Patti Smith – ‘Just Kids’
In ‘Just Kids’ Patti Smith recounts her early years in New York City. It’s her coming of age and her love song to her friend, artist Robert Mapplethorpe. It’s a beautiful piece of work that stays with you long after you’ve read it. One day Hollywood will try to make a film out of this book and completely fuck it up. Don’t wait for the film, read this now.
Mike Doughty – ‘The Book Of Drugs’
Former singer/guitarist/songwriter with the band Soul Coughing, Mike Doughty has written a book full of spit and bile. An extraordinarily witty read and not merely a story recounting a band’s rise and fall. As the title suggests, Doughty has another story he wants to tell us.
Billy Idol – ‘Rebel Yell’
I loved Generation X but have to say that once they had broken up and Billy headed off to the USA to begin his solo career I kinda lost interest in him. Sure I loved having a stomp about to ‘White Wedding’ and ‘Rebel Yell’ on the drunken dance floors of my youth, but I never took him seriously once he went solo.
However, having now read his book I have a new found respect and admiration for the man, both musically and personally. It took some guts to head out to NYC after the demise of Gen X and it took a genuinely creative soul to absorb the culture of the city and filter it into his music.
What I mostly enjoyed about the book was that it seemed obvious to me that Billy had actually sat down and written it himself. Unlike, for instance, John Lydon’s recent biog’ there is an honesty that flows throughout the writing, as opposed to yet more of Lydon’s ranting into a dictaphone for some other poor soul to make sense of.
Andy Blade – ‘The Secret Life Of A Teenage Punk Rocker’
Andy Blade was indeed a teenage punk rocker, he fronted the band EATER who, unfairly in my eyes, only ever seem to get a mention for their very young ages. Their only album ‘The Album’, released in 1977 is a killer piece of juvenile angst. In his book Andy gives us the inside take on the social scene of London’s Punk scene of the late 70’s. Some corking yarns told with great wit.
Chris Connelly – ‘Concrete, Bulletproof, Invisible & Fried – My Life As A Revolting Cock’
I played a couple of shows with Chris in the USA in the early 2000’s. I was surprised to find myself in the company of such a gentle, polite and intelligent man, given the notoriety of his former band, The Revolting Cocks. I can only assume that no lawyer ever cast their eyes over this book before it went to print and to be honest, I’m amazed that Chris or any of the other leading players in this book made it through such extraordinary times.
Peter Hook – ‘Unknown Pleasures- Inside Joy Division’
I love Hooky and I love the music of Joy Division. But I gotta say, I absolute hate the mythologising of Ian Curtis and/or Joy Division. Judging by this book, so does Hooky. Instead of adding to the journalistic legend Hooky recalls his mate as youthful, intelligent, funny, troubled and, sadly, ill.
It’s a story much like most band’s beginnings, playing shitty clubs, rehearsing in freezing cold industrial rooms and riding around in the back of knackered old vans. Only most bands didn’t manage to come up with the music that Joy Division came up with and really, that’s all that sets them apart, the music. It’s a great read and Hooky becomes ever more loveable through his honestly and lack of ego.