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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"And I've just about had enough of the sunshine, hey!"

In a nice bit of blog synergy, it seems everyone is talking about blue-eyed soul…which leads me to one of the sadder stories of the also-rans (at least in the States) in this genre – Dr. Robert and the Blow Monkeys.

First off, that name. Is it a coke reference? A funny, random lark? Whichever, it certainly didn’t help their chances with radio programmers. Secondly, the Blow Monkeys had the misfortune of being signed to RCA Records in the United States, a fate I wouldn’t wish on my most hated enemy. RCA were notorious for being unable to break a fucking egg, much less a hit single.

But now, I must turn the table over to my good buddy RBM in London, who I consider the world’s foremost authority on the Blow Monkeys, not to mention the biggest Dr. Robert fan ever:

dr robert was (and is) the lisping anglo soul-singer wannabe of indeterminate sexuality who fronted the blow monkeys. their first record (1984) was a folky indie-pop bore, but “animal magic” and “she was only a grocer’s daughter” are two of the best british albums of the 80s. the blow monkeys had only one minor hit in the states, with “digging your scene” but may also be known for their cover of “you don’t own me” on the “dirty dancing” soundtrack (dreadful, just dreadful, but the lisping makes for amusement). dr robert sang about sex and love and sadomasochism and politics, and very strangely, collaborated with curtis mayfield. having been a feature of the UK pop and dance charts for some time, the blow monkeys finally called it quits around 1990, with a string of nearly identical “best of” albums following. unfortunately, dr robert went back to being being a folky indie-pop bore,and somehow managed to pick up paul weller as an even more surprising collaborator. his 7th solo studio album is imminent, as well as a 2-disc retrospective of his solo and blow monkeys material.

I might argue with “Digging Your Scene” being a minor hit…it actually charted at #14, so that’s Top 20. The follow-up, however…

“It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way” was the lead-off single from “She Was Only A Grocer’s Daughter”, and a song I thought was going to be the one to drive the band to the top of the charts in the States. Wrong. I loved the guitar strum riff, the horns, the cheesy backing vocals. No one else did. After embracing the cute video for “Digging,” MTV shunned this single, and radio programmers followed suit. I actually think it’s a superior song to “Digging”. But hey, I can pick the losers every time. I’m curious as to what you think of it.

”It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way” did not chart.

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posted by John, 8:23 AM