Sunday, August 30, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Great forgotten bands of the 80s: The Godfathers
Courtesy of Mr Impostume’s magnanimity, while I was down in
Even back then the Godfathers were unashamedly retro, combining the look of the Kray Twins with no-nonsense, punky rock n roll. Emerging in the mid to late 80s, they came at a difficult time. The early 80s post-punk and synth-pop boom had petered out and the charts were almost without exception full of abysmal shit, whilst outside of the mainstream the artier of the goths could, with a little effort, cross over to the avant-garde rock of Sonic Youth, Big Black and the hip grungy and/or industrial bands that came in their wake, and fans of jangly indie pop could, with a little effort and heaps of drugs, cross over via the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays into the rave scene. Where did the Godfathers fit in? They didn’t. With their hard rock stance they could perhaps have appealed to the more yobbish end of the goth scene, but in their sharp gangster suits they made even that difficult, vaunting their withering scorn for the black-clad herd.
Hit By Hit and their second album Birth School Work Death were packed with blinding punk-pop songs overlain with muscular, heavily Steve Jones-inspired riffing and raucous terrace chanting to underline their tough, very British image, years before Britpop or before Guy Ritchie got in on the mockney villain act. It’s surely of no small significance that they were produced by Vic Maile, the man who produced the legendary Ace of Spades (which is not only possibly the greatest rock n roll album of all time but also, tellingly, head and shoulders above Motorhead’s previous recorded output). The result was that at their peak they sounded tight as fuck, so tight in fact that they seemed close to snapping. Their desperation is worn on their sleeve throughout, the lyrical content a calamitous mixture of stress, for example in “This Damn Nation”, painfully uncontrollable lust (“I Want You”, “Can’t Leave Her Alone”), and on the title track of the second album bitter resignation in the glorious line “I’ve been abused and I’ve been confused and I’ve kissed Margaret Fatcher’s shoes”, whilst the transparency of their wiseguy fronting on the thuggish “Cause I Said So” is tragically exposed by the beautiful “It’s So Hard”, which leaves little doubt that they’re not half as hard as they wish they were (although the ill-considered “Just Like You” is just plain soppy).
A large part of the thrill lies in their contradictions: A blatantly retro band who were in some ways ahead of their time, brutalised Thatcher-haters who glorified the starkest, deadliest form of capitalism (80s Britain’s counterpart to gangsta rap?), East End hardmen on the verge of tears. The Strangest Boys indeed. The revival is nigh!
Sunday, August 16, 2009
As usual this summer I’ve made my regular pilgrimage back to the
On the surface my home town of
Aside from the parks, the
Another evening I spent at a cosy little gig on a boat just opposite the South Bank Centre, which surpassed my expectations in almost every way. One bonus was that in between sets, or during less interesting ones, it was possible to sit out on deck and enjoy the view of
And in many ways I do, it’s just that I feel dejected about the course it’s on. The swine flu hysteria that was sweeping the nation was one thing that seems indicative of a malaise that seems to be engulfing
Another example is transport, particularly in the capital. It seems to me that Ken Livingstone made a major PR fuck-up as Mayor of London – he could so easily have gone down in history as the man who had the balls to introduce the congestion charge, which, though desperately inadequate, was obviously a good idea, but many will instead revile him for decades to come for being the man who, after promising not to, scrapped the Routemaster buses. A huge advantage of these was that when traffic was crawling at several times less than walking pace, or at a complete standstill, it was possible to simply hop off the bus at any point. No more. On sweltering hot days we now have to wait, for reasons of Health and Safety, until we get to the next stop, which given
All this is old hat for anybody from the
In connection with this I’ve sometimes found it ironic when some people in CZ, probably due to naivety rather than malicious intent, have asked me whether I don’t feel worried about
So having spent years out here idly slagging off my homeland it seems I’ve now become a Little Englander lamenting the loss of our national treasures, all with the luxury of living abroad. When all’s said and done how much do I really give a shit about any of this? After all… I GOT A KISS OFF VIV ALBERTINE!!!