Your regularly scheduled installment of Hugs and Kisses, a weekly Sound of the City column from Everett True and author of Nirvana: The Biography (da Capo Press), publisher of Plan B Magazine.
THIS WEEK: punk rock in Norway
Ambition is anti-art…
It is the product of a poverty mentality. Like a blind beggar crawling in his own filth in a house of diamonds. That us not to say we need to relate to ourselves as cooked spaghetti, but rather a taming of the monkey mind that ceaselessly and needlessly chases its own tail. (Postcard with Dog And Sky release, Crispin Glover Records)
It shouldn’t surprise me.
A year or two back, documentary-maker Dom Shaw (Rough Cut And Ready Dubbed) contacted me, asked if I wanted to talk about obscure acoustic punk poet/songwriter Patrik Fitzgerald. (If you’ve heard of him at all, it’s for ‘Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart’, a poignantly sharp, zeitgeist-capturing moment that’s showed up on several UK punk ’77 compilations.) I replied I’d be more than happy to – he was the fellow who first inspired me to get on stage myself, even played keyboards on my debut Creation single—could perform a few spontaneous covers for the camera, if so required (I was). Patrik’s Jacques Brel-influenced songs through at the turn of the Eighties bordered on suicidal, harboured dark anti-ambition thoughts indeed…something that mirrored my own mindset back then. Entirely unassuming for a role model, he was the one who advised, “Don’t ever sleep with your heroes/They will only let you down.” Tobi Vail, former drummer with Bikini Kill, once earned my undying respect for recognising a Fitzgerald steal (“Hello, I’m a reject/Does one arm hang down longer?”) that I’d thrown into the middle of a song our improvised pick-up band was performing. Patrik’s bitterly cynical ‘When I Get Famous’ song seemed particularly prescient when I experienced my own momentary spasm of fame at the start of the Nineties. And so on. . .
Patrik isn’t exactly well-known: so low-key that when he came over to England for a visit three or four years back (from New Zealand, where he’d migrated to work as a schoolteacher) he actually played in a back garden in the street next to mine…and I didn’t know.
So when I was contacted by some kid from Norway asking if I was a Patrik Fitzgerald fan, I knew I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. I’m well aware that TV Personalities amassed a sizeable cult following in Germany, and that Japanese music fans go a bundle on obscure UK cutie records from the Eighties, the more obscure and twee the better, but I’d long ago figured my affection for Patrik went as far as me, maybe a few of The Jam fans who didn’t bottle him off when he opened for their heroes in ’79, the British establishment’s favourite dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah, Dom Shaw and a few Buzzcocks. Turns out that Patrik’s relatively big in Norway – even got to play a tour over in Scandinavia in August 2006 with ranting Brighton sort Attila The Stockbroker – and that my correspondent’s record label Crispin Glover has even released a few of his recent songs.
So I thought I could write my new Village Voice column about Crispin Glover, cos it ain’t every day I’m contacted by a bunch of old school punks from Norway who not only are familiar with one of my main source inspirations but even know my own recorded works inside out.
“If You wrote a line or two about any of the 7-inches I sent You’d be the first to do so, no ones bothered about vinyl 7-inches in Norway, maybe in a few years…” they write, excited – so here, for the first time in Crispin Glover’s small but proud history, is a series of capsule reviews their five seven-inch singles…
Hugs And Kisses Top 5
Crispin Glover records
1. PATRIK FITZGERALD and ATTILA THE STOCKBROKER, “Spirit Of Revolution (red vinyl). Split single from two unrequited old school punk poets, recorded live in Norway: one features Brighton’s own Attila’s brash, jokey, pre-Ben Elton political ranting over his trademark mandolin, the other sees Patrik in typically depressed mood. Neither would have seemed out of place when I first caught these men live, in ’81 or thereabouts. But that ain’t a diss.
2. BITCH CASSIDY, “Radiation Blues” (red vinyl). Forget the A-side, it’s the demented Heaven 17-style cover of “Ghost Riders In The Sky” you’ll be wanting to hear this for. Sometimes I just wish I had my old radio show back…
3. THE SCHOOL, “Madchen EP” (double single, red vinyl presumably). It’s like The Boys crossed with The Knack, with gruff vocals and a little pre-Green Day ska-punk thrown in. Is that a good thing? Go ask your mum.
4. DOG AND SKY, “When You Die” (red vinyl presumably). They like Ramones. We like Ramones. They sing in strangulated accents. Why spoil the beginning of a beautiful friendship?
5. THE KULTA BEATS, “If Oz Was Bulldozed” (red vinyl). Um…they like the Go-Betweens (see second song in). So do we. Can we leave it at that?