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Original Rude Boy: From Borstal to the "Specials"- A Life in Crime and Music Hardcover – 1 May 2009
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‘A fascinating but harrowing tale of an uneasy life’(Lois Wilson Mojo)
‘There’s a charm –and often downright cheek- in everything this “Rude Boy –made-good” has done… There’s more than enough colourful behaviour to keep you smiling’(Jake Kennedy Record Collector)
‘The book offers an insightful account of 1970s Britain; a time crippled by joblessness and economic gloom, but also uplifted by the new sound of the time: 2 Tone.’(The Voice) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Neville Staple is a singer for the two-tone ska band, The Specials, as well as his own combo, the Neville Staple Band. Along with Ranking Roger, he also sings in Special Beat. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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What you get instead is the other half of 2 Tone's musical heritage. Terry Hall's couldn't-give-a-f*ck post-punk stage presence and Jerry Dammers's art school musical perfectionism are given their dues, but really this is the story of the working class Jamaican kids who brought ska to the Midlands and, through 2 Tone, the world. The first few chapters of the book - Neville's early years in Jamaica, growing up in Rugby and Coventry, his abusive father, riots ands fights with skinheads, the sound system scene, burglary and borstal - read like the source material for films like Scum or This Is England. It's edgy, amoral and fast. However, when he meets the then Coventry Automatics the story soon becomes one of rock 'n' roll excess, infighting and, above all, a sheer love of performing. Then, unfortunately, the Eighties really get going and bubblegum pop becomes the order of the day.
The most striking thing that emerges from the book, however, is the difference in attitude between Neville, fellow roadies Rex Griffiths and Trevor Evans, and the rest of the band. Having grown up poor, black and occasionally criminal, Neville seems like he can't believe his luck - and he certainly doesn't believe it'll last. So, he takes everything he can get - money, girls, booze, drugs and cars - and lives the life of an unabashed rude boy. At times other band members, Jerry and Horace in particular, clearly disapprove - seemingly on political grounds. But whereas Nev's clearly with them on some things - there's a lot of wading into crowds and walloping skinheads and NF thugs - socialist self-denial isn't one of them. In a sense, if the book has an argument, it's that you can't have the ska without the rude boy.
Original Rude Boy is a rough, ready and thoroughly entertaining read - but, as the Britain of 2009 looks back on 2 Tone with nostalgic, rose-tinted specs, it's also a timely reminder of the politically charged, racist, sometimes criminal Britain from which that music literally had to fight its way out.
Not always legal, but dealing with his lot in the only way he knew.
He was & is part of the most influential bands of the 20th century.
Fully recommended for those who remember & to those who may be witnessing the second coming.
- a bit of a ladies man
- thinks rather a lot of himself
Repeat ad nauseum.
Oh, and throw in a couple of stories so elaborate and far fetched, you'll laugh out loud - the one about the alleged car bomb a case in point.
Look, he was a member of The Specials, and it must have been a bum deal growing up a young black man in 70s and to a lesser degree, 80s Britain. But, this book is mostly Neville telling you how good he is, what a naughty boy he can be, how he instigated several ska revivals, created modern English banghra music, at times you wondered if an apple may have fallen on his head he might have claimed gravity was his idea, too?
If you want an account of life in The Specials, look elsewhere.
It's a great read all the way. Lots of photos in there as well. Interesting characters.
I realise this is his point of view on why or how things went the way they did but it's only to be expected and doesn't come over as somebody's biased viewpoint at all.
If you were into ska, 2 tone or any of the groups like The Specials you could be interested in this. Also, if you're into autobiographies with a difference then I'd definitely recommend this. Not like your boring footballer stuff!
There is one aspect of the tale that started to really annoy me and thats the fact that Neville thinks he is the most important person in the whole world when it comes to influencing ska music in other nations. Apparantly the whole of the 3rd Wave was influenced by him.
Anyway, forgive him that and you have a very good read.
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