Really, you’d have thought a guy who was like a cross between Johnny Rotten and Bob Dylan would have been more famous. Or, maybe, way less famous. But I don’t think anyone could possibly have predicted that Patrik Fitzgerald (born ‘Patrick’ Fitzgerald) would have been exactly as famous as he was, no more and no less.
This guy has been making a right nuisance of himself since 1975; knocking on managers’ doors, painting his name on people’s cars, crashing parties, stalking people, busking outside funerals, and playing so many solo acoustic shows in front of punk punters that eventually Polydor went “Oh, alright Patrik, you can have your bloody record contract if you’ll just shut-up!'”And so Grubby Stories was born.
(Disclaimer: story not actually true. I just wanted to make it sound exciting and I didn’t want to copy the Wikipedia entry).
The truth is, my sister came home with a copy of this record one day (after borrowing it off this jerk called Nathan (who I once saw in his underwear (which was red))) and we decided it was just as good as all the other music we liked, and never gave it back.
I’ve spent the last twenty-five years vaguely wondering why no-one else ever seems to have heard of it, except for all the people who have (and they all seem to be wondering why no-one else has heard of it either).
Apparently Patrik moved from Polydor after a few records, and continued to make records which apparently sound increasingly like David Bowie on a bad day. He now lives in New Zealand where he has a Myspace and does solo shows and stuff, and maybe walks on the same bits of dirt that Chris Knox sometimes walks on. But I wouldn’t really know about any of that. I’ve only heard this record.
The story behind this mp3 is that a few years ago I dug this old bit of vinyl out of my cupboard, recorded it onto my computer (before I realised what the earthing wire on the stereo was for) and then sold it for ten dollars just before moving to the tropics.
(Nathan: I lost your record, I’m very sorry.)
Anyway, here is Patrik Fitzgerald, the forlorn pioneer of folk punk, in all his two chord acoustic wonderness. Well, most of it is acoustic, but some of it is played by a band featuring members of The Buzzcocks and Penetration, whom Patrik somehow managed to get to sound a fair bit like early U.K. Squeeze. But the lyrics are the main thing, really; alternately weird and very strightforward, and all delivered with a cockney nasal despair which is truly beautiful.
If you like your punk music strange and offbeat, I strongly advise that you listen to these tunes, at once.
The Ten Songs:
- As Ugly As You
- Nothing to Do Around Here (with evil children)
- All My Friends Are Dead Now
- Adopted Girl
- When I Get Famous
- Little Fishes (brilliant song, my favourite)
- But Not Any More
- Conventions of Life
- They Make It Safe
- Your Hero
Here’s a double-take of one of my favourite discoveries of the last few years – Philadelphia band The Stickmen, who emerged in the post-punk chaos of the late 70s, made a few albums, had white vans that broke down, got given pretentious labels by critics, drank milkshakes, broke up, got mortgages, died tragically, reformed, had children, gained PhDs, got cynical, moved to the tropics, put out compilation albums, all the usual things.
Actually, some of that was me rather than the Stickmen. Sorry.
Anyway, what can you expect to hear? Imagine what the B52s would have sounded like if only their mothers had stopped drinking when they got pregnant, and then if their rhythm section got kidnappped and somehow replaced by some of the guys from the Birthday Party without anyone noticing, and then the resulting ensemble tried to play two different songs at the same time.
Or just listen to the tracks. Whichever you prefer….
I got these tracks a while back over on one of the usual post-punk haunts, PPJ I think, but they aren’t there now so I’m putting them back up for you. They are both from the Instiable compilation CD, and they both rawk. Frenetic dum-drums, bonky bass, twisty geetar, krazee v-v-v-vocals, squonky saxophone and gosh-darn weird clavinet! Go!
In the heady year of 1980, when I was ten, Kevin Armstrong (guitar, vox), Kim Barti (drums), and Matthew Seligman (bass) recorded and released a hidden classic of British post-punk, the album Drip Dry Zone. The trio were later joined by Thomas Dolby on synths for a subsequent release called New Opium, before Dolby went solo, Armstrong decided to become a session musician rather than a front man, and Seligman continued with the Soft Boys and then also turned to session work.
I know it is a cliché to say that bands “should have gained more recognition” when all you really mean is that you like them. So, to cut to the chase, I really like this band. They have hints of XTC, the Clash, the Soft Boys, the Jam, and the Police, but with a great deal of their own charm. The bass playing is wonderful and the guitar is layered and intricate, the songs well written, the singing grainy and emotive and very English. All in all, the sound is a winner.
Local Heroes SW9 were a British post-punk band not afraid of being clever, and this may have cost them the exposure that many lesser and more derivative acts attracted. But it’s not too late. Check out these two tracks, and if you want to buy the album (really, it’s all good), click the cover to go to Amazon, or start by reading this thread at Charlie Gillett’s website. It tells the story of how the digital re-release of the two albums was inspired, and contains posts from Armstrong himself on its creation.