Nikki Sudden & Dave Kusworth Jacobites-Robespierre’s Velvet Basement (Glass 1985)
July 12, 2008
link will be posted soon. Just enjoy the review for now. I am tracking down a link.
The Glimmer Twins and the Bewlay Brothers presaged them, giving an inkling of something great and greasy to come: Nikki Sudden and Dave Kusworth, together Jacobites, briefly the greatest wipe-your-nose-on-your-sleeve duo on Earth.
Sudden came from the (most often not as) great (as you’ve been told) Swell Maps, a slovenly noise punk brother act with equally well-pseudononymized sibling, Epic Soundtracks. Kusworth, a Rough Trade label here-and-there guy, played in Dogs D’Amour and with Stephen Duffy (Duran Duran/Lilac Time) as The Hawks.
Robespierre’s Velvet Basement marks the high water mark of a creative fraternity split in instincts between folk-glam and Faces blooze rock. It is an exercise in filthy decadence so sebaceous, bejeweled, grotty and sincere that neither the two’s still-staggering forebears nor debutante students have matched. The cover shows them in a grainy black and white repose, torn between Prince’s tacky Louis Quatorze pomp, and a squatter squalor suggestive of shampoos of shit and shoe polish, not a hot meal in weeks. In a famous book Edith Hamilton once overlooked them.
And no melody fails them.
Sudden seems most keenly connected to hero, Ron Wood’s slack meaningful blues, telling stories in a stupid way that would’ve given his generation’s touchstone, Paul Westerberg, a pang of righteous jealousy. Kusworth channels Blonde Dylan/Hunky Bowie with a little Phil Ochs, messily–and way under-appreciated. Sudden gives in swaggery gutter groove–see “Fortune of Fame”, and Kusworth counterpoints in sparkling Byrdsian pathos–check the ravishing “Snow White”.
What finally makes this, the second, Jacobites lp, such an essential thing is the melding of these two different, sloppy equals. In the way Ron Wood and Rod Stewart had, or Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane, the Jacs emerge in a light that bears scrutiny first for its rendering of creative generosity and happiness, and only second for songcraft–though it should be noted, a very close second.
Sudden resolves on the wistful, “She Never Believes”, “There’s nothing left to do but break the glass after its done.” It’s a kind of idiot’s wisdom that borders sensationally on genius, sung to a dribbling strum that, too, sensationally borders genius. But its really splitting hairs to say this stuff borders on anything. Or that on the subject of genius Robespierre’s staggering adventure could lie anywhere but on our side. Which is to say the wanton, unbathed side by the French Cathedral redefined.