HATE RATES.... ***** BIBLE **** TABLOID *** COMIC ** CHIP PAPER * PULP
'77 Sulphate Strip
By Barry Cain
I love the title of this book and I was looking forward to reading it for a
very long time, but when I actually did sit down to read it, the
excitement quickly vanished. It became a very drawn out and time
Its not that the book is extremely large its just Barry Cains style of
assembling/compiling is so abstract. Your jumping back and forth
through tales of Punks rise in 1977. Combined with the unrelated
personal stories of Mr Cains youth and his complicated love life. Plus
his observations and opinions 30 years later. For me it didn't hang
together and sadly made for a pretty unfulfilling reading experience.
I don't know how many times I stopped and started 77 Sulphate Strip but I know it was
too many. The book is similar in style to Nick Kent's 'The Dark Stuff' from a while back,
where the author takes his vintage reviews and interviews from many years ago to retell
an updated story which in this case is punk during 1977 month by month as well as
Kenny Rogers live in Birmingham the same year (was the young punk P.D.C. in
attendance I wonder? lol). (Actually i missed old Kenny that night coz I was busy
watching the Barron Knights at the Grand, ahh those were the days - P.D.C.).
Throughout the book Mr Cain concentrates on what he calls the big five bands....Sex
Pistols, the Clash, the Damned, the Stranglers
and the Jam.
He documents their early career in reprinted extracts
from the Record Mirror archive and then interjects
with new entries from a distance of decades, whilst
the text is time travelling back and forward at warp
speed and all in a writing style filled with journalistic
gobbledygook. Here's just one example out of #
many... "The Jam have already achieved 2 bell
greatness in the pinball seat of power, and it
won't be that long before bell 3 and the jackpot"
.... see what I mean? And theres loads of that surreal
rambling within the 400 pages. I gave up time and
time again, it gets to a point where you just don't
care anymore and have to take a breather.
I was familiar with Barry Cains work before tackling
the book as I was a regular reader of the now sadly
defunct Record Mirror (as well as all the other inkies
back then), when he was a journalist there, and I
read his musings week in week out.
There are numerous tales here of his freebie press
junkets, the drugs, the drink, the free gigs all the
stuff you suspected, but never really knew about
unless you where part of the industry/media insiders
I did enjoy reading a lot of the punk history it was just
the fractured all over the place style that made it a
chore and so hard to enjoy from cover to cover.
At the end of the book there are a few new interviews with Hugh Cornwell, Rat Scabies (best of the bunch) and unfortunately John Lydon. Jeez he's getting
seriously repetitive as the years pass. I'm sure like me your fed up hearing him go on and on about still being Finsbury Park working class this time between
mouthfuls of Sushi and Saki by the seaside (he's a millionaire), olde England (he lives in the USA). And in this book its the hard core London Arsenal
supporter reliving his time on the long gone terraces on top of the same old same old patter. Johnny's definitely not the enemy of the state he was back
then, unfortunately he's dead boring these days. I know this review is not as positive as I hoped it would be when I purchased my copy. But the book does
have its good moments (the Drones in the massage parlour being one of them) and its not the vital story of '77 that's hard to get into, its the pic 'n' mix
editing. This ones for completests who need to have everything punk related or ex-punks with plenty of time to kill.
Joe Donnelly (Belfast) 23 June 2008