In a nice bit of blog synergy, it seems everyone is talking about blue-eyed soulâ€¦which leads me to one of the sadder stories of the also-rans (at least in the States) in this genre â€“ Dr. Robert and the Blow Monkeys.
First off, that name. Is it a coke reference? A funny, random lark? Whichever, it certainly didnâ€™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 wouldnâ€™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 worldâ€™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 â€œanimal magicâ€ and â€œshe was only a grocerâ€™s daughterâ€ are two of the best british albums of the 80s. the blow monkeys had only one minor hit in the states, with â€œdigging your sceneâ€ but may also be known for their cover of â€œyou donâ€™t own meâ€ on the â€œdirty dancingâ€ 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 â€œbest ofâ€ 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 â€œDigging Your Sceneâ€ being a minor hitâ€¦it actually charted at #14, so thatâ€™s Top 20. The follow-up, howeverâ€¦
â€œIt Doesnâ€™t Have To Be This Wayâ€ was the lead-off single from â€œShe Was Only A Grocerâ€™s Daughterâ€, 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 â€œDigging,â€ MTV shunned this single, and radio programmers followed suit. I actually think itâ€™s a superior song to â€œDiggingâ€. But hey, I can pick the losers every time. Iâ€™m curious as to what you think of it.
Download â€œIt Doesnâ€™t Have To Be This Wayâ€ by the Blow Monkeys.
â€It Doesnâ€™t Have To Be This Wayâ€ did not chart.
Visit www.drrobert.com if you want.