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London Calling: A Countercultural History of London since 1945 Hardcover – 1 Mar 2010
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"'Miles gets closer than anyone to unravelling the enigma of Zappa.' Daily Telegraph 'Excellent and authoritative.' Daily Mail 'Perfect.' Arena"
A major and definitive history of countercultural London by our pre-eminent chronicler of the cultural underground.See all Product description
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Not only did I enjoy this book but I also learned a lot from it, this is'nt one of those books that just retells the tales you already know. However, and perhaps because this was an ambitious undertaking covering a broad spectrum of arts and times, albeit in a limited geography, it can only be a partial history and I am sure that across the years and across the greater London area there are many more stories that are not told in this book.
From a purely personal perspective I was disappointed that the focus, perhaps not unsurprisingly because of Barry Miles's own past was more literary than musical or artistic, and that the book only really covered the period to the end of the '70s, did counter-culture stop with the Thatcher era? But these are minor grumbles because this is a fantastic book, well written and well structured, that I thoroughly enjoyed and, more importantly perhaps one that has created a thirst in me to learn more about this period and the counterculture vibe; a period and vibe that passed me by; was that because I grew up in Guildford?
I've knocked off one star, simply because good though this book is, it does rather ignore some of the counter-cultural influences and connections that extend outside the charmed bubble of London. Also there were some surprising omissions from the accounts of the Ladbroke Grove, squatting and free festival scene of the late 60s and early 70s - how can you have an account of London's counter-culture without mentioning bands such as Hawkwind?
That having been said it is a good and entertaining read, and had me listening to all my old punk records.