Monday, 20 January 2014

Gnu Getting to Grips - 30 ODD YEARS, Random Thoughts, War Poets, What's In Store, A Quick Look Back & More

New Year's Greetings from Gert, the gnu and everyone at Gnu Inc/Sect Central. Slow out of the stalls but making up the ground and coming up fast on the rails with the finishing line in sight. 
'30 ODD YEARS'  Double CD Compilation 1978-2012 

No more racing metaphors, promise but I will be metaphorically leaping about all over the place as things come to mind so please bear with me. Been holding back because of the release of 30 ODD YEARS and not wanting to put another hoodoo on it - Gnu Inc already made the mistake of being over optimistic and announced that 30 OYs would be out mid December 2013, that mice and men thing again, underestimating timescales and not factoring in the possible impact of seasonal ailments/weather,etc on schedules. We were also going to have a release party at the end of January/beginning of February, but avoiding the hoodoo effect by not booking a venue before having a delivery date means there's no time to organise now so we're going to have a 30 Odd Years celebratory gig (or 2!) later in the year. HOWEVER it is definitely worth the short delay - 2 CDs, 43 Tracks spanning songs written from 1976 (recorded from 1978) to 2012, compiling the songs, mostly from fans' suggestions was a real trip down Memory Lane  and they have all been brilliantly remastered for 30 OYs by Mike Coe. Gnu's discovered how to make videos without film, Hey, What's Your Name is one of her favourite songs from 30 OYs - (ignore the picture, it's not Stamp of a Vamp, that was one of the first attempts and not wholly successful -

 We have our web guru and ace designer Andrew Paul Shaw to thank for the eye catching art work together with Andréa Cerqueira's evocative photograph taken in Lyons in early 2012. There's an 8pp booklet with notes by Tracey Holloway & Lee McFadden, Marc Riley, Michael White, Philip King & Kevin Pearce. Additional in depth track by track notes and Vic's random ruminations on 30 OYs will be available to download on 3rd February from the website: 
E.g -Disc 1 Track 10-Stop That Girl + The Black Arabs with horns on loan from Dexy’s and a local Turkish accordion player-
 A rare occasion when disparate elements came together to make a unique record - Stop That Girl was first recorded by Vic Keary at Chalk Farm Studios London in 1979 for a single, released on Oddball/Rough Trade RT068 in 1981. Other outings for the song-Vic Godard: The Retrospective (1976-81) LP Rough Trade 1985 (also released on CD in 1996 as We Oppose All Rock and Roll Overground Records); el Records 12” 1985 ; 20 Odd Years (1999) & Singles Anthology (2005), Motion Records; T.R.O.U.B.L.E. Rough Trade 1996 and In T.R.O.U.B.L.E Again Tugboat 001 1998.Stop That Girl with Mark Laff Manchester 2007 filmed by Andrew Shaw -

And a taster of Vic's bon mots - '' My songs developed in 1978 after I started to play guitar in the group and I wrote for lead and rhythm guitar on Different Story, Double Negative, Vertical Integration and Empty Shell and together with Stool Pigeon, Why Did You Shoot Me?, Derail Your Senses, Not Watching The Devil and Imbalance, the songs from the ‘lost’ LP that I rerecorded for 1978 Now in 2006/7, all featured in our set on The Great Unknowns Tour with the Lou’s. The blue print for the sound I wanted on 1978 Now was an old cassette of a rehearsal for The Great Unknown’s Tour which I thought was the best sound we’d achieved with that line up.''
Also done a press release which you can download here (I think):

The '30 Odd Years Tour' launches in 2014 in style  with a Marc Riley session on 27th March 
Followed by - 
28th March New Continental Preston (very happy to be paying another visit to Preston - see below) 

29th March The Seventh Wave Presents @ The Cross Birmingham + The June Brides + Yeah Yeah Noh (Haven't been to Birmingham for a while, looking forward to it.)    
 19th April The Thunderbolt Bristol + The Blue Orchids + The Short Stories (Another Goodie)

3rd May The Situation Presents @ Rigger Rock Venue Stoke              (Vic's pleased as he's been wanting to play in Stoke) 
In fact both Vic and the gnu are particularly looking forward to the whole weekend as the Sect are heading just up the road on Sunday 4th May, headlining The Situation's 3rd Birthday Bash. A massive 1-day festival set within the grounds of The Foxlowe Arts Centre in Leek with 3 stages, 21 acts and an absolute bargain at £6 adv or £7 on the door (there were some early bird tickets for £5) and it's part of the esteemed Leek Arts Festival which features a cornucopia of events. It's a bank holiday so why not make a weekend of it?

In August (some time between 7-10th, don't have a day yet) we're packing our buckets and spades and taking the charabanc to  'Good Old Fun Packed Blackpool', final destination  Bizarre Bazaar @ Rebellion Festival. 
(The photo on the left was one of the alternatives for the cover of the Blackpool epcd)   
19th September - back to another popular venue The Star & Shadow Newcastle details to follow - Perhaps with another film, maybe Lluis Huedo's Vic to Vic film, Martyn Smith's film and/or Geoffrey Taylor's poignant short film Close, shown at The London Short Film Festival this month. Birth and Death and Empty Shell are part of the soundtrack. 
20th September Rock Garden Revisited (more old friends) @ TBC (possibly Middlesbrough) 
Delighted that Pellethead are on board again.
More dates to be confirmed and announced. 

I was going to do a full review of 2013 and in fact I did start one but  inadvertently deleted it so instead these photos are a precis, hopefully showing in a nutshell  the diversity of Godard/Gnu Inc activity in 2013 including 9 Subway Sect gigs with seven different ups! Did things pan out as tentatively hoped/planned last January? No, of course not.(see February 2013) One seemingly small and yet telling change in the gnu's frame of mind is she hasn't put off the dreaded tax return until last knockings and didn't introduce any sadomasochism in to the process this year by asking Vic to help. 'Tales of the Sect' (Feb. blog) hasn't progressed any further and it looks like Trigger's contribution is going to be the one and only.  
 'Vic Obscure Facts' (October blog) was another idea that didn't quite take off, forgetting to add them and the first one was obviously just too obscure, realistically only the people there would have known - thanks Lee McFadden for at least having a stab at: What was Vic's connection to Brian Davison?  Let me tell you a story - Sometime In 1978 (Vic says it was after the Buzzcocks Love Bites Tour) due to one of life's many vagaries Brian Davison of The Nice ended up temporarily living at Rehearsal Rehearsal Camden (it's a conundrum why so many pitched up there) and in exchange for his lodgings Micky Foote asked him to rehearse with Subway Sect, drummerless since Bob Ward's departure for Dexy's.

 It is quite extraordinary the number of people whose musical careers took off from those rooms in Camden. Could it have happened without Micky Foote, working for management aka Mr Rhodes he was photographer, producer, engineer, live sound man and he literally built the studio.  Some of those on the Rehearsal Rehearsal  roll call -  Dexy's, Bow Wow Wow, Boy George, The Special's, Black Arabs, The Clash, The Joboxers........And what did Micky get in return for his blood, sweat and tears, production, photography, etc? (Rhetorical question.) After he and Bernard parted company it was another Michael who took over at the desk who later went on to work with Andrew Roachford.
 The gnu can remember opening a door once at the studio to find herself staring in to what looked like a dusty, drafty black emptiness leading who knew where but in fact it was a 'portal'  into a Victorian labyrinth of tunnels and passageways, some with narrow gauge rail tracks and leading all over the place, one tunnel to The Roundhouse. Vic and the gnu decided to find out a bit more and it's fascinating, this amongst much more -
'The surviving elements of Camden Goods Yard, along with the Roundhouse, stationary winding engine house, Primrose Hill Tunnel Eastern Portals (also listed at Grade II*) and Regent’s Canal represent a particularly important concentration of C19 transport and industrial buildings illustrating the development of canal and rail goods shipment.'
and then Baker sent a link to his blog about the tunnels and some brilliantly evocative photos:

Just a couple of the gnu's highlights of 2013 -
The gig at The New Continental Preston in May, one of our favourite venues and great food, very good vibe. (Also where we first met Andrew Wilson- see below) . We stayed opposite Preston Bus Garage (review in earlier blog, probably June) and are very pleased that it's profile has been raised and it is now listed thanks to a lot of local and national campaigning and playing its part Paul Adams' and writer Andrew Wilson's film 56,000 - A Short Film about Preston Bus Station, you can watch it here
Courtesy of  Andrew Wilson
There is method in my madness at this point and a connection as I leap forward  to the two gigs in Hamburg in November at Astra Stube which were hugely enjoyable thanks to the very warm welcome from Markus, Marijana, Martin, Bruno, everyone else at Astra Stube and everyone who came - it was sold out both nights. Really felt at home in Hamburg and looking forward to going back, adding to general bonhomie it was a happy coincidence that Andrew Wilson happened to be on a trip to Hamburg with his oldest friend Dave and his brother Rog at the same time we were and they came to both gigs at Astra Stube. Born To Be A Rebel video sound check 08/09/2013
 Vic and the gnu's trip to Vic and Barcelona in August was like a holiday with friends, all the details in last September's blog. Vic really enjoys spending time writing with Mates Mates and sang with them live for the first time at La Festa Major de Gràcia Barcelona. Video below is  'Whip Rules', one of the tracks on the Vic to Vic 7" released last February on famèlic Barcelona. Active desire to return.

Happy Birthday to  Creeping Bent, 20 this year, kicked off their celebrations on 18th January in Glasgow as part of Celtic Connections with The Pop Group & The Sexual Objects - Great Review in The Independent:on 22nd and on line here:

It was a chilled out trip in June for the Glasgow Jazz Festival and Neu Reekie in Edinburgh. Vic opened for The Jazzateers in Glasgow, singing jazz standards with The Jazz Independents  with the added bonus of James Kirk joining them for 'Felicity' again. If anyone did any videos of Vic singing the jazz songs I'd love to see them.

Vic & Sexual Objects CCA Glasgow 23/11/2013

The next two videos are from the sound check at Sounds in the Suburbs Presents Vic Godard & The Sexual Objects at the CCA Glasgow in November 2013. As well as doing the whole of What's The Matter Boy they were also going to do a few Lou Reid/ VU numbers as a tribute but didn't have time so lucky gnu filmed them at the sound check. She's My Best Friend and I'm Set Free.

Low points, musically speaking? The gnu reports they are generally speaking mercifully few and that over the years the number of beings who have seriously got the gnu's goat and who she would happily see abducted by aliens is only two, one in the 1980's and one a few years ago, musically speaking.  An unfeasibly low number you may mutter if you've heard the gnu having a moan but I'm not saying that other people haven't tested the gnu's tolerance levels over the years, an early example was Mr Rhodes, whose outpourings would test the patience of a saint let alone a gnu (she always thought he rehearsed because you couldn't interrupt and break the flow) but mostly they left her bemused and occasionally nonplussed, no lasting rancour though. (Gnu first met Bernard at Club Left at the Wag. He sent someone over to fetch her to his table for a chat, she can't remember who it was. The chat consisted of Mr Rhodes saying "I hope you are not planning to lead Vic up the garden path, I've got plans for him."
and the gnu, nonplussed, saying " Uh, No." End of conversation. If only they had all been that brief!
New T Design + Deliberate Mistake

So you may ask who has recently been a pain in the rear's slipped my mind at the moment but I'm sure it will come back to me!
Another new T Shirt on the way-

Gnu fears the outings to 'Filth' and 'Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense' were anomalous and future similar events are likely to be few and far between so not a panto to report on.
Currently reading Ngaio Marsh's Roderick Alleyn stories so can recommend if you enjoy well written, murderous plots, a good yarn and darker than you might imagine. My reading happens to be coinciding with Alibi showing the entertaining 1990's TV series with the very talented Patrick Malahide. Although I really enjoy the series it doesn't do the books justice, there is a lot more meat to them. Mr Malahide was also in one of my top ten TV programmes, Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective.
Or if you fancy your murder mysteries period, murkier, stranger and dare I say it a tad self indulgent, there's John Banville's Booker shortlisted 'The Book Of Evidence' . First in a trilogy.....haven't felt compelled to rush to read next two yet.

Siegfried Sassoon  

Lest We Forget-It being the 100 year anniversary this year of the start of the First World War I recommend the War Poets ( particularly Rupert Brooke and Sigfried Sassoon (left), there's an audio clip of him here -
and  Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy, heartbreaking and visceral.,,9780141030937,00.html?strSrchSql=Pat+Barker/Regeneration_Pat_Barker

“The rank stench of those bodies haunts me still” 
 The rank stench of those bodies haunts me still
And I remember things I'd best forget.
For now we've marched to a green, trenchless land
Twelve miles from battering guns: along the grass
Brown lines of tents are hives for snoring men;
Wide, radiant water sways the floating sky
Below dark, shivering trees. And living-clean
Comes back with thoughts of home and hours of sleep.
To-night I smell the battle; miles away
Gun-thunder leaps and thuds along the ridge;
The spouting shells dig pits in fields of death,
And wounded men, are moaning in the woods.
If any friend be there whom I have loved,
God speed him safe to England with a gash.
It's sundown in the camp; some youngster laughs,
Lifting his mug and drinking health to all
Who come unscathed from that unpitying waste:
(Terror and ruin lurk behind his gaze.)
Another sits with tranquil, musing face,
Puffing bis pipe and dreaming of the girl
Whose last scrawled letter lies upon his knee.
The sunlight falls, low-ruddy from the west,
Upon their heads. Last week they might have died
And now they stretch their limbs in tired content.
One says 'The bloody Bosche has got the knock;
'And soon they'll crumple up and chuck their games.
'We've got the beggars on the run at last!'
Then I remembered someone that I'd seen
Dead in a squalid, miserable ditch,
Heedless of toiling feet that trod him down.
He was a Prussian with a decent face,
Young, fresh, and pleasant, so 1 dare to say.
No doubt he loathed the war and longed for peace,
And cursed our souls because we'd killed bis friends.
One night he yawned along a haIf-dug trench
Midnight; and then the British guns began
With heavy shrapnel bursting low, and 'hows'
Whistling to cut the wire with blinding din.
He didn't move; the digging still went on;
Men stooped and shovelled; someone gave a grunt,
And moaned and died with agony in the sludge.
Then the long hiss of shells lifted and stopped.
He stared into the gloom; a rocket curved,
And rifles rattled angrily on the left
Down by the wood, and there was noise of bombs.
Then the damned English loomed in scrambling haste
Out of the dark and struggled through the wire,
And there were shouts and eurses; someone screamed
And men began to blunder down the trench
Without their rifles. It was time to go:
He grabbed his coat; stood up, gulping some bread;
Then clutched his head and fell.
I found him there
In the gray morning when the place was held.
His face was in the mud; one arm flung out
As when he crumpled up; his sturdy legs
Were bent beneath bis trunk; heels to the skye.        Siegfried Sassoon
Green and Pleasant Land