Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Year by year: 1983

Nikki Sudden – THE BIBLE BELT

Ever since hearing “Chelsea Embankment” for the first time, I’ve always thought about listening to that song while walking along the actual Chelsea Embankment. A dream only realised a few months ago, on a cool summer evening, with a bottle of ginger beer in hand. I was actually rather spiritual, all things considered. Nikki Sudden would have approved.

The hopeless idealism of that dream could only be inspired by this album. Nikki Sudden was a man out of time and out of any sort of context (he did toy with the context a little on those Swell Maps albums, but that was brief and almost accidental). Full of sexual yearning (“Cathy”) and references to France (“The Road Of Broken Dreams”). But above all – what a great songwriter. By any sort of standard, “English Girls” and “Missionary Boy” are some of the greatest songs that nobody in mid-80s cared to hear. 

With Dave Kusworth, he would go on to do greater things (more on this later), but The Bible Belt remains a lost classic. Apparently Nikki Sudden had no taste in clothes and often looked like a patchwork of colours and styles. Not musically though. For even when he tried something as untypical as the funky “Six Hip Princes” – he did it almost as tastefully and convincingly as Robyn Hitchcock did. If anyone still remembers “Grooving On An Inner Plane”.