth, I'd love to see him cover Glimpses; maybe I should drop Mr. McPherson a line.