'The Crack' by The Ruts was released 40 years ago on September 28th 1979.
I bought it then - my copy still has the 'Pay No More Than £3.99' sticker on the cover - and I absolutely loved it. I still do. It is, in my not-so-humble opinion one of the greatest records of all time, and that means a lot around these here parts - I spent so many hours listening to it, and so many more hours playing along with it in an attempt to decipher the wondrous electric guitar playing of the mighty Paul Fox. Although I couldn't have known it then it wouldn't be that long before I myself would be able to ask him how to play the songs; even more unlikely is the fact that these days I find myself playing the songs on stage with original Ruts Dave and Segs. It's a funny old life sometimes isn't it? You never know what fate has in store for you...
...for example, who would have predicted a Ruts D.C. Weekender in Crewe, during which we will play 'The Crack', an acoustic set and more? Well certainly not me, but I wouldn't have predicted a European Tour with The Stranglers and a just-before-Christmas show at The Brixton Academy with The Alabama 3 either - as I say, you never know what fate has in store for you... and there's more - we have a live album recorded on the last tour coming out in December, and gigs a-plenty are already coming in for next year - great stuff all round.
And who would have predicted that your humble narrator would be asked to appear on noted website Everyone Loves Guitar? Segs was on last month - you can hear him here if you'd like to, and very interesting it is too - and I'm recording my appearance tomorrow. I've been sent some sample questions and they're very in depth - I was expecting things like 'what gauge plectrum do you use?', not 'what is your happiest childhood memory?'. This should be interesting - I'm really looking forward to it!
But as if to prove that you don't get something for nothing in life, October 2nd saw the
death of Eddie And the Hot Rods singer Barrie Masters. I can't pretend to have known him well, but every time I did speak to him he was always friendly and enthusiastic, which is more than you can say about many people that you meet. And The Hot Rods have always had a very special place in my musical mind... I saw them play at Brunel University in Uxbridge way back in 1977 (probably 19th October) supported by No Dice - this was the first vaguely 'punk' gig I attended and it remains one of the most exciting evenings I've ever been part of. Everything about it was brilliant - No Dice were excellent (I've got an old single by them but I really must search out some of their stuff one day) and The Hot Rods were absolutely phenomenal. They looked great, sounded greater and, maybe most importantly from my point of view, they might as well have had a bloody great sign saying YOU COULD DO THIS LEIGH above their heads. I was a cripplingly shy, very-young-for-my-age 16 year old, and although it took me a long time I can say without being pretentious (for once!) that I wouldn't be playing the guitar today if it wasn't for that show. I saw them play again on many occasions - this amazing clip of them playing 'The Beginning Of The End' on The Old Grey Whistle Test shows just how great they could be as a live band - and then, incredibly, was lucky enough to appear on stage with the last line up of the band a couple of times, the last of which was at The Islington Academy in April this year - I played 'I Might Be Lying' and Ignore Them' (the A and B side of my favourite Rods record in case you were wondering) and joined a cast of thousands for the last song 'Gloria'. After the song had finished and everyone made their way off stage I somehow found myself with Barrie in the middle of the stage - he looked exhausted but he'd made it through an epic show. I lifted his right arm aloft, as you do with a champion who had just won the toughest fight of their life, and the place went mad. A fantastic, unforgettable moment.
I owe Barrie and people like him more than I'll ever be able to put into words.
I think of it every time I play.