|Glen Matlock Interview & Album Review
Good To Go - Track By Track
As told to Phil Singleton
In this special
feature to commemorate the release of Good To Go, Glen gives a track by
track insight to God Save The Sex
|Glen: In life there is always more
people telling you that you can't do something than people that enable
you to do something. I'm kicking against that. I'm not trying to mark
anyone's card, but I wanna rock a bit.
There's a whole plethora of material from when I started to listen to
music that I still like and stands the test of time. It's well known I
like the Faces, it's well known I like a bit of Bob Dylan, and it's all
incorporated in there somewhere. What changes is the lyric. I saw an
interview with John Lennon when they asked if he was writing for the
kids and he said "No, I used to, but now I'm writing for the kids that
have grown up with me." That's quite a different thing. He told Rolling
Stone magazine during his Instant Karma period he was not interested in
whether someone is a guitarist or not, he was interested in ideas. In
my own way, I am as well.
When I was opening for the Dropkick Murphys recently, I was thinking
what would be a good song to kick the set off with and this starts
"Now, Ladies and Gentlemen gather round." There's Chris Musto on drums,
Neal X on guitar, with me doing the rest.
Phil's review: The sense of urgency that
runs through the album kicks off in style. This forceful rocker is
buoyed by feel good harmonious BVs. This
positive vibe contrasts with a song set to challenge, not just the
listener's expectations, but those eager to put
obstacles in the way of other people's achievements. Neal X nails the
guitar sound to underpin the 'never going to stop' message.
an old song that's been in the back of my mind for ages and never got
recorded so I added it to the original session. It's a rewrite of
'Roadrunner' by Junior Walker and the All Stars. It kind of fitted in
with where I was at. I'm here, there and everywhere these days. "I got
ants in my pants and I need to dance" as James Brown sang.
The blues is
an untapped vein at the moment and it's got a strong moody, blues
element. My dark side is coming out in the lyrics. It fits in with the
'Won't Put The Breaks On Me' idea and the same musicians play on it.
Phil: Perpetual motion is Glen's key
driver and the theme of movement prevalent throughout the album
continues, this time with a more menacing musical slant. Globetrotting
runs through Glen's veins and this 'always on the move' attitude is
reflected by more fine guitar from Neal X and rhythmic zeal by Chris
Musto on the drums. Glen's nature summed up in 3 minutes 20 seconds.
|Glen: It's a fun kind of song
although there is an underlying "taking the bull by the horns &
having confidence in yourself" sentiment to it. It's not flippant or
glib, and it's not named after the film! It's a way of taking the piss
out of yourself a bit. Who do I think is the sexy beast in the song? I
am! Not that I think that but it's about self confidence. It's the most
out and out rockabilly track on the album.
Earl Slick's guitar playing is superlative. He peeled the solo off in
one take. Slim Jim Phantom is on drums, Jim Lowe on bass, and I play
Phil: Rockabilly kicks in with this
confident, tongue in cheek piece of self reflection. There's a 50's
undercurrent with modern day intricacies added to the mix with some
style by Earl and Slim Jim, bringing the sound bang up to date.
|Glen: I think this is my favourite
song on the album. It's quite a departure for me. The basic chord
structure is like 'Spanish Harlem' or 'Stand By Me', juxtaposed with
Earl's Ebow guitar which is like something from Bowie's 'Heroes'. The
sustained sound in the background behind the guitar riff was Earl, it's
pretty off the wall. I said let's go with it and he built it up. I
think Bowie would have been proud of that song. It's quite anthemic as
well. Lyrically, it's when everyone's on your back and you can't see a
way out of things, but there might be a little chink in the clouds, but
hang on a minute, I don't wanna talk about it 'cos it might not happen.
I wrote it to cheer up Patti Palladin. It's a positive tale, just don't
count your chickens before they've hatched. Don't burn your bridges.
Phil: The one track in the set to
display an air of caution, lyrically at least. Conversely, musically
there's an air of abandon as Glen varies from the norm with a complex
layered composition taking full advantage of the capabilities of Earl's
guitar. An outstanding highlight with a joint message of prudence and
|Glen: Lyrically, it's a composite
of some of the people I've had to deal with over the years. People who
have ulterior motives which you didn't necessarily twig at the time. In
retrospect you get wise to it and don't want to go there again. Earl
did a piece of guitar which I thought I'd sample and make some more of
it. He does slide guitar which sounds a bit like George Harrison's 'All
Things Must Pass'. It's the same set of chords all the way through but
there's a long, elongated chord progression which makes it quite epic.
I also wanted it to be small and personal at the beginning and then
build it up as it went along. I was pleased with the BVs we got
together, me and Jim Lowe.
All the tracks with Earl and Slim Jim & Jim Lowe were recorded in
upstate New York at Clubhouse in Rhinebeck with the vocals done back in
London by myself and Jim Lowe. I wanted a change from some of the stuff
I'd done before. It was engineered by Mario J. McNulty who has some
pedigree. Earl had worked with Mario before on Bowie's 'The Next Day'
album and recommended him.
Phil: A mighty epic to take you to
an exotic place far away. Yet another departure from the well trodden
rock path with its infusion of island music. It's these off road songs
where Glen really excels. A fine 'piece of work' in anyone's book with
scintillating melody and a strident vocal delivery to suit the message.
Holding your own in a world full of deception.
|Glen: 'Hook In You' is my rewrite of
'I've put a Spell on You' by Screaming J Hawkings. I've always loved
that line "I don't care if you don't want me, I'm yours." I like the
sheer bravado. It's got that attitude.
There was a whole tradition of Blues shouters, they were bar tenders.
They would sing, but because it was loud in the bar they had to have
this bellowing kind of voice - I'm trying to emulate that a bit.
There's a track by INXS on their 'Kick' album produced by Chris Thomas,
called 'The Loved One', it's one of my all time favourite songs - it's
got that kind of vibe. It's got a bit of Big Bill Broonzy in there, he
sang 'Feel So Good' which had a great line "balling the jack." There's
lots of cross references, various homages. It's dark. Earl's done a
fantastic guitar solo and he's played some more Ebow on the track.
Phil: A loud blues powerhouse with
some amazing guitar from Earl which plants the song simultaneously in
multiple genres. The prevailing aura of confidence clear throughout the
album gives the track extra zest with the music pushing beyond the
normal constraints. This assurance is evident in the both the lead and
backing vocals. Lyrically, it's self explanatory, with a hint of self
|Glen: It's a song by Scott Walker
which I've played live for a while now. I just started playing it in
the studio while someone was changing a guitar string, and Earl said
"what's that - can we have a go at it?" He played classical guitar on
it. To me, it's Scott Walker trying to do a Jacques Brel song and
succeeding admirably. The original has the most fantastic dynamic to
it, he did it with a 76 piece orchestra. We didn't have one but we can
overdub! There are timpani kettle drums on it - we only used them
because they were in the studio but they kinda worked.
It's a grand chanson, part of the tradition of French chansonniers
where there's a whole load going on in the lyrics that English speakers
don't understand. Jacques Brel was a part of this tradition, along with
Charles Aznavour and Edith Piaf culminating with people like Serge
Gainsbourg. To me, all that is in that song. I dig all that stuff. The
lyrics are pretty heavy, and very picturesque. Everybody's got a
Montague Terrace. It's part of an album which shows a different side to
Phil: The only cover included in the
collection, a song performed many times live by Glen. Scott Walker's
restless, unsettling song adds to the many varied styles employed on
the album. It does however have one thing in common with its
colleagues, it's a visual tour de force. The fourth song in a row to
show a significant musical side-step, a further testimony to the
benefits of risk taking. Story telling set in a classical environment.
Glen at his atmospheric best.
|Glen: A rockin' rockabilly track, a
Yardbirds meets Hank Mizell type guitar riff. Hank did Jungle Rock -
some old boy all out of key, the little kids loved it! It's in a
similar vein to Sexy Beast. It was another we recorded in Rhinebeck,
the music was done pretty much live. This track has got blistering
guitars on it. I like the middle eight, it goes off somewhere else
totally. Earl does a great guitar solo, really whacked out.
Lyrically, it's about where we are these days - everyone's pulling the
wool over your eyes about this, that and the other, but effectively
they're living in cloud cuckoo land. I did the vocals back in London
with Jim Lowe. I was considering cloud cuckoo land as the title of the
album, but it may not translate in America - they may not pick up on
the Englishness of the phrase.
Phil: Picking up the rockabilly
tempo again it kicks in with a brief refrain reminiscent of 'God Save
Queen' before ploughing its own unique furrow with yet more fabulous
guitar, stretching the song way beyond the confines of traditional rock
'n' roll. Lyrically, it's on message with the album's manifesto - you
won't be mugging this man off anymore.
|Glen: This turned out a bit more
jolly than I meant it to. I actually wrote it about my Dad who passed
away with Alzheimer's. Lyrically, it's all to do with his confusion and
me feeling a bit helpless, trying to help him through and express as
much empathy as possible. A strange kinda taste means a bitter taste to
me. Alzheimer's is a horrible insidious thing that sucks your soul.
It's one day of this, one day of that, you're constantly at loggerheads
with yourself. It's horrible. It can't help but be on your mind when
you pick up a guitar to write a song. So the song is my tribute to my
Dad's last days.
It's what Earl did over the top of the song that makes it a bit more
country sounding. I didn't set out to write a country song, you try
something in the studio and if you like it you go with it. I guess what
I was singing suggested to him to go that way.
I'm a big fan of the song 'Runaway Train' by Soul Asylum and there's an
element of that. There's quite a mood to it. To me, a good song is when
the total is more than the sum of its parts. Like 'Anarchy In The U.K.'
Phil: Extremely personal and
poignant, this dusty rustic song is one of Glen's finest. The anguish
caused by the double edged sword of compassion and frustration when
dealing with the illness of a next of kin, is a topic difficult to
tackle. Glen meets it head on, emerging less morose than you might
expect. This touching, very human story, is ably balanced by the vast
open musical landscape which gives space and life to an otherwise dark
|Glen: Lyrically, it's one of my
favourite songs on the album. It's about how everybody's going bonkers.
If you go on Facebook these days and someone asks what you think about
so and so and you reply "it's OK, but..." within the space of two
replies you've got someone having a go at you. Everyone's so
aggressive, people should chill out a little bit. Take some time out,
take a deep breath, it's not gonna kill no-one. "It won't be no nail in
your coffin, won't be no stitch in your shroud, won't be no runaway
train rolling down the track that's only gonna get derailed." In the
middle eight I qualify it; "there ain't no use denying that all round
the sparks are flying". The line "shootin' the breeze" I got from my
pal Spencer in Atlanta, he says that.
There's a bit of a pickle going on, but we need to take a breath before
we do what we can to deal with it. There's some cross referencing on
the bass line and chord progression - it's got a bit of 'My Baby Just
Cares For Me' by Nina Simone.
Phil: Time for an upbeat toe tapper.
A reflective mature view of life is the order of the day as Glen kicks
back, takes time out from the madness of the modern world and
us all to do the same. A positive, up-lifting, shot in the arm.
|Glen: That's an out and out rocker.
The sentiment of the song is when you feel you've got the right
back-up, you feel you can take on the world. No matter how carefully
you think you've planned something and you're keeping it tight there is
always someone who conspires to pull the rug from under your feet at
the last minute, but if you've got the right backup it doesn't matter
and you don't give a damn and that's what's "worth a couple of hundred
Musically, there's a touch of Eddie Cochran's 'Cut Across Shorty' in
there, just before the singing cuts in. That was an influence.
Lyrically, there's some cross referencing to Was (Not Was) 'Where Did
Your Heart Go', ("come down sometime, we'll eat a rusty can...") and
Captain Beefheart's 'Big Eyed Beans From Venus' along with his
fantastic ballad 'Too Much Time' - you think it's all Sam Cooke then in
the middle eight he goes "sometimes when it's late and I'm a little
hungry I heat up some old stale beans, open a can of sardines, eat
crackers and dream about someone to cook for me!"
Steve New had a fantastic song 'Point It To Your Head' which will sadly
never see the light of day, but hats off to Steve, it went "she's got
the steel wings of angels, she's a tramp and I want her but her wings
they drag in the dirt". It fitted the sentiment I was trying to grasp,
hence the juxtaposition of angels and dirt. When writing a song you
pick things out of the air from your history, things you know about to
build a picture up. Earl liked it, he could show off his Rolling Stones
side, in a way it's like something off 'Exile On Main Street'.
Drum wise, Slim Jim did his Charlie Watts, that easy kind of back beat.
I'm proud of the guitar riff. I like the line "let 'em get to scram",
in other words fuck off, we'll just get on with it ourselves.
Phil: The first of a pair of
forthright gems picked to close the set and it rocks with the best of
them. It also boasts fabulous earthy lyrics that prove easy to identify
with. It's without doubt pacey but musically proves hard to pin down;
it could comfortably sit in any era. That's the beauty of the album as
a whole - it's genre defying.
|Glen: A newer song. The album opens
up with "Ladies and Gentlemen gather round" on 'Won't Put The Brakes On
Me' so people know where you stand, and this final track is about
keeping going right on till the end of the road. They top and tail the
album nicely and both are songs I've recorded since the initial
sessions. Slim Jim is on drums and Chris Spedding plays all the lead
I put the rhythm guitar on the verses down and thought something's
missing, it should be like Bryan Ferry's version of 'The Price Of
Love', the Everly Brothers song. I looked on YouTube and there's a
video of Bryan Ferry playing it with Chris Thomas on keyboards, Paul
Thompson on drums, and Chris Spedding on guitar. I thought Spedding
man, so I called him up and he came down the next day and did the
guitar line, not the same as 'The Price Of Love' but that kind of
I quite like 'Mercy' by Duffy, it's got a kinda bluesy thing going on,
a Duane Eddy-ish sound which Spedding has covered. What I like about
Spedding is that while most guitarists would have it turned up a bit,
he doesn't. To get it to sustain more he works the strings - you can
hear it, he has this Americana feel. There's a hint of 'Motorbikin' in
the solo. He's got all that sound down like Brian Setzer from the Stray
Cats. What I also like about him, he said he didn't want paying 'cos
played on his album! The barter system.
Lyrically, "golden years is what we're told, golden years but where's
the gold?" It's time for a bit of reward. I'm fed up with living in the
past and not being appreciated for what I'm doing now. Also, there's a
good quote by Picasso, along the lines of; "people don't always get
ideas from working hard, but I find that if I work hard that’s when the
good ideas come." You keep on pushing and work your way through things.
Phil: The album comes full circle as
it accelerates to its conclusion with a healthy dose of Glen's life
philosophy. Simultaneously fighting back and pressing forward in both
life and music. Chris Spedding is here, and he too has the heritage and
panache to rise to the challenge with some wonderful touches. There's
no shortage of energy and motion in this closing
to music, I like some actual music in the music! I'm pleased with it. I
once heard Iggy Pop talking to Bowie about his own 'New Values' album.
Iggy said he only liked about half of it. Bowie replied; "What, 6 out
of 12? That's pretty good. I'm pleased if I like 6 songs on my albums!"
I'm proud of more than that, a good 8 or so! They all grow on you for
It's quite personal, but there are some tongue in cheek funny bits in
it. I didn't set out to write a Sex Pistols album and fail miserably.
In my live show I do a bit of everything to keep everybody, including
myself, happy. On record I'm a long way from that. I'm not going to get
on Radio 1, so maybe Radio 6 or Radio 2. I set out to do what I've done
and I think I've achieved it. They are two totally different things.
Due September 2018
Text ©Phil Singleton and Glen Matlock 2018 /
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