The Blow Monkeys

The Blow Monkeys were an English sophisti-pop band from London that debuted with a single on small-press Parasol Records in 1982, followed by five albums on RCA between 1984 and 1990.

Members: Dr. Robert (vocals, guitar, piano), Neville Henry (saxophone), Anthony Kiley (drums), Mick Anker (bass)


The Blow Monkeys formed in London in 1981 after singer, songwriter, guitarist, and pianist Bruce Robert Howard (born May 2, 1961, in Haddington, Scotland) returned from Australia, where he’d lived with his family for five years. Adopting the stagename Dr. Robert, he assembled the band with bassist Mick Anker, drummer Anthony Kiley, and saxophonist Neville Henry, all newcomers born in late 1961.

They debuted with the single “Live Today Love Tomorrow,” an upbeat strumalong akin to Josef K and Orange Juice with Mackay-like sax overlays. It appeared in January 1982 on two-press Parasol Records, backed with “In Cold Blood,” a mid-tempo shuffle built on a dirgy bass riff. The b-side appears on the 1982 cassette comp Fast Forward 012, issued by the namesake Australian magazine with cuts by Liquid Liquid and Wire frontman Colin Newman. Producer Chris Mansbridge (Family Fodder) oversaw the sessions at Elephant Studios in Wapping, the site of recordings by Bob Theil, The Sound, Renaldo and the Loaf, ex-Squeeze bassist Harri Kakoulli, and onetime Delivery vocalist Carol Grimes.


Limping for a Generation

The Blow Monkeys released their debut album, Limping for a Generation, in 1984 on RCA–Ariola.

1. “He’s Shedding Skin” (4:04)
2. “Wildflower” (3:00)
3. “Atomic Lullaby” (5:02)
4. “Fat Cat Belusha” (Howard, Mick Anker) – 4:15)
5. “Go Public” (4:30)
6. “Professor Supercool” (4:00)
7. “Man from Russia” (Howard, Mick Anker) – 3:15)
8. “Waiting for Mr. Moonlight” (4:22)
9. “Limping for a Generation” (3:32)
10. “Trashtown Incident” (4:10)

Dr. Robert – vocals, guitars, piano
Tony Kiley – drums, percussion
Neville Henry – tenor saxophone, alto saxophone
Mick Anker – electric bass, acoustic bass

Peter Wilson – production, string arrangements, additional keyboards
Andrew Christian – art direction
Andrew Ekins – cover illustration
Nick Knight – photography

Mar 1984
“Go Public” / “Rub-a-dub Shanka”

Jun 1984
“Man from Russia” / “Resurrection Love” / maxi “Slither”

Sep 1984
“Atomic Lullaby” / “My Twisty Jewel” / maxi “Kill the Pig”

Jan 1985
“Wildflower” (b/w “Waiting for Mr. Moonlight”)


Animal Magic

The Blow Monkeys released their second album, Animal Magic, on April 7, 1986, on RCA–Ariola.

1. “Digging Your Scene” (4:13)
2. “Animal Magic” (3:07)
3. “Wicked Ways” (4:14)
4. “Sweet Murder” (6:31)
5. “Aeroplane City Lovesong” (4:52)
6. “Walking the Blue Beat” (4:12, cassette only)
7. “I Nearly Died Laughing” (3:37)
8. “Don’t Be Scared of Me” (3:29)
9. “Burn the Rich” (4:17)
10. “I Backed a Winner (in You)” (2:39)
11. “Forbidden Fruit” (3:59)
12. “Heaven Is a Place I’m Moving To” (3:05)

Dr. Robert – words & music; vocals; electric guitar tracks 1-9; acoustic guitar tracks 2, 4-10, 12
Neville Henry – tenor saxophone tracks 1-8, 11; alto saxophone tracks 2, 5, 8
Mick Anker – bass tracks 1-8, 11; double bass track 9, 12
Tony Kiley – drums tracks 1-9, 11

Musicians
Dixie Peach, Morris Michael – backing vocals on track 1
Sylvia Mason-James – backing vocals on tracks 2-8, 11-12
Mary Cassidy – backing vocals on tracks 2, 4-5, 7-8, 11-12
Bernita Turner – backing vocals on tracks 2, 8, 12
Yogi – backing vocals on track 3
Morris Michael – backing vocals on track 3, 6
Vicki St. James – backing vocals on tracks 4-5, 7, 11
Luís Jardim – percussion on tracks 1, 4-5
Peter Wilson – keyboards on tracks 1, 8; honk box, brass arrangement on track 4; string machine on track 6; Hammond organ on track 7; barroom piano and backing vocals on track 9
Eek-A-Mouse – vocals on track 4
Guy Barker – trumpet on track 5, 7, 11
Joe Brown – slide guitar on track 9
The Demon Barbers (Anthony Scales, Jeremy Birchall, Rob Scales) – backing vocals on track 10
Mickey Finn – bongos on track 11
Dick Morrissey – soprano saxophone on track 12

Production
Peter Wilson – production except tracks 3 and 6; string arrangement except track 12
Dr. Robert, Adam Moseley – production on tracks 3 and 6
Michael Baker – mixing on track 3; additional recording and mixing on track 1
John Mealing – string arrangement on track 12
Axel Kröll – drum programming

Mainartery – art direction & design
Ian Thomas – photography

Sep 1985
A: Forbidden Fruit
B: My America

Feb 1986
A: Digging Your Scene
B: I Backed A Winner (In You)

Apr 1986
A: Wicked Ways
B: Walking The Blue Beat

Jun 1986
A: Don’t Be Scared Of Me
B: Superfly

“Digging Your Scene”
UK Singles Chart 12
US Billboard Hot 100 14


She Was Only a Grocer’s Daughter

The Blow Monkeys released their third album, She Was Only a Grocer’s Daughter, on January 5, 1987, on RCA–Ariola.

1. “It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way” (4:00)
2. “Some Kind of Wonderful” (3:33)
3. “Out with Her” (4:40)
4. “How Long Can a Bad Thing Last?” (4:07)
5. “Man at the End of His Tether” (4:00)
6. “Rise Above” (4:53)
7. “The Day After You (Celebrate)” (5:00)
8. “Checking Out” (4:58)
9. “Don’t Give It Up” (5:46)
10. “Cash” (6:01)
11. “Beautiful Child” (3:50)
12. “This Is the Way It Has to Be” (CD only) (6:05)
13. “The Grantham Grizzler” (CD only) (7:20)

Dr. Robert – vocals, guitar, string arrangements
Neville Henry – saxophone
Tony Kiley – Drums
Mick Anker – bass guitar

Other musicians
Michael Baker – keyboards, string arrangements
The Borneo Horn Section – horns
Tim Bryant – backing vocals
Craig Derry – backing vocals
Will Downing – backing vocals
Grayson Hughes – backing vocals
Jimmy Jackson – backing vocals
Axel Kroel – keyboards, string arrangements
Sylvia Mason-James – backing vocals
John Mealing – string arrangements
Cindy Mizelle – backing vocals
Gary Rottger – keyboards
Phil Roy – backing vocals
Ira Siegel – guitar
Roger Stuart – backing vocals
Steve Sydelnick – additional percussion
Benita Turner – backing vocals
Marius de Vries – keyboards
Audrey Wheeler – backing vocals
Peter Wilson – string arrangements
Gavyn Wright – strings
Helen Wright – strings
Paula Yates – backing vocals

Technical
Produced by Michael Baker, with help from the Axeman
Recording engineer: Douglas Gramma
Mixed by Brian “Chuck” New, Bob Kraushaar, Douglas Gramma, Rafe McKenna
Recorded at D&D Studios (New York), The Point Studios, Trident Studios, Swanyard Studios, Westside Studios (London)
Programmed at Synthnett Studios (New York), The Point Studios (London)
Mixed at Battery Studios, Sarm West, Red Bus Studios
Nick Knight: photography
Sleeve design: Mainartery, London

19 Jan 1987
“It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way” / “Ask For More” (UK Singles Chart: 5)

March 1987
“Out with Her” (b/w “The Grantham Groover”) (UK Singles Chart: 30)

May
“(Celebrate) The Day After You” (b/w “Beautiful Child”)

July
“Some Kind of Wonderful” / “Sweet Obsession”

(Celebrate) The Remix
The Blow Monkeys With Curtis Mayfield
A1: (Celebrate) The Day After You (Election Mix)
The Blow Monkeys
B1: It’s Not Unusual
The Blow Monkeys With Curtis Mayfield
B2: Beautiful Child
The Blow Monkeys
B3: The Smile On Your Face (Sweet Murder)


Discography:
  • “Live Today Love Tomorrow” / “In Cold Blood” (1982)
  • Limping for a Generation (1984)
  • Animal Magic (1986)
  • She Was Only a Grocer’s Daughter (1987)
  • Whoops! There Goes the Neighbourhood (1989)
  • Springtime for the World (1990)

Sources:

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