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Nikki Sudden



With his ever-present brightly colored ascots and his archetypally lazy, nasal rock and roll drawl, Nikki Sudden has become one of underground rock's more revered figures over the course of his quarter-century career. His seminal late English '70s post-punk band The Swell Maps (which also featured his late brother, drummer Epic Soundtracks, who went on to start Crime and the City Solution) has exerted a degree of influence on subsequent indie rock artists that rivals that of contemporaries like The Modern Lovers, The Soft Boys, and The Stranglers (Sonic Youth, Pavement, R.E.M., and Wilco are among the many who have cited Sudden and The Swell Maps as an influence). Since then, with his on-again, off-again band The Jacobites and under his own name, Sudden has issued a remarkable volume of material, achieving true cult status.

After the dissolution of The Swell Maps at the beginning of the '80s, Sudden entered a remarkably prolific period of his career, during which he continued to shape the paradigmatically shambolic post-punk melodies for which The Swell Maps were famous but also detoured into arty guitar pop, dirty blues-based garage rock, and even rootsy country-rock. All told, Sudden released more than a dozen records during the decade, including several with his band The Jacobites (which again featured Soundtracks and guitarist Dave Kusworth) and one (Kiss You Kidnapped Charabanc) with Birthday Party guitarist Rowland S. Howard. Now, Indiana-based Secretly Canadian Records has undertaken the noble and rather daunting task of collecting Sudden's hard-to-find recordings from the '80s (as well as some unreleased stuff) with a reissue campaign consisting of five double-CDs.

Nikki Sudden continued to record during the '90s, though somewhat less prodigiously, releasing (among other things) new Jacobites records with Dave Kusworth, an album called The Jewel Thief featuring R.E.M. as the backing band, and a two-disc greatest hits compilation titled The Last Bandit.

"New York" originally appeared on Sudden's 1982 solo album, Waiting on Egypt; "Chelsea Embankment" was on the 1983 follow-up, The Bible Belt.

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