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4.3 out of 5 stars12
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 16 August 2011
Covering the notorious journalist, musician, author and general loudmouth's London years, this book gives a not-so romantic perspective of the swingin' years of the UK capital. Always opiniated, always judging and luckily always being _there_, Farren tells of an uglier side of the hippie dream, and delivers with great bravour, sardonic wit and with a macho style that could be annoying - but is somehow balanced with a hint of young man's despair.
Farren's freak bands certainly were no Pink Floyd, actually you get another level underneath London's underground scene: a sub sub culture. Still, in regards of namedropping, London in the 60s was incestuos as far as who mingled with who (not to mention who played in what band), so they're all there, no worries. As the original freak scene dwindled, a new one took over. A fine anecdote is that of a sneering (when is he not?) John Lydon, measuring Farren's hippie flares and finding them too wide: A new freak scene taking over from the old. The cover image shows him as a rough'n tough doorman for the UFO club (if I remember correctly). And that sort of sums him up: a greasy biker type, living on the outskirts of the hippie dream. Always there, always observing - but not always taking part in the dream itself.
It's a fun read, and your image of the swingin' sixties might be altered forever. Recommended historical read.
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on 8 August 2002
A hugely enjoyable memoir of the 60's and 70's. You get an idea of how colourful Mick Farren's early career (as a musician, journalist and agitator) was by looking at the his own entry in the index: ''at House of the Chinese Landlord, 3, 5-13... selling clockwork jumping dogs, 5... transvestite gunfighter period, 65... running door at UFO, 77-83... meets Jimmy Hendrix, 97-8... oral sex at Roundhouse, 100-1, 103... police work over, 134... Great Nitrous Oxide Heist, 320-2... Synaptic Manhunt, 354... affair with Julie Burchill, 368-70...' He tells some wonderful anecdotes, like the one about a gang of grunting bikers getting into a hippie club with the intention of beating up some 'freaks', but getting seduced by a crack team of peace-keeping flower-goddesses before they'd thrown a single punch. It's amazing how easy it seems to have been back then to put together a band, record an album, start a club, publish a newspaper, or organize a rock festival, on a whim. I've never read a better evocation of the era.
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on 22 September 2013
Terrific autobiography by a man who was the catalyst for a number of underground/alternative ventures moving from early 60s squalor in Ladbroke Grove to the formation of The Deviants -- Farren's terrible proto punk band; the perpetrators of 'Billy the Monster' 'Let's loot the Supermarket ' (while we've got the chance) and other underground classics.

From the power struggles within the underground newspaper IT, of which he in partnership with Edward Barker edited with humour and visual panache, to the anarchic chaos of Phun City which he instigated the IoW anarchy and the Old Bailey Trial of 'Nasty Tales' His input and influence on the youth culture of the 70's changed the game.

No fan of authority, tells the whole story in concise and moving style and deals with his own, occasionally delicate, mental states with passionate honesty detailing the highs, lows, betrayals, affirmations, loves, losses, sex,drugs,magic and music of his life with large helpings of incisive cultural and political observations,opinions and analysis.

Ladbroke Grove before Hugh Grant and his ilk colonised it was another country, an counter cultural oasis all chronicled by MF, who recently died, in this terrific autobiograhy.

Ride on Mick, come back soon---- you were a prophet without honour in your own country and your achievements deserve to be remembered. A terrific book whether you there or not and a masterclass in honest self examination.
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on 27 January 2010
A most enjoyable read. I am amazed that anyone could drink so much booze and swallow so much pills and smoke so much dope and cigarettes and manage to survive, let alone write a pretty funny, witty, sardonic and interesting book. Well done Mick. If you are still alive that is.
I detected quite a bit of insecurity between the lines, nicely captured. I was surprised that such a rebel was so afraid of going to jail. So thanks for sharing that also.
Recommended to anyone who wants to do research on the London underground scene during the halycon days of the Sixties or those nostalgic for those crazy days.
Well written, candid and very human.Mind Bomb
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on 9 December 2003
Farren is at his best when recounting stories that are not directly about himself - like first seeing Dylan or Jimi Hendrix in concert, or attending the IT launch at the Roundhouse, or the Technicolor Dream in '67. In his colourful and descriptive, often humorous style, he imparts a sense of having been present at delicious moments in cultural history. Unfortunately this only fills about 10% of his book. The other 90% comprises his opinions, judgements, contradictions and stories about his band - all presented in a macho aggressive style that appears to mask a deep insecurity. (He is at his most likeable when he comes close to acknowledging this). That he is still edgily re-justifying actions he took 35 years ago suggests that deep down he isn't really sure about the value of what he's done at all. Ultimately his drunken, out-of-it, often plain wreckless 60's and 70's deeds, and the gung-ho re-telling of them, position him not as counterculture agent du change, but as spiritual godfather to that most questionable of cultural movements : laddism.
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on 16 September 2007
Farren was at the centre of swinging-London from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies, so there really should be more great stories - clearly some things escaped him. My favourite, however, is meeting John Peel and Germaine Greer at a Who gig and Germaine going home with him rather than a put-out Mr Peel. Re other comments on this page, I think Farren makes a bold effort to glamourise as much as possible, more in an effort to entertain the reader rather than as a sign of his own insecurity.
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on 5 May 2004
This book is nothing like I expected it to be. The hippy counter-culture subject matter of the book provides perfect material for a skilled raconteur such as Mick Farren. If you can relate to the subject matter and enjoy listening to somebody who can tell a good story then this book will make you laugh.
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on 26 January 2016
The essential, definitive account, from personal experience, of the British Underground press and the musicians who paved the way for the later Punk movement. Farren's writing is intelligent, humorous and enlightening.
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on 26 September 2013
This is a wonderfully written, funny, sad, intelligent, poetic, fun book. He describes his life in literature, music and the press in his familiar sardonic manner. A pleasure to read. R.I.P my man.
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on 18 November 2014
Good fun read. Farren sounds like a hippy pain in the neck though. But you cannot help liking him in the end. RIP
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