Nikki Sudden: a rooster/shag-haired rock 'n' roll dandy, equal parts Marc Bolan, Ronnie Wood, and Johnny Thunders; co-founder (with late sibling Epic Soundtracks) of '70s avant-punks Swell Maps; a member of the debauched Kevn Kinney/Pete Buck "rolling asunder revue" that barnstormed the East Coast circa 1990; and a much-loved folk/glam/rock troubadour, both solo and with the Jacobites.
The past couple of years have seen a Sudden groundswell thanks to the Secretly Canadian label's reissuing of his '80s output. Ten albums were given the expanded/remastered treatment, most notably 1985's unabashedly brilliant Jacobites waxing, Robespierre's Velvet Basement, and the '89 solo gem Groove. The year 2001 also saw the release of a best-of/rarities compilation, The Last Bandit, and Sudden-spotters can expect a new album fromNikki Sudden & the Last Bandits titled Treasure Island (featuring guest spots from Mick Taylor, Ian McLagan, B.J. Cole, and his old Jacobites crony Dave Kusworth) tentatively slated for a September release once a label deal is secured.
Speaking to the Tucson Weekly's Ron Bally during his last trip to the States in 2001, the always brash Sudden described his boozy-but-literate music along the lines of "English rock 'n' roll like the Stones, Faces, T.Rex, etc. I never thought of myself as indieunderground, maybe. All [my] contemporaries have gone back to delivering milk or become bank managers or dentists." At the same time, said Sudden, it would be nice to surpass "cult artist" status and have his songwriting skills acknowledged in the company of his heroesKeith Richards, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young.
"I think if I was born 10 years earlier, I would've been as big as all those guys. I always felt I deserved a wider audience. But at least I don't have to work. I make a living from music. I have enough to pay my bills and buy Stones bootlegs and electric guitars, so I have no problems with it."
Sudden's mixing some Northwest vacation time this week with a handful of appearances that include an in-store performance Wednesday at Sonic Boom Records and a show at Graceland on Thursday, with longtime friend and frequent collaborator Kevin Junior (of Chicago popsters the Chamber Strings), so with any luck he'll pick up enough mad money to score a few Stones boots. For you punters, it's a chance to see a rock 'n' roll legend in the flesh.
Nikki Sudden plays Sonic Boom Records in Capitol Hill at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 16 and Graceland at 9 p.m. Thursday, April 17 with Kevin Junior and the Turn-Ons. $8.