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Novelty Song Friday #10 — “Upminster Kid,” by Kilburn and the High Roads

Per wikipedia:
Ian Robins Dury (12 May 1942 – 27 March 2000) was an English singer-songwriter and actor who rose to fame during the late 1970s, during the punk and new wave era of rock music. He died from colorectal cancer.

Kilburn and the High Roads were a British pub rock band formed by Ian Dury in 1970, and the first band formed by Dury. The band released one studio album in 1975 before disbanding the same year. AllMusic credits the band with being “an undeniable influence on punk and new wave.”

The band consisted of Ian Dury as lead vocalist and lyricist, pianist Russell Hardy, guitarist Ed Speight (later replaced by Nick Cash), bassist Charlie Hart (later replaced by Humphrey Ocean), saxophonist George Khan (later replaced by Davey Payne) and drummer Chris Lucas (replaced by Terry Day and later by David Newton-Rohoman, who used crutches). The band performed their first gig in 1971 and were regulars on the pub rock scene by 1973. The Kilburns also supported The Who on their Quadrophenia tour of late 1973.

The band signed to Warner Bros. subsidiary Raft Records and recorded an album in 1974 – but it remained unreleased when the label was shut down. The band were managed at this time by fashion entrepreneur Tommy Roberts, presaging acquaintance Malcolm McLaren’s involvement with the Sex Pistols. Signing to Pye subsidiary Dawn Records, the band released debut single “Rough Kids” the same year and a second single and their re-recorded debut album Handsome in 1975 before disbanding soon afterwards.

Handsome, released in June, 1975, originally had 12 songs on it. Pye-Dawn (label) re-released the original LP in 1977 following the success of Ian Dury as a solo artist. In 1998 as part of their 30th Anniversary series Dawn re-issued the album onto CD in a very unconventional way, instead of adding bonus tracks to the end of the album or on a second disc, Dawn decided to re-organize the album’s track order to accommodate the missing B-sides as well as adding four previously unreleased tracks including a cover version of Alma Cogan’s “Twenty Tiny Fingers” one of only two cover versions Ian Dury has ever officially released, the other being “Girls (Watching)” on his 1980 album Lord Upminster.

Upminster Kid”, written by Dury and Hardy, caught my eye because of the vivid fashion descriptions. The song feels like such a time capsule, I had to pick it. It’s new to me. Does anyone remember this song?  I’ve included the studio version and a live version after the lyrics.



When I was fifteen I had a black crepe jacket and sideboards to my chin
I used to go around in a two-tone Zephyr with a mean and nasty grin
Twelve-inch bottoms on my stardust flares and socks of dazzling green

Well Gene Vincent Craddock remembered the love of an Upminster rock ‘n’ roll teen
Well the silver-dollar hairstyle been cut down
The silver-dollar hairstyle been cut down
Amazing that the feeling’s still around

My good friend Friar wore a powder-blue suit with criss-cross lurex thread
He turned seventeen bought a big motorcycle and started wearing leather instead
I could not afford a ruby snaffle tie or black suede clubbing shoes

Well Gene Vincent Craddock, the people still move
over when the Upminster Kid walked through
With a silver-dollar hairstyle been cut down
A silver-dollar hairstyle, been cut down
Amazing that the feeling’s still around

Sunday afternoon at the Romford Gaumont
Rum and black at the Bell Hotel
Stroll into the park, for a chumber in the dark, little juvenile never-do-well
Run a steel comb along the Regent jukebox, a little bit of thieving now and then

Well Gene Vincent Craddock I surely wish I were a Upminster Kid again
Well the silver-dollar hairstyle been cut down
The silver-dollar hairstyle been cut down
Amazing that the feeling’s still around

With a silver-dollar hairstyle, been cut down
With a silver-dollar hairstyle, been cut down
Amazing that the feeling’s still around
Songwriters: Ian Robins Dury / Russell Godfrey Hardy

Here’s a jammin’ live version of the song:

12 thoughts on “Novelty Song Friday #10 — “Upminster Kid,” by Kilburn and the High Roads

  1. There was a massive outpouring of grief here when Dury died. He’d obviously influenced so many musicians, despite not being a big commercial success. Most of Dury’s music I know was probably 10 years later, and this sounds very like what I’d expect a younger Dury to sound like. It’s almost punk before punk.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a groove! I heard of Dury but never of this song. You can’t beat this with a stick…love the female singers…but again that groove…you can’t improve on that.

    Liked by 1 person

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