12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 27 November 2010
I have to admit I have a certain historical fondness for this album seeing as I bought it back when it was released and Ian & the Music Students at Cornwall Colosseum was my first ever gig. 4000 Weeks Holiday uses an almost completely different band to the previous albums eschewing the tighter more rocky dry sound of old for some early 80's jazz-pop-funk. That said, the lyrics are as brilliant tackling subjects as diverse as Peter Blake, Shelley, CND, Sex (as usual) and more. It's a huge improvement over the terrible Lord Upminster and frankly none of Ian's albums apart from New Boots.. is good all the way through - but 4000 Weeks Holiday is at least consistent and enjoyable throughout. It's the last good Ian album before the much more flabby & lightweight later discs.
I can confirm however that you really don't need to pay the silly money that people on Amazon are asking as you'll probably be disappointed. If it got re-released at £5 then you'd discover quite a lost gem.
on 16 January 2014
I just bought this Disc for slightly less in an actual SHOP !!! Sorry amazon, I love you really.
I had it as vinyl at the time of it's release back in !984, and listening to it now, it does sound really 80's with it's over energetic Jazz Funk group. But the Horns are great, as is the piano/keyboard player. Most of all though Ian himself just shines on the top of it all. Irreverent, and with the clear ability to rap anyone under the table, while at the same time delivering a melody indebted to English music hall(1800-1930's), and a wit that surely has to be the definition of unique !
Ian must have been the last great 'eclectic pop MUSIC artist'. And this record shows that it would be HIS record no matter who else is on it. There's a musical compote here if you listen closely enough,(as with all/most of his discs) but it is a much slicker production then anything else he was ever involved with (to my knowledge at least).
No Blockheads are on here at all, as part of the main group, but Chas Jankel does play lead guitar on one track (Percy the poet), and manages to inject more inspirational notes in 2 minutes, than he does on the whole of the previous album (Lord Upminster) on which he plays throughout.
Charlie Charles provides a ghost vocal behind Ian's on the last track (I'm really glad you came), but no drums. This song recalls 'Wake up and make love with me' in it's humour, but also the later 'Your my Baby' with it's very direct tenderness. A surprising ability that Ian Dury had, when you consider his most famous work. But as on all of his best albums, it's here in abundance,.... as his secret weapon!
Elton's mental percussionist, Ray Cooper (in truth a really fantastic musician) is here, along with others of his ilk (meaning top session players), but it's as much Ian's record as any other he made.
A couple of Ska and reggae, tracks mingled in a pop context crop up quite early, on the record, that recall the Kilburns, and on other tracks Ian harmonises with himself (Your my inspiration), to great effect. It's subtle enough to miss though.
Terrace chants get a bit of a look in too, with 'Take me to the cleaners' which turns out on closer inspection, to be a romantic narrative song about two swindlers. It's placed well next to 'The man with no face'. A little corner of East end underworld.
His singing here is great throughout, and captured particularly well on mic. There are no moment where you feel there could be a better take lurking somewhere......and where the vocal does sound uncomfortable, it's done for effect. ('Very personal' for example)
Double entendres, from the cheeky chappie, contrast with impassioned tributes, to among others Peter Blake (famed Pop artist, and friend). A stand out track! But there are others.
'The man with no face', is a hilarious re-write of the poem, 'The owl and the pussycat', done in a studied noir style, and comes over a bit like the Kray twins (as opposed to Alice) in Wonderland ! ( It sounds impossible, but he pulls it off)
I haven't seen it on CD for a good 15 years, so if you're a follower, get it somehow.
Personally I find it really up lifting. Better than DIY or Laughter in my opinion....by quite a bit.
'Lord Upminster', has also been unavailable for a long time, and has come out again in conjunction with '4000 weeks holiday'. If like me, you thought that 'Lord Upminster' sounded a bit like a bunch of B-sides, well all the A-sides are on here!
I believe that 'Lord Upminster' was quickly conceived, and executed, but this one has had far more care and attention placed on and around it.
EXTRA: I saw this band and Mr Dury at Glastonbury in 1984, when they headlined on Friday night. They won everyone over, and that was very much a hippy festival at that time.- The Smiths played there that year, and felt they had to stop after about 20 minutes.
The next year he headlined again, this time with the Blockheads on the Saturday night. Admittedly it was raining, and the festival had quadrupled in size that year, but in terms of atmosphere it didn't really work as well.(Andy Kershaw came on stage and berated a rowdy front row of pissed punters, for screwing up "your Saturday night headliners!")
I'm not saying anything bad against the Blockheads. They remain one of the most vibrant bands in Britain, but Ian was good in any band, and could make almost any band GOOD!
There's not much left in this world to substantiate that statement, but this record does it for me.............It's the last one before 'Mr Lovepants', that was really contemplated by the British public, so it's thought of as a bit of a failure.
What can I say? 1980's, plus not selling enough records, equals failure !... Artistically though, it's a success !!!
This album has a real feel of the time it was recorded, not just with some of the nuclear war anxieties expressed in the lyrics, but with the funky synth swirls and reggae horns that accompany much of the music. I haven't heard this album for years, so it is excellent to see it out on CD. As other reviewers have said, it is Dury's lyrical cleverness and dexterity that shines, even though vocally he probably wasn't at his peak anymore.
The Music Students had an impossible act to follow in coming after the tight knit unit of the Blockheads, but that said, pretty much everything here sounds bright, tight and well-produced. The bonus tracks are surprisingly good; why I Weighed Myself Up didn't make the original album is hard to fathom as it is quite excellent. Despite the club tropicanna feel to some of the tracks, it is engaging and nostalgic in equal measure for those of us who remember this affectionately from over 30 years' ago.