Subway Sect

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Subway Sect
Origin London, England
Genres Punk rock, post-punk
Years active 1976–1982
2002-present
Associated acts Sex Pistols
The Professionals
Generation X
JoBoxers
The Fallen Leaves
Website www.vicgodard.co.uk
Members Vic Godard
Paul Myers
Kevin Younger
Mark Braby
Paul Cook
Past members Rob Symmons
Paul Packham
Mark Laff
Bob Ward
Rob Marche
Dave Collard
Chris Bostock
Sean McLusky

Subway Sect were one of the first British punk bands. Although their commercial success was limited by the small amount of recorded material they released, they have been credited as highly influential on the Postcard Records scene and the indie pop genre which followed.[1]

Early days[edit]

The core of the band was singer/songwriter, Vic Godard, plus assorted soul fans, who congregated around early gigs by the Sex Pistols until Malcolm McLaren suggested they formed their own band.[2] Subway Sect were among the performers at the 100 Club Punk Festival on Monday, 21 September 1976 - sharing the bill with Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Clash and the Sex Pistols. The first line-up of Godard on vocals, Paul Packham on drums, Paul Myers on bass and Rob Symmons on guitar lasted for 4 gigs before Mark Laff replaced Packham. Laff himself would leave for fellow punk group Generation X after the White Riot tour. A third drummer, Bob Ward, was recruited, and it is this line-up that can be heard on the band's first John Peel session and also on the single "Nobody's Scared". This was the first and only release on Braik Records, a label owned by Bernie Rhodes, who managed both Subway Sect and The Clash. Rhodes subsequently supervised the recording of their debut album at Gooseberry Studios in London, with Clash sound man and producer Mickey Foote at the production helm. At that time the band toured intensively with The Clash and others.

However, just as their first album was ready for release, for reasons that remain obscure, Rhodes sacked all the band (except Godard) and Subway Sect mark 1 ceased to exist. The album was never released, although a single from the sessions "Ambition" was released on Rough Trade Records, with the B-side "Different Story (Rock and Roll Even)" also taken from the same sessions. A further track "Parallel Lines" was released as a track on the C81 cassette produced by NME magazine. Since then, some monitor copies of tracks from the lost album have come to light on various Subway Sect compilations, including a Motion Records' 20 Odd Years double album anthology, and a CD and CD/EP set We Oppose All Rock And Roll on Overground Records. Any copies of the actual album tapes appear to no longer exist.

Number One for me at the moment are the Subway Sect. They've got some good ideas. The Slits are good, too. Palmolive on drums! She's the female Jerry Nolan. But like everyone, they need to do thirty gigs in thirty days and they would be a different group. Then they'd be great. The same with us.

As a result of 1977 appearances at The Roxy club in London, live recordings were made of Subway Sect performances by Don Letts, the club's disc jockey. Subway Sect appears in Letts' Punk Rock Movie (1978).

Middle years[edit]

Godard reformed the band and as 'Vic Godard and Subway Sect' finally released their debut album What's the Matter, Boy? in 1980, following a period of shifting group personnel. The album features many songs written during the previous incarnation of the band, but performed with radically altered arrangements.

By this time, Godard had become increasingly influenced by early rockabilly, and the "first wave" of rock and roll (Sun Records session era Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran etc.). This was just a few years before the rockabilly revival, and the album was ignored as being 'retro'. Ignoring this, Godard then went even further back in time, and later releases (some still credited to Vic Godard and the Subway Sect) showed the influence of the "rat pack" (Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra), and even swing bands of the 1940s, many years before these sounds became fashionable. Facing dwindling sales, Godard left the music business and became a postman.

In 1982, former Subway Sect members - guitarist Rob Marche, keyboardist Dave Collard, bassist Chris Bostock and drummer Sean McLusky - teamed up with American singer, Dig Wayne and formed the band Jo Boxers which had two UK Top 10 hits and a Top 20 album.

Revival[edit]

However, in the 1990s a slow Godard revival began. Backed by the re-release of his work on CD and numerous compilation albums, Godard returned to recording, initially under his own name. In 2002 a CD was issued credited purely to Subway Sect, thus reviving the name, if not the original band. Named Sansend, it was a sample and beats heavy collection of new songs, and it was followed three years later by Motion's Singles Anthology, which collected single A & B sides.

Plans were reported that Godard was working on songs for the musical to be called "Blackpool", but this was abandoned as the series used original 1960s and 1970s recordings, which were mimed to by the stage actors.[citation needed]

Original Subway Sect guitarist and bass player, Rob Symmons and Paul Myers resurfaced as The Fallen Leaves in 2004, although Myers has since quit the band. Rob Symmons still performs and records with The Fallen Leaves.

In 2007, Godard and a different band released 1978 Now, which re-recorded the original 1978 album as, Godard indicated, they originally sounded when recorded the lost album.

In 2011, Paul Myers rejoined Subway Sect. His first official gig back was at Nambucca in London on 28 October 2011. The latest line-up of Subway Sect includes former Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook, and has re-recorded more vintage material for 2013 release as '1979 Now'.[4]

Selected discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • What's the Matter Boy? (1980), Oddball/MCA (as Vic Godard and Subway Sect)
  • Songs for Sale (1982), London (as Vic Godard and Subway Sect)
  • Sansend (2002), Motion
  • 1978 Now (2007), Overground

Compilations[edit]

  • A Retrospective (1977-1981) (1984), Rough Trade (as Vic Godard and the Subway Sect)
  • We Oppose All Rock 'n' Roll (1976-1980) (1996), Overground
  • Twenty Odd Years - The Story Of (1999), Motion (as Vic Godard and the Subway Sect)
  • Singles Anthology (2005), Motion (as Vic Godard and Subway Sect)

Singles[edit]

  • "Nobody's Scared" b/w "Don't Split It" (1978), Braik
  • "Ambition" b/w "A Different Story" (1978), Rough Trade
  • "Split Up the Money" b/w "Out of Touch" (1980) Oddball/MCA (as Vic Godard and Subway Sect)
  • Ambition EP (1996), Overground

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "VIC.ism: A Celebration of Vic Godard & Subway Sect". Caught by the River. 2012-11-18. Retrieved 2013-09-01. 
  2. ^ "Vic Godard & Subway Sect - BIO". Vicgodard.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-09-01. 
  3. ^ Coon 1977.
  4. ^ "Vic Godard & Subway Sect - BIO". Vicgodard.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-09-01. 

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]