vic godard

Vic Godard & Subway Sect: We Come As Aliens reviews



Best Album In The World review

For many like me it is impossible to think of artists such as Phil Wilson, Davey Henderson and Edwyn Collins without also thinking of Vic Godard. It is fitting then that Godard and his Subway Sect should have been in the thick of it again in 2010, a year in which all these old outsiders seemed to reappear with work that shone like beacons in the bleak darkness.

Vic titled his 2010 set ‘We Come As Aliens’ and that seemed entirely apposite, with Godard and his Subway Sect having always come across as some of the most beguiling outsiders of all. One of the most appealing aspects of Godard’s career has been the different styles and phases he has passed through, from arch Punk to lounge crooner and back again it’s been a mighty entertaining trip. ‘We Come As Aliens’ came over broadly as a leap back to the Punkish era, though like Davey Henderson this seemed to be filtered with a sense of pre-Punk influence. So whilst bristling with the shattered glass edginess of, say, that great lost and found Subway Sect debut album, ‘We Come As Aliens’ also conjured echoes of what one imagines may have been playing on the record player in that old Clash rehearsal room. A dash of electric Ye-Ye, a splash of Jesse Hector and a spin of Marc Bolan. A blast of raucous, raw rockabilly and a White Heat squeal of noise.

‘We Come As Aliens’ sounded like a record only someone of a certain age (and a certain age) could have made. It sounded like a record that could only have been made by someone for whom musical heritage is as much something to reject and hold in disdain as it is to be cherished and enjoyed. It sounded like a record made by a group of people who instinctively understand that the past is a delight to be moulded into something new and challenging.

And that, as much as anything, is what for me united the likes of Godard, Henderson, Wilson and Collins in their records this year. It’s something we should be enormously grateful for and that should be celebrated every bit as much as their respective back catalogues.

A Sect classic with Felt and Pistols members now converts.

Ged Throwback

With previous albums being well received but patchy, finally this is a thoroughly complete work; almost a concept album (about the double-life and thoughts of our cult hero / postman) and nearly a state of the nation address (the man who wrote Class war will never change history seeming to have had a change of heart) but with catchy tunes and some laugh out loud lyrics. Only Vic could rhyme ‘Hey Presto’ with ‘fake pesto’ in a song entitled Ne’er. Musically it’s a seamless mix of Northern Soul, Country, Lounge played by a classy garage-band including former Felt guitarist, one-time Sidi Bou Said bassist and guest Pistol on drums all gelling beautifully. A light airy production, Vic obviously having a blast and singing as in-tune as a ‘punk Dylan’ can. With a very English vocabulary; cabbage, blithely, foray, bugbear, clipboard, a tiz, trounced, minibus, bequest, canteen….; a list of characters in the songs including; Karl Marx, Sacha Distel, Peter Mandleson, Shirley Bassey and Blakey & Butler, this album is an idiosyncratic delight with classic songs about music & politics, real life & art, by a ’77 punk veteran for whom the war will never be over.

Ged Throwback WCAA review

The mutant father of Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker


VIC GODARD AND SUBWAY SECT - We Come As Aliens {Overground} I’ve never really been a big fan of SUBWAY SECT and this, the band’s first album of new material in eight years, fails to change my opinion. It does have moments of excellence, be it the disc highlight ‘Back In The Community’ that welds ROBYN HITCHCOCK with the ONLY ONES while ‘If We’d’ve’ rings with a virtual Glam Rock resonance recalling BOWIE fused with T-REX! Elsewhere ‘Somewhere In The World’ has a neat ROLLING STONES-esque sneer and ‘Ne’er’ is poignant and reflective and contains one of the most melancholic and addictive choruses heard all year. Much of the other material just left me ambivalent. SUBWAY SECT here features one Paul Cook on drums - the same guy who was in the SEX PISTOLS - although his playing here is much more restrained. Neat packaging as ever from Overground; had to chuckle at the live pic of the band on the centre spread though, with Vic in his v-neck golfing jumper, shirt and tie, Michael Caine glasses and baggy pants!! He looks every inch the mutant father of Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker - itself not a bad analogy for SUBWAY SECT. (27.11.10)

The List Review

by Neil Cooper
Without South London’s existentially inclined postman, the history of Scottish pop from Orange Juice and Fire Engines onwards would’ve sounded a whole lot less jangular. Godard’s latest incarnation of Subway Sect produce a glorious mélange of post-punk Northern Soul and supper-club show-tunes to dress up a collection of acutely observed social-realist protest songs delivered in Godard’s nasal drawl.
Godard even manages to make Francoise Hardy’s 1960s chic-beat pounder, ‘Et Meme’ come on like a thrashier two-chord take on the Kursall Flyer’s kitsch-in-synch smash, ‘Little Does She Know,’ sounding as appositely English as fish and chips here as on the barbed critique of the big Society con-trick everywhere else.

Give it a damn good cherishing
Vic Godard and Subway Sect – We Come As Aliens (Overground)
An album of songs that have been around for almost a decade, Vic Godard maybe many things (ace songwriter, punk legend, indie inspiration, postman, secret soul singer, etc.) but a prolific record maker he is not. Fortunately when he does find the time and / or inspiration to go into a studio, the results are always worth waiting for. We Come As Aliens, his first long-player since 2002, lives up to expectations. Over the years, Godard under various guises has explored a number of styles and genres. Now recording again under the Subway Sect moniker, he’s revisiting his late ‘70s origins with a record that might best be described as lo-fi quirky pop punk, but with more wit and wisdom than just about any other lo-fi quirky pop punk band you care to mention – I’ll leave you to think of some. Gawd knows when another album’s going to appear from Vic Godard, so the best thing to do is grab a copy of this one while it’s still hot, and give it a damn good cherishing.

Rob F.

Sits effortlessly alongside Vic’s late 70's output

WCCA review Phil Singleton

Clearly, I’m reviewing We Come As Aliens because of Paul Cook’s involvement. Paul plays on six tracks, but the tracks in question are not revealed, deliberately so. Quite a clever trick. I’ve got my theories but I’m not sticking my neck out!  

I’ve not followed Vic’s career closely over the years, and I am therefore familiar only with his output from back in the day, the obvious recordings such as Nobody's Scared and Ambition. I’d always thought of Subway Sect as quirky, and was taken aback at just how quirky the Sect still are on We Come As Aliens. Not just off the wall, but edgy and exciting, mixed in with sharp, witty, and barbed lyrics.

This set sits effortlessly alongside Vic’s late 70's output, but it is far more than that; in fact it’s unlike anything else I’ve heard in a long time. Vic uses his voice as an instrument as he snarls, croons, and yes, sings his way through the songs; subtly adjusting his tone and delivery according to the style, tempo, and subject matter of the narrative.

So, what of the narrative?  His love of song writing, and his need to be a songwriter emerges in different guises throughout the album. It’s a central part of his psyche. On Best Album he declares, “We’re not gonna leave until we’ve done, until it’s the best album in the...” but never gets to say “world.” It’s as if he knows this goal is unattainable, but he really would like his album to be the best! Midway in the set is Rhododendron Town in which he confesses, “Once in my life I was through with it, panic over now my lifestyle's sound” while “saving up his best till laters, karma consonants and vowels.” Perhaps he is coming to terms with his vocation as a musician and songwriter and is determined to give us his very best? This fascination with song writing also closes the album, with the haunting Music of a Werewolf laying bare his insecurities with his craft. “Getting in a tiz and blundering, wondering whether there’s a pen or pad about.”

It’s hard to pigeon-hole the style of the album, other than to say simply, Vic Godard. Whereas That Train elevates its own imagery with hints of bluegrass and gospel, played with a beat of a train thundering along dusty tracks, Takeover reflects a despairing and forlorn call to arms with lashings of spiky guitar. He’s taking on the apathy that is the human condition; “Answer stares you in the face; still you won’t pull out of the race.”   

The frustration with his fellow man at accepting the continuation of the status quo makes another appearance during If We’d’ve; “If we’d’ve had the nous to pool our single selves together.... we’d’ve trounced all them.”

Politics - both party and personal - are central themes (the old punk spirit is here – no fear of that). The Same Plan has a pop at Lord Mandleson with the realisation that whatever the “modernisation” being proposed, “it will always be the same plan,” while he ponders “how come they always bomb the poor” during Out of our Zone.

Dry humour is never far away, but excels during the observational Somewhere in the World which contains the funniest lyrics on the album: “Tea-leaf Keith sneaked, gate full of teeth, looking to all the world a savage. The Post took him on, regretting it from then on; mail’s piling up inside his garage.” Haven’t we all wondered where that missing parcel ended up?!

There’s a change of feel during proceedings as Vic tackles Francoise Hardy’s Et Meme. It’s not out of place as the energy and snarled vocal delivery places it firmly in Subway Sect territory and makes you sit up and take notice. Is there a touch of irony in the performance or is Vic deadly serious? Perhaps both. Whichever, it’s engaging.

Ne’er sums up the Subway Sect and Vic’s present day philosophy as he again lays bare his musical quest; “My dreams bring music striving daily to perfect soul, until the bits get knocked out and mixed up in the Sect bowl.” You see, he really does want to write the Best Album in the world, ever! His own left-field, off-beat, derivative outlook, style and unique musicality, puts paid to this lofty ambition. Did I say Ambition? We Come As Aliens has a direct lineage back to their classic 1978 single; the feeling and spirit is still evident. Only sharper.

Don’t believe me? Just listen to the wonderful, in your face, punk rock cry of Back in the Community.  The song distils society’s ills down to the selfishness of modern day life and urges us to “get back in the community and take lessons in humility.” It’s an outstanding song and performance, with lyrics that ingenuously write in Blakey and Butler from On The Buses; “I’ll have you!”

I’m reviewing this album because of Paul’s involvement. If not for Paul I might never have heard it. I feel as though I‘ve had a lucky escape; missing out on We Come As Aliens seems unthinkable now. The 13 tracks are awash with catchy melody and compelling storytelling. You shouldn’t need Paul’s involvement as a reason to buy Vic’s latest album. It’s simply brilliant. Just buy it!

Review by Phil Singleton (17th September '10)


El periodico preview 08/10/10;

Vic Godard, el cartero cantante Vic Godard, the singing postman

'Amateur' English musician parks his usual job to attend to his venerable songbook 'amateur'

Friday, October 8, 2010
 Vic Godard is one of many British musicians close to punk. In 1977 his music was sharp, educated and angular, so contorted but he soon became disenchanted with the practices of spitting and kicking the ball . The Englishman settled in London but was a gentleman more interested in writing songs than incite revolutions, so after two singles redirected the course of his band, Subway Sect
Unemployed conventional punk TV Personalities, Howard Devoto and The Fall, since 1980 Vic has played everything: northern soul, rock velvetiano, pub swing, pop afrancesado . And seeing as his career was ostracized, made a wise decision to seek a real job. Vic Godard is a postman in London for decades and is dedicated to music only in their spare time Thus his career is full of silences and recurrences. And when they finally decide to hire a handful of concerts, professionalism is never a value to consider. Debuted in Barcelona in 2006 with a pass descacharrado in Mercat de les Flors coinciding with the release Singles Anthology (2005), a compilation which extolled his wise, gentle and inglesísimo task.
. Heading in the conventional circuit, starring Godard yesterday the first of his two concerts in the Q-3 of Poblenou. And tomorrow is another in musical bar Insitu Vic This modest tour of the Catalan geography marks the start of a European tour to present his new album.Yes, Vic Godard and Subway Sect remodeled ever edited on Monday We came as aliens. . It is her first new material since Sandsend (2002) and sounds especially fresh, varied and enthusiastic.

Rob Hughes interview

We Come As Aliens by Vic Godard & Subway Sect and is released on CD & vinyl.

The number of true masterpieces made since the 33& ⅓ took over from the 78 are few. We can’t all be an Arthur Lee, a Marvin Gaye or a Joy Division can we?

Vic Godard
is one of the few. The problem is no-one has ever heard his masterpiece. It was made 32 years ago and the literally ‘lost’ album has become one of rock’s, and certainly punk’s, holiest of holy grails.
That we know it was a masterpiece is based on the evidence of two awesome singles (‘Ambition’ and ‘Nobody’s Scared’); a clutch of great songs demo’d around the same time; a few minutes of the grainiest of live and documentary footage; plus eye-witness accounts from those early 100 Club days.
Legend has it that they were the best of all. Best in that the Subway Sect summed up punk’s DIY ethos and couldn’t-give-a-toss/can’t-be-arsed attitude better than any of those who might later be exposed as wannabe millionaire celebrities. Apparently, they looked the part too, in their white shirts and grey v-neck pullovers.
Die-hard fans of Vic Godard cling to the hope that his former manager Bernie Rhodes has had the tape all along and will one day put us all out of our misery. Of course, it could be in landfill, alongside the full-length cut of the Wicker Man.
Vic Godard even ‘remade’ the disc two years back. ‘1978 Now’ was a pretty good album; a tantalising glimpse at what might have been if you could imagine the same songs played by 19 year olds. It was Ray Davies who once said something along the lines that ‘it’s never as good once the original band has split.’ Godard is a great, perhaps under-fulfilled, talent who has never quite shaken off the loss of that original band – particularly bassist Paul Myers and the ferocious, magnificent guitar playing of Rob Symmons.
But what can a poor boy do…?
You either give it up or soldier on. He’s dallied with both down the years, but thankfully, at the mo he’s doing the latter. Godard is too unique and great a talent to keep solely to the day job.
His newish band, assembled over the last three years, expertly embellish his wonderful lyrics (check ‘Somewhere in the World’, where Vic Godard rhymes papier mache with [Shirley] Bassey) and idiosyncratic vocals (I think he puts the God in Godard, but fully realise his whine ain’t going to be to everyone’s taste).
I must declare an interest here that my best pal is in this line-up of the group, but will qualify this by saying that I fell in love with Subway Sect upon hearing Parallel Lines for the first time as a 15-year-old in 1981. I am one of those who has kept an admiring eye on Godard ever since.
Now, ‘We Come As Aliens’ – is it any good?
At the risk of sounding like a hack reviewing a new Bowie album – it is his best for thirty years. Actually, ‘We Come As Aliens’ is very close in feel to Godard’s ‘real’ debut album, 1980’s excellent (just not quite a masterpiece)‘What’s the Matter Boy’.
Here we get equally adroit wordplay, occasionally unreadable as poetry until you hear how Godard mangle-wurzels the words into his songs. And the album warrants listening whilst reading the lyrics, to let light in upon his magic.
The album kicks off with a cracker – ‘Best Album’ – and follows it with another – ‘Takeover’. Godard’s penchant for, or past dalliances with, swing, crooning, northern soul and music hall all reappear on various tracks.
Same Plan’ (possibly the closest to anything from ‘What’s The Matter Boy‘), ‘If We’d’ve’, ‘Rhododendron Town’ and ‘Somewhere in the World’ get better with every listen. Also included is a nicely ramshackle cover of Francois Hardy’s ‘Et Meme’, plus Sex Pistols drummer – Paul Cook.
The highlight of the album is the achingly beautiful and mournful ‘Ne’er’ dedicated to Vic Godard’s pal, the writer and long-time Subway Sect fan Paul Reekie. “Ne’er  never thought it could’ve turned out quite like this Mum. Oh ne’er, all I ever wanted was my own little niche out there.”
Not being a masterpiece, it’s not all great. I’m not too enamoured of ‘That Train’ or the closer ‘Music of a Werewolf’. Oh, and the album cover is pretty cacky (as you can see), as is the band pic inside. A shame, because it may deter some from taking a listen (or buying it).
I hope I have persuaded you otherwise.

Daily Telegraph

Vic Godard and Subway Sect's We Come as Aliens is a rollicking classic. Rating: * * * *

By Andrew Perry
We Come As Aliens CD

Auf die Subway Sect kam ich noch nie klar. Nur ihre erste Single „Nobody’s Scared“ gefiel mir. Und das ist satte 32 Jahre her. Seitdem hat Saenger Vic Godard vieles ausprobiert und sich an allen moeglichen Stilrichtungen versucht. Er kann immer noch nicht singen, geschweige denn einen Takt halten. Macht er ja auch ganz bewusst und geht mit seinem Leierkasten bestimmt nicht nur mir gehoerig auf die Nerven. Dabei fallen mir automatisch Begriffe wie Chansons, SPEX, das Musikmagazin und Kunstschule ein, alles womit ich herzlich wenig anfangen kann. Genauso wie mit dieser CD hier. Und wenn da zehnmal Paul Cook mitspielt, das ist nichts weiter als arroganter Schnoesel-Elitepunk.
We Come As Aliens” CD
( Overground Records / , Release Date: 11. Oktober 2010 )

Up The Revolution! - #1

We Come As Aliens: Vic Godard & Subway Sect
If you’ve heard the news in the Post Office queues, the remarks in Primark, the moaning in Morrisons, the grumbling in Greggs, the strops in the charity shops, the anger in Asda’s aisles, the sound and the fury in Poundland, then you’ll know there’s trouble brewing. Who knows what ‘difficult decision’ will push people over the edge, but a revolution against everyday life is on the cards as disbelief turns to mischief. And when the more mature malcontents do go on the march then they might just have found an anthem in Vic Godard’s Take Over, from his new LP We Come As Aliens.

I never really had Vic down as a Pete Seeger figure, but if you were that way inclined We Come As Aliens could at times be interpreted as a state-of-the-nation address. Take The Same Plan and use Vic’s theme of the ‘modernisation’ of the Royal Mail as a metaphor for the world today, and you’ll see what I mean. The idiots in charge of everything, the careerists’ calamitous decisions, the cheap compromises, the relentless rebranding, and the ‘progress’ that is anything but and just makes daily life that much more difficult. “Time for you diamonds in the rough to come out front and strut your stuff. No point in skulkin’ in doorways sulkin’. Let’s take over together people now,” sings Vic, the old contemptible, with a rallying cry and a twinkle in his eye.

There are some cracking lines on We Come As Aliens, but you’d expect that. Vic’s curmudgeonly Cockney cynic persona is at times pure Music Hall, and the spirit of Gus Elen, Harry Champion, et al, is alive and kicking, thank god. There’s no going hither and playing the mystic on this record, but the art of writing caustic couplets capturing the spirit of the age is not to be underestimated. And when there are some nice popular culture references (Lloyd Johnson, Peter Mandelson and Blakey, for example) and some rousing choruses all us aliens up in the Gallery should stand up and wave our caps in support.

Some of the best lines on We Come As Aliens are about the baffling old world of showbiz, with Vic addressing the old conundrum of why we keep on doing what we do, with some neat self-deprecating touches. “More of us on chorus than in front of us”, perhaps, but we’ll have a wail and a moan nevertheless, and then go ‘ome and shake our heads in despair at what’s on the TV and the radio. The ‘autobiographical ‘ stuff on We Come As Aliens continues on from some of the great tracks on Sansend eight years ago, like Go Against The Grain and The Writers Slumped, but in a way WCAA is the culmination of Vic’s progress since then. It’s just taken such an age to reach us.

Musically, WCAA is often perversely primitive and a right old racket, but it’s exactly what’s needed to stick two fingers up at the dreary old music scene. Beyond the punky clatter the essential template is Vic’s characteristic take on Northern Soul in all its guises, which means a collection of glorious choruses as catchy as an old Racey or Foundations track you find yourself inadvertently howling along to when it’s played on the Gold oldies station all the aliens have deserted to in protest against what those ‘in charge’ have done to ‘modernise’ Radio Two, the station Vic once dreamed of being played on. The LP closes with Music of a Werewolf which musically is closer to the Sansend sound. Its passing reference to Theodore Gericault for some reason reminds me of two old boys I heard chatting in a Poundland queue recently about whether it was Eric Delaney who was the first guy to play two drum kits. The connection is I had to look both up, but I like to learn something.

A word should be said for Overground, who have issued WCAA on CD (though vinyl editions are available through Vic’s Gnu Inc.). I know little about Overground, other

Tim NYC (Broun)

Lee Mcfadden Mudkiss review


Vic Godard and Subway Sect set out their stall immediately with “Best Album”, a tip of the hat to Northern Soul that simply states their intention to record the best album they possibly can. Any suggestions of self reverentialism are quashed by quotes such as – “If stuff works it’s either green witch or stark toil, the key is having fun” – culminating in the humbling – “We’ll have a wail and a moan and then go home”.
The album suffered a setback when after five recorded tracks, Felt’s Gary Ainge had to retire from the drum stool due to the destabilising condition of slipped discs in his back. The Sect line up of Godard, Mark Braby and Kevin Younger were augmented for the rest of the sessions by a certain London drummer by the name of Paul Cook.....

The only positive reference to nostalgia on “We Come As Aliens” is, typically, a veiled one – the cover of Francoise Hardy’s “Et Meme” was performed live by Subway Sect as far back as 1977, but makes it’s first studio appearance here. The popular ‘rose-tinted specs’ view of the past gets short shrift in tracks such as “Music Of A Werewolf” (“Telling sorry stories of some half forgotten glories on a mini bus”) and tellingly in “If We’d’ve” – it’s first few lines a thinly veiled attack on Thatcher’s divide and conquer policy amongst the working classes.
“We Come As Aliens” explores contemporary politics in a way only hinted at on previous album “Sansend”. “Take Over” prompts a fresh stand to prevent a repeat of the credit crunch, “The Same Plan” laments the inevitable decision of  spending cuts each time Government think-tanks converge to discuss economic solutions, and “Out Of Our Zone” is an emotive anti-war statement, crystallising the effects of needless conflict on community life.

“Ne’er” is Vic Godard’s stance on fame and success, steering clear of the legacy cheapening resplendent in today’s revivalist culture , as in the Sex Pistols perfume at £30 a bottle for example.....(“I never wanted to be floggin’ me own fake pesto) (“All I ever wanted was my own little niche out there”).

Vic Godard’s niche is assured, but the fact that he purely is a critical rather than the added commercial success seems unjustified, and even more so after the forty odd minutes of  “We Come As Aliens” draws to a close. His backing vocal on Edwyn Collins’ collossal “A Girl Like You” is the nearest Godard has reached to retirement from his day job as a postie. Collins himself has quoted Vic Godard as “the finest composer of his generation”, and his penchant for immediate melodies and immaculate lyrics envelopes this album like a pristine shroud.
“We Come As Aliens” is a 21st century classic that should be heard and devoured by a larger audience than it probably will achieve, and succeeds in rising to the demands of its opening track, in so far as it is the “Best Album” of Vic Godard’s recording career.
The CD is available on Overground from October 11th. October 14th sees the album launch at the St Aloysius Social Club, London, supported by ex-Sect members The Bitter Springs. Vic Godard’s own label Gnu Inc will be distributing VERY limited vinyl at gigs and by mail order at

Lee McFadden 21/09/10

VIC GODARD & SUBWAY SECT: ‘We Come As Aliens.’

The observant reader will notice that this review is filed under the ‘Punk Albums’ category. Perhaps that’s just through sentiment on my part, as back in the day VIC GODARD & SUBWAY SECT were always regarded as such, although more along the lines of being ‘different’ and ‘quirky’ as opposed to being overtly anarchic. 
Over the years, the definition of the genre ‘Punk’ has been diluted to the extent that anyone wanting to appear ‘edgy’ but still ‘cool’ will try to cash in on the longevity of the tag. However Vic Godard was in on the inception of the punk movement and so this is where he belongs. 
‘We Come As Aliens’ is the first release of new material from Vic since 2002 and may be regarded more as ‘lounge punk’ rather than the conventional form. But what it may lack in terms of the generic punk aggression, it more than makes up for with some clever lyrics and variety of influences that are integrated within the album’s forty-five minutes.
For the most part, Vic’s vocals are like a gentle snarl; flat, droned and mono-toned to the point of occasionally sounding disinterested. Which of course is just not the case, but it all adds to the inherent charm of the album. 
Most of the songs on ‘We Come As Aliens’ have been evolving since the mid 1990s and several will be familiar to those who have seen Vic and Subway Sect play live. Opening track ‘Best Album’ is one of them. It sort of sets the mood for what’s to follow – mellow deep sounding backing harmonies supporting Vic’s lighter lead. Its hook is quite instant as it meanders along in a kind of Northern Soul style. ‘Take Over’ features a Sixties style guitar riff in the fashion of Needles and Pins’ by The Searchers. In fact, many of the songs incorporate that ‘tinny’ guitar sound, augmented in this case by some discordant solos and shouts.
‘Back In The Community’ seems to call for a return to a more simple, friendly and conscientious society while ‘Same Plan’ is a wonderfully chirpy, (possibly Latin American styled?) song with great backing in which he expresses his cynicism at some of politicians’ ‘plans’ for improvement, proving that the old punk ethos still burns deeply! 
‘If We’d’ve’ sounds like chucking out time at your local boozer, especially during the ‘da da da da-da’ chorus. (Can I detect a little Beatles influence creeping n just before the chorus?) There then follows a song that Vic has apparently wanted to record since 1977! Francoise Hardy’s  ‘Et Meme’ may appear a strange choice, but even though it’s sung in French it certainly doesn’t seem out of place here. ‘Rhododendron Town’ dares you not to sing along, before ‘That Train’ draws heavily from Gospel and blues influences. It’s one of the best, actually. 
‘Somewhere In The World’ has definite Punk tendencies, and could quite easily have been one of Vic’s songs from the tail end of the Seventies. This one’s got the missing ‘aggression’ I mentioned earlier – and real ‘attitude’ to boot! 
‘Ne’er’ is apparently the oldest track of the thirteen. Vic’s vocals take a rather plaintive turn on this one – for me, possibly the least ‘instant’ of all the tracks as it happens. ‘Out Of Our Zone’ is heavier in mood than the others, and quite melancholy sounding. ‘Life In The Distance’ however lifts the atmosphere and musically harks back to the Pub Rock days of the late Seventies, with its distinct R’n’B feel.
By his own confession, closing track ‘Music Of A Werewolf’ is “a step outside what I’ve done before.” It has a slow rumba dance groove, with gently swirling vocals. Yeah – different.
In a way, I think you could draw comparison between Vic Godard & Subway Sect and Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. Both play a sort of stripped back, quirky style of punk based music, with neither afraid of incorporating other diverse influences. 
That in my book is good enough recommendation for checking out this album. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. 
(Released through Overground on 11th October 2010)


WE COME AS ALIENS – VIC GODARD and Subway Sect  by Bones

I'd been trying to think how to introduce VIC GODARD of Subway Sect fame to the uninitiated. Having just received his new album WE COME AS ALIENS, it was proving difficult to sum up the talents of this sadly overlooked genius of the punk era. But thankfully the great man himself came to my rescue with this abridged history of his musical career……
Vic Godard has forged his own unique trajectory since emerging from the 100 Club punk scene of 76 where Subway Sect debuted alongside contemporaries The Clash and Sex Pistols. Their garage sound and sense of melody set them apart from the usual run of the mill punk acts that joined the conveyor belt that year. Indeed, by the time their debut album ‘What’s The Matter Boy?’ was released, Godard and the Sect had tempered their sound to a more pop based (but nevertheless still edgy) mix.
The 1980s saw Vic Godard experiment with swing and Motown. However, it is his association with Orange Juice and Fire Engines (of the Scottish label Postcard) which defined the Subway Sect as purveyors of abrasive, catchy melodic punk pop. Indeed, the great Edwyn Collins has long championed the musical genius of Godard, producing three albums for him (Long term Side Effects and In Trouble again in 1998 and End of the Surrey People in 1993) and inviting him on board to provide backing vocals on the classic Collins hit ‘Girl Like You’ in 1994.
The successful release of ‘1978 Now’ in 2007, the second on Overground Records (the first in 1996 was We Oppose all Rock and Roll), saw Godard and Subway Sect return to their initial punk sound deconstructing the earliest songs to their initial primitive roots.
Whilst the Sect have had a revolving door approach to members over the past three decades, they have now a relatively settled line up. Other than Vic himself on Vocals and Guitar, there is Mark Braby (Bass/Acoustic Guitar), Kevin Younger (Guitar/Piano/Organ) and Gary Ainge (Drums/Percussion). Not to mention the fact that when Gary was unavailable to complete recording the new CD, they called on a certain Paul Cook, from little known punk band the Sex Pistols, to complete the drumming!

Punk has now backed its self into a dead-end by having to sound a certain way (i.e. Oi/Street Punk style). So it was refreshing to hear a CD that reminded me of the early days when punk was more a state of mind, rather than a distinctive sound. The record has a myriad of styles and certainly benefits from the wide influences of the band members (Northern Soul, 70’s pop, Johnny Thunders, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Ray Charles and Mose Allison) that mix together to create a unique overall sound..
In his biog Vic makes reference to working with Orange Juice and opening track “Best Album“ highlights the debt Edwyn Collins owes vocally and stylistically to Mr Godard. Quite honestly this would have not seemed out of place on Collins’ most successful album Gorgeous George, that bizarrely also had Paul Cook drumming on it.
Next track “Take Over” has an almost 60’s Byrds style tambourine intro. Lyrically its content seems to be imploring direct action, not far removed from the Paris student riots of the same decade, albeit with Vic’s wrath firmly directed at the modern day banking fat-cats of Threadneedle Street.

“Back in the Community” is a catchy number, resplendent with quirky guitars and sprightly drumming. Also I can’t remember too many songs name checking characters from 70’s comedy show “On the Buses” (e.g. Blakey and Butler).
“Same Plan” highlights Godard’s unique nasal based singing style. The song has a lounge lizard feel, complete with organ and what sounds like maracas. Again this proves the diversity of his sound as it is nothing like any other track on the album. And I rather liked the backing vocals of “Bah! Bah! Humbug”. That’s not to say the rest of the lyrics are infantile and the record as a whole has subversive words if you listen hard enough.
A sing along intro ushers in “If Wed’ve” and the feel good factors continues throughout the number. But just when you thought you had the sound of the album nailed down along comes a track entirely in French! Most songs on the album have been evolving since the mid 1990’s, but this song, a cover of Francoise Hardy’s ‘Et Meme’, Vic has wanted to record since ’77. Now I have to own up that I had never heard of this particular lady, but apparently she is a French singer, actress and astrologer and an iconic figure in fashion, music and style. All I can say is hats off Vic for singing totally in French as it sure beats "Ça plane pour moi “ by Plastic Bertrand.
Similar to Take Over, “Rhodedendron Town” has the initial feel of a 60’s song with hammond organ to the fore, which gives it a distinctly bouncy quality. Infectiously catchy it’ll have you singing chorus “go get the sound…Rhodedendron Town” for the rest of the day. If I had a favourite track it would be “That Train”, which sounds like it should be sung in a Baptist church down in the Deep South of the good ole U S of A. Other than “The Sound of Sinners” on the Clash’s Sandinista, I’m hard pushed to think of another punk album containing a gospel song. If you could imagine the Blues Brothers at the 100 Club in 1977, this is what they would be singing. Amen.
And just as quickly we’re switched from one musical style to another with “Somewhere in the World”. Probably the closest number to punk on the album, it reminded me of the sound of countless DIY punk singles I would eagerly buy from such places as Good Vibration, Small Wonder and Rough Trade records back in the late seventies. Not to say that it is unprofessional, just that it’s the fresh and uncomplicated sound that existed before all punk music had to be a wall of sound. For some reason Vic’s voice reminded me of Ed Borrie’ from underrated 1990’s New Wave of New Wave band S*M*A*S*H, so if you liked them you’re sure to like this.

“Ne’er” is perhaps the most downbeat of the tracks and quite understandably so given that its dedicated to Vic Godard’s pal, the writer and long-time Subway Sect fan Paul Reekie, who unfortunately passed away last year aged 48. RIP.

What seems like a song dedicated to the futile waist of young lives in foreign wars appears to be the central theme of “Out of the Zone”. Referring to “a daily foray around Bastion, needing to pray” highlights what I’m sure large numbers of squaddies daily think in the dusty fields of Afghanistan.

When Subway Sect were managed by punk Svengali Bernie Rhodes they used the Clash’s nerve centre of Rehearsal Rehearsal in Camden Town. They shared the premises with another band The Specials, and maybe a bit of Coventry’s finest rubbed off on them as penultimate song “Life in the Distance” has more than a touch of ska about it. Nice organ intro gives way to a bouncy number with an almost rockabilly guitar solo in the middle. As a Mr J Strummer once observed “you’re my guitar hero!”

Last track “Music of a Werewolf” has a floaty, ethereal quality. I’m not sue exactly what it’s about, but references French Artist Theodore Gericault’s painting “The Raft of Medusa” and Horace’s poem “Nil Desperandum”, so perhaps the intellectual meaning is lost on a thick Welsh boy like me! Good song nonetheless.
And there you have it, a rarity in today’s market, a punk album with both light and shade, which references all genres of music and yet contains some killer hooks. Certainly one of my favourite albums of recent times and well worth an investment of anybody’s hard earned money.

If you fancied going really retro and purchasing a vinyl copy then they are only available direct by mail order from Vic. He can also provide you with a new fangled CD if you need to be modern. Send your orders to: . He also has a wide range of back catalogue ready to be loved in previous releases such as “1978 Now” and “Blackpool e p”.