24th November 2023

OK, they might not be new but if you stumble over this trio, here’s my thoughts on: the 60s legends Love, a drum & bass history and the “ranting” poet himself, Attila The Stockbroker 

Title: Pegasus Epitaph: The Story of the Legendary Rock Group Love

Author: Michael Stuart Ware
Publisher: This Day in Music Books
Price: £12.74 (Amazon)
Pages: 209

Title: Renegade Snares: The Resistance and Resilience of Drum & Bass

Author: Ben Murphy and Carl Loben
Publisher: Jawbone
Price: £14.80 (Amazon)
Pages: 336

Title: Attila The Stockbroker

Author: Attila The Stockbroker: Heart on My Sleeve, Collected Works 1980-2020
Publisher: Cherry Red Books
Price: £17
Pages: 336

BOOK REVIEWS: Attila The Stockbroker, Love, D&B

Pegasus Epitaph: The Story of the Legendary Rock Group Love

An insider’s view of the 60s band, Love I initially thought band drummer Michael Stuart Ware’s book was a vanity project. The physical book feels like an amateur production.

The content is a different matter, though. It hits the ground running pre-Love, during his time with the Sons of Adam. Chance encounters with Glenn Campbell and Kim Fowley illustrate the abundant creativity of the time. 

And then there was the encounter between the over-confident, drunken cowboy and the band’s rather fey bass player, Mike Port. 

“You can’t leave yet, little girl,” said the cowboy. Port had long hair. The description of the cowboy’s subsequent slow, methodical, physical destruction, jab by bloody jab, is harrowing. The cowboy was a bloody mess. Port, a trained boxer, was untouched.

Ware describes all of this is in a simple, straightforward and appealing manner. 

His time with Love is a roller coaster. From the pathetic attempt to remove themselves from their Elektra contract to comically missing a formal ‘keys to the city’ ceremony at an airport because they had missed their flight, the time lead singer Arthur Lee beat up his drug pusher in full public view, the time the guitarist changed the band’s sound because he couldn’t be bothered to carry a small yet important guitar effects pedal on tour and then the time the group were on stage, behind the curtain, noisy audience eagerly waiting, guy out front announcing the band, Arthur Lee raising his arm to count the band into their first number. And then. Only then did they realise the guitar player was missing. He was asleep in the hotel. 

Brilliant book. Well written.

BOOK REVIEWS: Attila The Stockbroker, Love, D&B

Renegade Snares: The Resistance and Resilience of Drum & Bass

Renegade Snares? A broad-based history of drum & bass that packs in a lot. The names are here: Goldie, Roni Size, LTJ Bukem and the rest. There’s plenty to like too: the Bristol scene, ambience in drum & bass, threats of commercialisation, sexism and more.

Irritations? Despite mentioning the famed Mentasm riff I felt that its originators, Joey Beltram and Mundo Muzique received short shrift and are cruelly missing from the index. If you can index a comedy TV series like Are You Being Served regarding a novelty song release, then you can index Beltram and Mundo.

I would also have liked to have seen more on the avant wing of the genre. People like ex-Atari Teenage Riot, Shizuo for example. 

The book feels rushed. It needed to be twice the size. Sometimes I felt I was reading a list of people and events, the language structure lost much of its discipline (the overuse of colloquialisms is fine for blogs and fanzines and interview quotes but my author/guide should stand apart from that) and mentioned hardware was too often glossed over without proper explanation.

A decent book. Could have been better.  

BOOK REVIEWS: Attila The Stockbroker, Love, D&B

Attila The Stockbroker

Finally, punk poet, Attila The Stockbrocker’s (yes, he did spend time in the Stock Exchange as a clerk) tome packs in a host of poems and song lyrics. Some of them humorous (Russians in the DHSS and There’s a Man Down Our Road Who’s a Nazi) while others are serious diatribes. The 1985 poem, Video Nazi’s attacking the proliferation of video nasties was wonderfully vitriolic while 2014’s Never Forget poignantly remembers the war between the miners and then then prime minister, Thatcher.

What got me about this splendid collection is how strong Attila’s more recent material is – his eye and ear for a poetic verbal onslaught has lost none of its edge.