Vic Godard / Subway Sect

1979 Now!

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The story of Vic Godard and the Subway Sect is a fascinating one, almost screenplay-worthy. Missed opportunity, iconoclasm at its finest, and a lot of good, good music would fill the pages, with Godard the artist at the center. While he's never stopped moving forward and recording new material, in 2007 he and some mates decided to revisit recordings made in 1978 that were due to have become the first Subway Sect album, but were instead buried and ultimately lost. He decided to do the same thing with a demo tape made in 1979 that never came to fruition. The songs were inspired by the pounding beats and sweet sounds of Northern Soul; one of them, "Holiday Hymn," was rescued by Edwyn Collins and Orange Juice back in their early days. Working with original Sect bassist Paul Myers, who had originally introduced Godard to Northern Soul, ex-Sex Pistol Paul Cook on drums, plus Kevin Younger, Mark Braby, and Yusuf B’Layachi, Godard turns the clock back admirably with the expert production skills of Seb Lewsley and Vic's old mate Collins. The songs have the propulsive rhythms, percussive guitars, and percolating bass of Northern Soul nailed, are recorded with little fuss and lots of punch, and sung with panache by Godard. He's not a great singer by any means, but he does have one thing you can't learn, though, and that's charisma. He yowls and howls through the songs here like Kevin Rowland's wise older brother, giving it everything he's got, and the big beat gives him all the cover he needs. It's not surprising OJ dug out "Holiday Hymn," it's more surprising that the rest of the songs weren't snapped up by bands who needed a hit in 1979 or thereabouts. Every song has a brilliantly shiny chorus, chord changes that inspire deep nostalgic feels, and a snappy, tough-minded lyrical outlook that fit the era and still sounds right in 2014. It's a shame these recordings never saw the light of day back then, and that the original demo isn't available, but Godard and his crew do a fine job bringing them to life finally and fully.

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