Tuesday 18 February 2014

30 Odd Years

30 Odd Years - Vic Godard
(Gnu Inc, 2014)
"Don't want to sing rock and roll" - Don't Split It

My intention was to kick my favourite albums thread back to life but I thought that I should write about what I'm listening to at the moment and what I'm listening to is this new compilation of the work of the great Vic Godard.

Vic featured on my 101+ Albums list at No. 16, which could be a lot higher on another day, and indeed he could easily have been represented by a couple of other albums. The variety and quality of all the different phases of Vic's career means that this compilation is a great way to check out which album would most suit you!

Vic first came to attention as the singer with Subway Sect, one of the first wave of punk bands, closer in spirit to Wire and Magazine than The Pistols or The Clash, esoteric and off centre and individual. Their first two singles, the essential Nobodys Scared and Ambition are represented here in full, a & b sides, although the version of Ambition on here is recorded live in the 21st century with frequent collaborators The Sexual Objects.

But you don't have to go back to the 70's to find highlights in Vic's career. In 1999 he released 20 Odd Years, the predecessor to this and he has had to make space for a lot of new classics since then. Indeed we've had the best of both worlds as he has released two superb 'new' albums since then - Sansend and We Come as Aliens, and also 1978 Now, a re-recording of his "great lost album". This year will see the release of another album of tracks excavated from the past -1979 Now, from Vic's Northern Soul era. It will be produced by Edwyn Collins, one of the purveyors of The Sound of Young Scotland which was heavily influenced by the Sect. Anticipation runs high round here.

Right now I am listening to Back in the Community from We Come as Aliens - live version above. What a track, a paean to the ordinary; the "lessons in humility" a close relation of the "ambivalence" unearthed in Ambition. And these are no idle boasts from a man who left the music business to work as a postman in the eighties and still holds that job today. He is the ANTIDOTE. As an early song that resurfaced on 1978 Now says WE OPPOSE ALL ROCK 'N' ROLL.

The sidesteps here are great, with the punk graffiti hardly dry when Vic moved on to northern soul and then to swing, with songs that could have been hawked around the stage doors of Broadway - the market likes to pin you down and he presented some difficulties. But across the fifty-four tracks on this double cd these changes seem natural and unforced, all united by Vic's voice (no-one wavers to more telling effect) and gift for telling phrases and melodic hooks. I find it hard to pick a favourite period - but if forced I'd probably go for the three album run from The End of the Surrey People through Long Time Side Effect to the brilliant Sansend. All three are well represented and will also repay further investment in the albums themselves. As will pretty much everything he's made. Here's one from Sansend.

Buy direct from the artist HERE. You even get a personal "Thank You."


  1. Interesting character. Is Working Classes from his collaboration with Irvine Welsh? Looking forward to the return of Top 102, Seamus.


    1. Hi Brendan, yes, Working Classes is from Blackpool, and it's the song I'd have put on this to improve it.