Here’s a happy coincicdence. I was just enjoying “Atomic Lullabies” last week, the 2xCD “best of” by The Blow Monkeys that contains a delightful second disc of B-sides. I was noticing how the band’s sound changed through each album, cutting a wide swath of sound that led up to their 1990 demise. I enjoy all of their albums, and even the one with the dated sound [“She Was Only A Grocer’s Daughter”] and production, is salvaged by the unimpeachable quality of its songwriting, which remained consistently good no matter how much they stretched the BM fabric.
When the band reformed in 2008 I was happy to help crowdsource their first album in 18 years, which was the excellent “The Devil’s Tavern.” Since that time I’ve been falling behind on their subsequent live and studio albums [“Travelin’ Souls – Live At The Legendary 100 Club,” “Staring At The Sea”] they’ve issued. Now comes word that the Blow Monkeys are finally getting the DLX RM treatment and I’m very pleased to see that their first two albums are getting reissued by Cherry Red on November 26th of this year. Surely, more to give thanks for? Let’s dig in!
The Blow Monkeys: Limping For A Generation UK 2xCD DLX RM 
Disc 1 | Album
- He’s Shedding Skin
- Atomic Lullaby
- Fat Cat Belusha
- Go Public
- Professor Supercool
- Man From Russia
- Limping for A Generation
- Waiting For Mr. Moonlight
- Trashtown Incident
Disc 2 | Rarities
- Rub-a-dub Shanka
- My Twisty Jewel
- Kill The Pig
- Resurrection Love
- Atomic Lullaby (12”)
- It’s Not Unusual (Live)
- Waiting For Mr. Moonlight (Live)
- Trashtown Incident (Live)
- He’s Shedding Skin (Demo)
- Soul Boys In Slumber (Demo)
- Wildflower (Demo)
- Fat Cat Belusha (Demo)
- Go Public (Demo)
- Man From Russia (Demo)
- Limping for A Generation (Demo)
- Rub-a-dub Shanka (Demo)
- Slither (Demo)
- Resurrection Love(Demo)
- Atomic Lullaby (Demo)
- Waiting For Mr. Moonlight (Demo)
- Trashtown Incident (Demo)
The dark, jazzy debut with dashes of psychedelic soul remains my favorite of their albums. The new RM has appropriate B-sides, live cuts and remixes that were originally issued on vinyl singles but the créme-de-la-créme here is the whole album and some of its B-sides in demo form. The band assure us that the form the material ultimately took on the finished record differs greatly form these humble beginnings. I’m just knocked out that this album has gotten the DLX RM seal of approval in spite if its status as their not-very-successful [chartwise] debut that far fewer people heard than their 2nd album breakthrough, “Animal Magic.” Speaking of which…
The Blow Monkeys: Animal Magic UK 2xCD DLX RM 
Disc 1 | Album
- Digging Your Scene
- Animal Magic
- Wicked Ways
- Sweet Murder
- Aeroplane City Lovesong
- I Nearly Died Laughing
- Don’t Be Scared Of Me
- Burn The Rich
- I Backed A Winner (In You)
- Forbidden Fruit
- Heaven Is A Place
Disc 2 | Rarities
- My America
- Sweet Murder (Eek-A-Mix)
- Kill The Pig (Pig Mix)
- Sweet Murder (The Smile On Her Face) (Extended Version)
- Sweet Murder (The Smile On Her Face) (Murderess Dub Version)
- Digging Your Scene (Long Version)
- Digging Your Scene (Remix)
- Digging Your Scene (Instrumental)
- Walking The Bluebeat
- Digging Your Scene (Scat Mix)
- Wicked Ways (Long)
- Wicked Ways (Instrumental)
- Don’t Be Scared Of Me (extended)
- Animal Magic (Demo)
- Wicked Ways (Demo)
- Sweet Murder (Demo)
- Aeroplane City Lovesong (Pete Wilson Remix)
- I Nearly Died Laughing (Demo)
- Digging Your Scene (Original Version – Pete Wilson Mix)
- Forbidden Fruit (Demo)
- Guess I Love Her Now (Demo)
This was the album that took the band from obscurity to the charts, even making the US top 20 at #14! That song, or more correctly, its video, won me over where exposure to a minute of “Atomic Lullabye” a year earlier on MTV’s London Calling had failed to gel with me. At the point where Dr. Robert croons the song in a café to a matronly woman in her late fifties with adoration in her eyes, I’ll have to admit, I’d not seen anything that smarmy and crass in my life. My friend Tom, also agog, rushed out and bought “Animal Magic,” while extolling its virtues soon afterward. I soon followed suit and discovered that The Blow Monkeys had a rich sound and the songwriting chops to make it more than worth my while. The group joined The Monk’s Core Collection Club right then and there.
The arrangements here were fantastic! And Dr. Robert managed to resurrect guitar treatments like wah-wah which had been banished for a good decade prior. His playing throughout is deft and luscious, making the album supremely wonderful ear candy. The hit single, “Digging Your Scene” seems out of place, with its drum machine and synth stylings, but it apparently pointed the way forward to the band’s third album. The rest of the program is soul music touched with strings and dub magic, in the case of Eek-A-Mouse.
There are fewer previously unreleased tracks on this album than the former, but it hits a plethora of targets in cleaning up a veritable rat’s nest of remixes, live cuts, and B-sides, many of which I only have on US Promo waxings. To know where the band was coming from, listen no further than their righteous cover of Curtis Mayfield’s classic “Superfly.” It’s every bit as great as the original, and the band found themselves collaborating with Mayfield on their next album, but that’s another story for another remaster. What’s on offer here will keep Blow Monkeys fans more than busy until Cherry Red makes their next move on the Blow Monkey’s catalog.
– 30 –
This is simply wonderful news!!!! The Blow Monkeys are terribly underrated and have always been a favorite of mine. They did the right thing early on by not sitting in one genre too long. Starting as sophistipop and ending as one of the few British pop bands to incorporate the house sound properly in their sound. They were at their best when the were funky and they were funky a lot of the time.
I agree with you on the assessment of their lyrical content. Robert Howard has written some amazing work as The Blow Monkeys, as a solo artist and for other such as Paul Weller and his ex DC Lee.
Monk, Staring at the Sea is a wonderful record. A bit more intimate sounding than The Devil’s Tavern, but it has a connection with the previous release as well.
These will be on order as soon as possible.
Tonight I am migrating my mail, iTunes, photos and bookmarks to my new iMac…
Echorich – Brother you said a mouthful! The Blow Monkeys are perhaps singular in all of the groups who dallied with house in that period and not to have skinned their knees, but to have actually triumphed! I don’t care too much for house music. It’s reductive and unemotive to me. In short, it’s what most people [but not me] say about Kraftwerk! “Wait” is a freaking classic! It’s the best house music I’ve ever heard, right up there with parts of Billy MacKenzie’s “Outernational!” For that alone they make my jaw drop, but their sound began at jazz pop, moved to soul, then funk, consolidated on all three briefly before moving outward to world music and ambient house. And all of it was good! I cannot for the life of me understand the vitriol that Trouser Press has for this band; comparing them to Culture Club, fergoshsakes! Sure, sure. “Grocer’s Daughter” has dated Jam + Lewis styled production, but the lyrics alone make up for it!
It was great that they broke up for a good reason [no longer selling product] rather than petty personality reasons because when they got back together again it was just perfect with no heavy baggage to work out. They are a hot band. Dr. Robert solo was good. On “Flatlands” he really hit the heights; I think that’s as good as any BM album, but put him in a room with Anker, Kiley, and Henry and it’s just that much better!
I got up this morning and spent 30 minutes to create a TBM playlist to listen too back and forth from work. Found my Wicked Ways Extended mix, Higher Ground – a lost unreleased gem, Wait, Choice?, and Slaves No More from the band’s House Diva period and 30 others for full Monkey immersion.
I have to agree that Flatlands is a wonderful singer songwriter album that doesn’t come off all singer songwriter-y (yeah I cringed as well after I wrote that).
I think the press gave The Blow Monkeys a hard time because the did what they did so effortlessly.
I have to say they also released some beautiful 12″ single artwork, including a cut out of the Ten City House Mixes of This Is Your Life – which in NYC got a lot of club play when it was released.
A big “me too” regarding the Blow Monkeys. They were clever, catchy, inventive, and had in the good Doctor Robert a very appealing singer. Animal Magic is my fave – and while it sold well I was very surprised it didn’t push the band to Wham/Culture Club levels of fame. Just as well. I have vivid memories of the one live show I caught (circa Animal Magic), which actually reminded me very much of Haircut 100. Seriously. BTW, this is not an insult – I really like Pelican West and much of Nick Heyward’s solo career.
Taffy – I can sort of see the resemblance to “Pelican West” you mention, given that I only ever heard the singles. But H100 were so lightweight I never bothered. I like the jazzy origins of the BMs best but I certainly can’t fault “Animal Magic.” It’s a near perfect album, save for the jarring production on “Digging Your Scene” and “Wicked Ways,” which belong on the next album! Those cuts pale next to stuff like “Aeroplane City Lovesong!” Again, the guitar playing is just so inspired here.
I think Haircut 100 were a pretty good band – unfortunately stuck in the tail end of the New Romantic era, when they were really more a part of the neo jazz/sophisti-pop scene. Pelican West is quite listenable, but it’s kind of all over the place as an album. I am quite a fan of Nick Heyward solo.
One thing I will give Haircut 100 is that live, they were really good! They played The Ritz in NYC when Pelican West came out and I had low expectations, but they were a funky, jazzy gang of hooligans on stage! They had the crowd in the palm of their hand from the first song.
I saw Haircut 100 during the summer of 1982 at the Doctor Pepper music series at some Pier on the Hudson. I guess they graduated from clubland rather quickly! Agree that live they really cut loose and entertained. Of course the show was quite short, having just the one album…I recall them playing Love Plus One (and maybe Favourite Shirts as well) twice to fill up the set!
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