She’s broken all her promises

And found another place to sleep

He’s a little boy that never thought about the consequence

She’s like a letter bomb waiting for another man

Sitting on a fence in another dreary disco town

— Isabel, Baxter Dury

The music industry landscape is littered with the detritus of the failed careers of the offspring of famous singers.

Being the son or daughter of a highly regarded musician has its advantages, of course. Publicity is assured via the media friendly ‘talented progeny’ angle. But if the goods aren’t immediately delivered, it’s pretty much game over.

Baxter Dury is the 39-year-old son of sadly departed post punk/new wave legend Ian Dury but is he a chip off the old Blockhead? Dury junior’s first two albums sank without trace, so it looked like he was yet another who’d fail to benefit from a famous parent’s reputation.

Happily, third effort Happy Soup provides many reasons to be cheerful. Baxter’s cockney vocals certainly echo old man Ian’s modus operandi but they’re backed by a mellower sound more in tune with Britpop than Punk.

Songs like Claire and Isabel are the kind of thing Blur did so well in their less laddish moments – ska-tinged, observational character pieces burdened with an understated sense of English small town gloom.

At least Baxter, unlike Blur’s Damon Albarn, can’t be accused of being mockney cockney.

The sound of another Britpop goliath, Pulp, is also evoked on spoken word ditties Leak At The Disco and title track Happy Soup. Like Jarvis Cocker and Dury senior, Baxter has a keen interest in ‘posh girls’ with their mannerisms and attitudes a lyrical source of fascination.

Happy Soup sees Baxter struggling to impress on a night out as ‘all the posh girls are laughing/and I’ve got to fink quick’. Isabel‘s chorus has Baxter ‘fink my mate slept wiv you/when you were in Portugal’.

And it’s a female touch that’s Happy Soup‘s magic ingredient. Madelaine Hart’s soothing backing and, at times, co-vocals provide a bit of smooth to Baxter’s rough, with two tones perfecting the musical broth.

Baxter Dury may never escape his father’s illustrious shadow but Happy Soup is a nice ‘n’ easy listen that wears its parental and English pop influences well.


earworms: Claire, Isabel


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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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