On a fresh but bright day in March when the Prime Minister of a very dis-United Kingdom advised the closure of pubs, restaurants, cafes and gyms, Baxter Dury released his sixth album The Night Chancers. It's a sterotypically English record, or more specifically a Laandon one, full of idiomatic, sloppy character(s), a schtik that Dury has been honing carefully since he first emerged with Len Parrot's Memorial Lift in 2003.
This record finds him reaching an end destination in this respect in that it seems his act could not be further refined or heightened. Dury is centre screen and utterly cinematic throughout, Michael Caine, Bob Hoskyns or Ray Winston playing the lead in the kind of film you've seen before but go to anyway because you relish the woozy cockney stereotypes it embodies and reinforces as there's something comforting about its menacing swagger.
Dury barely breaks into song, (though some of the characters he embodies certainly break into a slightly unsavoury sweat at times), throughout the records course, instead relaxing into the slouching worded delivery he's developed over the years. The record is seamless and quite consistent, one song melting into another, all East End four day stubble and greasy charmless prowl.
It's a world away from the innocent Indie outsider that came across when Dury first appeared. He's middle aged now and utterly comfortable in his skin and suit, that of a small time gangster out to punch above his weight and destined you imagine to arrive at a sticky end.
Musically it's trimmed and in shape. Gainsbourg orchestration, uptown nightclub, cool for cats chic, droll female backing and dub adornment. I can't wait to get some of these songs on my local's jukebox once all of this comes to an end and we can all meet up again without guilt or risk. It's the equal of many of his father's. Its timing is unfortunate but I'm sure, given time it will get the attention it very much merits.