Big Gold Dream

Grant McPhee, Indie, Music, Orange Juice, Paul Research, post punk, punk, Punk Noir Magazine, Subway Sect, Vic Godard

big gold dreamFrom Wikipedia:

‘Big Gold Dream is a 2015 film documenting the story of Scotland’s post-punk scene, focusing on record labels Fast Product and Postcard Records. Directed by filmmaker Grant McPhee, the film’s name is taken from the 1981 Fire Engines single of the same name, the final release on the Pop Aural label. The film won the 2015 Edinburgh International Film Festival Audience Award.



Cullen Gallagher interviews Paul D. Brazill

Cullen Gallagher, Flash Fiction, Interviews, Music, Non-fiction, Paul D. Brazill, Polski Noir, post punk, Pulp, Punk Noir Magazine, Vic Godard

Long ago, I interviewed one of my favorite noir writers, Paul D. Brazill, about his then-recent novella, Kill Me Quick! Whether it was fate, circumstance, or just laziness, Pulp Serenade sort of faded away and I shamefully did not publish the interview. Now, years later, I’m trying to make amends. Paul was kind enough to update the interview with a little bit about his newest work, Last Year’s Man, as well as a short story, “No One is Innocent” (published over at Retreats from Oblivion).

Your story “No One is Innocent” was later incorporated into the novel, Big City Blues. Can you tell us a little bit about Big City Blues and how the short story found its way into a longer work?

With Big City Blues I wanted to have a bundle of OTT characters collide in London. The blurb says: ‘British coppers, an American private eye, London gangsters, international spies, and a serial killer known as The Black Crow all collide violently and hilariously in Big City Blues.’ I changed the main characters from No One Is Innocent a bit to fit in with the bigger story.

The jukebox in “No One is Innocent” plays Jane Morgan’s “The Day the Rains Came.” If you could program your perfect bar jukebox, what would be on it?

There are far too many to choose from but any jukebox without Tom Waits, Sinatra and Dusty Springfield isn’t a real jukebox.

Last Year’s Man is your new novel, what’s it about and what inspired you to write it?

A troubled, ageing hit man leaves London and returns to his hometown in the north east of England hoping for peace. But the ghosts of his past return to haunt him. I always liked the idea of the comedian Tony Hancock as a hit man or gangster and Last Year’s Man is my stab at that.

The setting of Kill Me Quick! is Seatown, a shithole town populated by has-beens, screw-ups, and half-assed ex-musicians who never made it. Is this place for real, or what inspired it?

Seatown is a grotesque version of my home town, Hartlepool, and the areas around the town. A lot of it is based on real people and real situations but by throwing them all together at one time it makes the quirky sides of the town seem all the more bizarre. There are, of course, lots of normal people doing normal things in Hartlepool but there’s no fun in writing about them.
There are so many great details about the life of a musician, from grimy bars to band breakups to business scams. This isn’t even the glitter and glam of VH1 Behind the Music, but the real-deal grit. What is your own background in music, and did any of the details come your own musical experiences?
My oldest brother was a musician who mostly played in hotel bars, working men’s clubs, on cruise ships and the like. I played in a couple of post- punk bands. I’ve been around musicians of various shades of success all of my life.  Many musicians’ reach exceeds their grasp and vice versa, so it can have a tragi-comic aspect to it that suits my spin on noir.
Lots of music is referenced through the book, including Tom Waits, Julie London, Fairport Convention, and John Martyn, but none is so surprising as Dire Straits. This must be the first noir book to mention that band. You describe them as the sound of gloom. Do you really hate Dire Straits that much, and just what is so bleak about them to your ears?
I don’t mind them in small amounts, to be honest. Knopfler is a very tasty guitarist. Never been a fan. They signify a certain pastel cloured, ’80s, hotel bar corporate rock sound, though.
More than a couple people are wearing Doc Martens. What’s the cultural significance, and do you still have a pair yourself?
I haven’t worn Doc Martin boots in my life! Not with my feet! They are very Brit Grit, though. Like Fred Perry, Carry On Films and marmite.
One of your characters defines irony as “when the audience knows more about what’s happening than a character and knows that the character’s making a mistake.” So, do you think all noir is inherently ironic?
As I’ve said before, I think noir has a lot in common with slapstick, in that the characters are on the verge of falling down a metaphorical manhole all the time. They usually think they know what’s going on but haven’t a clue!
Apparently no good shows happen in Seatown any more … so tell me, what’s the best and worst shows you’ve ever seen?
Gang Of 4 at Middlesbrough Rock Garden, Magazine at Redcar Coatham Bowl, Ennio Morricone at the Barbican Centre, Lyle Lovitt ant Hammersmith Apollo were all great. Both times I saw Kinky Friedman. Both times I saw the Subway Sect. Leeds Futurama Festival in 1979 – Joy Division, the Fall etc. I don’t remember the crap ones: enough with those negative waves, Moriarty!
Give me some music recommendations! What are some of the best British punk bands that people don’t talk about as much as they should?
Although British punk was about re-inventing rock muic, some of the best bands were the ones that were anti- rock. Subway Sect, The Prefects, ATV. They had a different approach to music and lyrics.
One of your characters says, “Democracy drags things down to the level of the lowest common denominator. In music, that’s usually the bass player.” Why does everyone always make fun of bassists? 
I used to play bass, so … It does seem that bass players are not so much the ugly friend but the mousey one you always forget about. There are many exceptions of course: Barry Adamson, Bootsy Collins, for example.

Shifting gears, I have some questions about other projects … Roman Dalton, werewolf P.I., began as one of your stories, but now other writers are taking a spin with the character. Why open it up to other writers, and what’s it like seeing other people use your character?

I actually thought the Dalton world was a good one that I didn’t have the ability to exploit fully. Letting someone like Allan Leverone or Matt Hilton take a bite of it put more meat on its bones, he says mixing metaphors.
What’s this about the Polski Noir project on your website? Who does the translating?
Polski Noir is a webzine where flash fiction in English is translated into Polish. The translations are done by my friend Marta Crickmar and her students. Writers published so far include Patti Abbot, Richard Godwin, K A Laity.

What are you working on now? Any upcoming publications you can share with us? Small Town Crimes is a flash fiction and short story collection that will be out from Near To The Knuckle at the end of the month. I’ve just finished a follow up to Last Year’s Man. It’s called “The Iceman Always Rings Twice.”

“The Iceman Always Rings Twice!” That’s a great title. Do you come up with titles before you start writing?
That title was suggested by Daniel Moses Luft on Facebook when he found out I’d written a yarn called “The Postman Cometh.”


This interview first appeared at PULP SERENADE.

Pulp Serenade Banner Sept 2015

Supernatural Noir Playlist by Paul D. Brazill

Noir, Non-fiction, Paul D. Brazill, Punk Noir Magazine, Supernatural Noir, The Fall, Tom Waits, Vic Godard

supernatural noir cover

Supernatural Noir is collection of my short stories that I consider to be both supernatural and, er, noir. And of course, there’s music all over the place!

Drunk On The Moon by Tom Waits

It started with a song. Tom Waits’ Drunk On The Moon, to be precise. A neon soaked torch song with more than a twist of noir. A song of the city at night, sung by a man who sounded like a wolf – and not just Howlin’ Wolf. And once upon a time, there was a magazine named Dark Valentine who were looking for cross genre short stories. So, I wrote a yarn about a werewolf private eye. And I called it Drunk On The Moon.

Gloomy Sunday by Mel Torme

One of the regular cast of the Roman Dalton world in Duffy, bar owner and Mel Torme fan.

I Ain’t Superstitious by Howlin Wolf.

The first song on the Wurlitzer jukebox in Duffy’s Bar when Roman Dalton – werewolf private eye- walks into the bar.

She’s My Witch by Kip Tyler

Sometimes a You Tube recommendation is good. And sometimes, it’s so good you have to use its title for one of your yarns.

Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Bad Moon Rising has probably used in dozens of werewolf books and films. Not that would stop me using it for one of my yarns.  But since my sister sent me a t-shirt that said Black Moon Rising, that was the title I used.

The Endless Sleep by Robert Gordon

Teenage Death Songs were popular in the late ‘50s and ‘60s. The most famous is probably the Shangri Las’ Leader of the Pack. Some of those ditties even had a supernatural aspect, such as John Leyton’s Johnny Remember Me or Jody Reynolds’ Endless Sleep. I’ve chosen the version by the effortlessly cool Robert Gordon.

Stamp Of A Vamp by Vic Godard and Subway Sect

Vic Godard’s Subway Sect were on of the first handful of British punk bands. Blatantly anti-rock and ant-stupid, they had little to no chance of the commercial success of the likes of The Clash and Sex Pistols. By the time I eventually got to see them – at Marton Country Club in the early ‘80s- Vic Godard had ditched dirty, smelly rock completely and had embraced swing and crooning with great gusto. Stamp Of A Vamp was their first single from that period and although major commercial success continues to elude Vic, he is still on the go and out and about.

Spectre vs Rector by The Fall

Even as early as their second album – Dragnet, 1979 – The Fall’s professionally cantankerous Mark E. Smith was keen to alienate as many people as possible with this painfully produced, but brilliant album. Spectre vs. Rector is a ghost story. As is my gangster yarn Spectres.

Here’s my Supernatural Noir playlist, if you’re that way inclined:

Bio: Paul D. Brazill’s books include Last Year’s Man, Guns Of Brixton, A Case Of Noir, and Kill Me Quick. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime. His blog is here.

This post first appeared at Toe Six Press.


A Moment Worth Waiting For by Kevin Pearce.

Kevin Pearce., Music, Non-fiction, Paul D. Brazill, post punk, punk, Punk Noir Magazine, Vic Godard

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.

Fiction: Evel Knievel and the Fat Elvis Diner By Richard Wall

Elvis, Fiction, Music, Punk Noir Magazine, Richard C. Wallis, Sex Pistols, The Clash, Vic Godard


The man stared through glass at the immense, dark thunderhead that filled the horizon.



            Towering like a huge anvil in the vast Oklahoma sky.

            Even at this distance he could see the grey curtain of rain beneath it; see threads of lightning poking at the earth like the antagonistic fingers of a spiteful child.



            His phone beeped, he knew by the tone that he’d received an email, but he kept staring at the cloud.

            Proper Okie storm on the way.

            He looked down and touched the screen of the phone to open the mail inbox.

            One new message.

            He didn’t recognise the sender and the subject line was empty, in the content pane were the words:

            “This guy w…”

            The man frowned, peered closer.

            “This guy w…”

            He tapped the message, watched as it began to load then looked up.           

            He stared at the weather for a while then looked down again at the phone. The screen showed a rotating hour-glass and the words “loading content.”

            “This guy w…”

            Wasn’t there a song called “This Guy”?

            Who sang that? Was it Burt Bacharach?

            No, don’t think so. Sounds like something he might have written, though.

            Who was it?

            He snapped his fingers. Herb Alpert.

            Good God.

            Herb Alpert.


            Nearly forty years.

            Herb Alpert didn’t sing very often but he got to Number One with this.

            So dad said.

            The man scowled.

            Herb Alpert’s singing now alright, an earworm cavorting round and round inside his head.


            It all came back, a slow, lazy trumpet riff.

            Pah-Pah-Pa-Pahhhh, Pa-PAH-Pah-Pa-Pa-Pahhh.

            Music you’d hear in a lift, or a shopping centre, or an old folk’s home.

            What the hell are those dad?

            Leave it, son. Please.

            Music you’d hear when a call centre puts you on hold.


            For God’s sake.

            The man rubbed his eyes, tried to get the song out of his head. He looked down at the phone.

            Rotating hour-glass.

            Loading content.

            Probably a bunch of photos, or a movie.

            “This guy w…”

            Tijuana Brass.

            Yellow album cover. Dog-eared cardboard. Pictures of trumpets.

            England, 1970’s.


            Dad’s record collection; Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, George Formby, Glenn Miller, Jim Reeves, Ray Conniff.

            Dear God.

            Ray Conniff.

            The man shook his head. How many times did we have to listen to Ray flaming Conniff and his singers blasting through the house?

            Each to their own, of course, but for a small boy it was easy listening hell.

            God save the Sex Pistols.


            K-Tel Records.

            K-Tel adverts on the black and white tv.

            What was that thing? Oh yeah, the Buttoneer. Fixed buttons just like magic. Imagine that on Dragon’s Den; I’ll tell you where I am, I’m out.

            The Buttoneer.

            Was that K-Tel, or was it Ronco?

            Why do I care?



            Screaming helped a little. But not much.

            The man sighed and looked at his watch. Another hour yet.

            Tijuana Brass.


            What’s Tijuana, Dad?

            Somewhere ruddy foreign.

            Ruddy. Dad’s favourite word.

            Any place further than twenty miles away was “ruddy foreign.”

            Thanks, Dad.  

            So, he’d looked it up for himself. Went to the library, found a Readers Digest World Atlas and discovered that Tijuana is a town in Mexico, on the Pacific coast just over the border from San Diego, California. To a small-town kid on a council estate in the sticks, these places sounded exotic.

            The man grunted.


            He went to San Diego with the navy. Took the tram to San Ysidro and walked across the bridge into Tijuana to see for himself. Ended up in the Zona Norte, the North Zone, where the only thing remotely exotic was the medical condition that he contracted from the Mexican hooker he picked up in a shabby, down at heel bar. After drinking his body weight in tequila, he waved her over and they went upstairs, while a mariachi band played in the street.

            Got into trouble for that alright. Self-inflicted injury, the navy called it.

            Seemed like a good idea the time.

            When in Rome and all that.

            Mind, she was fit.


He looked down at the phone.

            “This guy w…

            Rotating hour-glass.

            Loading content.

            This is taking a while, must be the weather. Better be good, whatever it is.

            He reached for the packet of Lucky Strikes, took one out, lit it, took a long drag then blew bored smoke rings.

            Staring through glass. Thinking.

            Growing up in the 1970’s.

            Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special. Patch Pockets. Champion the Wonder Horse. The Sweeney. The hot summer of ’76. The Austin Allegro. Clackers. Action Man.

            You ain’t havin’ an Action Man.

            Please, dad.

            Not a chance.

            Corgi Toys.

            Receiving, as a birthday gift, a die-cast model of a 1970 Dodge Challenger, the one from the movie ‘Vanishing Point’.

            Capturing his imagination like nothing else. A glimpse into another world that ignited a life-long obsession.

            For a small boy, the closest thing to falling on love.

            American muscle cars.

            Proof that God exists, engines have souls and heaven is in Motor City.

            Dodge Challenger.

            Standing still it looked like it was doing a hundred miles an hour.

            Then one day, reading the Daily Mirror and seeing that ‘Vanishing Point’ was being shown on TV. Begging his dad to let him stay up and watch it. Drinking in every second of the movie. Entranced at the sight of the beautiful car bellowing across the American landscape to the soundtrack of Delanie and Bonnie and Friends.

            Typical Yanks. Ruddy far-fetched.

            Yeah, but look at the car, dad. That’s a Dodge Challenger.

            Ruddy Yank tank. I’d rather have the Jag.

            Didn’t even own a car, back then.

            Why can’t we have a car, dad?

            There ain’t no point. If I bought one I’d only have to ruddy drive it.           

            Can’t argue with that logic.

            Had to make do with a Raleigh Chopper.

            Every penny from the paper round went to paying for that. A pound a week to the neighbour who ran a Kay’s catalogue. Probably dead now. What was her name?

            Hilda something.

            The man smiled, then laughed out loud.

            Pretending to be Evel Knievel. Imagination transformed the Raleigh Chopper into the Skycycle X-2, chalk lines on the road marked the Snake River Canyon and two breeze blocks and a plank made the launch ramp.

            Whilst undoubtedly a creative and imaginative student, he fails to apply these qualities to his schoolwork and this is reflected in his poor academic results. He has trouble concentrating and is easily distracted.

            Riding the Chopper 100 yards down the road, locking the back wheel to skid round in a perfect one-eighty, like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, and then taking a second to savour the atmosphere. The council estate became southern Idaho, kids from the estate became fans, imaginary cheers filling the air whilst overhead a lone eagle calls a lonesome “screeee” as it circles lazily on thermals above the canyon. A deep breath and a brief nod to the crowd then setting off and pedaling fast, notching the T-shaped lever from first to second and then up to third gear, kids becoming a blur but seeing dad in the front garden, the Chopper hitting the ramp, flying through the air, bouncing hard on the huge back tyre, losing control and demolishing Hilda-something’s wooden fence. Thought dad was going to have a stroke, he laughed so hard.

            That hurt, dad.

            That’ll learn ya.

            The man smiled again. Every accident, mishap or minor injury was met with the same response:

            Watcha cryin’ for now?

            Fell out of a tree, dad.

            That’ll learn ya’.        


            The ear worm was still alive.

            Give me strength.

            The 1970’s.

            The music.

            Melody Maker. New Musical Express. Record Mirror.

            September 1976.

            Skiving off school and catching the train to London with a mate whose uncle worked at the 100 Club.

            What the ruddy hell were you thinking of? Your mum was ruddy demented.

            International Punk Festival.

            Subway Sect. Whatever happened to them? Siouxsie and The Banshees, The Clash.

            The Sex Pistols.

            Ever get the feeling you’ve been had?

            Other concerts. Mohicans, spitting, safety-pins, pogo dancing, stage-diving. A fat kid, airborne; captured by the strobe lights and held in the air for a split second, the crowd parting like the Red Sea, the expression on his face.

            The cheer when he hit the floor.

            ‘White Riot’ at maximum volume, dad storming into the bedroom.

            Why do you have to play it so ruddy loud?

            It’s The Clash, dad.

            Ruddy noise if you ask me, ruddy turn it down will ya’?

            Other bands, other gigs. The Buzzcocks, The Stranglers, The Clash again, still got the ticket from that one. What a night.

            It’s up to you not to heed the call-up.

            Good times.

            The storm cloud was moving closer. Lightning flashes becoming more dramatic. Curtain of rain almost filling the sky.

            Proper Okie storm.


            Dad’s reaction.

            What the ruddy hell do you want to go there for? Full of ruddy Yanks.

            Thanks, dad.

            No inclination to travel. Not interested in foreign food.

            Want some curry, dad?

            Wouldn’t give ya’ a thank ya for it. Ruddy mixed-up tack. 

            Got his news from the Daily Mirror and his social life playing crib at the local on a Wednesday night.

            Same routine.

            Week after week after week.

            As a kid, it was a mystery. There were places called Denver, Colorado; San Diego, Tijuana and Detroit, where they built muscle cars. A whole world of exotic places. Why would anyone want to stay in such a miserable, grey, insular, rural existence in the back end of nowhere?

            He’d never understood.

            Until he’d left home and been through a war of his own. Seen at first hand the things that humans could do to each other.

            Two bombs dropped on a ship in the South Atlantic. Watching helplessly as your best mate burned to death in front of you.        

            His screams in your nightmares.

            Your screams when you wake.

            Detachments to Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan.

            After that he understood.       

            Understood that if you’re a twenty year old kid and you get your call-up papers and for the first time in your life you’ve got to leave the small country town where you were born and raised, put on a uniform and then spend the next five years fighting halfway across the planet before they’ll let you go back home – in one piece if you were lucky – and during those five years all you saw was suffering, death, bloodshed and destruction, if you made it home, why would you ever leave again?

            Who could blame you for staying put?

            Proper infantry fighting, too. Back then.

            Like it is now.

            Seventy years ago. Today.

            Never mind your, over-the-horizon, fire-and-forget technology.

            Never mind your precision air-strikes.

            None of that for the blokes on the ground.

            No siree, Bob.

            What did dad used to say?

            Poor ruddy infantry.

            Just you, a Lee Enfield .303, a bayonet and your pals behind you.

            House to house. Hand to hand. Look the other bloke in the eye and hope you can kill him before he kills you. Day after day after day.

            Twenty years old.

            Kill him before he kills you.

            Like it is now.

            Poor ruddy infantry.

            Never understood.

            Until that day in the old folks home.

            Never seen dad undressed. Never even saw him without a shirt.

            Until that day.

            The day he’d walked in while the care assistant was giving his dad a wash. Eastern European, she was, smiling and stroking his head. Making time for him. Compassion on a weekly wage that no British person would get out of bed for.

            The day he’d walked in and saw the scars for the first time, the puckered circle just below his left shoulder, two more on his back, the slice marks across the stomach.

            His dad crossing his thin, bony arms, trying to cover his wasted body like a bashful virgin. Ashamed.

            Jesus Christ! What the hell are those dad?



            I don’t want to talk about it.

            But dad?

            Leave it, son. Please.

            Dad getting agitated.

            The care assistant putting her arms around him. Genuine affection in her eyes as she whispered soothing words in her native language, calming him down.

            I never hugged him.   

            And then, clearing the house after dad died. Finding the medal and the letter from the King. The conversation with his uncle at the funeral, the story no one else knew.

            Poor ruddy infantry.

            My dad, the hero. And he never said a word.

            I never hugged him.

            Cried his eyes out the day I joined the navy.

            So mum said.

            You ain’t getting an Action Man.

            The storm cloud grew closer.

            A single, fat raindrop hit the glass. Then another.

            Oklahoma storm.

            Oklahoma City? What the ruddy hell do you want to go there for?

            Cos Chuck Berry says it’s pretty.

            Do what?

            Chuck Berry, dad. Sang a song about Route 66.

            Ruddy noise if you ask me.

            Not like Ray Conniff, eh dad?


            Had enough with the navy.

            Fancied something different.

            Came to America, no plans.

            Bought a muscle car, a white 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T. 440 cubic inches, just like in the movie.

            The real deal. It’ll pass anything except a gas station.

            What else? If you’re gonna be a bear, be a grizzly.

            Stamp on the loud pedal and it howls like a banshee and leaps forward like an attack-dog. Awesome in a straight line. On a corner, forget it.

            A barely-tamed monster of a car.

            Caned it across America, just like Kowalski in Vanishing Point. Arrived in Yukon, Oklahoma and met a waitress in The Fat Elvis diner.

            Beautiful smile.

            Beautiful lady.

            Apple pie and cream. 

            Ah love yo’ accent, honey.

            And I love yours.

            Aw hell, I don’t have no acc-ey-ent.

            What time do you get off, beautiful lady?

            The nightmares stopped that night.

            Married a week later, imagine that?

            Three years and two kids ago and still together. Still got the car, too.

            Thinking about her made him smile.

            He looked down at the phone.

            Photographs began appearing.

            About time.

            He reached across to the ashtray, stubbed out the cigarette and looked closely at the screen.

            A bunch of people standing at the side of a road.

            A cop standing next to his patrol-car.

            To Protect and Serve.

            He scrolled down to the next photo.

            Grim-faced emergency workers looking down at something out of camera view.

            Next photo.

            Like a still from a Tarantino movie.

            A blood-soaked corpse lying on a plastic sheet next to a pile of twisted metal.

            The man looked closer.

            Correction, half a blood-soaked corpse. The victim, a young man, had been torn in half at the waist, ripped flesh and entrails  fanning out from his stomach cavity. Shocked expression on his face.

            Not surprised.

            Next photo.

            Emergency workers wearing blood-stained vinyl gloves, gripping the victim’s ankles as they dragged the lower half of his body from the wreckage. Gore trailing from the waist.

            Next photo.

            Both halves of the victim dumped on the plastic sheet, like a broken, shop-window mannequin.

            Like a broken Action Man.

            Next photo.

            Two vehicles. Head-on collision.

            The back end of an SUV sticking out from the radiator grill of a huge Kenworth truck.

            Blimey, must have been going some.

            Looked like the truck was eating the car.

            The Fat Elvis Diner.

            Apple pie and cream.

            I don’t have no acc-ey-ent.

            Beautiful smile.

            Beautiful lady.

            “This guy’s in love with you.

            The man scrolled back to the previous photos. Looked in fascination at the carnage laid out on black plastic.

            That’ll learn ya.

            Scrolled to the top of the message.

            Read the first line.

            “This guy was reading an email whilst driving.

            The man heard the blast of the horn.

            Looked up through the rain-covered windshield of the 1970 Dodge Challenger.

            Saw the radiator grill of the huge Kenworth truck.



Gary Crowley’s Lost 80s

Gary Crowley, Music, post punk, Punk Noir Magazine, Vic Godard

lost 80sLost 80s
presents 63 tracks compiled and themed by Gary Crowley disc by disc, from ‘Jingly Jangly’ indie-pop 7″s to the extended 12″ that so much marked the era. Many of these tracks are rare and very hard to find having not appeared on any CDs before. The better known artists appearing here are represented by some of their lesser-known (‘lost’) tracks.

“The 80s (and especially the first part) was an amazing time for music. It was a mad, fast, kaleidoscopic rollercoaster ride where the chancers taking your money not only walked the walk; they backed it up with innovative, amazing tunes that changed the way music was made forever. That’s certainly how I remember it…” Gary Crowley.

Presented in a beautiful 4CD media book, featuring 40 pages of Gary’s track by track notes, plus memories of the era from Nick Heyward (Haircut 100), Sarah Dallin (Bananarama), Gary Kemp (Spandau Ballet) Annabella Lwin (Bow Wow Wow), Clare Grogan (Altered Images) and more.

“So here, spread over these four CDs, I’ve collected together the best (in my personal opinion) of the guitar bands, the dance acts and the synth groups that made up the soundtrack of that gloriously thrilling decade for me and my friends. As well as some of its most memorable 12 inch remixes. Let me just state for the record, you’ll find no Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Duran Duran, Dire Straits or the like appearing on these discs…”

Disc: 1

  1. Vic Godard – Stop That Girl
  2. The Pale Fountains – (There’s Always) Something On My Mind
  3. Haircut 100 – Milk Film
  4. Aztec Camera – Pillar To Post
  5. The Bluebells – Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool
  6. Prefab Sprout – Lions in My Own Garden (Exit Someone)
  7. Fantastic Something – If She Doesn’t Smile (It’ll Rain)
  8. The Suede Crocodiles – Stop The Rain
  9. Friends Again – Honey At The Core
  10. Strawberry Switchblade – Trees And Flowers
  11. April Showers – Abandon Ship
  12. Paul Quinn – Ain’t That Always The Way

Disc: 2

  1. Bush Tetras – Too Many Creeps
  2. Bow Wow Wow – Mickey Put It Down
  3. The Apollinaires – The Feeling’s Gone
  4. The Redskins – Keep On Keeping On
  5. JoBoxers – Is This Really The First Time You’ve Been In Love
  6. Hey! Elastica- This Town
  7. Spandau Ballet – Confused
  8. Depeche Mode – Shake The Disease
  9. Paul Haig – Running Away
  10. Altered Images – Love To Stay

Disc: 3

  1. Wham! – A Ray Of Sunshine
  2. Grandmaster Flash – The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel
  3. Tom Tom Club – Genius Of Love
  4. Whodini – Magic’s Wand [Special Extended Mix]
  5. Blue Rondo à la Turk – Klacto Vee Sedstein
  6. Pigbag – The Big Bean
  7. Funkapolitan – If Only
  8. The Staple Singers – Slippery People [Club Version]

Singing A Song In Prison – Various Artists sing the songs of Vic Godard

buzzcocks, Lee McFadden, Music, post punk, punk, Punk Noir Magazine, Subway Sect, The Clash, Vic Godard
vic godard

Lee McFadden writes –

I was just that little bit young for punk and so missed the raw excitement, energy and unpredictability that punk gigs offered during the well documented “Year Zero”.
In the mid eighties The Jesus and Mary Chain were trying to recreate that essence of punk to the teenage generation that just missed out – my lot.


One thing I loved was when my favourite bands displayed their influences and introduced me to whole new worlds. The Mary Chain did just that – I played the B-Side of the 12” of “Never Understand” and the last track was “Ambition” – the credit on the label read – “Written by Vic Godard”. Sorry Jim and William but this was better than their own compositions on this record for me. An irresistible introductory chord sequence and the killer of an opening line – “You Can Take It Or Leave It As Far As We’re Concerned Because We’re Not Concerned With You”. I was captivated.
A short while later the NME cassette compilation “Pogo A Go Go” was released – I heard the Subway Sect original for the first time. It sounded like a unique kind of disembodied punk pop – with a voice that owed something to Bolan but whose lyrics interested and intrigued me far more than the Cosmic Dancer ever could.

There is a school of thought that the most accomplished writing should be capped with “The Arresting Opening”. Vic has this ingrained – it’s part of his DNA. Many’s the song where right from the off the lyric takes you into three minutes of literary wonder – and sometimes leaves one dashing to the dictionary on the discovery of a new word in the English language. Couple this with an uncanny ear for catchy melodies and the ability to write solidly along a myriad of genres – jazz, soul, punk, pop – you realise it’s no wonder that Orange Juice covered “Holiday Hymn” after hearing a bootleg tape – that it’s self explanatory that the Mary Chain put “Ambition” on their second single – that in the present – Martin Bramah’s Blue Orchids have covered one of Vic’s most recent songs – “Music Of A Werewolf” – and why Vic’s compositions have proved to be the benchmark for so many writers to aspire to – only for them to acknowledge that the master is always one step ahead.

Every one of these artistes is a fan of intelligently crafted accessible songwriting. Every one of these performers tips their hat to Vic Godard. This is their tribute – and well deserved. ‘
Lee McFadden – January 2018

Vic Godard writes –

‘In the summer of ’76 Subway Sect were auditioned by Malcolm McLaren at Manos Rehearsal Studios in the Fulham Road. We only had four songs to play, one of which was Nobody’s Scared. I’d written the words in the library at Ealing Tech where I was avoiding work for as long as I could. I was plundering the words from a book about the French New Wave Cinema. There was a chapter called ‘Focus on Godard’ and I took the ideas for the song from it. It was a very simple song set to three chords, a fourth was added for the chorus and the solo was the same as the verse but played more abrasively.
It was later recorded as part of a Peel Session and the following year appeared as a single on a new record label called Braik owned by Bernard Rhodes who became our manager after the first gig. The record was highly unusual and we all hated it then, although I’ve grown to love it with the advance of time. The rhythm guitar ‘solo’ sounded like radio interference and although I overdubbed a lead guitar solo it was played over the top of the second verse. The last note of my solo was deemed controversial by the BBC Boffins but Mickey Foote (our sound man) was there and sided with me, so it made it on to the record.

The other song written for the audition was Out of Touch which was based on a Modern Lovers song. I was learning the guitar after trading in my bass and playing along to the Velvet Underground, Jimmy Reed and the Pretty Things. I got the tune from listening to the harmonics coming off the electric guitar on the open chords. Our guitarist Rob had a trebly sound and resonances made themselves clear to me.

Ambition was one of a batch of songs written after our second gig –a total debacle-at the I.C.A. Unfortunately we all had different set-lists and I was left unsure who to sing along with. We decided to call it a day, but were calmed down by Shane MacGowan and Joe Strummer. We decided to give it another go at the R.C.A on fireworks night 1976. We had a few new songs and two stood out, Can This Be True? and River Nile.
River Nile was the first version of Ambition and when I said River Nile the group went into the chorus .This was a chorus that ended up in another song called Idea–Pull.
We only played it a few times but Ambition was being worked on throughout the ‘White Riot Tour’ and finally became recognizable on our ‘Great Unknowns Tour ‘ with French group, The Lou’s. The song we recorded at Gooseberry Studios in Gerrard Street was messed about with by Bernie Rhodes, Mickey Foote and James Dutton while I was on the ‘Love Bites Tour’ with the Buzzcocks and released without my knowledge or permission. As it turned out I wasn’t keen on the original so was happy with the outcome, especially as it sold so well.

After our first London gigs as Clash support act we were asked to go on tour with them and told to get a set list ready lasting thirty minutes. This meant me writing more songs so I started with a batch including Chain-Smoking. A paean to the Richard Hell song Love Comes in Spurts, it featured me on lead guitar for the first time using an old semi-acoustic painted grey and stuffed full of foam. The lyrics came from my old school lessons about Sartre and Camus.

The song Empty Shell was influenced musically by listening to the David Bowie Low LP which blew a lot of our ideas aside when it came out. Again the version we played live as a group in early ’78 bore scant resemblance to the one that finally appeared on the What’s The Matter Boy LP. It was much rougher and had a mad descending guitar figure in between each alternate verse. There was also a weird chord I liked before the bridge –a D with a C shape. Lyrics were again taken from a story we studied at Shene School-this time it was Colomba by Prosper Merimee.

Make me Sad was written at the same time. I was influenced by a batch of Northern Soul records I had. They were on loan to Paul Myers the Sect bassist whose friend Jacko was a regular coach tripper to all points north. He used to bring back singles and being either an evangelist for the sound (or plain idiot!) he’d lend them to Myers who’d lend them to me. I started to write in that style and Make me Sad was one of the early attempts.
The group having been sacked by Bernie, I was directed to become the label songsmith and my first task was to write enough songs for the Black Arabs to play a support slot on the forthcoming Dexy’s Midnight Runners tour. I’d already been working with their singer Henry on the song Stop That Girl and we went on to record it, as well as the LP What’s the Matter Boy, with the rest of the Black Arabs. Stop that Girl was written under the spell of Theophile Gautier’s masterpiece Mademoiselle de Maupin. The first time my inspiration hadn’t come from school!

Two of the others written for the tour were Happy Go lucky Girl and Holiday Hymn. Then in 1980 the Subway Sect did a gig supporting Siouxsie & The Banshees at the Music Machine and played both songs. The gig was taped by Alan Horne and soon Orange Juice had done a great version-changing the verse timing and improving on the original even though they got the chords wrong!
Johnny Britton the Sect guitarist from ’78 was doing well as a model but found the time to record a single with Happy-Go-Lucky Girls on the b-side. It was the only single released by Braik Records except Nobody’s Scared.

My reading was still seeping into the writing and Nerval’s ‘Sylvie’ is the story I was into at the time I wrote Holiday Hymn. Both songs were heavily indebted to Boney M who had ‘Nightflight to Venus’ out at that time. It was constantly played in my room for the rest of the year.

Some time during 1979 I had started listening to and trying to write old fashioned songs.
I was gifted a group by Johnny Britton: his rockabilly group from Bristol were without a singer as he was too busy and I was a song writer with no group. I started playing songs with them in a fairly M.O.R style at first but Dave Collard the pianist was into Miles Davis and could play the trumpet like him while playing piano with the other hand. He was also adept at arranging along with Chris Bostock the bass player who also played a mean acoustic and had a sweet voice to boot. Their incredible work ethic was like nothing I’d ever experienced and was a shock to the system but during that period I really got my head down and worked on the music and lyrics albeit aided by narcotics. We did more gigs than I’d done before and regularly needed new songs as we did a regular club on a weekly basis (Club Left).
When Club Left outgrew the Whiskey-A-Go-Go we moved it briefly to Ronnie Scott’s and it was here that we played T.R.O.U.B.L.E for the first time. It was written for a female singer-no one in particular but someone who you’d see on stage in an Ida Lupino film. I was thrilled to be able to sing it on the record with a real live swing band.
In the early nineties I was introduced to Matthew Ashman and collaborated with him on some 4 Track demos of my current songs, one of which was Outrageous Things, although he used to call it ‘Thanks’. Sadly he died soon after but I included the song plus London Blues on the Long Term Side Effect LP recorded with Edwyn Collins at West Heath Yard, as was The Place We Used to Live which was released years later as a single by Creeping Bent.

Music of a Werewolf was originally a 4 Track demo of me trying to play the Munsters theme and failing miserably, but it had a great swing to it – the intro Redact and Pour part was its chorus, but it was played on the organ rather than sung. It attempted to describe the wasteful nature of my songwriting experience as well as the mystical side with a bit of the mechanics thrown in for good measure. It’s a favourite for me to play live without a guitar as it has a lurching danceable beat. I especially enjoyed singing it live at the Lexington recently with the Blue Orchids.

Towards the end of the nineties, while I was working on the Sansend LP I was asked to contribute tunes to a musical Irvine Welsh was working on. The title track was Blackpool. I’d been playing live for a while with The Bitter Springs so we started trying out the songs live then recorded several in a small Teddington studio. Out of that came the Blackpool EP with Hand Jobs, The Sewer Song (with Jock Scot ) and The Working Class Song ( with lead vocal from Simon Rivers ) added to the title track. One of the best collaborations I’ve been involved in I think it came at the right time: Sansend took two years to record so writing the Blackpool songs was a good diversion, particularly as the vibe was so old fashioned. ‘

Vic Godard – January 2018

Buy Singing A Song In Prison

Various Artists sing the songs of Vic Godard

Dedicated to Vic’s wife and partner George (The Gnu), innovator, facilitator, artist, dreamer and egalitarian.Cover art by Andrew Shaw
Vic Godard photo by Alan Horne
Executive Producer – Joe Mckechnie

100% of profits from sales will be donated to the Amnesty International United Kingdom Section.