The Blow Monkeys

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Blow Monkeys
Robert Howard.jpg
Dr. Robert at Let's Rock Bristol in June 2014. Photograph by Andrew D. Hurley.
Background information
OriginUnited Kingdom
GenresNew wave,[1][2][3] sophisti-pop[4]
Years active1981–1990, 2007–present
LabelsFOD, RCA, Ariola, Cherry Red
WebsiteOfficial website
MembersDr. Robert (Robert Howard)
Neville Henry
Mick Anker
Tony Kiley

The Blow Monkeys are a British new wave/sophisti-pop[4] band that formed in 1981. The first single, "Live Today Love Tomorrow" was released in 1982.[5] They subsequently enjoyed a successful career with several hit singles and albums across the 1980s before splitting up at the beginning of the 1990s. Their first hit song was "Digging Your Scene", which hit #12 on the UK Singles Chart[6] and #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart[7] in August 1986.[8] They had four albums and eleven singles in the UK charts from 1986 and 1990.[9]

In late 2007, the original band members reunited. They have subsequently released five albums (one of them a live recording).


Fronted by lead singer, songwriter, guitarist, bassist, and piano player Dr. Robert (born Bruce Robert Howard, 2 May 1961, Haddington, Scotland)[10] the group formed in 1981, upon Howard's return to the United Kingdom, after spending his teen years in Australia. The other members are Mick Anker on bass guitar, Neville Henry on saxophone, and Tony Kiley on drums.[10]

In 1984, they released their debut album, Limping for a Generation, but their first hit came two years later, in 1986, with "Digging Your Scene", from their second album, Animal Magic (which reached number 21 in the UK Albums Chart).[6] The single attracted attention for the topical lyrics, dealing with the AIDS-fuelled backlash against gay people.[11] It peaked at #14 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and number 7 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart. In addition, it reached a high of #12 in the UK Singles Chart, #24 in Italy and #25 in Germany.

In January 1987, She Was Only a Grocer's Daughter, the band's third album was released; it reached #20 in the UK, thanks to its biggest hit, "It Doesn't Have To Be This Way", which reached #5 in the UK (and number 28 in Italy), although it never charted in the United States. However, it is featured in the movie Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol. The song "You Don't Own Me" appears on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. The record also featured harmony vocals by singer-songwriter Grayson Hugh.

Outside the group (though actually included on their fourth album, Whoops! There Goes the Neighbourhood), a successful single release by Robert Howard was "Wait", that featured early Chicago House diva, Kym Mazelle, on female lead vocals. The record was an early British recording in the subgenre dubbed UK garage. The track reached number 7 in the UK chart. It would later re-appear on the Blow Monkeys' first greatest hits album, Choices – The Singles Collection, their highest-charting record, reaching #5 in the UK Albums Chart in 1989.

The band split up in late 1990,[5] shortly after the release of their fifth album, Springtime for the World (an EP of the same name also came out, collecting all three singles from the album). After briefly recording with Dee C. Lee, as Slam Slam, Dr. Robert went solo. He contributed to Paul Weller's solo debut album, and co-wrote material with both Weller and Lee. Another notable collaborator was Beth Orton.

On 18 November 2007, the original band members announced the reunion of the Blow Monkeys, as well as a new album Devil's Tavern and a tour in 2008. The album was funded by the pre-orders placed by fans. The release date for the album was 8 September 2008. Q magazine reviewed the album by saying, "Their first album in 18 years still finds the frontman in fine voice; Robert continues to sound like he dresses only in velvet and smokes cigarillos".[12]

In June 2009, the band released a special edition double digipack CD and DVD of their performance at the 100 Club in London. It featured the original band performing fifteen songs including: "Digging Your Scene", "It Doesn't Have To Be This Way" and "Wait"; as well as other tracks from the band's earlier work along with a few new songs from Devil's Tavern.

In January 2011 the band released another new album Staring at the Sea,[13] with "Steppin' Down" as the first single issued.

Their latest album, Feels Like A New Morning, was released by Cherry Red Records in April 2013, accompanied by a second CD containing 10 Blow Monkeys songs performed by Dr. Robert.[14]

In 2013, Sony Music issued a comprehensive three disc box set, Halfway to Heaven: The Best of The Blow Monkeys & Dr Robert, covering the best of The Blow Monkeys, Dr Robert's solo work, as well as a 1984 concert from the Hammersmith Palais.

In October 2014, the band went to Monnow Valley Studios, Rockfield, Monmouthshire, Wales to record a new album, with Jon Withnall on mixing and engineering duties. The resulting album If Not Now, When? was released in April 2015.[15]

In October 2017 the band released their 10th studio album "The Wild River" on Monks Rd Records. It was written and produced by Robert Howard and recorded and mixed at Gismo 7 Studio in Motril, Spain. The album features Crispin Taylor on drums and is a return to their soul/funk roots.

In October 2018, the band supported Level 42 on their Eternity Tour.[16]


Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

  • Travelin' Souls – Live! at the Legendary 100 Club (Limited edition CD & DVD) (2009)[18]

Compilation albums[edit]


  • "Live Today Love Tomorrow" (1982)
  • "Go Public" (1984)
  • "Man from Russia" (1984)
  • "Atomic Lullaby" (1984)
  • "Wildflower" (1985) (Netherlands: #50[19])
  • "Forbidden Fruit" (1985) (UK Singles Chart: #94[6])
  • "Digging Your Scene" (1986) (UK Singles Chart: #12[6]; US Billboard Hot 100: #14[7]; US Hot Dance Club Play: #7[20]; Germany: #25[21]; Italy: #37; Netherlands: #37[19])
  • "Wicked Ways" (1986) (UK Singles Chart: #60[6])
  • "Don't Be Scared of Me" (1986) (UK Singles Chart: #77[6])
  • "It Doesn't Have to Be This Way" (1987) (UK Singles Chart: #5[6]; Italy: #44; Netherlands: #29[19])
  • "Out with Her" (1987) (UK Singles Chart: #30[6])
  • "(Celebrate) The Day After You" with Curtis Mayfield (1987) (UK Singles Chart: #52[22])
  • "Some Kind of Wonderful" (1987) (UK Singles Chart: #67[6])
  • "This Is Your Life" (1988) (UK Singles Chart: #70[6])
  • "It Pays to Belong" (1988)
  • "Wait!" (1988) Dr. Robert and Kym Mazelle (UK Singles Chart: #7[6])
  • "This Is Your Life" [Remix] (1989) (UK Singles Chart: #32[6])
  • "Choice?" featuring Sylvia Tella (1989) (UK Singles Chart: #22<[6])
  • "Slaves No More" featuring Sylvia Tella (1989) (UK Singles Chart: #73[6])
  • "Springtime for the World" (1990) (UK Singles Chart: #69[6])
  • "La Passionara" [Remix] (1990)
  • "If You Love Somebody" [Remix] (1990)
  • "The Bullet Train (2008)
  • "Travelin' Soul" (2009)
  • "Steppin' Down" (2011)
  • "Hangin' On to the Hurt (Let It Go Now)" (2011)
  • "Oh My" (2013)
  • "Feels Like a New Morning" (2013)
  • "Shake It Off" (2013)
  • "Chained" (2014)
  • "OK! Have It Your Way" (2015)
  • "The Sound of Your Laughter" (2015)
  • "Crying for the Moon" (2017)
  • "What in the World" (2017)
  • "The Wild River" (2017)

Other appearances[edit]

Dr. Robert[edit]

Solo albums[edit]

  • Realms of Gold (1994)
  • Bethesda Part One (1995)
  • Other Folk (1996)
  • Flatlands (1999)
  • Birds Gotta Fly (2001)
  • Flutes and Bones (2012)
  • Out There (2016)

Collaboration albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

  • Live in Tokyo (2004)
  • Acoustic Blow Monkeys (2012)

Compilation albums[edit]

  • Keep on Digging for the Gold (2002)
  • The Coming of Grace: An Introduction to Dr Robert (2009)


  1. ^ "Picture This: Doctor Robert and Curtis Mayfield". M Magazine. 19 June 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  2. ^ Photo: Michele Siedner . "Dr. Robert (The Blow Monkeys) – "A Bottomless Pit" (video) (premiere)". PopMatters. Retrieved 16 June 2016.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  3. ^ Vera Mella, Alfie (3 December 2015). "The Blow Monkeys – If Not Now, When? (Album Review) | CrypticRock Cryptic Rock". Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. "The Blow Monkeys – Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  5. ^ a b "The Blow Monkeys and Dr Robert – Fencat Online". Archived from the original on 28 February 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Blow Monkeys". Official Charts. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  7. ^ a b "The Blow Monkeys". billboard. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  8. ^ Billboard – Google Books. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  9. ^ "BLOW MONKEYS | Official Charts". UK Chart Archive. Official Charts Company. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  10. ^ a b Jancik, Wayne (1998). The Billboard book of one-hit wonders. Billboard Books. p. 442. ISBN 0-8230-7622-9. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  11. ^ "Singer and the Song | BBC World Service". BBC. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  12. ^ "The Blow Monkeys and Dr Robert – Fencat Online". Archived from the original on 28 February 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  13. ^ "Staring at the Sea". Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  14. ^ a b "Feels Like A New Morning – The Blow Monkeys : Releases". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  15. ^ a b Marcy Donelson (6 April 2015). "If Not Now, When? – The Blow Monkeys | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  16. ^ Hutchinson, Charles. "Level 42 and The Blow Monkeys revisit the Eighties at York Barbican". The Press. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  17. ^ O'Brien, Jon (14 February 2010). "Staring at the Sea – The Blow Monkeys : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  18. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 64/5. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  19. ^ a b c "The Blow Monkeys". Dutch Charts. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  20. ^ "The Blow Monkeys". billboard. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  21. ^ "THE BLOW MONKEYS - DIGGING YOUR SCENE". Offizielle Deutsche Charts. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  22. ^ "Blow Monkeys with Curtis Mayfield". Official Charts. Retrieved 4 July 2019.

External links[edit]