Books - G

GREAT GIG MEMORIES: From Punks and Friends {284 pages, Hope Publications}
There is something quite unique about this Punk culture of ours. Many on the outside view ‘Punks’ as scruffy, layabout no-hopers when in reality we are among the first to stage benefit gigs, publish literature that is both intelligent and challenging and just generally consider our actions within the larger society. And so, Hope Publications releases another publication with all proceeds going to a charity/ cause. This time, it’s a very deserving cause too; Ireland, just like everywhere else, has felt the massive effects of COVID-19 and as a planet we are no doubt much more in-debt to front line workers, first responders and medical staff. With this in mind, it’s very fitting that the proceeds from this publication are given to the National Health Service (NHS). Hope’s previous publication raised over £5,000 for the Irish Red Cross Syrian Refugee appeal.  Let’s hope this is equally, and more so, successful. Now, the book...
Compilers Nail McGuirk and Michael Murphy have brought together a whole heap of famous, infamous and quietly contributing members of our Punk Rock family to write about special memories from this gig-going history. It’s presented in chronological order, with the earliest entry dating back to 1967 and JIMI HENDRIX in London. Who were the observers? Knox of THE VIBRATORS and one Charlie Harper of UK SUBS.
Some of the contributors write a few sparse sentences, others pages. It makes a great read to flick through almost randomly, picking the odd snippet here, a longer narrative there. There are plenty of highlights though. Among the most intense is the story of RUEFREX who, in 1979 ventured out of their Loyalist environs to the ‘other side’ of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. It’s an inspiring and intimidating tale and certainly one the provides an answer to SUBHUMANS’ question: Are you prepared for die for your beliefs or just to dye your hair?
Notables who contribute include D.O.A’s Joe Keithley, STIFF LITTLE FINGERS’ Jake Burns, the late Philip Chevron (POGUES/ RADIATORS FROM SPACE), CHUMBAWAMBA’s Dunstan Bruce (with one of the book’s highlights), Lol Tolhurst (THE CURE), Steve Ignorant and Brendan Canty (FUGAZI/ RITES OF SPRING). Throw into that mix Steve Lake (ZOUNDS), Duncan Reid (THE BOYS), Steve Drewett (NEWTOWN NEUROTICS) and a myriad of others and an impressive roster of people begin to take shape.
It’s quite interesting also that many of the earlier recollections are about gigs attended, while many of the latter day entries are about gigs performed. Most popular band mentioned? THE RAMONES with THE CLASH and THE STRANGLERS following closely behind.
Given where the proceeds of the book are going however, possibly the most pertinent recollection is of Chuck Dukowski who, while playing at London’s Rainbow Theatre, got smashed in the face and required stitches. In the US, without an institution such as the NHS, such an injury would have cost $1,000. Thanks to the NHS however, the only cost was an hour in hospital.
It’s a stylish looking book too, with a cover adorned by the four faces of THE CLASH. Both compilers write an introduction/ foreword and flicking down the index alone makes you realise, quickly, just how much great music is out there both old and new, Punk and otherwise.
Fantastic and inspirational stuff - roll on the next instalment. (30.05.21)