"Sex,Drugs, Rock n' Roll and Chaos" is the (bastardized) title of the final track on this L.P , featuring Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Wreckless Eric, Larry Wallis and Ian Dury) and it's a pretty damn good summary of the whole enterprise. The enterprise was to gather the eminent Stiff artists of 1977 and send 'em off all together on a package tour like Motown did with its stars back in the sixties.
Those Motown shows were, witnesses say, professional, polished performances whereas the Stiff shows were, often, a shambles albeit a glorious shambles. Look at those lovable losers grinning out at you from the cover, as if to say, "We were third tier sloggers but now we've got a shot at the top." Sure enough, everyone of those grinners, save Wallis, took a serious shot at the pop charts, all with some, if varying, levels of success.
Nick Lowe's was long known for his love of just bashing the music out (hence that "Basher' nick name). That reckless spirit, which made Nick a conduit between the old pubsters and the angry kids, permeates this record. Nick's prominent on both versions of the cover (with poor E.C. hiding at the back). Nick's tunes here include his best released version of "I Knew the Bride" and a fun obscurity, "Let's Eat", Wreckelss Eric's songs - "Reconez Cherie" and "Semaphore Signals" are a bloody mess (and bloody good - much more here) while Elvis C. and the Attraction attack "Miracle Man" and, shades of Imperial Bedroom, cover Bacharch-David's "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself". Larry Wallis only gets to play his best song ("Police Car") so that polio survivor and funky eccentric Ian Dury can get three songs (counting that pile-on version of "Sex, Drugs and Rock n' Roll" that ends the album). Enjoy this raw document because it seems impossible to imagine prominent label nowadays with a roster of such resolute individuals surviving.
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