The Height Of Bad Manners reviewed by Chris Dean in the NME, 4 June, 1983.
Me, I’d be the last to trade excuses with you, but make a mental, it takes time to review a Bad Manners album – not a few days extra to scrape up a sociological State Of The Art analysis to hang on this Greatest Hits package, but several weeks to floor-test this record in its element at parties, and then scrape up a sociological State Of The Art analysis to hang thereon.
Last party I tested this out at was back in York, when I came home home to find my mum throwing a pre-Election knees-up. A sort of ‘Labour Paaaaarty’, with all the ingredients for sound rave-up – two thirds of the General Management Committee, a couple of councillors and a few entryists keeping their heads down in the corner.
Only problem was the Branch Secretary was caught short for records (‘Andy Williams Sings The Red Flag’ permitting) and, sheer chance, I had this album, the perfect complement to a front room full of bopping reformists. And what a complement More popular than King Arthur, Buster went down a storm. Our Tony put his back out of joint dancing to the ‘Can Can’, Shirl got ribbed for ‘My Girl Lollipop’ and ‘Buena Sera’ got Ray singing “Tain’t no sin to throw off your skin and daqnce around in your bones”…Hit me with those naughty-type radical lyrics!
Bad Manners’ Greatest Hits means an album of party favourites, and can Buster and the boys party! Some people would give their philosophy degree for the ability to make really party music; some people ony have to grin and flaunt it, and who better to get teenies and grannies grinning hopelessly than Fatty Buster hisself.
You remember Buster – the only pop star from ’79’s ska explosion who looked like he’d been poured into his Sta-Prest and forgotten to say “When!”. Bad Manners took themselves a slice of 2-Tone’s essential party spirit and built a whole group around Buster’s tongue – Manners live were chaos incorporated. Buster looning while the rest of the band went on groove manoeuvres, rough(ly) R&B and neat ska steals set off by Winston Bazoomies’ harp.
‘The Height Of Bad Manners’ is everything you’ve already heard, all the chartbreakers plus extras like ‘Inner London Violence’ and ‘Elizabethan Reggae’. But if ‘Lip Up Fatty’ sounds dead similar to Clancy Eccles and ‘Buena Sera’ sounds nothing like Toto Puente, who gives a monkey’s gone midnight?
With upful music in a downtrodden state, Bad Manners still grin and flaunt it in spite of the times – and, tearsferfears, what times! These days angst isn’t an adolescent condition, it’s a friggin’ movement. Sure thang, whining’s back in fashion.
The message in this glorious moozic is don’t whine too loudly, angst-ridden ones. Better must come. Remember, even people have ears.