FUNGALPUNK - BOOK REVIEWS
 
 

DWANE READS - THE ANNOYING MEGAPHONE PIGEON

Published by Piggyback Press this DIY collection of word wanking wizardry comes from the angular cerebral junction found in the noggin of one Dwane Reads, a man who is quite adept at taking the most obscure or overlooked aspects of life and turning them into to something most notable and worthy of a second thought (no easy thing, believe me).  Having witness the guy strut his verbal stuff on a couple of occasions I was keen to browse through the written material in my own time and in many different situations and did so with much eagerness of mind.

Initial thoughts came after many scribblings were pondered and as I turned each page and read the next textual construction I started, I believe, to understand the inner machinations of the composing creature at hand.  Tales here are varied and contain a certain ambiguity at times that forces you to revisit the rhyme and re-assess just were the author is coming from and where the hell he may end up.  I like this aspect, sometimes being too blatant is almost vulgar and takes away a particular mystique so many overlook as the key to pseudo-success.  Situations under the radar are many, from sitting on a bus, racing down a motorway, indulging in a bit of skip-ratting to doing a bit of happy shopping or finding oneself locked in a toy shop.  The people under the spotlight are equally varied from the loved and loathed to exhibitionists, drunkards, rebels, hen-pecked 'erberts and frustrated public sector workers.  Angles of quirkiness maintain extra interest with particular favourite moments for me being concerned with fish, nutcases, being muted, a pair of new shoes, clowns and public house sales.  There is a vast array of subject matter covered - all done so in an individual and perhaps anarchic way that makes this a most admirable collection to consider.  One of the most rewarding aspects is the fact that Mr Reads doesn't adhere to idiot guidelines and somewhat goes ad lib and gung ho with emphasis on a severe naturalness you can't escape from, for this aspect alone he should be applauded.

My overall feelings regarding this book is of a product that is best left always available, as it is one of those offerings you will  want to continually return to and nibble at.  It needs dropping into over and over again and will bring repeated pleasure and a feeling of DIY clarity that re-emphasises that anyone can get up and have a go at doing something for themselves for the sheer love of it.  That is a marvellous feeling and something we should be bloody well grateful for.  Good work all round, go get your copy and cultivate creation.

   

DOWN AND OUT AND UP AGAIN - REVEREND J ALUCARD

There are some right 'cunts' about, you had better believe it. There are some cunts that do nothing and some cunts that do as much as they can! The cunt who wrote this book falls into the latter category and comes out smelling of praiseworthy roses and looking like a right old champion. He is still a cunt though but I like cunts that do!

What we get here is a semi-self explanation of ones life, how the Reverend came to be, how he scrapes by and what means he uses to get from various A's and B's in life as well as a few X, Y and Z's. The textual twaddle is shovelled high with cute manipulation that shows a soul who has been tortured, will remain tortured but who won't lay back and just give in. Restlessness brings tales of peregrination, sagacity brings to the fore a thinking mans insight into a variety of situations and honesty makes this the most applaudable and appreciable read you could honestly ask for. What we find is a man out of sync with the system, a man tickled by the natural things in life, a man who is quite happy flowing to where he is going. Amid the peregrinations comes inside information on how to handle birds of prey, how to be an entertainer and how to deal with drugs and truly kick the enslaving fuckers into touch. The obsession with eclipses takes over and drags our wanderer here and there over the grimy globe and through his unflowered peepers we see a shit-stained reality given a strange hope, a hope that is built on simple mindedness and unpolluted clarity - what more could you ask for? It is a lucid perspective, someone trying to get through this mire called life and make some sense of the whole darn conundrum - go on lad, give it thy best!

I bought this book from the author, he is a right grand chap, no airs and graces, no tick box tassels. He sells copies when he can, like a street peddling urchin on the cadge and asks for nothing in return, only the fiver you happily part with. We are hopping to catch up and go on a fungal wander somewhere - judging by this it will be an interesting foray, oh aye. The main theme of this book is a DIY ethic - yes you can get up and 'Do It Yourself' and for that reason you, as any self respecting free-thinker, should purchase this tome! Go on, don't be the wrong type of cunt for goodness sake!
   

ANGER IS AN ENERGY - JOHN LYDON

John Lydon/Johnny Rotten is a bugger.  A downright angular, awkward, unpredictable bugger who makes mistakes, has numerous flaws, tries to maintain a honest approach (oh the silly sod) and does things his own way, without thought for rules and expectations - and of course there ain't nothing wrong with that.

The book here is completely open and has our marmite man shooting from the hip, quivering his ever-twitching lip and saying things he may regret, he may be proud of but, at the time, he very much believes in.  Throughout the text we get a warts and all approach with many relatable tales about the gripes of life and the worries many of us are victim to.  This dude, for some inexplicable reason, has been put on a pedestal (no, no I think ye all miss the point) and yet still has the ability to ruffle many feathers (not difficult in a world of deceit) - and why not?  For me, the man is just another bloke striving to do things his way, with a mouth as a weapon and struggling to shake off the perpetual dross many like to fling out there.  In truth he does himself no favours and during the textual twattology is quite happy to hold his hands up and admit to his failings and his more positive aspects.  Some ramblings are delightfully cringe worthy, many are real heart wrenching snippets of a chap who, at the end of the day, is a human being with a caring old soul in a very antagonised frame.  I like that, I like the controversy that is created and I like the fact that even after all these years the bastard still has me wondering what contradiction he will come up with next.  A very important point that arises (and even now some still don't thoroughly grasp) is that Lydon loves music, loves stretching boundaries and hates being indolent and non-creative - and good fuckin' on him for that.  He his also fiercely loyal, has almost self-destroying wicked humour and never knows when to keep that yapper under the wrapper - what more can anyone ask?

So would I advise you to read this - well of course?  For what reason - well, to show that people are people, are far from perfect and can be very misrepresented by the whole media machine and the warped expectations of society.  Lydon certainly has put his jacksie on the line, he most definitely highlights here that he can be a right twat to get along with, be he also thoroughly indicates that he is trying as best he can to get things moving.  A pain in the arse, a pompous pudding, a pioneer, a paradox incarnate liable to upset the most genteel of people - the tale is a discombobulating account of someone pitched in at the deep end and striving for some sense of reason behind all the fuckin' madness out there - oh heck!

   

PUNK ROCK NURSING HOME - MARCUS BLAKESTON

Andy T opens proceedings with an insightful introduction that warns us about the hazards of a short memory and the pushing to one side of many a governmental atrocity that, in stark truth, has affected us all - for the worse. It is a heartfelt opening and we wonder what course we are on within the following textual journey.

What we basically have on our hands here is a bittersweet short story loaded with sadness, poignancy and a sub-textual message that hatred should be maintained for those that do more damage than many suspect. Once again we have an easy read with many cute touches, heart wrenching moments and an utterly believable storyline. The fact the author calls on his created history, takes a little of himself and adds to the equation, keeps the punks foul and consistent, maintains the natural everyday essence and immediately involves the reader with a futuristic yarn that is a little too convincing to be browsed by. The characters are ones we all know and although obviously caricatured to a limited extent it adds to the comical aspect of the yarn and nicely keeps one semi-smiling throughout (one's even called Fungal although I have no plans to grow old for sure). Blakeston has a simple off the cuff style that gradually and most assuredly lets you know he is well versed in what he writes about. He also has a textual talent that will only get better as time ploughs on if he keeps those fingers tapping the keys. The ageing rockers and their still rebellious ways shows old dogs still have bite and although I am a believer in moving forward many who love their trips down memory lane and keeping the nostalgia alive will appreciate this. The only criticism I have is that the punky people are almost too basic, too predictable in their ways and I would find it utterly disappointing if this is how many of the scene end up turning out (although as I look around me I can see no alternative for many). Freshness of thought and noise is a personal thing though and yet again I bet I am in the minority.

The end verdict is a positive one though due to Blakeston's easy manner and quite accurate insight into a sub-scene filled with wayward wanderers who like a racket. You don't need to be an erudite egghead to enjoy and that in itself is an art form worthy of attention.
   

SLAP BANG IN THE MIDDLE OF A CONTRADICTION - EAGLE SPITS AND JOHN DEAN

Eagle Spits provides the words, John Dean the pictures and what we have as an end result is a neat little book that smacks of DIY fervour and undernourished talent. This could suggest anyone can do it, and so it should, but hardly anyone does do it because we live in parasitic slack-jawed times where to contribute is to lose out on the take and let's face it - taking is what it is all about to most people...but not these two.

The wordage comes thick and fast and from a disgruntled mind who has much to say and will bloody well say it. The combination of pro-Christianity, pro punk and anti-most other things is one that reflects the title of the tome and a stance that many will struggle to get to grips with (fools). We go from the stripped down basics of 'Mid 70's' and 'Rust' to the sniping feasts of 'Is Punk Just Entertainment', 'Covers Band' and 'PC Anarcho Fascists' and forward onto more erudite insights loaded with provocation such as 'Sorry Reverend Cynthia' and 'The Steps' right through to the simple sweet snippets of 'The Recording Studio's In the Pawn Shop' and 'Psycho On A Mower'. The scrawlings exhibit a man who has lived, who looks beyond the stupid, worthless upper layers and a dude who fuckin' cares. I like that! The wordage is neatly complimented by 2-tone graffiti that is suggesting, sharp and artistically vandalising. Both hearts are set to beat in one DIY unity and that is reflected in the product as a whole - this isn't professionalism, this isn't an earth, shattering profundity - no - this is two decent blokes contributing to something they believe in and wanting nothing in return only a curious eye and an attentive mind. I also like that.

Look – like I say the basic premise of punk is that anyone can do it and this is an example of just that. You really should take note and contribute something yourself because at the end of the day that is what it is all about – doing something constructive or deconstructive.  This is worth your time because the reasons behind it rock steadily and have no ulterior motive. Get it and get it or if you don't get it then get the fuck out! Here’s to many more collaborations!

   

ONLY ANARCHISTS ARE PRETTY - MICK O'SHEA

A strange book this one using actual chronological facts regarding the early years of The Sex Pistols rise to fame but being nothing more than a semi-fictional tale from an utter enthusiasts viewpoint. It does come across though as a remarkably believable tale and, although lacking in high detailed description and profound meaning as well as having some quite bland dialogue, it does somehow hold attention and create many memorable scenes within the mind of the punk rock 'erbert.

I suppose the main charm of the book is the way in which the main characters/protagonists/upstarts (what you will) are portrayed and the honest and direct approach they, and their subtle idiosyncrasies, are treated via the unelaborated text. Personally I feel as though Lydon is a sinister character and always on the outside of the main group, whereas Glen is at the opposite pole but a more open and undemanding chap. Steve and Paul are just lads out for the crack and just seem to go with the flow that is always easiest and most profitable (be it in terms of beer, sex or cash). McClaren is given a rough ride and is the ultimate selfish schemer and dreamer and peripheral entities such as Jordon, Sid Vicious, Bernie Rhodes, Caroline Coon etc. add familiarity to those well-versed in these much wrote about times.

One of the main sensations that transpires from the text is that, no matter what viewpoint you come in from, the initial days of punk was for a social elite that wanted to keep it nice and cosy and were just a group of young wannabe rebels trying to cause upset. Very much a kudos pit of showmanship that seems as far away from the modern day punk pit as one could imagine (well almost). I like that aspect and the method in how this major hypocrisy and, may it be said, flaw, isn't shied away from.

O'Shea knows his stuff and the interwoven biography is cute and perhaps the most enjoyable part of this basic yet appealing read, especially the way it rekindles the spirit and feelings of when punk was first discovered - brilliant! For an exact account of what happened in those heady days then this is not the book to follow, nor does it claim to be, but for a simple read to just enjoy then why not indeed?

   

THE ENGLAND'S DREAMING TAPES - JON SAVAGE

A basic format production regarding the incendiary period when punk was in its infancy and ready to blow. This goes through much old ground and rakes up plenty of new outlooks and so will sit well on any punk aficionado’s bookshelf. The book is a series of interviews with many of the major faces at the fore of the scene and, in many ways at the powerful rear, with some good insights given once again displaying what all the fuss was about.

The interviewee list here will hold much weight with the spiked historian with Joe Strummer, Howard Devoto, John Lydon, Malcolm McClaren, Chrissie Hynde, Legs McNeil, Jordan, Siouxsie Sioux, Viv Albertine, Adam Ant, Lee Black Childers, Tony Wilson, Mark Perry and Jonh Ingham being amongst the chosen many. The tome has a distinct 'anyone can do it' feel and even though the composite is simplistic the outcome is effective. Bare faced honesty is the key and lots of reminiscing through shit-stained spectacles is apparent but perhaps the most startling aspect is the reinforcement of the fact that, primarily, in the early years, punk rock was a southern clique and not as embracing as the warped memory of Father Time tells us. Overlooking this the book captures what went on in all its inglorious grime and gives us a tale of egotists, wayward wanderers, druggies, band wagon jumpers and the like. The in-fighting and opinions of who or what is punk, when punk started and finished is highly amusing as are the many problems encountered in society by the ones trying to be different. 

Jon Savage keeps things highly readable here by just keeping the flow as conversational as possible and not trying to be over-complicated and ridiculously flowery. The ones who will pick up this 700 page plus tome will undoubtedly be much in the know anyway but I reckon fascination will still be had and a few new nuggets of gossip uncovered. Not bad!

   

PUNK FACTION - MARCUS BLAKESTON

A yarn around the year 1982, when the youth was at war through differences that seemed important but were in fact very pointless.  The music scene was divided, the passion was high and everyone had somewhere to belong in those ever-changing times.
Primarily this isn't no great classical account written in long winded pompous fashion by someone trying to be sagacious and give out some wisdom soaked insight into how things were.  This isn't a read that is overloaded with rose-tinted bias and looking back with a sigh of fondness or misdirected nostalgia.  Why this book triumphs is down to the fact that it is written naturally with a well balanced philanthropic/misanthropic approach liberally seasoned with a stark reality of its time.  The author was indeed there and that rises from the pages as one is returned to a time when tension was high, naiveté was wonderfully rife and a 'couldn't give a fuck' attitude was a joy and as opposed to today’s mucky social arena, was relatively harmless. 
 
Having grown up in the gutter when money and materialism weren't an issue and glue, noise and having a laugh seemed the only important aspects of a simple life this tale is related to with genuine ease and the spiky scribe who has put pen to paper must be applauded for his frank insight and uncluttered delivery.  The characters are exact and the switch in style from internal to external perceptions is indeed cute and brings the reader more into the drama.  Descriptive moments are kept from being overloaded with wordage and the attitudes and outlooks are readily captured.  The dancing scene in particular whilst The Cockney Upstarts are playing particularly rings true and, as is the intention throughout the book, brings memories flooding back.  

The build up to the final showdown is predictable but the pleasure from the text is high and this small niggle is easily forgotten as the words pass by.  Personal high points for me were the glue-sniffing episodes, the youthful misdirection we all have suffered from and the mention of Moon Cresta I game I remember playing with my punky mate, down the pub, dressed in the gear and not having a worry in the world - well except were the next beers and fags are coming from!

Yeah an easily digestible quickie and one that could easily be followed up - so how about it Mr Blakeston - the pen is now back in your hand!

   

LOU REED TALKING - NICK JOHNSTONE

A crotchety, erudite, experimental survivor or downright moody awkward twat - that is the opinion one may make at the end of this swift read. Lou Reed has certainly done things his way and along the ragged road has, in the minority, kicked dust in a few people’s faces and in the main won many admirers who want to hop in for the ride.

From drug-taking, beer swilling frustration to the re-modelled man who delights in Tai Chi, having a lucid mind and still rockin' and rollin' Lou Reed has been on a unique journey and yet throughout it all has had plenty of things to say so as to keep things dangerous, threatening and may I say...punk! The racket Lou delivers isn't predictable and isn't, as the man readily admits, successful, but he keeps on truckin' and keeps on testing different waters. Personally I'd rather listen to a pile of shite done for the right reasons than some catchy pop that is built on fraudulence but I guess that isn't the majority way of thinking!

The style of this book is just to lay out a load of quotes from the singer’s career (in chronological order of course) and to let you fill in the gaps. Far from comprehensive this is a good taster that more than likely will lead you on to a more in depth read - well I presume that's the idea. I picked this up for a good price and reckon you should seek it out too - the guy says how it is at the time and that does generate constant interest which all books should have.  Hey and he likes a bit of Poe too – can’t be bad!

   

PLEASE KILL ME - LEGS McNEIL AND GILLIAN McCAIN

A tale of early US punk, its influence on the British scene and the final collapse of anything the movement really stood for. The main theme of the book targets the sordid, drug hazed behaviour of some of the major players in the scene and in brutal truth most come out as nothing more than lowlife scum who got lucky and paid no heed to morals, the music and one another.

Self-indulgent, promiscuous and mostly 'full of crap' the people in this book are tainted with a dark, depressing angle that somehow holds attention and gives the reader a flavour of those wasteful days that have been twisted into something glamorous, something 'rock and roll'. The destruction of oneself is all well and good but to do it at the detriment of others isn't so clever but alas many characters within these shady pages do so with wild abandon and fuck all external feelings. Disrespectful to themselves and to those around them one has to wonder about the weak mental state of many persons involved in an arena ideal to lose yourself in. The drugs dominate as does the sexual lust and the ethos of the day seemed to be 'if it moves then fuck it' and if it gets you high then drop it'. If this is your idea of a hero then I pity you.

I like the reality of the text, the grimy approach and the use of quotes from a vast and varied crowd. The emotions kindled are of sadness, pity and despair and total bewilderment at the human psyche and its egocentric idiocy. I may have painted a grim portrait here but believe me this book is highly entertaining for all the wrong reasons and as such comes across as something rather special. The accounts related in the tale are somewhat unreliable has most contributors seemed to be generally bombed when the events were taking place but nonetheless this should be on your bookshelves and should be a punk guide to learn from. Maybe a definite example of the question 'what the fuck is punk anyway?'  I know one thing – I see very little of it even though many claim to be it.

   
Page 1, 2, 3