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.