This is the third Simon Spence book that I have read. He is a very talented music journalist from Manchester with a taste for documenting, wild, stylish cultural movements that have emerged from the Madchester craziness. Excess All Areas covers perhaps the most successful and innovative band to have ridden the early acid house craze that swept the nation in the mate 1980s. With the charismatic Shaun Ryder heading up the band, a true hedonist, a notorious substance abuser, it was always difficult for the true Happy Mondays to translate through the myriad web of journalists who tried to document them. Ryder, much to the annoyance of most of the musical backdrop of the band, Paul Ryder (Bass), Gary Whelan (Drums), Paul Davis (keyboard), Mark Day (Guitar), Mark ‘Bez’ Berry (dancer), got into a habit of blagging the press and feeding them over the top exaggerations of the band’s history and exploits. In hindsight, this was pure marketing genius and led to much of the mystery and notoriety that paved the way for success. However, it sifting all the bullshit, has made the writing of this book that much more difficult for Simon Spence. The early days of a relatively privileged middle class upbringing contrasts with the bunch of Manchester council estate ‘scallies’ they tried to portray themselves as. Sure there was petty crime and shopflifting etc. but nothing serious, although perhaps the addition of Bez to the group was actually verging on real true life crime as he obviously was up to the neck in it as a youngster and quite obviously expanded his mini empire quite a lot under the guise of being part of the band…. Manchester Giants, Factory Records and Tony Wilson picked up the band and signed them which paved their way to success following the ilk of luminaries Joy Division and New Order and allowing them direct access to one of the UK’s most influential music venues, the Haçienda. It all happened at just the right time for this band, as the cultural rebellion against failed Thatcherism took hold of the UK’s disillusioned youth masses and expressed itself in the ‘Acid House’ movement. Ecstasy-fuelled, fashion shifts, mass movement and gathering of people in raves, parties and festivals, vast increase in polydrug clubbing and mainstream ending of anti-drug taboos. A lot of this movement was driven by DJs and the Mondays’ uniqueness was that they…
I am a massive fan of Joy Division and feel that the band’s greatness has always been tainted by lead singer, Ian Curtis’ early death. He was a modern day British Jim Morrison, a trapped poet, muse to millions. This book, a heartfelt examination of the real man by his loving wife, serves as a poignant celebration of Ian Curtis. The biography is intimate in its detail and we are not just scratching the surface here but getting a true glimpse of what made this dark poet tick. His early fascination with a young death and suicide provide a recurring theme. From poverty through to a point where huge success was imminent and all their material worries would be over, Ian Curtis killed himself at the cusp of true legend status for his band. He has a mixed relationship with his wife, ultimately forcing her to endure a rock n roll affair through his Belgian mistress. He was truly torn and love ultimately did tear him apart. I found the struggle with epilepsy to be the underlying factor that drove Ian Curtis to death. It must have been horrific to live with such a chronic condition and yet he still rarely missed a live performance and maybe the forthcoming trip to America was just one jettison too far? This book is thoroughly readable, a true page-turner. I feel, having read it, closer to Ian Curtis and indeed one of my most favourite bands.
Another refreshing hour’s blend of music in the Wez G Sessions radio show, episode 9 :::TRACKLISTING::: 1. Jinny – Keep Warm (Original Extended Mix) [Multiply Records] 2. Portishead – Sour Times [Go! Discs] 3. Bjork – Big Time Sensuality [One Little Indian] 4. Nush – Nush [UMM] 5. Lou Reed – Walk On The Wild Side [RCA] 6. Belinda Carlisle – Circle In The Sand [Virgin] 7. Al-Pha-X – Punjabi Love Affair [Bar De Lune] 8. Castle Trancelott – Indoctrinate (Original Mix) [Slate] 9. Manu Chao – Je Ne T’aime Plus [Virgin] 10. Goldfrapp – Forever [Mute] 11. Run D.M.C. – Sucker M.C.’s (Krush Groove 1) [Profile Records] 12. Joy Division – No Love Lost [Universal] 13. Thievery Corporation – Culture Of Fear [Eighteenth Street Lounge Music] Wez G Sessions Episode 9 by Wez G on Mixcloud
This week’s show has a predominantly dance flavour, with some burned vinyl from the Wez G vaults to compliment the mp3s and wavs. :::TRACKLISTING::: 1. Inner City – Good Life [10 Records] 2. Joy Division – Transmission [Factory] 3. Opus III – When You Made The Mountain [PWL International] 4. Röyksopp – Tricky Tricky [Wall Of Sound] 5. Chambao – Chambao [Sony Music] 6. Stakker – Humanoid [Westside Records] 7. Afrika Bambaata – Planet Rock [21 Records] 8. Primal Scream – Higher Than The Sun (A Dub Symphony In Two Parts) [Creation Records] 9. Telefon Tel Aviv – Lotus Above Water [Hefty Records] 10. Bent – Magic Love (Ashley Beedle’s Black Magic Vocal Mix) [Sport] Wez G Sessions – Episode 5 by Wez G on Mixcloud