When I was a schoolboy punk aged 13 I started writing songs at the beginning of 1979. The 14th song I wrote was Russian Spy – written on January 22nd so it’s now 40 years old. It became instantly popular and has been ever since. Lot’s of people regard it as a hidden or lost gem of the post-punk era. It was recorded a number of times. The 2006 version by There’ll Always Be Diseases I uploaded onto Bandcamp as a single in November 2015 – Can be found here.
Last year (2107) Russian Spy was covered for the first time. Andy Yates recorded a highly amusing electronic-acoustic version – listen here (it’s funny). Then, number of months later, after the Salisbury novichok incident and the exposure of the two male suspects and their subsequent press conference denial Andy added a few words and we performed Russian Spy together at Chorlton Folk Club round the corner from where we live – watch here!
It’s crazy that it’s already 40 years since I wrote those first songs. I just wrote them down in capitals with a felt-tip in a maths exercise book and for some strange reason it started at the back (I often get/do/make things the wrong way round). I couldn’t really play a thing so I made the tunes up in my head, timed them and classified them as F for fast and S for slow. That was about it!