Tenement Kid: Rough Trade Book of the Year
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A punk rock fairytale, razor sharp on class struggle, music, style, and a singular view of the world resulting in one of the world's great bands. As a Glaswegian myself so much of this is familiar to me, from school aggro, to city centre clubs, and a thoroughly enjoyable read. Gillespie takes the reader on a step by step process of everything and explains the roles all the characters have and what they are doing now. I think it’s better to be governed by non-hierarchical nation-states that aren’t based on imperialist precepts and entrenched beliefs. As he shares stories of life on tour, in the studio and especially when he meets his various music heroes, he comes across as genuinely excited to be in the music business.
Meanwhile, Primal Scream toil away in the indie underground to minimal impact, until Gillespie gloms on to the burgeoning acid house scene. We have a regular newsletter with the week’s new releases that goes out every Thursday or Friday too. You catch a momentary glimpse of someone else, a sensitive, melancholy, slightly damaged man, with thoughtful things to say about how social standing impacts music, or the links between the DIY mid-80s indie scene and Thatcherism. But if that’s the case, then the mask seldom slips throughout Tenement Kid’s 400 pages, which take him from his working-class Glasgow childhood through punk, Primal Scream’s lean years – first as Byrds-inspired indie janglers, then as purveyors of “greasy rock and roll” – his stint as the drummer of the Jesus and Mary Chain during their riot-provoking early days and ultimately to success. Anyway, this popped up on my feed after the slightly disappointing bio of Jesus and Mary Chain (which was written by someone a lot younger who was not there).Published thirty years after the release of their masterpiece, Bobby Gillespie's memoir cuts a righteous path through a decade lost to Thatcherism and saved by acid house.
I wanted to do something a bit different, something creative, challenging, something I’ve never done before. As the '80s bleed into the '90s and a new kind of electronic soul music starts to pulse through the nation's consciousness, Primal Scream become the most innovative British band of the new decade, representing a new psychedelic vanguard taking shape at Creation Records. In recounting formative gigs and experiences, Gillespie displays a great gift for storytelling, description and deploying a simile, writing evocatively of an audience at a Clash concert: “It was as if Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights was people with inmates who had escaped from a seventies lunatic asylum. A couple of times you might question how accurate his stories are (his fan interactions on the punk scene especially), but they’re not enough to spoil the read. But overall, a mostly positive read if you’re interested in the Glasgow / Indie bands / music scene of the 80s and 90s.It was quite amazing how often his musical tastes matched mine and how we discovered certain genres around the same time in our lives.
Gillespie’s family lived in one room, sharing a bathroom with other families, later moving to a “room and kitchen” in the same tenement, with the then-family of four sharing a bedroom. It is a tale of redemption, of how - through a spiritual and chemical path - rock and roll can truly save, taking you away from the suffering to your higher self. Gillespie’s tribal response was to make his own scene as part of the collective which ran legendary Glasgow club night Splash One. Andrew Weatherall, the idiosyncratic sonic alchemist who produced their breakthrough album, Screamadelica, died suddenly last year, aged 56. Brexit became a kind of civil war of elites that everybody else was dragged into … I’m not as much for Scottish independence as I am against imperialist nation-states.Though at times, the band started to believe that they would never break through; they and their sound got a re-boot thanks to the Acid House movement which completely changed their direction. I did a timeline from when I was born up until Screamadelica, and I wrote themes to discuss: class, my parents, my lack of schooling. It is accepted by you that Daunt Books has no control over additional charges in relation to customs clearance.