Patrik Fitzgerald was a one man Punk Rock band, the first guy I remember being tagged with the label "the Punk Poet". Before signing with a major label and releasing this album he made 3 fantastic EP’s for Small Wonder Records, “Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart EP”, “The Backstreet Boys EP” and “The Paranoid Ward”.
These EP’s bought him major label attention and he signed with Polydor to make “Grubby Stories”. The bulk of the album is Patrik and his acoustic guitar but on 7 of the 17 songs he plays with a band including Robert Blamire of Pentration, John Maher from Buzzcocks and producer Pete Wilson.
The songs are mostly very short. Only 4 on the whole album clear 3 minutes and of the first seven songs none of them clear 2 minutes. The highlight of the album for me is “All The Years Of Trying” a proper epic at just over 4 minutes ! It features bass, drums and piano/keyboards and tells the tale of a failing musician who finally has the hit, finishing on the repeated line “Now you are a suck-sess”…autobiographical ? Maybe but Patrik never had that elusive hit (although there’s a song here called “When I Get Famous” so maybe he really wanted to be). “Ugly As You” and “Nothing To Do” mirror the themes of songs from the EP’s; “Adopted Girl” is the first of the band songs, it doesn’t veer far from the acoustic songs; “My Secret Life” is a little kitchen sink drama; “Little Fishes” equates life to being the proverbial little fish in a big pond. Songs about the concerns of the time as reflected via Punk.
I loved the EP’s, there’s not a song here as good as “Safety Pin…”, “The Backstreet Boys” or “The Cruellest Crime” from those EP’s but this album takes me to a time and place and it’s a great reminder that record companies used to take a chance on stuff like this. I was lucky enough to see Patrik live when he opened for The Jam in 1978. I’ll always remember that tiny little figure on the huge Birmingham Odeon stage in front of a partisan Jam audience while I strained to hear the songs I knew from his EP’s. But I got to see him. He’s still making music, he released an EP in 2021, and long may he continue to do so.
Make It Safe - https://youtu.be/oWKVxtQY6T4