Category Archives: Vic Godard

CLIP: Cold London Blues by Paul D. Brazill

CLB---3d-stack_d400Cold London Blues (CLB) is a blackly comic slice of pulp fiction (or Punk Fiction, if you fancy!) published by indie publisher Caffeine Nights Publishing.  CLB is a follow up to my book Guns Of Brixton (GOB) – a violent gangster romp, a sweary Ealing Comedy. With GOB, I used the titles of Clash songs to – loosely!- frame the book.

Whereas GOB was a tad Mockney music hall in its approach, with CLB I wanted something more noir, more torch song, and so I used Vic Godard and Subway Sect songs in the same way. (I’d previously named a couple of characters after Vic. In my story The Last Laugh there’s a hit man known only as Godard and a bent copper called Vic Napper.)

The following scene features the murderous priest Father Tim Cook, who is going through a delayed mid-life crisis.  He and his friend Gregor are on a pub crawl which takes them to a smokey, pokey bar full of sinners known as Noola’s Saloon.

NOBODY’S SCARED

Noola’s Saloon was even more crowded than the pub they’d just left but that certainly didn’t deter Father Tim and Gregor, who had decided they were on a drinking mission. As they shuffled through the door, the Wurlitzer jukebox burst to life and Howling Wolf snarled out ‘I Ain’t Superstitious.’

The pub was dimly lit and smoky, despite the fact that no one was smoking. Gregor found a small table near a disused cigarette machine and Tim went to the bar. A dishevelled and unshaven old soak, who seemed to be dressed like a private eye from some old black and white film, nestled on a bar stool, calmly contemplating the glass of whisky that was in front of him. The ice cubes seemed to shimmer, glimmer and glow in the wan light.

He looked up at Tim.

‘Twilight time,’ he said, his hangdog expression never changing.

‘Isn’t it always,’ said Tim.

The old soak nodded and went back to staring at his drink.

Tim briefly turned his gaze outside. The wet pavement reflected Noola’s Saloon’s flickering neon sign. Headlights cut through the heavy rain. He unsteadily shuffled up and leaned on the bar, plonking the sleeve of his jacket in a puddle of spilt lager.

After a while, he caught the eye of the barman , a grumpy-looking bloke with a pock-marked face and inky black quiff. He slowly put down his copy of National Geographic and Tim made the two finger gesture for two pints, making sure his hand was facing the right way.

The antique Wurlitzer Jukebox was playing Mel Torme’s version of ‘Gloomy Sunday’. Tim had always been a big fan of The Velvet Fog but the cacophonous voice of a fat bald bloke in a corduroy jacket boomed over the lush sounds.

‘Well, I’m certainly not a fan of the popcorn trash that the multiplex inflict upon us but at least Christopher Nolan treats Batman with the gravitas he deserves,’ said the bald, fat man.

A tall, twitchy man who was looming over him, almost spat his half pint of Guinness over his Armani shirt.

‘Gravitas!?  It’s about a bloke who dresses up in a rubber bat suit to fight a baddy who dresses up like a clown. It’s not exactly Marcel bloody Proust, is it?’

‘Well some critics would argue that it’s a metaphor for …’

‘Critics! Jeez! Film critics! Have you ever been to the BFI?’

‘Of course. The recent Alain Resnais retrospective was …’

‘The British Film Institute is a very creepy place indeed, my friend. Creepy people, too. And the shite they spout. Like that crap about Dawn of The Dead being a satire of consumerism because the zombies go to a shopping centre. I mean, that’s one gag in the whole film! There’s also a scene where one of them gets decapitated by a helicopter blade. Is it a satire of air traffic control? Eh? I ask you?’

The bald man shuffled in his seat and wiped cappuccino froth from his top lip.

‘Well …’

Father Tim, picked up two pints of Kronenburg from the bar and resisted the temptation to give both of the blokes a slap.

‘Wankers like that are what put me off going out for a drink in the West End these days,’ he said as he put the drinks on the table.

‘The city is riddled with them these days,’ said Gregor. ‘They’re like the clap. Even worse than northerners.’

‘I was in that poncy over-priced sandwich shop before I came here,’ said Tim, unsteadily sitting down. ‘Away in a Manger or whatever it’s called. Anyway, they were playing Nick Drake. ‘Fruit Tree’ to be precise.’

‘I like Nick Drake,’ said Gregor.

‘Now, don’t get me wrong, I like a bit of Nick myself but there were a couple of media wankers in there talking about his mum’s LP’

‘Whose mum?’

‘Nick Drake’s. Some sad bastard has put out a few songs she record in the olden days.’

‘Any good?’

‘Dunno. Never heard it. Anyway, these twats in the sandwich shop started prattling on about how Drake and his mother’s music was ‘quintessentially English’. I mean what the fuck’s that all about? Quintessentially posh sissy boy with a quintessentially stuck-up mother, I’ll give you that. Quintessentially poncy. It’s all that John Betjeman, cricket on the village green, Downtown Abbey, Latin quoting detective cobblers that they punt to the Septics because, well, Yanks are thick. And it has nothing to do with the life of a hairdresser from Wolverhampton or a bingo caller from Hull or the vast majority of English people. You know what I’m saying?’

‘Poshness. Poshnessabounds,’ slurred Gregor, sinking even lower in his seat. ‘This country is crippled by its class system.’

‘Exactly. Switch on the telly and it’s all Sherlock poncy Holmes or Dr poncy Who. This is the bullshit we have to put up with. Oxbridge twots and Oxbridge wannabees.’

‘We need another class war, that is what we need,’ said Gregor. He spilt a splash of lager on his shirt as he slurped it.

‘I blame America for it … well, I blame America for everything …The United States Of America is a cancer. A poisonous virus that has fatally infected its host,’ said Tim, reclining in the leather chair and waggling his outstretched fingers, trying to get the circulation back in them. He checked his reflection in the mirror. He wasn’t looking so good.

‘It’s like in those horror films, eh?’ he said. ‘They say you shouldn’t make your home on an Indian burial ground but when you think about it, the whole of the United States is a bleedin Indian burial ground. Think about it.’

Grab COLD LONDON BLUES here, if you’re that way inclined.

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5 Overlooked Punk/Post-punk Singles.

rythm-of-crueltyI regularly listen to Gary Crowley’s Punk and New Wave Show on Soho Radio. A recent show was about overlooked or ignored singles, and these favourites came to mind.

My Place – The Adverts.

As much as I liked The Clash and the Pistols, they were never one of MY bands. The Adverts, however, were very much my band. They were a great live band who released some great punk singles and a great debut LP.  My Place was a change of pace, though. Moody and stripped down, it was pretty much ignored, unfortunately. The B-side – Back From The Dead– was co-written with The Doctors Of Madness’ Richard ‘Kid’ Strange and is also a lost gem.

Split Up The Money – Vic Godard & Subway Sect.

The impact of the first couple of Subway Sect singles is well documented. The band’s move into swing also. The transition record is the classic ‘Stop That Girl’. But before that was Split Up the Money, a smart and catchy slice of kitchen sink crime fiction that acted as a  taster for the forthcoming What’s The Matter Boy? LP.

Virginia Plain – Spizzenergy.

Spizzoil were a glorious racket- all screeching, discordant guitar and,er,  kazoo- I saw them live twice!- and Spizz’s second musical turn is well known due to the justly celebrated ‘Where’s Captain Kirk?’ but before that was an electro punk version of Roxy Music’s ‘Virginia Plain’. The song is actually the B-side of the infectious  punk disco anthem Soldier, Soldier: ‘What’s Your Price?’

Rhythm Of Cruelty – Magazine.

After Howard Devoto quit Buzzcocks he returned with a barnstorming single in Shot By Both Sides and Magazine’s debut LP is a classic. But Rhythm Of Cruelty – a sinister, sleazy slice of noir – crept out with little impact. Which is a pity, as it’s a belter.

Love You More – Buzzcocks.

Buzzcocks released a bunch of singles in 1978 and seemingly lost among them was this short, sharp slice of punk-pop. One minute and fifty seconds long. Until the razor cuts.

Cold London Blues Around The World

20160816_201507Cold London Blues with me (and my other books) here in Poland.

cold london blues burkey

Ronnie Burke in the Boro.

Cold London Blues jeff munday.

Jeff Munday in London.

Cold London Blues Haskins

Micheal Haskins in Florida.

Cold London Blues Peter Ord.

Peter Ord in Hartlepool.

cold london blues marky hewitt.

Marky Hewitt in Hartlepool.

cold london blues sparrow

Denise Sparowhawk in Hartlepool.

cold lodon blues kate

K A Laity in Dundee.

cold london blues mar hammonds

Mark Hammonds in the Boro.

cold london blues vic godard 1

Vic Godard in Surrey.

Punk Fiction!

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Cold London Blues

There has been a long and varied tradition of songwriters taking their song titles from books: Venus In Furs – The Velvet Underground, Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush, Lost Weekend – Lloyd Cole, 1984- David Bowie, Absolute Beginners- David Bowie.

And, of course, it goes the other way too.

My book Guns Of Brixton took its title from a song by The Clash and I used Clash songs to frame it. My follow up, Cold London Blues, does the same thing with the songs of Vic Godard and Subway Sect. And A Rainy Night In Soho will do the same with The Pogues.

And it’s no surprise that many Brit Grit writers have taken the same approach, usually using punk and post- punk songs as inspiration.

Here we go 2,3,4:

Mark Timlin published a book called Guns Of Brixton years before I did.Ian Ayris’ April Skies uses the Jesus and Mary Chain, Tony Black’sLondon based short story collection is invariably called London Calling – The Clash again. Ian Rankin recently chose The Associates’ Even Dogs In The Wild.  Nick Quantrill used a Wilco song for the title of The Late Greats, and The Crooked Beat is one of The Clash’s lesser known songs.James Hilton’s debut thriller is Search and Destroy – Iggy and The Stooges, Jim Iron and John Steel’s Glory Boys is taken from a Secret Affair song. Ray Banks used The Stranglers for No More Heroes. Nigel Bird gave us Mr Suit (Wire) and Beat On The Brat (Ramones). Graham Wynd chose The Fall’s Extricate and Steve Suttie gave us the Road To Nowhere (Talking Heads).

And it’s not just punk songs that work as crime fiction titles. Nick Triplow used a Tom Waits song for Frank’s Wild Years and Adrian McKinty has used five of Mr Waits’ ditties, the most recent being Rain Dogs.

gob
Cold London Blues

Sheila Quigley always uses song titles for her books, starting withLindisfarne’s Run For Home, and more recently The Sound Of Silence. Andy Rivers used The Beatles for Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. Aidan Thorn chose When The Music’s Over (The Doors).

And that’s only this side of the pond. Josh Stallings Young Americans (David Bowie) and K A Laity’s White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane) are just a couple of recent American examples that come to mind.

And there are plenty more, I’m sure.

So, who did I miss? And any suggestions?

(This post first appeared at the All Due Respect blog.)

Recommended Read: A Moment Worth Waiting For by Kevin Pearce.

a moment woth waiting forKevin Pearce’s brilliant music memoir A Moment Worth Waiting For opens with the release of Vic Godard’s What’s The Matter Boy? LP in 1980. Pearce tells the story of how Everything But The Girl’s Ben Watt and Tracey Thorne first bonded over the record, with Ben later lending her his John Martyn records and Tracey lending Ben her Aztec Camera discs. All of which led to them forming EBTG.

This anecdote is only one of the many, many stories in this exhaustive, exhausting and smartly digressive look at two years in Pearce’s life-in-music. Early Eighties post-punk soon spirals off and out to fifties Soho, Music Hall, bossa nova, Greek neo kyma,  MFP records, Tim Buckley, torch songs and much, much more. Indeed, there is so much here that an accompanying soundtrack album would have to be a box set. And what a belter it would be, too!

A Moment Worth Waiting For is the first in a recently completed trilogy and is essential reading for British men of an uncertain age, such as myself, and anyone with an interest in British pop culture.

 

Out Now ! Cold London Blues by Paul D. Brazill

CLB---3d-stack_d400COLD LONDON BLUES is currently available to buy in the UK , the US and all around the world.

The blurb:

‘A killer priest is on the rampage across London and an egotistical Hollywood action movie star is out for revenge when is his precious comic book collection is stolen.Meanwhile, gangster Marty Cook’s dreams of going legit swiftly turn pear shaped when one of his bouncers accidentally kills one of his salsa club’s regular customers.Razor sharp wisecracks, gaudy characters and even gaudier situations abound in Cold London Blues, a violent and pitch-black Brit Grit comedy of errors.’

Published by Caffeine Nights Publishing.

You can get COLD LONDON BLUES from Amazon.com,   Amazon.co.uk,Waterstones , Blackwell‘s, Foyles, and lots of other places.

A Song For Saturday: Born To Be A Rebel by Vic Godard and Subway Sect

1979 now

A Song For Saturday is from the great VIC GODARD  …

Here’s the blurb:

‘After the release of 1978 NOW in 2007 (a re-recording of Subway Sect’s ‘lost album’) recording and releasing Vic’s Northern Soul songs seemed a natural follow on. . .

Initiated into the world of Northern Soul after Paul Myers passed on a bundle of 45s in 1978, the deceptive simplicity of many of the records convinced Vic to start practising songs he had been writing in his bedroom, which would eventually lead to 1979 being one of his most productive song writing years.

An unexpected support slot for Siouxsie and The Banshees in Camden, 1980, meant many of the songs comprising 1979 NOW! got their first airing. Alan Horne recorded everything from their Northern Soul inspired instrumental opener, which was later reprised to close the set – to songs such as ‘Caught In Midstream’ and ‘The Devil’s in League With You.’ The bootleg eventually found its way to Edwyn Collins, who chose to record ‘Holiday Hymn’ for Orange Juice’s 1981 Peel Session.

Nearly thirty years later and the seeds of 1979 NOW! took root, but went on the back burner as attention turned to other things, like recording ‘We Come As Aliens’, gigs and the release of ‘Live In Stereo’ (2009 gnu inc). Fast-forward to 2010 and with WCAA released (CD Overground/Vinyl gnu inc.) attention briefly returned to 1979 NOW! Eventually, after careful consideration, Myers agreed to come on board with Vic’s long time collaborator, friend and fellow Chelsea fan Paul Cook, to record 1979 NOW! and perform live with Subway Sect; Kevin Younger, Mark Braby and Yusuf B’Layachi.

Work began on the first 1979 NOW! tracks at West Heath Studios in 2012 with Edwyn Collins and Seb Lewsley recording and producing. By spring 2013, with four tracks in the bag, AED Records released the ‘Caught In Midstream’/’You Bring Out The Demon In Me’ 7 inch. Recording continued through 2013, mixing and mastering completed in April 2014.’

Buy 1979 Now! and listen to Born To Be  A Rebel here.

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Short, Sharp Interview: Vic Godard

PDB: Can you pitch your latest release in 25 words or less?

Live and Rare Volume 1 is an extraordinary trawl through 35 years of the Subway Sect. Also forthcoming are a single on Edwyn Collins’ AED Records and a single with Mates Mates on Famelic Records [of Vic Catalonia]

PDB: What music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

I have enjoyed the Leeds Piano Competition and been reading my usual fare like Nerval Gautier and Jacques Cazotte. Have been looking for English translation of German author called Jean-Paul, but not yet found.

I was impressed by watching Dawn Approach win the Dewhurst at Newmarket on TV the other day. Looking forward to seeing him win next year’s Guineas on the same track-he looked good.

PDB: Is it possible for a musician to be an objective listener?

I would say they shouldn’t be any different to anyone else but maybe they are.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing music for films, theatre or television?

Yes, I am meant to be doing a bit of that but been a bit busy at Edwyn’s with getting first four tracks for 1979 Now recorded and mixed so I’ve got no excuse now they’re done.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you?

Vitally.
PDB: What’s on the cards for the rest of 2012?

The release of the singles hopefully and a boat trip with the Subway Sect, followed by a mini tour and a Marc Riley session with the Sexual Objects end of November and a London gig with them on Dec 9th. Rehearsing with the Sect to record Happy-Go-Lucky Girls and You Made Me, for 1979 Now, at Edwyn’s.

Bio:

In 1976, Vic Godard formed Subway Sect at the suggestion of Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, who wanted another band for the line-up of the 100 Club Punk Festival. They were then taken on by Clash manager Bernie Rhodes. They appeared with The Clash on the White Riot Tour in 1977 and released their debut single, “Nobody’s Scared“/”Don’t Split It“, in March 1978.While recording their debut album, Rhodes suddenly fired the entire band except for Godard.Only one track from the album’s recording sessions, “Ambition“, was released by Rough Trade records; the single was a major hit on the alternative charts.

Godard re-formed Subway Sect in 1980 releasing the album What’s The Matter Boy? Following a summer tour with Buzzcocks, Subway Sect disbanded again. Vic Godard recorded the swing album Songs For Sale with a rockabilly band in 1981, but they were disappointed with the results and disbanded soon after.

In the mid-1980s, Godard retired from music  but came out of retirement in the 1990s, and has been a busy bee ever since,collaborating with the likes of Edwyn Collins, The Sex Pistol’s Paul Cook, Working Week and even writing a musical with  Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT VIC GODARD & SUBWAY SECT HERE.