Wonky Dada, The First Lady of Trash & Some Synthwave From A Secret Soviet City

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Still arguably the high-point of British independent music, Blue Monday will be turning forty next month. New Order have always been upfront about the music that helped inspired the track. The droning choir of male voices lifted from Kraftwerk’s Uranium (itself a sample); the beat of Klein and MBO’s Dirty Talk and Giorgio Moroder’s drum programming on Donna Summer’s Our Love, the bassline from Sylvester’s You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) and Peter Hook’s twist on a riff he’d just heard on Ennio Morricone’s For a Few Dollars More score while watching that film in the Brittania Row studio.

They’ve always denied borrowing from Manchester-based Gerry and the Holograms’ eponymous single of the same name, though. Released in 1979 on independent label Absurd, New Order are guaranteed to have heard this albeit I’m happy enough to believe they don’t reckon that it had any influence on Blue Monday, although maybe it did just a little – subconsciously.

During an interview with Bill Grainger on Radio Clyde, Divine, the outrageous star of cult midnight movie Pink Flamingos, admitted that his single Love Reaction was ‘a complete rip-off of Blue Monday.’

He went on to talk about his first experience of hearing the New Order song, explaining that listening to the radio one day while in England: ‘It came on and I thought for sure it was Love Reaction.’ His reaction? He got ready to sing along and was confused when instead Barney Sumner asked: ‘How does it feel / To treat me like you do?’ Divine initially jumped to the conclusion that somebody had ripped Love Reaction off. But soon learned that the truth of the matter.

Or so he said, but it’s difficult to believe Divine hadn’t heard Blue Monday already in a club or been told that the song supposedly ‘written’ and produced by Bobby O was a virtual clone of the New Order track.

Far from HD quality, here is Divine performing the song live.

Despite some lawyers exchanging letters, Love Reaction is still credited as being written and produced by Bobby Orlando.

New Order themselves even covered it on occasion live, or maybe I should say that they incorporated it into Blue Monday. I saw them in the Bournemouth Stateside the night after the Brixton show below and the awkward buggers didn’t even play Blue Monday let alone incorporate Love Reaction into it. A show that failed to deliver the goods with a bunch of tech problems, weak vocals and bad attitude. And due to working shifts, I missed both the support bands.

Let’s jump over to the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s. With the Cold War still raging, this was obviously not a time of great artistic freedom in the Communist world. Back in the USSR, western rock music was effectively banned for its ‘capitalist and imperialist messages’ and many wanted to keep it that way.

In 1985, Komsomol, a kind of youth division of the Communist Party, compiled a list of ‘Artists Whose Repertoires Contain Ideologically Harmful Compositions’ pointing out each act’s ‘sins’. ‘We recommend using these findings to more strongly control what happens in discoteks,’ they proclaimed.

10CC were castigated for neofascism, as were Sparks. 10CC, why? Sparks? I’m guessing it was something to do with Ron Mael’s trademark Hitler moustache. The Sex Pistols, Clash, Ramones and Stranglers were accused of being punk and in the case of the three British groups, violent too. The Village People also encouraged violence apparently. I thought they wanted a thing at the YMCA, not a rammy.

Nazareth combined violence with religious mysticism and sadism. Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden were guilty of religious obscuritanism, whatever that is. Donna Summer made the list on account of ‘eroticism’. I imagine a group of fanatical teens keen to boost their Communist credentials, made the list up as they went along, throwing in suggestions at the drop of a ushanka-hat, with fact checking playing no part in the proceedings.

As for bands operating in the Soviet Union, a small minority were sanctioned by the state and prepared to let some group of ageing comrades dictate what they could and couldn’t say and play. I’m guessing these acts were all utterly awful.

There was an underground but the underground acts were denied the opportunity to officially exist. Many were hassled by the secret police, some were sent to labour camps, some others ‘disappeared’.

‘I had problems with the KGB,’ Vladimir Siniy revealed to Psychedelic Baby magazine in 2021. ‘I was harshly interrogated four times. That’s not for the weak. I thought they’d put me in jail. At the urgent request of a KGB colonel I knew, I joined the army.’

Siniy co-founded a band Brothers In Mind in Chelyabinsk. Chelyabinsk? you may ask yourself. Yes, a city in west-central Russia, close to the Ural Mountains and created in the wake of WWII solely to act as the centre of the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons programme. For decades, including the 1980s, it wasn’t even displayed on maps, and its population’s identities were not shown on any census. A truly secret city.

Nowadays, it appears to have rebranded itself as Ozersk but the name-change hasn’t changed the fact that it is still said to be the most contaminated spots in the world.

Brothers In Mind recorded in their bedrooms, using only two tape recorders to primitively sample instrumental passages from records by the likes of Talking Heads, Grace Jones and The B52s, before adding their own vocal takes on their creations.

Like many other under-the-radar bands, their music was recorded onto cassette tapes and these were distributed across the country.

See if you can possibly spot the source material for this one. From 1985, this is Vova Blue and the Brothers of the Mind and Molchat! (Be Quiet!):

Une Femme Est Une Femme (1961) – New Waves #4

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Une Femme est une Femme

And now something from the Big Daddy of cinematic new waves, the French Nouvelle Vague, and a movie I mentioned last week.

‘It was my first real film,’ Godard once declared, although during the 1970s he also denounced it as a ‘bourgeois experiment’. I disagree with him on both counts. Breathless (À Bout de Souffle) was his first real film and if Une Femme est une Femme really was a ‘bourgeois experiment’ then I’ll take it over any of his output from his interminably dull and often impenetrable political period.

My initial interest in Godard was perked through being a fan of punk band Subway Sect and learning that their singer Vic had taken his stage surname after the French-Swiss director. When I discovered that a film by him was being screened at the Glasgow Film Theatre, I decided to investigate. This was Une Femme Est Une Femme.

Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard, Une Femme Est Une Femme opens in attention grabbing fashion. It announces that it won two major prizes at the Berlin Film Festival and then elongated words flash up in red, white and blue and dominate the screen. These include cast members, influences, genre and more.

Godard Opening Credits Typography

A voice off camera (which we’ll soon recognise as belonging to the star of the film) exclaims: ‘Lights! Camera! Action!’ And we’re off.

That star was Godard’s new wife Anna Karina. She plays Angela Recamier, a Danish striptease artist who works at a dowdy Parisian club called the Zodiac. Early on and dressed as a sailor, she performs a coquettish routine, singing:

‘People always wonder why / People stare when I pass by / But it isn’t hard to see / Why the boys all go for me.’

It certainly isn’t.

Anna Karina - Une Femme Est Une Femme

Une Femme Est Une Femme is usually said to be Godard’s tribute to the Hollywood musical, but don’t expect Singin’ in the Rain or anything resembling a musical in the traditional sense. This little number is as close as you’ll get to that.

Don’t expect a complicated plot either. Angela suddenly decides she wants a baby, and she wants one fast. Her boyfriend Emile (Jean Claude Brialy) also wants a baby but not so fast. He’d rather wait and get married before even starting to think about children. Waiting in the wings is Emile’s pal Alfred, who is also in love with Angela and who she might just think is father material too. You wouldn’t blink an eye if the same scenario was played out today in some kooky indie drama or sitcom but before the 1960s started to properly swing this might have been considered somewhat contentious.

Alfred Lubitsch is played by Jean-Paul Belmondo and the Lubitsch part is his name is intended as a little homage to German director Ernst Lubitsch, best known for his sophisticated comedies like Design for Living (the plot of which resembles Une Femme Est Une Femme). This is a movie with levels of cinematic self-referencing that might even make Quentin Tarantino raise an eyebrow.

Alfred mentions that he wants to watch À Bout de Souffle on TV, while later he just happens to be standing in a bar next to Jeanne Moreau. ‘How goes it with Jules and Jim?’ he asks the star of that film. ‘Moderato,’ she replies, Belmondo and Moreau having recently starred together in Peter Brooks’ Moderato Cantabile. Marie Dubois from Shoot the Piano Player by Godard’s fellow new wave pioneer François Truffaut also makes a cameo appearance as a friend of Angela. And guess which film they discuss?

Like À Bout de Souffle, this is very playful. It breaks the fourth wall repeatedly. Sometimes explanations of the film’s narrative are superimposed onto the screen and, as Alfred and Angela walk along a Paris street, Angela announces that she’d like to be in a musical and suddenly she is, although without Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly with choreography by Bob Fosse, which she also wants.

Anna Karina with red umbrella

Emile rides his bike around the flat. After an argument with Angela, the pair refuse to talk to one another and instead thrust books with insulting titles like Monster and Get Stuffed! into one another’s faces. There are sight gags and non-sequiturs and everything is charming bar when Alfred and an ex-landlord hurl abuse at one another.

Cahiers Du Cinema summed it up as ‘Cinema in its pure state’. It says little but says little so stylishly and in such a innovative manner that it’s still very enjoyable. Few actresses have ever looked as luminously beautiful as Anna Karina and, while smoking is a highly addictive and unhealthy, Jean-Paul Belmondo proves conclusively that it can also look amazingly cool. Well, if you’re Jean-Paul Belmondo anyway.

Belmondo & Karina

This are many highlights although but my favourite scene is Alfred and Angela sitting together in a bistro listening to Tu t’laisses aller by Shoot the Piano Player star Charles Aznavour on the jukebox. There’s no dialogue as the song plays, just close-ups of the pair and shots of the record revolving. Alfred blows smoke upwards towards the ceiling. Angela fidgets, sips Dubonnet, looks into a mirror and contemplates a photo that Alfred has decided to show her. The acting here is understated yet superb.

Decades after seeing my first Jean-Luc Godard movie at the GFT, Vic Godard was invited to select a movie for a Monorail Film Club presentation at the same venue, before taking part in a Q&A about Jean-Luc Godard and European cinema.

He chose to screen Pierrot le Fou, which is a better film than Une Femme Est Une Femme but really, all his early work should be seen if possible. If you’re thinking of seeking out anything he was involved in after he embraced Chairman Mao and his Little Red Book, then be prepared to be bored and baffled rather than breathless.

* If you like Une Femme Est Une Femme you might also like the work of François Truffaut. Very roughly speaking, Godard and Truffaut were to French cinema in the 1960s what The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were to British music.

If asked what would be a perfect introduction to the Truffaut filmography, I would choose either The 400 Blows or Jules and Jim.



Some Northern Soul & the Patron Saint of Scottish Indie


Let’s rewind once again to the now hazy days of 1977 when millions of viewers tuned into a peak time documentary strand from Granada TV called This England, on this occasion for an episode titled Wigan Casino, which examined the most popular club on the Northern Soul scene, famous for its all–nighters where DJs like Russ Winstanley and Richard Searling would spin American soul rarities from the 1960s issued on labels like Okeh, Ric Tic and Mirwood.

There was some amazingly energetic and acrobatic dancing on display and what is equally amazing in the age of ‘reality’ TV and wannabes desperately craving media attention is the fact that many young Casino regulars didn’t want their private passion publicised and director Tony Palmer was under strict orders not to film those who didn’t want the exposure.

The documentary was undoubtedly a fascinating insight into a subculture I knew little about at the time, albeit I do think Palmer devoted too much time to local social history with old–timers reminiscing about the deprivation of their younger days accompanied by English folk tunes but the soul music was generally terrific, my own favourite being Turnin’ My Heartbeat Up, although the Charity Brown and Rain single Out of My Mind does sound more Eurovision than Detroit to my ears.

As a youngster I’d always enjoyed tracks like Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me, The Night, There’s a Ghost in My House and even (I’m whispering this) Footsie by Wigan’s Chosen Few but, by 1977, the idea of people making their way to Wigan, Blackpool, Stoke–on–Trent or anywhere else for a night of soul music struck me as outdated when they could probably venture out to a more local venue and see The Clash, Ramones or Stranglers perform live.

Likewise, why pay some crate digger over the top prices for some obscurity from a decade before when you could easily buy the latest blistering single by The Damned or Sex Pistols for under a quid?

And those tent–like flares and silly vests? No thanks.

Okay. Fast forward about twenty five years.

I’m half of a team that have just been shortlisted to make a Scottish based documentary and the proposal that is under consideration is on the subject of Northern Soul.

The plan is to shoot some footage at a few venues that put on Northern nights – Caley Soul at the Woodside Club in Glasgow and the Bonnyrigg Soul Club being two possibilities – and also interview some hardcore fans, the ideal candidates including a DJ and collector, Kenny Burrell, who at the time owned the most expensive single in the world after splashing out £15,000 for one of only two known copies of Frank Wilson’s Do I love You, and Stuart Cosgrove, author, broadcaster and former media editor of NME, who is also a well known soul fanatic and one time Wigan frequenter (he later coincidentally campaigned to keep the Wilson 45 in Scotland when Burrell put the record up for auction in 2009 – it went on to fetch over £25,000, another world record price and was sold to an anonymous buyer).

Obviously the story behind Do I Love You was be told in the doc along with the recollections of some Scots who made the long trip down to clubs like the Casino in the 1970s but we also intended to devote a fair bit of time examining the contemporary scene around the country and talk to some of the soul fraternity who were still keeping the faith.

There were definitely some serious devotees of the genre around at this point. One time at a special Hogmanay do held at Strawberry Fields in Glasgow that I attended, many of the punters weren’t very pleased when the DJ interrupted the music in order to count down the bells and wish everybody a happy New Year. Some even began booing the poor guy and demanding he get the soul music back on pronto. Believe me, that kind of thing is just about unheard of in Scotland on the most widely celebrated night of the year.

Sadly we weren’t selected to receive the funding to help make the film. Maybe the competing proposals were more professionally packaged and imaginative although I reckon we missed out because the idea of making a short film about a subject that, even in its heyday decades before, had only ever flirted with the mainstream was probably considered to have just too little general appeal. Maybe just a few years later our idea would have fell on more receptive ears.

Even ten years ago Northern Soul didn’t quite possess the hip cachet that it does now and few non aficionados could have predicted just how much interest would exist today on the subject; there’s certainly been a glut of documentaries in the last decade, including two made fairly recently by the BBC, as well as two feature films: 2010’s Soulboy starring Martin Compston and the forthcoming Northern Soul directed by Elaine Constantine, which will be screened in certain cinemas from the seventeenth of this month with the DVD and Blu–ray out just days afterwards.

Casino and Mecca Northern Soul Patches

You might just be wondering what happened between 1977, when I judged Northern Soul backward looking, and the middle part of the noughties when I was attending Northern nights and planning documentaries about the music?

Actually as far back as the last third of 1978, I had begun to reassess my thoughts on Northern Soul, after a visit to Blackpool in the last weekend in September, a local holiday in the West of Scotland. Down with a bunch of pals, we entered a mostly deserted bar early one evening, where a couple of guys were up dancing in an area to the side of the bar, shuffling across the floorboards and performing effortless spins and expert backflips. What looked impressive in snatches during This England looked absolutely incredible fifteen feet away from me in the flesh.

I’m guessing that this was the prelude to them making a pilgrimage to the nearby Blackpool Mecca, which at the time was the big rival to the Casino.

Being a group of sixteen and seventeen year old boys out for a good time we were soon on the move to somewhere busier and there was little chance of us heading to anywhere like the Mecca; the idea of paying into a club where we were unlikely to know any of the music being played and where guys and girls danced alone, wouldn’t have held much appeal at a time when our teenage hormones were busily erupting. And we would likely have been laughed at anyway if we’d dared to actually take to the dancefloor ourselves.

Instead we ended up in a disco dive called Diamond Lil’s on the Pleasure Beach where we proceeded to get blootered on watered down lager and Pernod n’ blackcurrants. Classy weren’t we?

I did though make a mental note to try and learn more once our weekend bender ended and we returned home but this wasn’t easy in the days before the advent of CDs and the internet. Northern Soul was back underground and local record shops weren’t exactly heavily stocked with soul stompers; radio stations weren’t playing the music and music papers like NME and Sounds only very occasionally even mentioned it.

Three or so weeks later I went to the Glasgow Apollo to see a double bill featuring two of my very favourite punk bands, Subway Sect and Buzzcocks,

Round about this time Vic Godard of Subway Sect was starting to immerse himself in Northern Soul after Sect bassist Paul Meyers had lent him a bunch of singles he’d got from a pal called Jacko, who was a regular at all–nighters. These proved to be a revelation to Vic.

Before the year was out and with their second single Ambition just released on Rough Trade, Vic was explaining in an interview in Sounds how he was already searching for a new sound and the music that this required sound came closest to was Northern Soul.

This next phase of Subway Sect would be relatively short and also largely undocumented. Early in 1980, at a support slot to Siouxsie and The Banshees at the Music Machine on Camden High Street though, Postcard Records boss Alan Horne, who was there with Steven Daly of Orange Juice, bootlegged the show on his ghetto blaster.

Almost immediately Orange Juice began covering one of the songs showcased that night called Holiday Hymn, and they later included a version of it in their John Peel session of August 1981, by which point Vic had already moved on, dipping a musical toe into jazz, swing and the world of crooning (by this time too, a radical reinterpretation by Soft Cell of the Casino classic Tainted Love was on its way to becoming Britain’s bestselling song of the year).

Since 1981, the careers of Edwyn Collins and Vic Godard have often intertwined, Edwyn, for example, produced Vic’s ‘comeback’ album of 1993, The End of the Surrey People and a couple of years later, Vic helped out with some backing vocals for Edwyn’s international hit single A Girl Like You, to name only two of their collaborations.

Now, along with Seb Lewsley, Collins has recorded and produced the latest Subway Sect project, 1979 NOW!, an album wrapped in some wonderfully intriguing artwork designed by Andrew Paul Shaw, that recreates what has become known as the Sects’ ‘Northern Soul period’.

Sandwiched between a pair of instrumentals that both echo their debut single Nobody’s Scared but which also introduce an entirely new funky guitar feel and cool, modish keyboards, the album really is an enjoyable listen, packed with tunes like Caught In Midstream and the aforementioned Holiday Hymn that won’t just get your toes tapping but make you pine for an opportunity to get out on the dancefloor and enjoy them properly.

What The Subway Sect have did here is no attempt to recreate an exact facsimile of the Northern sound; for a start Vic makes no attempt to imitate the yearning vocal delivery of a Jimmy Radcliffe or Edwin Starr but remains happily West London throughout. The record lacks too the lush orchestration of some of the most popular records that would have been played in the Mecca or Casino but the footstomping 4/4 beat of Northern is utilised for inspiration on many of the tracks, some of which Vic fans might already know and love from previous albums and more recent live shows.

Okay, I do sometimes go into hyperbole overdrive when I’m talking about Godard but really if one of the Motown Hit Factory’s ace songwriting teams had presented Born to be a Rebel to Berry Gordy on a Friday afternoon in 1965, then I think the label boss would have been a very happy man over the weekend; the song also features a baritone sax solo worthy of Motown at its best, courtesy of Jim Knight.

Reviews so far have been very positive with Mojo calling the songs ‘strange, sibylline and gorgeous’, Uncut describing the album as ‘a brilliant hybrid’ and Louder Than War declaring: ‘The band sound organic and totally on-it throughout. There isn’t a weak track’.

I wouldn’t argue with any of that. Another triumph for Mr. Godard.

Filmed in Birmingham just a few days ago by Lee McFadden, this is another song from the album Get That Girl:

And here are a couple of Northern gems that Vic told me this week he’d been listening to back in the late 1970s, firstly Jay and The Techniques with Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie, a big hit in the States in 1967, which only really became popular on this side of the Atlantic some years later on the Northern scene:

And this is Michael, a 1965 single by The C.O.D.’s, later covered by Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band and referenced in Geno, Dexys Midnight Runners’ tribute to Washington; ‘You were Michael the lover, the fighter that won’.

Vic will be performing in Scotland next month with dates on November 14th in Glasgow’s Stereo and the following night at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh. Support on both nights being provided by The Sexual Objects.

Vic Godard & Subway Sect Glasgow StereoVic Godard & Subway Sect Edinburgh 04

For more on Vic Godard & Subway Sect
Official Site

For more on AED Records click here.
For more on the current Northern Soul scene in Scotland click here.
And to read my interview with Vic Godard click here.

Nobody’s Scared, An Ex-Scar & Saint Jack Live In South Lanarkshire

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Vic Godard Preston Poster 2014 Vic Godard June Brides Birmingham 2014

An early contender for my best of 2014 list is Vic Godard’s 30 Odd Years, a double CD that highlights some of the finest music from Vic’s long career but which includes some idiosyncratic tracklisting choices that make the compilation all the more intriguing for long term fans, for example, the late Paul Reekie, occasional Subway Sect heckler but colossal fan, provides an intro and outro, while Ambition is represented here by a live version of the song performed ten years ago in Brentford by Vic along with The Bitter Springs rather than by the 1978 Subway Sect single.

30 Odd Years has attracted some sky-high critical praise with Louder Than War rating it 10/10 and Neil Cooper in The List describing it as a ‘joyride through Godard’s back catalogue that reveals Godard as craftsman, explorer and multi-faceted pop songwriting genius’.

This Thursday night, Vic and the lads will be in the 6 Music studios to play a live session for Marc Riley’s show before embarking on some sporadic live dates around England where they’ll be showcasing much of the material from the new album.

Here’s the latest details of these forthcoming shows but check Vic’s site for updates:

March 28th: New Continental, Preston
29th March: The Cross, Birmingham
April 19th: The Thunderbolt Bristol

Vic Godard Blue Orchids Bristol 2014 Poster

April 20th: Light It Up Alldayer. The Star and Garter, Manchester
May 3rd: The Rigger, Newcastle-Under-Lyme
May 4th: The Leek Arts Festival. Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek
19th July: Latitude Festival. Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk
8th August: Rebellion Festival, Blackpool
TBC September: Trash Cannes Festival, Hastings
19th September: The Star & Shadow, Newcastle
20th September: Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough
9th October: John Peel Night. TBC, Brighton

Vic’s also been involved in some recording over the past few weeks and the latest news is that 1979 Now should be out on AED round about September. Before that, a DVD/CD of his London Town & Country Club show of 1992, where he was accompanied by Edwyn Collins, Segs, Martin Duffy and Paul Cook, is due out in August.

This is one of the songs from 30 Odd Years, Nobody’s Scared, originally released in March 1978 although this is from a performance in March 2012 at Edinburgh’s Voodoo Rooms:

As you can see from the posters displayed here, there’s usually an interesting support act or two when Mr. Godard rolls into town and at his gig in Newcastle last November, he was joined on the bill by a newish Edinburgh band formed by ex-Scars vocalist Robert King called Opium Kitchen, who also feature the talents of William Baird on guitar, Colin Whitson (Gin Goblins) on bass and drummer Russell Burn (Fire Engines and Win).

Their debut single, We Will Be, was released on iTunes last Monday on Eromeda Records and a CD and vinyl single should also become available in the very near future with an album in the pipeline too. I’m growing very fond of the song and here’s the promo video:

For more on Opium Kitchen click here.

Next up, some news on Vic Godard’s old pal and frequent collaborator, the Sexual Object that is Davy Henderson, who is reuniting one of his many stunningly good previous bands – Nectarine No.9 in this instance – to perform their 1995 Postcard album Saint Jack in its entirety live at Rutherglen Town Hall on the 7th of June. And not only that, the support on the night will be Casual Sex! And that sentence really does deserve an exclamation mark. This is NN9 with South Of An Imaginary Line:

And finally if you’d like to hear Vic’s special set in Edinburgh in tribute to Paul Reekie from 2011, where Davy Henderson helped out on guitar and Russell Burn guested on drums, here’s the link. And while I’m at it, I should also mention that one of the books in the pile at the end of the Opium Kitchen video is a 1997 collection of Scottish writing called Children of Albion Rovers, that included work by Paul Reekie, Irvine Welsh, Gordon Legge and others and which I would recommend.

Sexual Objects and Casual Sex

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OK, if you happen to be a perv who’s stumbled on here hoping for either a little titillation or even something downright naughty, sorry but this post is actually all about two of the very best singles to come out of Scotland this year so you know where YouPorn is.*

Firstly, an irresistible new track by The Sexual Objects, the latest band to feature the former Fire Engines, Win and Nectarine No. 9 frontman Davy Henderson. Last night the SOBs backed the legendary Vic Godard at Edinburgh’s Liquid Rooms, performing Vic’s What’s the Matter Boy? album in full. They’re appearing again tonight with Vic at Glasgow’s CCA. Was hoping to be there myself but, due to unforeseen circumstances, sadly it wasn’t to be.

Vic Godard CCA 2013

Here’s Feels With Me, which according to their Facebook page, was filmed in Girona, Osaka and Dunbar by Soland Goose. Enjoy.


You may well have been hearing a lot recently about Casual Sex, the band that is.They seem to be Vic Godard fans and their debut single Stroh 80, was released earlier this year on limited edtion 7″ vinyl and download on the Moshi Moshi Singles Club and very good it was too, especially the glammy guitar that sounded midway between Mick Ronson and Robert Fripp. They’ve just been supporting Franz Ferdinand on tour and have just brought out an EP from which this comes – Nothing on Earth, the video of which was filmed not in Girona, Osaka or Dunbar but in good ol’ Glasgow by Partikular Films.


The Bastard Beat EP is available through We Can Still Picnic on limited edition 12” vinyl and digitally through all reputable outlets. And I can’t put it any better than one fan did on YouTube: ‘fantastische fantastische fantastische’.

* I’m not one to incessantly check the number of visitors accessing this blog but I am just a little curious about traffic numbers here over the next few days.

What Presence! The Rock Photography by Harry Papadopoulos


Orange Juice by Harry Papadopoulos

Named after an Orange Juice single from 1984, What Presence! started life as an exhibition in Glasgow gallery Street Level Photoworks late in 2011 and has since toured to Dunoon and Dundee. It opens tomorrow in the Clydebank Museum and Art Gallery, where it will remain until the 26th of October.

What Presence! the book was published in April this year by Polygon with a foreword by Peter Capaldi and an introduction by Ken McCluskey of The Bluebells, a man crucial to the exhibition being mounted in the first place. In fact, it might never have happened but for an electrical problem in his house that required a qualified spark to sort out.

The spark happened to be Jimmy, the younger brother of his old pal Harry Papadopoulos. Ken had lost contact with Harry and was informed by Jimmy that Harry had suffered a brain aneurysm in 2002 that meant he required full time care.

Ken went to visit Harry and, as he wrote in his introduction, ‘It was great to see him again but it was obvious that his illness had had a profound effect.’ During the visit, Harry wanted to show Ken some of his old prints and contact sheets. ‘It was immediately obvious that this huge body of work was in urgent need of physical preservation and cataloguing.’

This proved to be no small task, with McCluskey spending night after night digitising around 10,000 of Papadopoulos’ prints before contacting Street Level’s director Malcolm Dickson, who immediately saw the potential in the work for a major show.

A self taught photographer, Papadopoulos began snapping visiting rock stars at local Glasgow venues and quickly earned a reputation for himself as one of the country’s finest rock photographers. By the late 70s, Harry secured a post as a staff photographer for Sounds and continued working there until 1984.

His photos helped define what could loosely be called the Post-Punk and New Pop era and if you enjoyed Simon Reynold’s book Rip It Up and Start Again, this is maybe the nearest thing that you’ll find to a visual accompaniment: there’s Vic Godard, The Slits, ABC, Scars, Simple Minds, Siouxsie, Cabaret Voltaire, Gang of Four, Dexys, Altered Images, Madness and Magazine to name only some – although there’s also a smattering of international superstars like The Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye, David Bowie and even novelist Stephen King.

It really is very enjoyable show and publication – look, there’s a young Alan McGee looking snotty while bass player with The Laughing Apple, there’s a very fresh faced and floppily fringed Edwyn Collins ice skating, Dreamboy Peter Capaldi in his Frank Spencer tank top – what would Malcolm Tucker think of that?

Many of his compositions have a neat but satisfying simplicity about them, Clare Grogan holding a white umbrella diagonally so that its outer tips at both ends divide the photo in two, a little visual trick also utilised for another shot of Edwyn Collins, the singer standing in front of what looks like pages of a Letraset catalogue stuck to a wall and it’s his guitar this time that divides the picture.

Formally many are conventional images, though often with a twist, like some stripes of light playing across half of Bernard Sumner’s face as he plays guitar. Few are overly stagey, although when they are, like Aztec Camera puffing away on pipes, they tend to be comical – three teenagers from the new town of East Kilbride attempting to mimic some old fogeys from the shires.

Aztec Camera by Harry Papadopoulos

In his pictures of Vic Godard and Kevin Rowland, Papadopoulos shows a fine appreciation of composition: it’s not just the subject that is important to him, it’s the space surrounding the subject.

Vic Godard by Harry Papadopoulos

Like (most of) the musicians he shot, Harry obviously had a great sense of timing and as another photographer Mick Rock once observed, ‘Photography is about timing, very much about timing’. Both Rock and Papadopoulos certainly had the knack of capturing the moment. One of my own favourites is an extraordinary photo of Mick Jagger pouring a bucket of water over himself on stage at the Glasgow Apollo in 1976 that, by the looks of things, even took Ronnie Wood by surprise.

By all accounts Harry possessed another quality vital to the successful portrait lensman – the ability to put his subjects at ease. As Josef K’s Malcolm Ross explains in the book, their early photo sessions had been ‘tortuous ordeals’ until being shot by Harry (I know the feeling, even stepping into a photo booth is tortuous for me nowadays). Harry, though, put the band at their ease to the point where they would all forget they were even involved in a photo session.

The Clash by Harry Papadopoulos

OK, I might be slightly biased and some of the pleasure for me in seeing these photographs comes from the fact that I was part of the audience when a good number of them were taken, like the infamous and very violent Clash gig at the Glasgow Apollo in the summer of 1978; the Rock Against Racism event at Edinburgh’s Craigmillar Park a few months later; Iggy in 1979, again at the Apollo and the1980 Loch Lomond Festival; I think Harry even included me once in one of his photos that thankfully isn’t included here (myself and others behaving rather badly at a Sham 69 gig at Satellite City if you must know) but I’m sure that anybody paying a visit to the What Presence! exhibition or looking through the book would appreciate the man’s fantastic talent.

What Presence! The Rock Photography of Harry Papadopoulos

Clydebank Museum and Art Gallery

Garden Gallery

October 2nd – 26th

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday – 10:00 am to 4:30 pm

* An earlier version of this piece was published in the e-Fanzine Positive Noises.




Just a few hours ago, this year’s Blackpool Illuminations were switched on by Jonathan Ross and this gives me the perfect excuse to post a song from the 2002 collaboration between Vic Godard and Irvine Welsh, which the latter described in a tweet earlier today as their ‘ill-fated Blackpool musical’:

For more on Vic’s Blackpool EP.

And if you want to see Vic Godard playing live in Edinburgh and Glasgow in November:

 Vic Godard Live November

Finally for Irvine Welsh fans, the film Filth, based on his third novel, is released in Scotland on the 27th of September and the rest of the UK and Ireland a week later and if it lives up to this trailer that I saw yesterday while taking in a screening of Kick-Ass 2 then I’d expect the film to to be feted rather than described as ‘ill-fated’. As for Kick-Ass 2 – it’s been added to that incredibly long and ever expanding list of disappointing sequels.