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Days In The Life: Voices from the English Underground, 1961-71
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 7 September 1999
Jonathon Green's 'Daysn the Life' was a particular revelation to me, finding it as I did in a Singapore airport bookstore. My flight was called, and foolishly I left for Jakarta without buying it, despite having read 20 pages in fascination.
It wasn't until six months later that I bought it and read it and re-read it until it fell apart. The scope of the book is so much greater than just the sixties and its often moribund nostalgia.
As a direct consequence of reading Green's book, I became a writer and wrote my own book on Syd Barrett of the Pink Floyd, whom I learned a great deal about through 'Days in the Life'.
Green was kind enough to allow me full access to his unedited interviews when I met him in London. A charming man with an acerbic and quick wit, Green's book reflects his passionate scholarship.
Suffice to say, I urge you to read 'Days in the Life' post-haste, as well as Green's subsequent 'All Dressed Up'. They are nothing short of remarkable.
Julian Palacios
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 20 December 2002
I have re-read this book a number of times. Jonathon Green selected a wonderful mix of stars, players, winners, cads and losers to participate in this opus. His masterful collating and editing of their tales weaves its way through anything that was interesting about the culture of Britain (well, London really) in the late '50s to the early '70s. The descriptions are so great and well-presented that you can almost smell it: the soggy dufflecoats and greasy hair of the Aldermaston marches, putrid armpit odour wafting around the macrobiotic cafe, UFO and the Roundhouse, the fragrant hum of patchouli and hashish. It's wonderful. And apparently it's a very scholarly piece of work.
Something I find quite poignant is that the characters were interviewed in the 1980s in the midst of Thatcherite greed, bouffant hair and shoulderpads, which makes some of the interviewees almost apologetic for the ways they lived in the '60s. I'd like to think that they would be a little bit prouder of their way of life if the interviews were taking place right now.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 20 July 2000
If you are interested in the '60's then this is a MUST. Jonathan Green has skilfully used interviews from many of the major 'players' in the 60's to take the reader on a roller coaster journey. If you don't like swearing - this is not the book for you. But if you want to read amusing accounts from people who were there - then GET THIS BOOK. It is a must. Personally I bought the book initially for the Steve Peregrin Took (yes as in the other half of Tyrannosaurus Rex with Marc Bolan) references (few and not particularly complimentary) but found that the interviews with many of the people who knew him gave me a far better insight into them as people than I had expected. Bolan 'fans' beware though. The text on Bolan is not complimentary - but every Bolan fan should read it! Many will not want but they SHOULD!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 20 November 2002
I was only 12 in 1971 so the era described in this book is not something I experienced at the time. But as a teenager in the mid-1970s, I was very aware of the turbulence still echoing from the late 1960s-early 1970s. Many of the political and social figures active in that era were still going strong - I can remember seeing the Little Red Schoolbook in a bookshop, and all the controversy that book caused.
For me, Jonathon Green's interviews are highly evocative of an era that seems so different to today's more commercialised world. But I would advise against any nostalgia - some of the descriptions of the mess people got into through over-indulgences of various kinds are very sobering.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 18 July 1999
Days in the Life covers the history of the International Times (IT), early Pink Floyd and Soft Machine, The Pink Fairies, Friends Magazine and much much more via 1st person interviews spliced into a chronological narrative by interviewing 100 people involved in the scene. Green's later book, All Dressed Up, covers some of the same era from Green's point of view. This is an essential read for anyone interested in the history and roots of the UK hippie movement, the music of that era, underground publications and the OZ obscenity trials.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2009
I'd read excerpts "Days in The Life" (I believe it was Robert Wyatt's piece on jazz)in the mod short stories anthology "A Sharper Word" and being enamored with all things U.K. 60's I went for it. I was spellbound. Jonathan Green tackles (through the words of those who lived it of course) everything from beatniks, the Flamingo, mods, Swinging London, Syd Barrett, drugs, The Action, occultism, The Beatles, pop art, Carnaby Street, Michael X, racism, radicals, etc. All of which meshed very well as I'd just finished Gary Lachman's "Turn Off Your Mind: The Mystic Sixties..." and there was loads of cross referencing from trepanning to Aleister Crowley, the Process, "Performance", Hell's Angels you name it. I've read this book at least three times and worry that it might not last (I bought it used) after more readings!
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on 8 January 2015
This is a great read as it is voices from the people who were there and brought about the "Underground" whether they intended to or not. It took me back to the day my elder brother came back from the first Aldermaston march which he had done in winkle-pickers, to finding my dad's badge which said "Free, Stuart Christie - Franco's prisoner, (I still have it) or being recruited into the "White Panthers" whilst I was at college. There are other books that try to tell why the counter-culture ended by the mid-seventies better than this but if you want to wallow in nostalgia, put on some heavy sounds, free your mind and read it in one seating. Far out man!
However, I think that peoples views on how the "underground" changed or didn't change the culture is a little narrow. The people interviewed for the book form a tiny clique who were the ruling elite of the times and they didn't train the telescopes much further than the "Grove". People were doing stuff all over the UK, you only had to read the letters page of IT to realise that. Also the "counter-culture" didn't just role away with the three-day week and the Tories with their "Night Assemblies Bill" etc, it changed location, firstly to the Windsor Free Festival in '74 and then Watchfield in '75.
I feel it was from these events that the Peace Convoy, 'Henge and other counter-culture events like the "Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp" and on into "Rave Culture" evolved. The "underground" is not dead it just doesn't look the same as in did within the smoke filled walls of "UFO", or "Friends" office. Just thought I'd mention it.
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on 19 May 2015
Great book, if like me you grew up in these times, lot's of information, that at the time was unclear. It was a time of optimism, and naivety, but sadly we have come "full circle" since then and returned to a time where advertising and hype have replaced, truth and art.
Today music is all about the media and the image, not about content and reality. Interesting to read today ..........
I would also recommend Richard Neville's "Hippie, Hippie Shake" a great read !!
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 7 April 2013
I would never read this book for fun. Even so, it is worth buying. Historians of the period will find it a gold-mine.

I bought it for some research that I was doing and found it invaluable for this purpose. It consists of a series of chapters on different aspects of Sixties life, within which are many edited interviews with "movers and shakers" of the period, many of whom were destined to become infamous or famous. This does not make for easy reading, although it contains some intriguing, startling and funny anecdotes.

Some of these interviews are utterly fascinating, casting new light on their subjects' lives. Among other things, I read two interviews with the author Duncan Fallowell. Fallowell was at Oxford in the late Sixties and early Seventies, where, as he admits, he abused LSD and presided an LSD-using circle; most of whose members were (then, at any rate) gay or bisexual, as is Fallowell himself. This might not have been such an unusual thing to do at that time, although it was much less usual at Oxford or Cambrdge than at some other universities, and it was still illegal.

It is startling, reading between the lines, to discover who else took LSD with Fallowell. They included Robert Nairac, a military hero was was abducted and murdered by the PIRA in 1977 and later awarded the George Cross; Alasdair McGaw, later Derek Jarman's companion and a film actor; and some future very respectable MPs and other pillars of the establishment. Yesterday's tearaways are today's Garrick Club members.
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