Monday, January 02, 2006

Rock 'n' Roll Tales

A slight regret is that I haven’t managed to read as much as usual this holiday. I did throw myself keenly at the John Peel/Sheila Ravenscroft biography ‘Margrave of the Marshes’. Like many Peel fans, I was disappointed to discover that his autobiography was only half-written when he died a year or so ago but ‘The Pig’ has completed the book with honesty and humour. It is certainly not a lesser book because of her contributions although the trademark Peel wit lights up the first third with fascinating tales of surviving public school and the army before embarking on a DJ career in Texas. Although tales of the famous and infamous abound, the glimpses into the home life of Peel are equally compelling. I wish he was still around.

I’m currently reading ‘Time Travel’ by Jon Savage, a collection of the rock journalist’s essays, features and reviews from a variety of publications including Sounds at the time punk exploded. Early pieces include reviews of seminal Clash and Pistols gigs as well as appraisals of key groups (Penetration, Magazine, Subway Sect and Throbbing Gristle) emerging away from the epicentre of the punk movement. Savage’s key work on punk, ‘England’s Dreaming’ is quite a scholarly, academic tome but ‘Time Travel’ is more vivid and captures the zeitgeist of the late seventies underground scene vibrantly and with the insight of the enthusiastic insider. I’m fascinated.