The album came to be after Dury's second wife Sophy found a list of songs under the title 'Ten More Turnips From The Tip' among her husband's papers. The list, described as 'almost like a will' by Blockheads keyboard player Mick Gallagher in Ian Dury & The Blockheads: Song By Song, included four tracks recorded at RAK Studios in October 1999 amidst other titles that presumably include some that were not recorded. Sophy gave this list to Chaz Jankel and gave her blessing for the Blockheads to finish the album. However, it is unlikely the final album corresponds to this list as the Blockheads were only allowed limited access to Ian Dury's songs by his estate and many of the songs were revamped tracks from the early 1990s with additional overdubs by The Blockheads. "Dance Little Rude Boy" would have definitely been on the list though as it was one of the songs recorded at RAK (it would later be released as a single).
An initially sceptical Laurie Latham was brought in to produce the album's assembly. Latham had worked on a good number of Ian Dury's albums, including all of his Stiff Records work. Although Latham disliked albums of out-takes and demos put together after the artist's death (a common occurrence in the music business) he was eventually won over by the quality of the songs. Latham is responsible for a number of small edits to the songs, for instance he swapped the beginning for the ending on "Cowboys" and added the small sound bite of Dury sipping tea on "The Ballad of The Sulphate Strangler".
Two songs were written by Dury so late in his life that he was too ill to even record guide vocals for them. "I Could Lie" was the very last Ian Dury & The Blockheads song ever written and as Dury was weak from his illness, Jankel recorded both the demo version and final version. Jankel would also have performed lead vocals on "You're The Why", but when it was played at Dury's funeral Robbie Williams offered to sing it if it were ever recorded. In contrast "I Believe", "Cowboys" and "One Love" date back to the recording sessions at Sonnet Studios for The Bus Driver's Prayer And Other Stories in 1991.
Dury's brother-in-law Jake Tilson designed the album's sleeve and booklet. Fans contributed a number of the items and tickets pictured within it amongst various paintings, including one by Ian Dury himself (of Chaz Jankel). Peter Blake, Jock Scott, Sophy Dury and Humphrey Ocean (a member of Kilburn and The Highroads, Dury's pub-rock band in the mid 1970s) were responsible for other pieces while the front featured a photograph of Dury as a child along with his father William Dury and their dog Bella.
Following a surprising lack of record company interest, negotiations with lawyers and Dury's accountant Ronnie Harris delayed the release of the album by six months but it was greeted by warm reviews and tracks from the album remain in The Blockheads live set to this day.
Tacked onto the end of "Books and Water" is a poem by Scottish poet Jock Scott. The lyrics are printed in the album's booklet under the title "Ian's Poem".
"Ballad of The Sulphate Strangler" is a tribute to one of Ian Dury's old minders, Pete Rush. Despite its quality Dury had wanted to keep the song unreleased to spare the feelings of Rush's mother Marge (mentioned in the song). Marge Rush died in the early 1990s and the Blockheads felt able to release it in 2001.