Subway Sect - Nobody's Scared/Don't Split It

Subway Sect
Nobody's Scared/Don't Split It

Released 1978 on Braik
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 08/03/2007ce

I had a bitch of a time trying to find this 45 in the late 70's, quite simply because punk just didn't happen in my area (with the possible exception of The Ramones playing a dance concert at my high school in 1975 or so, of course they were booed offstage by a hundred Yes/ELP freaks.) Other than that local record stores were dismal, selling head shop gear, Roger Dean posters and replica belt buckles, and the usual mid to late 70's crud. They absolutely refused to stock punk records.

Luckily I met Larry Galla (aka Larry Loud of the first and best punk band in my area of Connecticut, The Cadavers.) Larry was into punk before anyone. I went over his house sometime in 1977 to smoke some dope and drink his father's Piels Draft beer and was knocked sideways by his record collection. I remember him playing The Move's "Shazam" album at the time, Thunderclap Newman, The Stooges, MC5, The Byrds, Miles Davis, 13th Floor Elevators and other greats.

I really wasn't hip to the The Stooges/Velvets/MC5 stuff at the time, I was a San Francisco/West Coast freak, I was also into Family, Traffic and Procol Harum and that kinda stuff. I remember he had the Television "Marquee Moon" album, I had read about Television in 1975 from an article in Penthouse (yeah, I read the articles too!), though I had never heard their music.

What really caught my eye was The Sex Pistols "Never Mind The Bollocks" album. We had all heard of the Pistols, but never actually heard their music. All the hippies in my school already hated them on principle. I remember I asked Larry to put on the Pistols album as a goof. Well no sooner did "Seventeen" break into "Anarchy In The UK" than I was converted into punk 100%. It absolutely floored me, I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

I survived through the musical wasteland years of 1974-76(this era was best described by The Sopwith Camel as the "coke, suede & waterbeds" era), the lowest point being in 1975. I spent an entire day shoveling snow from driveways after a big storm and made $25 or so. Afterwards I decided to walk the 2 miles to the local record store (a shithole called The Earport) to spend a little bread and buy a couple of albums. There was a pretty lame selection so I ended up buying "Pump Iron" by Alvin Lee and the ever popular "Split Coconut" by Dave Mason. Well when I got home I put the Alvin Lee album on first and it was okay at best, however the Dave Mason album was so bad I couldn't believe I had just spent 6 hard earned dollars on it, to explain how bad the album was is a bit difficult, so I'll sum it up by mentioning the record had The Manhattan Transfer doing backing vocals, I mean the MANHATTAN FUCKING TRANSFER!!! are you kidding? why not also get in Bette Midler? I was enraged, ROCK was officially dead, and Dave Mason hammered the last nails in the coffin. At that moment I could not see any hope for Rock & Roll as we knew it. I was a beaten man at age 15, this surely was the bottom, "Split Coconut" had defeated me.

So I can't even begin to describe how liberating and exciting punk was to me, and totally unexpected too. When I heard The Sex Pistols "God Save The Queen" I thought it was the greatest record ever, surely the greatest punk 45 of 1977. I held that opinion until I finally tracked down The Subway Sect's "Nobody's Scared" single in 1980, from a dealer in Vermont no less. This single just shattered me, the opening chords just hit you so hard they hurt. Then Vic Godard singing "everyone is a prostitute, singing a song in prison" just tore me apart. The song even has a psychedelic guitar solo in the mid-section. The whole thing recorded as loud as fucking hell! The Jesus & Mary Chain sound years ahead of it's time.

Then the impossible, the B-side "Don't Split It" being even better. This song just kicks your teeth in, it sounds like "Sister Ray" era Velvets kicked up a notch. The power of this recording is simply awesome. Then at the end Vic pulls out a harmonica and starts wailing like Ornette Coleman over the twisted guitars and surging organ. He ends up singing about not wanting to sing Rock & Roll while the song fades out into oblivion. Post-punk was invented and perfected on this one single alone. The record still sounds as vital as ever, and well "Split Coconut" has been broken into pieces and has been shoved into a garbage hole somewhere. I guess I'll always be grateful to the Manhattan Transfer for allowing punk to happen, at least for me.

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