[Review] The Blow Monkeys: She Was Only A Grocer’s Daughter (1987)

Hey, hey, it’s The Blow Monkeys’ best album, featuring a baker’s dozen of socially conscious synthsoul confections.

Kronomyth 3.0: Grocerly Underrated?

Beginning with the ultraslick “It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way,” the Monkeys’ followup to their breakthrough Animal Magic cemented their status among England’s new wave of soul/R&B forgerers (The Style Council, ABC, Spandau Ballet, etc.). Often sounding like a cross between The Style Council and Culture Club, She Was Only A Grocer’s Daughter (a reference to Margaret Thatcher that recalls the earlier Style Council song “She Was Only A Shopkeeper’s Daughter”) is very smartly done, with slick production from Michael Baker (think Langer & Winstanley or Hugh Jones, whose All Fools Day by The Saints comes to mind).

Despite the political references, Doctor Robert doesn’t take himself so seriously all the time, even indulging in a few T. Rex fantasies (“Rise Above,” “Beautiful Child,” “Cash”) that could be considered the album’s high points (presuming you like T. Rex, and what horrible ogre doesn’t?). Robert does share Weller’s flair for controversy, from a politically charged collaboration with Curtis Mayfield (“The Day After You”) to the politically incorrect “Don’t Give It Up.” Fortunately, you may not notice you’re being lectured, since the music never takes a backseat to the message. As someone who felt the whole new wave/soul movement was poop, this album makes a pretty convincing case to the contrary (although Scritti Politti still has the final word where that’s concerned). There are those who will completely dismiss the new wave/soul movement as poseurism, and I wouldn’t argue the point so much as point out that an open mind encounters more interesting characters than a closed one.

Original elpee version

A1. It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way (4:00)
A2. Some Kind of Wonderful (3:33)
A3. Out With Her (4:40)
A4. How Long Can A Bad Thing Last (4:07)
A5. Man At The End of His Tether (4:00)
A6. Rise Above (4:53)
B1. The Day After You (5:00)
B2. Checking Out (4:58)
B3. Don’t Give It Up (5:46)
B4. Cash (6:01)
B5. Beautiful Child (3:50)

CD bonus tracks
12. This Is The Way It Has To Be
13. The Grantham Grizzler

Words & music by Dr. Robert.

CD reissue bonus track
14. It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way (video)

The Players

Dr. Robert (vocal & guitar), Mick Anker (bass), Neville Henry (drums), Tony Kiley (saxophone) with Curtis Mayfield (B1). Produced by Michael Baker; production assistance by The Axeman; engineered by Brian “Chuck” New and Doug Gramma.

The Pictures

Photography by Nick Knight. Sleeve design by Mainartery, London.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and expanded compact disc in April 1987 in the UK (RCA, PL/PD-71245), the US (RCA, 6246-1/4/2-R) and on June 6, 1987 in Japan (RCA, RPL-8372/R32P-1106) with lyrics sleeve.

  1. Re-released on expanded, remastered compact disc on August 20, 2008 in Japan (BMG, BVCM-35411) with 1 bonus track.

1 thought on “[Review] The Blow Monkeys: She Was Only A Grocer’s Daughter (1987)

  1. Hmmm. A very charitable take on The Blow Monkeys most “shoulder-pad” album. The production style of this one grates, but when it’s on target [“Cash,” “Don’t Give It Up,” Celebrate”] it’s right on target. And the songwriting was valid even if the production stumbles down the rabbit hole of 80s megatrends. I’m a big fan of this band, but this is the one I spin the least.

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