CULTURE

It’s only rock’n’roll, but the cult figure really likes it

As much a fan of music as an exponent of it, the peripheral musician Nikki Sudden, a London-born artist with a devoted cult following in most parts of the Western world, has devoted himself to songwriting since the early 1970s, and, beyond that, tending to the attachment he feels for the process, often providing opinions on the work of others through various industry publications. Sudden, a seasoned performer who has been writing and releasing work since the early 1970s, both as a solo artist and as a member of several bands, will perform one show in Athens this Thursday (Small Music Theater, 33 Veikou, Koukaki, tel 210.924.5644) at a time of heightened activity. Besides a current series of limited European dates, the singer-songwriter, much of whose work has been loosely guided by a retro feel, has just completed a soundtrack for a new film by the Finnish film director Mika Kaurismaki, titled «Honey Baby.» Also, this time committing himself to the world of movies, Sudden will be appearing in a forthcoming film by German director Wim Wenders, «Egoshooter,» in which the musician simply plays himself. Sudden, in addition to his upcoming film role, will be performing ahead of another forthcoming project, his new album «Treasure Island,» to be released in the spring. There will be plenty to choose from on the night of the show, from material contained on some 20 albums, to, possibly, the occasional cover song written by admired colleagues. Sudden, born Nicholas Godfrey, emerged in 1977 as a member of the post-punk band Swell Maps, alongside his recently deceased brother, Kevin Godfrey, aka Epic Soundtracks, who also teamed up with various other acts, including Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo for contributions to the latter’s solo side-projects and Crime & The City Solution, led by Mick Harvey, a pivotal and long-serving member of Nick Cave’s backing band, the Bad Seeds. As Swell Maps, the Godfrey brothers managed to release two albums between 1977 and 1980, before disbanding. Sudden then launched a solo career that has been interspersed by other band projects, including the Jacobites and the Last Bandits, his regular band that joins him for for live shows. Sudden, who likes performing both alone and with his band – he more or less splits the two evenly – will do a solo voice-and-guitar show in Athens, which makes for a sparser sound, but probably offers greater flexibility and unpredictability to the song set-list. Sudden released four albums with the Jacobites in the mid-1980s, which captured a laid-back pop style driven by acoustic guitars and a rhythm section reminiscent of the Velvet Underground. That project, however, came to an end not long after its guitarist and co-songwriter Dave Kusworth departed. Sudden continued working as a solo artist with music that strongly resembled early-period Rolling Stones. Sudden is a blatant fan of that death-defying band. Commenting, «They’ve never let me down,» on his website, he rates the Rolling Stones as his favorite band and lists their «It’s Only Rock’n’Roll» album as a favorite, alongside Bob Dylan’s «The Genuine Basement Tapes,» «Ooh La La» by the Faces and T. Rex’s «Bolan’s Zip Gun,» among others. The 47-year-old Sudden, who says that he began playing guitar after hearing T. Rex toward the end of 1971, was joined by plenty of old-school talent, and more recent musicians, too, for «Treasure Island,» the solo album to be released later this year. The guest list included old-time greats, such as ex-Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, Ian McLagan of the Faces, as well as the relatively more recent Anthony Thistlethwaite of the Waterboys. He has attracted big-name collaborators in the past, including REM’s Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and the supergroup’s former drummer, Bill Berry, who backed him for 1990’s «The Jewel Thief» album, later reissued as «Liquor, Guns, & Ammo.»