In a nice bit of blog synergy, it seems everyone is talking about blue-eyed soulÁ¢€¦which leads me to one of the sadder stories of the also-rans (at least in the States) in this genre Á¢€” Dr. Robert and the Blow Monkeys.
First off, that name. Is it a coke reference? A funny, random lark? Whichever, it certainly didnÁ¢€â„¢t help their chances with radio programmers. Secondly, the Blow Monkeys had the misfortune of being signed to RCA Records in the United States, a fate I wouldnÁ¢€â„¢t wish on my most hated enemy. RCA were notorious for being unable to break a fucking egg, much less a hit single.
But now, I must turn the table over to my good buddy RBM in London, who I consider the worldÁ¢€â„¢s foremost authority on the Blow Monkeys, not to mention the biggest Dr. Robert fan ever:
dr robert was (and is) the lisping anglo soul-singer wannabe of indeterminate sexuality who fronted the blow monkeys. their first record (1984) was a folky indie-pop bore, but Á¢€Å“animal magicÁ¢€ and Á¢€Å“she was only a grocerÁ¢€â„¢s daughterÁ¢€ are two of the best british albums of the 80s. the blow monkeys had only one minor hit in the states, with Á¢€Å“digging your sceneÁ¢€ but may also be known for their cover of Á¢€Å“you donÁ¢€â„¢t own meÁ¢€ on the Á¢€Å“dirty dancingÁ¢€ soundtrack (dreadful, just dreadful, but the lisping makes for amusement). dr robert sang about sex and love and sadomasochism and politics, and very strangely, collaborated with curtis mayfield. having been a feature of the UK pop and dance charts for some time, the blow monkeys finally called it quits around 1990, with a string of nearly identical Á¢€Å“best ofÁ¢€ albums following. unfortunately, dr robert went back to being being a folky indie-pop bore,and somehow managed to pick up paul weller as an even more surprising collaborator. his 7th solo studio album is imminent, as well as a 2-disc retrospective of his solo and blow monkeys material.
I might argue with Á¢€Å“Digging Your SceneÁ¢€ being a minor hitÁ¢€¦it actually charted at #14, so thatÁ¢€â„¢s Top 20. The follow-up, howeverÁ¢€¦
Á¢€Å“It DoesnÁ¢€â„¢t Have To Be This WayÁ¢€ was the lead-off single from Á¢€Å“She Was Only A GrocerÁ¢€â„¢s DaughterÁ¢€, and a song I thought was going to be the one to drive the band to the top of the charts in the States. Wrong. I loved the guitar strum riff, the horns, the cheesy backing vocals. No one else did. After embracing the cute video for Á¢€Å“Digging,Á¢€ MTV shunned this single, and radio programmers followed suit. I actually think itÁ¢€â„¢s a superior song to Á¢€Å“DiggingÁ¢€. But hey, I can pick the losers every time. IÁ¢€â„¢m curious as to what you think of it.
Download Á¢€Å“It DoesnÁ¢€â„¢t Have To Be This WayÁ¢€ by the Blow Monkeys.
Á¢€It DoesnÁ¢€â„¢t Have To Be This WayÁ¢€ did not chart.
Believe it or not, this stuff is still in print!
Visit www.drrobert.com if you want.