- Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick
Name = Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick
Ian Dury& The Blockheads
from Album =
B-side = "There Ain't Half Been Some Clever Bastards"
Released = 23 November
Format = 7" single
Genre = Rock
Length = 3:43
Ian Dury/ Chas Jankel
Chart position = #1 (UK)
Last single = "What a Waste"
This single = "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick"
Next single = "
Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3"
"Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" is a song and single by
Ian Dury& The Blockheads, first released November 23, 1978and was first released on the 7" single BUY 38 "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick / There Ain't Half Been Some Clever Bastards" by Stiff Records. It went to number 1 on the UK popular music charts in January, 1979.
Its lyrics mix various locations across the world and a number of phrases in non-English languages (including French and German). According to its author Ian Dury, the song has an anti-violence message.Fact|date=July 2007 Its music is noteworthy for
bassist Norman Watt-Royplaying 16 notes to the bar and saxophonist Davey Payneplaying two saxophones at once.
Chas Jankelhas repeated a story both in "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll: The Life of Ian Dury" and "Ian Dury & The Blockheads: Song by Song" that the song was written in Rolvendon, Kentduring a jamming session between him and Dury. Jankel relates that the music was inspired by a piano part near the end of "Wake Up And Make Love With Me" (a song on Dury's solo debut New Boots and Panties!!that Jankel had co-written) and that after listening to it, Dury presented the lyrics for "Rhythm Stick" to him the same afternoon. This was later corroborated by Dury.
Dury mentioned a number of origins for his lyrics, including claiming that he had written them up to three years earlier and it had just taken him all that time to realise their quality. Johnny Turnbull (guitar) gives a different account, claiming the lyrics were written while on tour in America six months prior to the song's recording and that he was still adjusting in-studio. He said the line "it's nice to be a lunatic" was originally "it don't take arithmetic".
The song was recorded in The Workhouse Studio on the
Old Kent Road, London, the same place Dury's debut album, New Boots and Panties!!, was recorded. At least 11 takes of the song were recorded before one, reportedly an early take, was chosen for the single release. Mickey Gallagher(keyboards) remains jaded about this method and much of the band as well as producer Laurie Latham remain unhappy with the chosen take's mix, claiming it to be too dominated by piano and vocals. Despite this, Chas Jankeloften re-tells the story that after recording it he phoned his mother and told her, "I've just recorded my first number one".
On radio "Rhythm Stick" was a popular song from its release, but the single was initially kept from the number one spot in the charts by
The Village People's smash hit YMCA, which was at number one for five consecutive weeks. However, on the 27th of January 1979, Watt-Roy, Turnbull and Charley Charles (drums) were waiting outside the Kilburn State Cinema, Kilburn, Londonlistening to a car radio when it was announced that "Rhythm Stick" was the new number one. Ian Dury was on holiday in Cannes, where he was at the beach when the hotel staff brought him a bottle of champagne and told him the news. For their appearance on Top of the Popsthe whole band bought Moss Bros suits. Laurie Lewis, a friend of Ian Dury's from college, shot the promotional video for the single - while it simply showed the band playing on stage, it was an important piece of footage for Ian Dury, who for the first time appeared in public without his pink jacket or another long sleeved shirt hiding his left arm, withered by Poliomyelitisas a child.
While not a hit in the U.S, it sold 979,000 copies in the UK. In 2006, its popularity was boosted by its appearance in a British advertisement for
The single cover was designed by Stiff's
Barney Bubbles, as usual anonymously.
The B-side was "There Ain't Half Been Some Clever Bastards", written by Dury and Russel Hardy, his co-writer from his time in the pub-rock band Kilburn & The Highroads.
An amusing song affectionately describing the achievements of
Noel Coward, Vincent Van Goghand Albert Einsteinin a working class (specifically Cockney) manner and amusingly dismissing Leonardo de Vincias an 'Italian geezer' in Van Gogh's verse.
Re-releases and Versions
The song has been used for numerous purposes since its release including various adverts and in numerous television programmes (including the "
Doctor Who" episode Tooth and Claw). And has had its lyrics changed often, including in one instance to 'hit me with your oven chip'. This, combined with its continued popularity and original chart success has ensured that today the song is incredibly easily to find on CD, not only on all of Ian Dury's compilations but in numerous various artists compilations.
However like all of Ian Dury's stand alone singles this was not originally the case and in keeping with his then-policy of not including singles on his albums the song was omitted from Do it Yourself the next Ian Dury & The Blockheads album. It was not available again until the release "Jukebox Dury" years later.
Though none of the 11+ takes have been released, two live versions exist on Ian Dury's two live albums "Warts 'n' Audience" and "Straight From The Desk" both including add-libs in the song's third verse, the Warts 'n' Audience version name checking the
Brixton Academyand the Straight from the Desk version name checking Dagenham Heathway. The Straight From the Desk version also includes an extended instrumental break.
* The line "on the road to Mandalay" is taken from the children's popular song
Nellie the Elephantwhich was itself quoting Rudyard Kipling's famous poem Mandalay.
Bombayis one of the various places mentioned in the song, and it is also the birthplace of Blockheads bassist Norman Watt-Roy. Watt-Roy suggests that this is not a coincidence.
*This song was briefly featured in the
Doctor Whoepisode Tooth and Claw.
*A parody verson of the song appeared in
televisioncommercials for SamboyChips in Australiain the 1990swhich included the lyrics 'Hit Me with a Samboy Chip'. Various Australian celebrities featured in the commercials, such as Red Symonsand Trevor Marmalade.
* The song is played over the closing credits of Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw's
Zero Punctuationreview of .
*"Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll: The Life Of Ian Dury" by Richard Balls, first published 2000, Omnibus Press
*"Ian Dury & The Blockheads: Song By Song" by Jim Drury, first published 2003, Sanctuary Publishing.
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