Rock 'n' Roll Remembered: An Imperfect History
Publication Date: December 1996
My Generation: Rock ‘n’ Roll Remembered: An Imperfect History edited by Antony Farrell
Sex, drugs, rock’n’roll, love, discovery and death – this is the journey mapped through music taken by us all. Here, writers, artists, poets and players, makers of films and young guitar-players – all with Irish connections – flash back together to earlier days, favourite LPs and formative ways.
Ah, we were so much younger then – This is the rhythm of our youth, the backbeat of our revelation, the rock music that changed a generation. My Generation. This extraordinary book makes it your generation too. Dare to turn the page and drop the needle.
Contributors include: Paul Brady, Donovan, Ron Wood, Marianne Faithfull, Noel Redding, Shane MacGowan, Ronnie Drew, Mary Coughlan, Terry Woods, Niall Toner, Mick Hanley, Paddy Moloney, Paul McGuinness, Jim Sheridan, Sebastian Barry, Frank McGuinness, Carlo Gébler, Hugo Hamilton, Joe O’Connor, Dermot Healy, Elgie Gillespie, Patrick McGrath, Fintan O’Toole, Anne Enright, Paul Muldoon, Roddy Doyle, Philip Casey and Colm Tóibín.
The editors are Dublin-based and work in publishing and the media.
‘A fascinating compilation – Some of the recollections are funny, others are moving, and some reveal more about the contributor’s life than their taste in music. My Generation is Desert Island Discs With Attitude.’ – Lise Hand, The Sunday Tribune
‘A treasure trove of music, nostalgia and fiery ardour.’ – Liam Fay, Hot Press
‘Hilarious and evocative.’ – Bernice Harrison, The Irish Times
|Dimensions||150 × 230 mm|
Lilliput Press –
“I am honored to have contributed one of the many essays in this book. Mine (only one of approximately sixty essays) is a rare instance of a feminist critique of Rock n’ Roll, whilst raving about how deeply I love rock, why, what happened, and what ten albums I would require while stranded on a desert island. Now that I’ve got the conflict of interest confession out of the way, let me tell you something about the rest of this great collection of rock essays.
Other contributors include Noel Redding, Ron Wood, Marianne Faithful, Roddy Doyle, Donovan, Terry Woods, Mary Coughlan, Ian Whitcomb, Nell McCafferty, Philip Casey, and a long list of really cool experienced people, musicians, and/or writers who have connections with Ireland. Antony Farrell, Vivienne Guiness and Julian Lloyd, as editors and conceptualists for this collection, have brought a very hip and longlasting nostalgic donation to rock social history with this book. Each author contributes a highly personalized narrative about their favorite rock music and their experiences within that dimension of this garden of earthly delights.
Kathleen Williamson, J.D., Ph.D., CD, artist, song and prose writer, general PROVOCATEUR” WILLIE MAE
Lilliput Press –
“Paolo Tullio sums it up: Classic Rock is at the end of its short shelf-life, and this 1996 collection of reminiscences mixed with Desert Island Discs by Irish and some part-time or ex-pat Irish shows the truth of this remark. He remarks that we hear big-band music and it all probably sounds similar, although in the 40s there was much to distinguish one artist from the other. Tullio wonders if the same fate will befall the music he and his peers remember so fondly. I do agree that few of the contributors find much music memorable from later post-60s/70s eras in comparison. Is this inevitable? Do we always hearken back to what we heard when falling in love, losing our virginity, taking our first trip, leaving for college or the big city or the next country? For these writers, music formed them irreparably, and they are the better for its scars and marks.
Most of the writers were at the age when one hears as a teen the music he or she forever after cherishes, if defiant of all good taste perhaps. Lost of the music is Anglo-American pop, as to be expected. Irish groups were only starting to make an impact beyond their borders. Many writers include Dylan, especially Tangled Up in Blue as his best song if not off his best LP. Beatles, Stones, Van’s Astral Weeks, Jimi: these touchstones of the baby-boomer bildungsroman appear often. Irish groups do also arise, if less frequently than they would for contributors I reckon closer to my own age.
Recommended as counterparts to the scene that these contributors re-capture, but concentrating on the various musics: Mark J Prendergast’s ‘Isle of Noises’ and Gerry Smyth’s ‘Noisy Island’ on the evolution of Irish rock and pop. Colin Harper & Trevor Hodgett’s ‘Irish Trad, Folk, Blues’ also fills out the story of how Irish caught up, a few years delayed, with the rest of the counterculture and the swinging 60s, if more in the 70s within Ireland itself. (I reviewed these three books on Amazon.)
A few who could have contributed much are missing, such as Eamon Carr, Sinéad O’Connor, the members of U2, the Undertones, Van Morrison or Christy Moore for example. Jake Burns of SLF, members of bands such as Phil Chevron or Steve Rapid of the Radiators (from Space) or Gavin Friday of the Virgin Prunes would have given a much needed perspective from the punk era. I also wondered why there were not more entries from those younger– the demographic here is overwhelmingly born in the late 1940s/early 1950s, and therefore (as the title implies) tied to the 60s as the zenith of their musical experience. This skews the book too much towards the attitude of “if you weren’t there in ’68 or ’72, you did not know what it was like, maaaan” type of half-stoned, half-dreamed musings.
The late 60s and early 70s gave most creative Irish the same choice many contributors here had to make: leave for success in London, America, somewhere mid-Atlantic but not exactly in Ireland itself. Sex, drugs, freedom from the Church and the “valley of the squinting windows” beckoned and these albums were the soundtracks of these artists, writers, musicians, poets, and malcontents’ young adventures. Author Timothy O’Grady, writer Peter and film director Jim Sheridan, Kathleen Williamson–the contributor who below previously reviewed this book below–observes insightfully that Robert Plant seems to be imitating Janis Joplin! Bassist Barry Devlin of Horslips, writers Paul Muldoon in typically gnomic verse, Patrick McCabe, Joe O’Connor (Sinéad’s brother but he never seems to admit this in what he publishes at least here), Desmond Hogan, a too brief entry by Nell McCafferty, and musicians such as Alec Finn, Noel Redding, Shane McGowan, Mick Hanly, Terry Woods, Ron Wood (whose drawings elegantly grace the covers), Marianne Faithfull, and P.J. Curtis all weigh in on their peers and inspirations. Many, such as Fintan O’Toole, Roddy Doyle, Rhonda Paisley, Paul McGuinness, Mary Kenny, and Hugo Hamilton, mix their musical maturation with heartfelt, intelligent renderings of their own coming of age.
They capture a realm of dazzling potential that to those like myself (only a child then) seem as if from ancient tales of wonder. Hard to imagine today in our more constrained attitudes and harsher economic and political and familial realities how one back then could with a few quid and a few beers imagine that you could be master of all you surveyed. Heady talk for the Irish raised in post-war restriction and constraint and begrudgery> Emigration continued for many of the writers here, but it was admittedly done at least at times for one’s own liberation and not only for one’s survival. The stories here among those who at the time of writing were looking back twenty-five or thirty years unfold as if half-recalled legends. Those who lived then tell of it again, wistfully. They had the good luck to emerge into their own brief Eden, amidst such a realm of possibilities that those of us who have followed have had both to hear so much about secondhand “when I was back in the 60s…” Yet we slightly younger folks are beneficiaries, and at times victims, of the liberating powers for idealism and ambition and admittedly some voodoo and bad vibes since then that continue to swirl about our Western world’s playboys and hoydens.” JOHN L MURPHY