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one of the best...,
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This review is from: Memoirs of a Geezer: Music, Mayhem, Life (Paperback)
Read this while catching up with things I'd bought earlier on in the year. This book had sunk down the pile after a friend who'd read it assured me it was "really boring" because "he keeps going on about religion". Luckily a few PIL sessions got me to pick it up again. I did head straight for the punk/PIL chapters mid-book to begin with, & JW tells a fascinating story. He's not afraid to name names in his view of how PIL went wrong, or in dealing more generally with the exploitative b/s aspects of the music biz.
From there i went back to the beginning, tho the "my childhood" bit in biogs can so often be a sentimental bore. Not here tho. JW's account of his family's antecedents & East End roots is really absorbing, going into great detail about the subtleties of the relationships & histories of the different communities.
Equally the post-PIL story is just as interesting, with the story of his personal evolution from speed, booze & violence to a deeper understanding of life, running alongside the stories of his different musical activities & collaborations. And to my mate who found it "really boring" - the spiritual/Chinese culture sections only account for a small part of the book actually (& they're usually in italics if you're that desperate to avoid them. I defy anyone to hold back from smiling when he recounts his pleasure at getting his compilation out on legendary reggae label Greensleeves.
There are also some great laugh-out-load moments - especially in the section about TV (don't expect to see him alongside a certain "glorified pub piano player" on Later! again), or a lovely tale of how Sean Hughes discovers that "you can take the boy out of the East End, but..."
Some Guardian Society readers will no doubt object to his views on how his part of the East End has changed to the point where he can no longer live there, identifying the twin menaces of crack-related crime & violence, & hardcore Bangladeshi Islamism. He's equally scathing (& again names names) abt middle-class arty types who've colonised areas like Shoreditch, forcing up prices, but who refuse to engage with the local community.
I came to it late, but this is one of the best of the many music-related books I've read in the last year. And "Journey to Croatan" has got to be one of the best bass-lines ever!