A GUEST CONTRIBUTION FROM MICKY HAZARD

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In 1994 I went to see Pop Will Eat Itself in Leeds, they were on tour promoting their latest album, I forget what it was called, it’s not really relevant to be honest. I got there early because Ash were also on the bill and I really wanted to see them as well. I was alone – my mates were all turning up a bit later and we’d made a half arsed plan to meet by the Merch stall around 8pm. The hall was about one third full – mainly full of kids awaiting Ash – everyone else was either not there or in the bar.

I got myself a pint and ambled down to the stage area. A bloke was on stage tuning a guitar and doing the “1,2, 1,2 Check” thing that they do. I remember briefly speaking to a lad I knew who dressed head to foot in Poppies gear. Then the lights went off and the opening bars of “Info Freako” by Jesus Jones blared out – and two minutes later four guys ambled onto the stage – hang on I thought, this is not Ash. Ash would have bound on stage, thrown drinks everywhere and then burst into ‘Kung Fu’. These guys picked up their instruments, and kind of just stood there.

Who are this lot then? I said to the Poppies chap next to me. “They are The Badgers”, he said, “Student band, they have won a competition to play tonight”. Oh I said taking a deep gulp of my beer. Then they started to play….

Folks, every now and again a band comes along that changes your life. For some it is the attitude, the swagger, the coolness. For others, it’s the tunes, the lyrics, the way the music takes a hold of you and pulls you in. For some it’s the way the singer stands, or the way the guitarist seems otherworldly or the way the drummer, erm, drums, actually its never the drummer is it, forget that bit. The Badgers had all that and then some. I knew right there and then I was watching rock history. In hundreds of years time, people would talk about this gig – and with any luck The Badgers would come to be worshipped in a Bill and Ted ‘Wild Stallions’ style future life. I was there people. I was there.

I stood open mouthed as the band rattled through a couple of songs, there was no interaction with the crowd, just song after song, each one an absolute belter. The singer had this voice that held your attention, but for me it was the guitarist that made this band – in a way that Oasis were nothing without Noel Gallagher or The Smiths were just a pub band without Johnny Marr. He was slightly older, ok, noticeably, older than the rest of the band and his hair was atrocious. He wore stone washed jeans with massive rips in the knees – he was so uncool, but man he could play guitar. You know that song ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’ when the devil challenges Johnny to a ‘fiddle contest’ and Johnny kicks his arse – if the devil challenged this chap to a guitar slinging contest – he would get just as roundly beaten. He was the John Noakes of guitar playing and I stood there and wildly applauded him.

Twenty minutes later the singer spoke. “Thanks” he said, “This is our last song, its called “Glenn Hoddle’s Ghost”. This was the only song that they had said the name of. “We are The Badgers, and this is our last ever gig”.

What?????!!!!!

Wait – you are the future of rock, what do you mean its your last ever gig. I was gobstruck. I stood there – a band who I had just discovered, were now just walking away, into the dark corners of the Student Union at Leeds University without a word. You can’t let a guitarist like that just walk out and go and do something else like sit in an office. In years to come this chap should be the Minister for Music, not standing in some crumbling building messing up tea orders for people and then sitting at a desk playing solitaire for three hours solid.

‘Glenn Hoddle’s Ghost’ is everything a song should be, over seven minutes long, full of swirling guitars and a catchy chorus of simply ‘Let’s Get It On, Yeah’. It also contains the greatest guitar wig out at the end of a song ever. Better than ‘I am the Resurrection’, and certainly better than the last track of ‘Picture Book’ by Simply Red, something I never thought I would ever type.

Then that was it, they walked off stage, to a blur of lights and the polite applause of about forty people. I was incensed, they don’t deserve polite applause, they deserve cheers and a clamour for an encore you morons. I leapt on stage YOU HEATHENS! I shouted, YOU IDIOTS I shouted, THIS BAND, THIS BAND…I never finished as the security guys grabbed me and threw me against a wall and slightly bruised my shoulder – but the crowd, they knew, they knew.

I didn’t see Ash or Pop Will Eat Itself, largely because I was thrown out of the venue, but actually I didn’t need to, I had seen the future of rock. I didn’t care about Ash anymore. Though I tried and tried to track down some of The Badgers music – I failed, largely because they were a student band who’d never recorded anything. But I never gave up hope. I tried at University to find out who was in the band, but they’d vanished. I thought once that I saw the guitarist once in Leeds City Centre but then realised it was a street cleaner and I was mistaken.

So I turned my back on indie rock music that minute because no matter how much of it I listened to – none of it came close to The Badgers, I mean Reef came very close to matching The Badgers style and passion, but ultimately I decided that they were just as shite as all the others. I threw myself into the comfort blanket of Radio 2 friendly pop, I embraced bands like The Lighthouse Family, and particularly Simply Red (who I’d already liked to be honest) and I was happy. I appeared on Popmaster with Ken Bruce and got 17 points. I didn’t the 3 in 10 though. It was the Manic Street Preachers and I hated them.

Then about two weeks ago – twenty one long years later. I was on line looking for something else and there it was ’Glenn Hoddle’s Ghost’. I bought it immediately and played it. It all came back, that swirling guitar, that massive drumming, that earwormy chorus.

You know what I did, I deleted everything from my iPod, no more ‘Jenny from the Block’, no more ‘Lifted’ , no more ‘Wonderwall’, I toyed with the idea of keeping ‘Fairground’ by Simply Red but ultimately I didn’t need it. I had every song ever recorded right there in that perfect seven minutes of music.

So there is no Imaginary Compilation, you don’t need one – you just need this one song – you just need ‘Glenn Hoddle’s Ghost’. Do what I did – delete your music collection, and just have this.

mp3 : The Badgers – Glenn Hoddle’s Ghost

If anyone know what happened to The Badgers, particularly the guitarist, please contact me through JC.

Thanks.

JC adds……

Given that this was the main act of the night, I couldn’t let this post pass without including this:-

mp3 : Pop Will Eat Itself – Karmadome

It’s a tune much loved by a mate whose birthday just happens to be today.