I have long coveted the very hard to find and ever so expensive Ray's a Laugh but neither my budget nor my internet tracking skills have proven up to the task.
So, it was with genuine delight that I found this new errata edition and quickly snapped it up.
Before I go on to the photography itself, lets see what is different about this book.
Well, it is a facsimile edition and it wears its heart on its sleeve. Imagine if you will, a book containing photocopied images that sit within a page and show the edges of the copied book's pages and a hint of its cover. This is basically what this book is but the copies are to a very high quality (which you would expect).
As well as showing all of the plates of the venerated Scalo tome there is a generous and illuminating article to the back that gives us a brief history of Billingham and the evolution of this work.
There is a even a short but highly interesting section about the editing and printing of the book, we even see a copied picture of the front cover of the maquette (courtesy of Martin Parr, who else?)
The photos themselves live up to that 90's hype, sleazy, non-judgemental, grainy, badly focussed yet dripping with emotion and vivid reality. In this age of selfies and the blurring of the lines between private and public lives the impact of this book has perhaps lessened with the years but, at the time of its creation you can easily see how it stirred up the contemporary art world.
I found myself hijacked by Billinghams take on the subject matter, I did not draw judgement or look down on these people, I simply experience their lives for a few, brief moments.
An absolutely seminal book that has a richly deserved (semi) reprint with some added value given with the extras.
An essential read for the photobook enthusiast.