Apathy For The Devil, A 1970's Memoir - Nick Kent

To music devotees of a certain generation, Nick Kent is a name that has almost legendary status. Each Thursday morning, a crisp new copy of the NME would fall through the letterbox, containing pieces penned by him, accompanied by a picture of the article's subject, taken by Pennie Smith. According to legend - and confirmed here - one such afficionado was the teenage Morrissey, who would correspond with him on a regular basis. As one who also fell under Kent's journalistic spell, it was with some interest that I picked up this book.

Each chapter in the book deals with a separate year of the seventies. These detail Kent's emergence from precocious middle class schoolboy (from London, via Wales and back again) to NME journo and beyond. We're told how he developed his writing style, to be at the forefront of "new rock journalism", under the tutelage of Lester Bangs. The style is inspired by the Hunter S Thompson gonzo technique, the writer emersing himself in the environment around the music, taking in the vibe and sharing the thrills. Along the way he would hang out with the likes of the Stones (who he had met initially at a gig when twelve years old), Iggy Pop and Led Zeppelin, as well as briefly playing guitar in an early incarnation of what was to become the Sex Pistols.

Kent also dated Chrissie Hynde and one of the most memorable passages is an account of how they connected through a mutual love of the Stooges. As Kent correctly states at one part of the book, he was flying the flag for the punk ethic from the early seventies - long before Joe Strummer or Malcolm McLaren had moved in that direction.

But not all in the garden was destined to be rosy. There is much about Kent's drug addiction and how he descended into virtual squalour as the decade progressed. He also became something of punk's whipping boy, most infamously at the 100 Club in 1976 when he was attacked with a chain by Sid Vicious. The impact of that period plays a significant part in this story.

To his credit, Kent writes about his darker days openly, candidly and, at times, with some humour. His world view comes across as a positive one, without overbearing nonchalance or regret. And the anecdotes are legendary. I particulary like the one about Keih Moon, which chimes with a description of a particular incident in Tony Fletcher's biography Dear Boy.

Apathy For The Devil is, in parts tragic, in others uplifting and inspirational. It must have taken a lot of guts to get all this down on paper for the world to read - the result is one of rock's more memorable memoirs. It is recommended for anyone who remembers Nick Kent, was listening to music in the seventies, or who has an interest in the period. The next stage will be to dig out his collected works - The Dark Stuff - which includes his seminal pieces on Nick Drake, Syd Barrett and Brian Wilson. That is what I intend to do imminently.

The Wicked Whispers

Liverpool band The Wicked Whispers have been receiving a fair amount of attention of late and, from this video, it's not hard to see why. Dandelion Eyes has a strong psychedelic sound and an edginess that is refreshing in the current musical climate. Haight Ashbury 1966, perhaps. Or, at least what you imagine it might have been like.

The tune is available as a limited edition 7 inch from 27 August. It is available here.

The video, was shot by Liverpool film maker Mark McNulty and is well worth a look.  And those Roger McGuinn fringes are perfection itself.

Check out the band here.


Fred Perry - Generation To Generation

This is another video from the Fred Perry competition that I particularly liked.  It is called Generation To Generation and is from Germany.  The tune "Get High" is from Ralf Luebke of Monkeeman fame.  The video tells a story that anyone who has experienced the passion for the music over the years can relate to.  Plus the brilliance of wearing a Fred Perry, of course.


Fred Perry - Your Videos

Following their "Tell Us Your Story" project, Fred Perry are running a new "Your Video" competition. They have teamed up with film maker Don Letts to produce "six short documentaries that will track the unique relationship Fred Perry has developed with British street style and Subcultures".

The first stage is for videos to be submitted - "your original archive film or footage from 1952 onwards".

The videos so far been submitted posted are on the Fred Perry site. Ranging from short clips in clubs to recent mini-dramas, all have something to say about the brand, the culture and how it inspires subsequent generations.

This is one clip that caught my eye. It is called Recall - Spirit Of The 60's and was produced and directed by Nikki Stevens. It stars Welcome Pariah frontman John Waghorn and music from his band.


The Hobbes Fanclub

It's been a while since my interest has been whetted by a band playing classic indie-pop. That was, until I discovered The Hobbes Fanclub, who I found by chance on a random surf of of the world wide web.

The band hail from Bradford and their website says they are made up of Leon on guitar and vocals, Louise on bass and vocals and Adam on drums. They describe their influences as Ride, Phil Spector, The Jesus And Mary Chain and Teenage Fanclub.    They also remind me a little of Belle And Sebastian and The Wedding Present.

I love the exuberance of their tunes, the passion, the wistful feel of the vocals. Like the memory of eating candy floss on a beach, with the wind in your hair, and the sound of a guitar in the distance. Find out more about them at their Facebook page.  Who says the internet is killing music.

This is The Boy From Outer Space.


Paul Weller Live At The 100 Club

That was an unexpected pleasure. I get home from work tonight and check my Facebook updates. Someone has posted a link to a live stream of Paul Weller's show at the 100 Club courtesy of those nice people at Converse Represent.

So I tune in at 10.05 and am treated to a top drawer performance of tunes from right across Weller's career, from the very first single with The Jam, In The City (I've still got a copy with a battered pic sleeve from 77), through to That Dangerous Age from this year's album Sonik Kicks.

It was a confident set, with the whole band  fired up for the occasion.  Recent albums were well represented, with tunes including Wake up The Nation, Fast Car/Slow Traffic, When Your Garden's Overgrown and The Attic.  Early to mid period Jam songs included a version of Art School from the first album, with vocals shared with Andy Crofts (whose keyboards deserve a particular mention) and the number one single, Start.  And his earlier solo career was represented by very strong versions of Into Tomorrow and Foot Of The Mountain.

All in all, possibly the best live stream I've watched. And the congratulations for Bradley Wiggins' gold medal today was a nice touch.  I hope Weller will be doing a tour soon because, if this was anything to go by, he will be on top form.  The Converse Represent site is worth checking  for news of future shows.