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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The birth of modern Manchester, 10 May 2006
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This review is from: I Swear I Was There: The Gig That Changed the World (Paperback)
The first version of this book followed in the wake of the Granada Television documentary of the same name. This time around, version two digs deeper, provides more revelations and delves into the psyche of those who swear they were there.

So what is it all about? In a nutshell, two students would invite the Sex Pistols to Manchester, a move that would transform the local music scene in the city forever. The students in question would become better known as Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto, founder members of the Buzzcocks.

The television researchers pulled together an impressive array of participants who really were there. The book itself brings together original interview transcripts recorded for the show along with brand new interviews, all linked by informative and insightful explanations and information. In this respect, the book works well and is structured to allow the story to unfold in a documentary fashion.

Beginning with a forward by Howard Devoto, we get to hear of his trip to London with Pete Shelley in search of Malcolm McLaren's shop and the subsequent invitation they made to the Pistols to play in Manchester. This they would do twice, on 4th June and the 20th July 1976, both at the Lesser Free Trade Hall. If, however, Howard didn't have the use of a friend's car one particular weekend it's likely they would never have made it to London and the whole musical revolution in Manchester, if not throughout Britain, might never have happened.

The impact of the Pistols on Tony Wilson (then the presenter of 'So It Goes' on Granada) led in turn to the Pistols appearing on the show. One interesting snippet (which wasn't mentioned in the documentary) is the confirmation that the end of the Pistols' performance of Anarchy In The UK had been doctored prior to transmission, by the director, Peter Walker. Why? The reasons are all here.

A second edition of the book seemed inevitable. The documentary coupled with the first book led to more interest and more revelations. Important parts of the jigsaw have now been filled, with important additional input from Steve Diggle, John The Postman, and (thanks to [...] the elusive Solstice, the support band at the June 4th concert, who had hitherto been impossible to find.

Contributions from the likes of Glen Matlock, Jordan, Mick Rossi and Wayne Barrett (Slaughter And The Dogs), Tony Wilson, and many more involved at either the live shows or 'So It Goes', provide a sense of balance as the sea change caused by the Pistols' first appearance at the Lesser Free Trade Hall swept all before it, including the truth in some cases. Often highly amusing (Clive James gets a good trashing!) the book contains some stunning rare photographs that originally appeared in the long forgotten fanzine, Penetration. These pictures help bring the accounts of the night to life. Just check the cover shot - a crowd of confused and bemused punters look on bewildered as the Sex Pistols turn the world upside down.

With the subject being scrutinized like never before; no myth is taken for granted. An inspired piece of work that will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in the Sex Pistols, punk rock, or the birth of the Manchester music scene.
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