SUBWAY SECT – “Ambition” / “Different Story” (Rough trade RT007) November 1978

Subway Sect “Ambition” – Subway Sect had a strong link with The Clash as they were both managed by Bernie Rhodes and this 45 was produced by Mickey Foote who handled the controls on the eponymous debut album by the The Clash.

’Ambition’ is a peculiar record and maybe even ahead of it’s time. It has that late 70s punk guitar but incorporates some cheapo sounding organ and waves of strange noises over the top of the rhythm section.

I’ve read elsewhere that those strange noises are sounds from an arcade game that were overdubbed in the studio without permission of singer songwriter Vic Godard.

In it’s strange way I think this production trick enhanced the song and made it sound unique, although Godard seemingly didn’t think so. (EXPO67)

Pop music discovers Vic Godard and has a definite Hit on his hands, the satirical stain of which will not wash off at all easily. If we accept that Tom Verlaine is the missing link between Bob Dylan and Vic Godard then ‘Ambition’ is no surprise.

Or maybe just slightly – who’d have thought it would be this good? We all knew Subway Sect would hop onto a Pop spot, but with such confidence?

Don’t wait to be told how Important Godard is (definitely on of the people: Lydon, Devoto, Perry, Shelley), just marvel at his mixture of Peter Noone and Kafka. Come on, hurry up!
(NME, 18/11/78)

From the opening electronic bleeps, it was clear that Subway Sect were the odd boys out. Vic Godard would take the punk template and shape it into something completely different, influenced more by old Francoise Hardy records than a feeling of urban anger.

The band’s debut LP was supervised by Clash manager Bernie Rhodes, although 1978’s ‘Ambition’ would be the only offering culled from the aborted six song session.

The track’s ’60s bubble-gum keyboard riff (hated by Godard) sat alongside the sound of bouncing table-tennis balls crudely recorded from an arcade games machine.

Two years later Godard would be found supporting Siouxsie & the Banshees dressed in a tuxedo and playing a sophisticated brand of northern soul. (Mojo)

The voice of avant garde . . . . Vic Godard (any relation of Jean-Luc?) does Tom Verlaine impersonation over flat instrumental silt. “You need two A levels to understand this” says the man who brought it in. “I got ’em and it still stinks,” I replies, (later) (Record Mirror 04/11/78)

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