Vic Godard has been called ‘The Greatest Living Englishman’ by 6 Musics’ Marc Riley (amongst others) and this motley, angular and diverse collection of ‘30 Odd Years’ via Vic’s newish imprint GNU inc mastered by Mike Coe is a worthy collection for lovers and indeed new comers to the world of Vic Godard and Subway Sect and testifies to the sheer depth of talent and songcraft from this ‘Bard of Barnes’ and ‘Maestro of Mortlake’. This double CD covers 23 tracks from the early punk years through the multiple influences and soundscapes (some often hard to decipher) and seemingly out of step with the times in which each set of songs were born. Vic is a true original, unaffected by the more vulgar and shallow, vain, loud, brash and distorted rock ‘n’ roll trappings, always spurred on by his inspirational references of Tom Verlaine, Lou Reed, Richard Hell, The ‘Rat’ Pack and even a hint of Bowie. Vic Godard charms, entertains, makes us click our fingers and refuses to step the instep. The real English eccentric gentleman art-punk kitchen sink poet cometh and delivers a template of honest integerity of sorts for all of the indie lables, scenes, and sounds that happily followed in his wake. Credit, merit and respect due and Vic still happily does the rounds and delivers in a first class of his own mode today!
01 Intro With Paul Reekie
The intro sees a short Paul Reekie talkover which is a noble, apt and moving way to start proceedings as this Scottish poet, writer, musician and counter culture legend, left us prematurely aged only 48 in 2010. He lived on the margins and was a true classic literary outsider.
‘I fell totally into that thing Vic Godard said ‘We oppose All Rock N Roll’, Avoid all these cliches’ – Lawrence, Felt (Mojo Magazine, May 2012)
‘Whenever Godard adopted a style it became a genre and when it became a genre… he did something else’ – The Daily Telegraph, London
02 Don’t Split It
Up goes the pace and a dry, tense riff, thundering echoing drums, pivotal bass wrestle yearning vocals that warn of ‘not knowing about tomorrow’ with a bluesy harmonica and stabbing keyboards polish the claustrophobia.
03 Nobodies Scared
60s undergound legends LOVE are revisited in this riffy garagey punk fuzz force with thumping bass, dead-beat drums and snarls of ‘nobody cares and nobodies scared’, the future seems bleak!
04 Parrallel Lines
Echoing vocals with crashing cymbals, choppy guitars underpin ‘class war will never change history’ blurred lines and the fear of being lied too seem to frame the song. Simmering frustration threatens to explode.
05 Different Story (B side to Ambition 7 inch)
Vic’s vocal lines bobs and weaves through a bouncing piano phrase and already the songcraft here sees more space and texture with some pretty nifty whistling! *(my old man R.I.P was also a Postie for a while in South London and told me with a straight face that they put chemicals in emulsion paint to make you whistle).
06 Double Negative
‘The only thing I’ve got to say is Double Negative’ retorts Vic as he struggles with seeking the positives of life.
07 Vetical Integration
Acoustic strumming in the vein of The Who or the Kinks sets up a snakes and ladders of wilderness woes with a blues harp making an appearance in this toe tapper of a tune.
08 Empty Shell
Chimes and chops and interplay into empty spaces, logs on the fire of lonliness, a soulful cry not unlike a lost Velvets classic with a sensitive and wonderfully honest atmosphere with the emotion restrained but able to raise a forlorn lump in anyones throat.
09 Make Me Sad
Pretty picked guitars, charming smart bass runs, jazzy swinging licks entomb these feelings of being let down again with ‘money only being good when it’s all been spent’ with soaring harmonies, well thought out piano melodies, this really is an over-looked radio friendly classic in the making. One day future generations well learn to discover, cherish and embrace tracks like these if there is any justice. It really merits a wider audience as this is what ‘pop’ music can really achieve.
10 Stop That Girl
Are we in a French New Wave Movie? Accordians tickle a fabulous bass line that builds with smooth cool backing vocals that layer fab textures entwined into this offbeat tale of a love triangle like no other! A twist and a meander and another instant pop classic!
11 Stamp of A Vamp
Smokey 40s style swinging jazz in an effortless nod to sophistication and suave ‘rat pack’ leanings, trawling through boho, London streets with a glorious lead vocal perofrmance from the man himself and bold brass, perky piano, haughty harmonies that sit perfectly in the mix in this darkly upbeat ‘blind to reflection’ tale of romance that is not what it seems.
12 Hey What’s Your Name?
Love is a mystery, rumours abound, swinging romantic hearts are broken, tears are shed, strangers pass like ships in the fog ready to collide in a quirky jazz-bop kitchen sink frenzy.
13 Crazy Crazy
Another fine jazzy hip rave-up that make fingers pop, hips move to the brass volleys, this dancer bounces and bops and breaks into killer licks and is a real solid good time charlie of a track, well stroked drums and rolling piano motives stack up too a flapper of a frenzy!
14 Spring is Grey
Cinematic soundscape for an alternative James Bond will a Scott Walker type balad with on-the-continent easy style female backing vocals that hint at French Pop with a killer keyboard hook superb production values that never lose that loving feeling! Warm, emotive and stunning stuff!
15 Crazy Crazy
Another fine jazzy rave up that make fingers pop, hips move to the brass volleys, this dancer bounces and bops and breaks into killer licks and is a real solid good time charlie of a track, well stroked drums and rolling piano motives stack up too a flapper of a frenzy!
Troubled romance is in the air, daydreams escape to pastures anew, being kept on your toes spelt out clearly a la title! Curls of brass and vibes pinpoint the hooks with a perfect rhythm section that builds the atmosphere wherein danger lurks! Another cracker!
16 Stayin’ Outta View
Intrumental surf like twanging, brooding bass and drums with flute pops, brass loops with a lost spy TV movie theme springing to mind. Clandestine meetings in dark corners? Simply splendid! One for the DJs turntables methinks!
17 Ice On A Volcano
What’s not to like? Big band dynamics give way to a clinging to vanity and image story, of keeping up appearances, fuelled with frustration and dispair in a hot/cold world, a clever mesh of styles play out here, with a 60s swing meeting modern poptones head on with added soulful inflections, the beefy brass swells add an off-kilter angular cherry on the cake! Toppermost!
18 Malicious Love
A spikey end of romance snarl with a twisted backdrop, posike anger darting into the menacing throbbing rolling bass yet with a craftily blended Northern Soul type uplift, metrocentric hisses through slightly grinding teeth set this stomp heading to the dark river’s edge.
19 Same Mistakes
The Piano shuffles inside a few Country slides into circular matra of repetition and dismay at being stuck in the endless rut! Steep learning curves unleash deep drifting backing vocals that hide the breakdowns and changes. Vic manages to stand firm and win out the day! This could easily have been the final whistle?
20 Won’t Turn back
Sheer Northern Soul Style with a stirring string section lift offset with a clever fuzzy guitar and a nod to Motown with whoops and builds, this is a peachy classic of a tune, a triumph of will power and biting back!
21 No Love Now
An explosive shuffling almost Cajun tinted whirlwind, with a 60s freakbeat trick of a track that melds to the poetic words that speak of feeling shut out, over-looked, and out of step – a strangely fitting way to round off and end Disc One’s buried treasures that knit together a mighty journey of songcraft and style from one of England’s true underground giants.
Vile Evils are Vile Evils…
So that’s Disc One – Part One of our 2 part review and we give this and the Monochrome Set LP a full score draw as our recent favourite releases. This band in all its forms and with all of its incarnations have been central and key in so many other peoples lives. Also in the pipeline, is Vic and producer-buddy Edwyn Collins will be putting out a collection of Northern Soul tracks called 1979 to delight us even more! Yes, Vic really is there… Part Two – Disc Two will follow very shortly!
Credits (where they are due)
Subway Sect: Bob Ward, Paul Myers, Rob Symmons, Colin Scott, Steve Spartan Atkinson, Johnny Britton, Chris Bostock, Dave Collard, Rob Marche,
Sean McCluskey, Becca Gillieron, Sophie Politowicz, Leigh Curtis, Paul Trigger Williams, Mark Laff, Gary Ainge, Kevin Younger, Mark Braby & Paul Cook
The Black Arabs & Paul and Terry Chimes, Pete Thomas & Jumping Jive, Working Week
The Bitter Springs: Simon Rivers, Dan Ashkenazy, Nick Brown, Paul Wizard Baker, Paul McGrath & Phil Martin
Mates Mates: Andrew Ribas Escandon, Andriu Luc Ma, Luca Ferran Font, Fim Jorbel Errapicas, Erra & Pau Orri Comerma, Pau
The Sexual Objects: Davy Henderson, Douglas Macintyre, Graham Wann, Ian Holford & Simon Smeeton
- What’s the Matter Boy? (1980), Oddball/MCA
- Songs For Sale (1982), London
- Long Term Side-Effect (1998), Tugboat
- We Come As Aliens (2010), Overground
- A Retrospective (1977-81) (1985), Rough Trade
- Twenty Odd Years – The Story of… (1999), Motion
- Singles Anthology (2005), Motion
- “Split Up the Money” (1980), Oddball/MCA
- ‘Stop That Girl’ (1981), Rough Trade
- ‘Hey Now (I’m in Love)’ (1982), London
- ‘Johnny Thunders’ (1992), Rough Trade
- ‘Won’t Turn Back’ (1993), Postcard
- ‘No Love Now’ (1996), Garcia
- ‘Place We Used to Love’ (1999), Creeping Bent
- T.R.O.U.B.L.E. (1986), Rough Trade
- End of the Surrey People (1993), Postcard
- In T.R.O.U.B.L.E. Again (2002), Tugboat
- ‘Stamp On a Vamp’ (1981), Club Left
- ‘Holiday Hymn’ (1985), El