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Apathy for the Devil: A 1970s Memoir

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Pitched somewhere between Almost Famous and Withnail & I, this title presents a document of this most fascinating and troubling of decades - a story of inspiration, success and serious burn out.


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Pitched somewhere between Almost Famous and Withnail & I, this title presents a document of this most fascinating and troubling of decades - a story of inspiration, success and serious burn out.

30 review for Apathy for the Devil: A 1970s Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tosh

    Nick Kent's collection of essays/interviews "The Dark Stuff" is a must for rock n' roll reading. The one theme that runs through that collection is the fucked-up rock n' roll figure. And he's good at capturing the low moments of very talented artists. His memoir of the 70's "Apathy for the Devil" is an interesting book that focuses on himself of course, who was basically a mirror image of his subject matters that he wrote about. The 70's decade was not kind to Kent, but it is also what made him Nick Kent's collection of essays/interviews "The Dark Stuff" is a must for rock n' roll reading. The one theme that runs through that collection is the fucked-up rock n' roll figure. And he's good at capturing the low moments of very talented artists. His memoir of the 70's "Apathy for the Devil" is an interesting book that focuses on himself of course, who was basically a mirror image of his subject matters that he wrote about. The 70's decade was not kind to Kent, but it is also what made him interesting - a good writer who can look into the lives of others and pick up the damaging aspect as well as what makes them great. So it is interesting to read what he says about artists of that period -especially the Sex Pistols, for whom he has mixed feelings. I was kind of surprised that he poo-poos Public Image Ltd, but the whole punk experience seems to left him with a bad taste in his mouth. I don't totally agree with his music taste, but he is honest to see the weakness in lot of his favorite artist's works, and that I think makes him a good critic. The drug addiction aspect of his story must be told, but beyond that it is basically the everyday type of material regarding drug taking and its world. What makes Kent unique is his take on fellow writers of the music magazine world (NME) and how they function in that world. Of all the writers I found himquite hard on Paul Morley, who I feel is one of the top critics of the 80's and still is. So yeah I don't trust his critical judgement, but I like the way he says it. "The Dark Stuff" is the essential book to have by Kent, but this is a good volume and a detailed snapshot of life in 1970s London.

  2. 4 out of 5

    M.L. Rio

    Nick Kent's 1970s autobiography is exactly what you might expect: a drug-addled odyssey through the musical underworlds of London and Los Angeles. Kent's life reads almost like an episode of 20 Feet from Stardom, fraught with encounters both sinister and sympathetic with the likes of Peter Grant, Iggy Pop, and Glenn Frey. In a few instances he seems inclined to set the proverbial record straight (no, Keith Richards did not puke on him; yes, he did puke on Keith Richards' doorstep), but for the Nick Kent's 1970s autobiography is exactly what you might expect: a drug-addled odyssey through the musical underworlds of London and Los Angeles. Kent's life reads almost like an episode of 20 Feet from Stardom, fraught with encounters both sinister and sympathetic with the likes of Peter Grant, Iggy Pop, and Glenn Frey. In a few instances he seems inclined to set the proverbial record straight (no, Keith Richards did not puke on him; yes, he did puke on Keith Richards' doorstep), but for the most part he's telling two stories with remarkable simultaneity: 1970s rock music's rise and fall from grace, and his own. What's particularly refreshing here is Kent's first-hand account of the punk phenomenon, usually such a polarizing point in music history. Kent is, of course, uniquely placed to tell both sides of the story, being intimately involved with both the rock 'establishment' (he'd spent time touring with Zeppelin and the Stones, to name just two) and the punk underground (he was recruited as a Sex Pistol for all of about twenty minutes and later had the shit kicked out of him by Sid Vicious and a rotating cast of bloodthirsty minions). He refrains from pitting punk against the rest of rock music and manages to provide a fairly evenhanded account of the lasting (or not) effects of the Pistols, the Clash, and the rest of their ilk. All in all, a good read as autobiographies go and one anybody with an abiding interest in the decade's music should get their hands on.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dario

    I enjoyed this a bit more than The Dark Stuff. Its a memoir that is very descriptive and informative with regards to the music of the 1970s, while also letting in on the personal life of the author himself - particularly how he was caught up in the excessive lifestyle that many of his peers seemed to follow as well. I liked how he details the life and working patterns of a rock journalist of the time, as well as the (mis)adventures that went along with it. In this respect, it does a good job at I enjoyed this a bit more than “The Dark Stuff”. It’s a memoir that is very descriptive and informative with regards to the music of the 1970s, while also letting in on the personal life of the author himself - particularly how he was caught up in the excessive lifestyle that many of his peers seemed to follow as well. I liked how he details the life and working patterns of a rock journalist of the time, as well as the (mis)adventures that went along with it. In this respect, it does a good job at framing a specific time and place not just in rock music but in music journalism as well. I didn’t like the 1976 chapter. It’s the only one were he openly rants too much; against bands and people, along with more ranting about punk rock in the UK and the harm it did. But I guess he can take the liberty of being biased and opinionated in this respect, seeing as luckily for him he is and will remain an important name amongst the storytellers of rock music. The “Soundtrack for the Seventies” at the end is a good addition, and I will make a note of its contents for further musical discoveries.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    The first thing that struck me was a "KLAANG!" from repeated use of language more common in tabloid confessionals - "just a few short weeks later" (in what way were these particular weeks shorter than other weeks, Nick?) and on the next page "just a few short days later" (similar question, Nick). I did also struggle with the way he pushes himself into the centre of everything, and defines the event he was at (a Stooges gig to 200 people, a party in Rod Stewart's Hollywood home,  a scuffle in The first thing that struck me was a "KLAANG!" from repeated use of language more common in tabloid confessionals - "just a few short weeks later" (in what way were these particular weeks shorter than other weeks, Nick?) and on the next page "just a few short days later" (similar question, Nick). I did also struggle with the way he pushes himself into the centre of everything, and defines the event he was at (a Stooges gig to 200 people, a party in Rod Stewart's Hollywood home,  a scuffle in Dingwalls, a gig in Cardiff by some people who went on to be The Damned) as THE DEFINING MOMENT ON WHICH 20th CENTURY HISTORY PIVOTED. I was reminded of Max Boyce - "I WAS THERE", which I don't think was the effect he was after. His love of Bowie as shown in the book differs from how I remember Nick writing about him in the NME - I seem to remember he saw Bowie as a lesser light. I'll need to have another look at "The Dark Stuff" to see if he was always a clunky writer and I've only just noticed. Still, it was only £2 in Fopp.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Thor Garcia

    Nick Kent was one of the most blowhardy, know-it-all, cool-kid rock journalists of his time, specializing in building rock god myths about artists who sneered in all the right places and allegedly took lots of dope. Throughout his career, Kent loved giving romantic, bigger-than-life blowies to Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Neil Young and other sneering, primal and outlaw artists who thrived on the white-hot edges of nihilist sensibility, emotional breakdown and sensory Nick Kent was one of the most blowhardy, know-it-all, cool-kid rock journalists of his time, specializing in building “rock god” myths about artists who “sneered” in all the right places and allegedly took lots of dope. Throughout his career, Kent loved giving romantic, bigger-than-life blowies to Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Neil Young and other “sneering,” “primal” and “outlaw” artists who thrived on the white-hot edges of nihilist sensibility, emotional breakdown and sensory derangement. Nick liked to doll himself up in tangled long hair and leather jackets and be mistaken for a member of the Stones, Led Zeppelin or the Stooges. He liked to style himself as a “rock star rock journalist” who snorts the serious dope with Keith and hangs with Zep and their sinister entourage on the Sunset Strip. It was just part of being a New Journalist, according to Kent, somebody who’s “right there in the scrum” with the higher beings known as rock superstars, “soaking up the essence and then channeling it into an art form of their own.” In other words, Nick Kent was a kind of glorified groupie who wrote about driving in cars and going to parties and getting loaded with his idols. In Apathy for the Devil, Nick’s prone to writing stuff like: “I saw one of the Clash’s first London shows.” And: “I’d heard a pre-release copy of Blood On the Tracks” (he said this to impress Marc Bolan). And: Johnny Thunders “was a walking advert for heroin.” It turns out Nick Kent was also a whiny twit who went around spoiling everyone’s fun by complaining about how dumb Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen were. He thinks, for example, that Sid Vicious was “morally vacuous.” Ooooh, was he, Nick? Kent also claims to have been a very early member of the Sex Pistols, back when he was a supercool guy who used to hang around with other supercool guys like Malcolm McLaren. Nick even claims credit for pointing the early Pistols “towards the future” by playing the Stooges and Modern Lovers for guitarist Steve Jones and bassist Glen Matlock (Johnny Rotten hadn't joined yet). But everyone soon found out Nick didn’t have much musical ability and wasn’t very cool, and he was soon dismissed from the Sex Pistols project. Nick, to his credit, writes admiringly of Steve Jones’ raw, muscular chops: “What had taken me literally years to put into practice on a fretboard he managed to master in a matter of weeks.” Kent’s main claim to fame is that he claims Sid Vicious whacked him in the head with a “bike chain” in 1976. He claims Malcolm McLaren and Johnny Rotten ordered Sid to beat him up because, well, they’re just evil, hateful fuckers who never did like Nick Kent much, I guess. In the incident, Nick claims Rotten’s sidekick Jah Wobble held an “open penknife” close to his face, while Sid took three or four bike-chain swings at his head. Sid, thankfully, connected only once, but "if two or more of those chain-swings had actually reached me, I’d probably have been killed by the head trauma,” Nick writes. Heeeeelp, mom!—Sid Vicious tried to kill meeeeeeeee! Yet the more Nick writes about this, the murkier it gets. Says Nick: “I was so stoned that night that I didn’t even feel the blow.” What? What the heck? That’s pretty stoned, man. You can't feel getting smacked with a bike chain, but you remember how many times Sid swung the chain at you? Yet Nick claims he knows it was deadly serious attack because “there was blood everywhere: on the wall behind me in a wide crimson arc and all over the back of my jacket.” However, breathless though his tone may be, Nick can’t be bothered to describe the extent of any injuries to his head, neck or face. Was there really any injury at all, Nick? Did any of this really happen? Surely being whipped with a bike chain by Sid Vicious, to the extent that blood flies across the wall and covers your jacket, would involve an injury that would require a hospital visit and stitches? Or at least a bandage? I don't care how "stoned" you claim you are—getting your head lacerated by a chain is gonna sting. But again, there’s not a word about any damage from Nick. As he is being “led out” of the venue, Nick claims Vivienne Westwood rushed up to apologize, calling Sid “a boy” and “a psychopath.” Viv swears Sid will have nothing further to do with the Sex Pistols following this brutal assault on poor Nick Kent. Again, Nick can't "even feel" getting lacerated by a bike chain—but he clearly remembers the details of a chat with Vivienne. Sure thing, Nick. Are we really supposed to believe that Sid Vicious nearly killed you because he was a crazy monster and McLaren sicked him on you because Johnny Rotten and his buddies didn’t like your long hippie hair? Sorry, Nick—in this day and age, we’re going to need to see video evidence and/or a hospital record. After all, throughout your career, you were deeply involved in the business of buffing the image of rock stars as “outlaws,” dope fiends and scary degenerates. And McLaren and the Pistols certainly knew a thing or two about getting the media "on message." A mutual reach-around tale like “Yelp! Sid hit me with a chain because he didn’t like my writing!” helps both your careers, eh? Don’t it? Shows how “real” you punk rockers and rock star journalists were keeping it, innit? In the aftermath of the incident, Nick authored a series of articles expounding on the theme of "Sid is scary and disgusting and a horrible, horrible scary man! The Sex Pistols stink, too!" Which inevitably only made the band more notorious and famous. Unsurprisingly, the alleged incident was also milked for easy mileage in the 1986 Sid & Nancy movie (with Nick's name changed to "Dick Bent," perhaps to emphasize the fictionality of it). In The Dark Stuff, Nick’s book of writings on rock stars, published years before Apathy, Nick describes the incident as “my immortal spat with Sid Vicious.” Well, darn it, Nick—now I’m starting to question everything you say. Were you whacked with a bike chain so hard it sprayed a “wide crimson arc” of your blood on the wall? Or was it just a “spat,” some kind of screaming little chest-bumping bitch-fest between you and Sid? Well? Whatever happened, it wasn’t the first time that little Nick Kent claims Malcolm McLaren’s thugs roughed him up. In 1974, Nick was lucky enough to be living with Chrissie Hynde (who always did have terrible taste in men, by the way. See: Ray Davies and Simple Minds’ Jim Kerr, who left Hynde for Patsy Kensit, who left Kerr for Liam Gallagher. And so on.). Due to Nick’s substance abuse and general twittishness, he and Chrissie fought frequently and were often on the outs. Nick claims that during a “two-week trial separation” from Hynde, he got gonorrhea while “screwing around” in Paris. He then returned to London and passed along the disease to the dynamic contralto and future Pretenders frontwoman. “From that point on,” Nick confesses, Hynde “didn’t really want to have anything more to do with me.” But Nick was slow to understand. “Go fuck yourself!” Chrissie told him when he showed up at McLaren’s King’s Road clothes store, where Chrissie was working. Nick then became enraged when Hynde told him she was going out with someone else. According to Nick, he took off his belt and was “about to hit her” when a “strange bloke who just happened to be on the premises—one of McLaren’s mad brood—stepped forward and punched me in the face so hard my whole body almost flew through the shop window onto the pavement outside.” Dear lord—your whole body, Nick? Almost flew through the window? To the pavement outside? A glassless shop window was it, er? Eh? How much of the body got through? The elbow? Kent, it should be added, is extremely rude and resentful toward Chrissie Hynde. He calls her “nagging.” He accuses the future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer of “using” his “high profile” as a rock journalist to promote her own career and establish herself in the rock ecosystem. Well, so what, Nick? What’s your point? It’s nothing compared to all the wet blowies you gave to Ziggy and Iggy, Jimmy and Mick and Keith and the rest to raise your own profile. It looks bad, Nick, really bad, to be laying into a classy babe like Chrissie Hynde this way. Anyway, getting his ass kicked is a recurring theme in the Nick Kent saga. Nick claims that in December 1977, a gang of “punk wannabes who wanted to do what Sid did” assaulted him in the King’s Cross area of London. He says the guys carried out a “ritual” of “slashing my skin with their weapons,” then kicking the spot that had been cut. He claims his face was turned into a “bloody pulp” and that he received a kick to the head, “effectively knocking me unconscious.” Somehow, he survived and staggered to a “nearby drug house of recent acquaintance.” He claims a “junkie girl” there cleaned his wounds with a damp cloth while her boyfriend fed him “lashings of Valium, pain pills and reefer.” An hour later, he says he was stoned and feeling fine, kicking back watching a TV show with his new friends. Wait a minute, Nick—sadistic followers of Sid Vicious slashed you repeatedly, turned your face to “bloody pulp” and beat you into unconsciousness—but there was no need for a hospital visit? Everything’s totally supercool an hour later? You're too tough, too "battle-tested," as you say— nobody can kill a true badass like Nick Kent? Yes, we must be grateful for the infinite kindness of junkie girls and their generous boyfriends, I suppose. Well, if you say so, Nick. Kent also confirms that Kenneth Anger, Satanist goofball and masturbator for Alfred Kinsey’s “studies,” apparently really did go around threatening to turn his adversaries into toads. Nick writes that Anger confronted him at the NME offices in London in 1976 after Nick wrote that Jimmy Page (like Anger, a goofball acolyte of Aleister Crowley) was unhappy about how Anger was mishandling Lucifer Rising, the Anger film for which Page had contributed a soundtrack and financing (Kent mistakenly calls the movie Scorpio Rising, an earlier Anger film). Nick quotes Anger: “I just have to crook this little finger and Jimmy Page will automatically be transformed into a toad.” Nick neglects to mention that nearly a decade earlier, Anger had reportedly cast a spell to turn Bobby Beausoleil, the star of Lucifer Rising, into a toad. Spookily, following Anger's alleged spell-casting, Beausoleil would wind up receiving a life sentence for the 1969 murder of Gary Hinman, the first of the spree of killings blamed on Charles Manson and his gang. Well, but Nick doesn't have much to say about the Manson case. He seems almost unaware of its transformative impact on the culture and society of his beloved 1970s and beyond. It turns out Nick Kent doesn't have much to say about anything except his small world of dope addiction and his love-hate relationships with some rock stars. One will not get from Nick Kent any hint of an analysis of how the excesses of the late 1960s and 1970s led to the savage rightward tilt of culture and politics that continues to this day. What we do know is that Kent loves clichés, almost all of them. He’s also prone to lazily invoking "Spinal Tap" to describe bands on the heavier side of the spectrum that he doesn’t like. Below are some Nick insights on a range of rock world luminaries, culled from both Apathy for the Devil and The Dark Stuff: The Band: “They were just too hairy for my taste.” The Sweet: “Imagine Spinal Tap without the punchlines.” Bob Marley (after Marley called Kent the Jamaican equivalent of “scumbag”): “It was obvious he (Marley) had a serious problem with men who were unafraid to exhibit their feminine side in public.” Shane McGowan: “In between those moments when his brain isn’t being swamped out by some oppressive agent of stupefaction, it’s clear Shane McGowan has something he wants to tell me.” Mick Jagger: “Anyone who’s ever known him will tell you what an interesting bunch of guys Mick Jagger can be.” Joy Division: “I was much too jaded to see any value in what Joy Division had to offer.” Guns N’ Roses: “There are a number of Spinal Tap comparisons. . . there is no real imagination at work here, no wit, no joy, no irony, certainly no originality whatsoever.” Dire Straits: “Pub rock for the rising young homeowner demographic.” Bob Dylan’s Renaldo and Clara film: like “watching paint dry.” Eminem: “Can Eminem’s high-powered homies convince him to open up his heart and accept the healing power of forgiveness into his life so that he can truly save himself? Or do they just think that kind of thinking is strictly for pussies? Time alone will tell.” Lou Reed: “Trying to locate anything resembling human warmth, empathy and decency in Reed’s personality was as futile an exercise as trying to get blood from a stone.” Charles Manson: “Human excrement like Charles Manson could only make their homicidal mark in the LSD-drenched late sixties.” Happy Mondays and Stone Roses: “Talk about the decline of civilization!” Rod Stewart: “He took to the celebrity playboy lifestyle like the proverbial duck to water. . . . the closest thing to Dean Martin that England has ever produced.” Morrissey: “He recalls seeing Patti Smith, then newly retired from rock, giving a poetry reading in which she ‘made farting noises for almost one hour . . . it was both peculiar and singularly depressing.’” Prince: “He abhors drug-taking and drinking, and talks about people who haven’t yet accepted God into their lives as though he were addressing the handicapped.” Brian Jones: “What he gave to the Stones was the full force of authentically damned youth.” Kurt Cobain: “I always saw his griping as a punk-rock pose and essentially a cop-out on his part.” Bruce Springsteen: creates “eloquent anthems for blue-collar Americans struggling to keep their faith in uncertain times.” (Faith in what, Nick?) In the end, one can say that Nick Kent raises the question: How many times can a man listen to Aladdin Sane, Sticky Fingers, Led Zeppelin IV and Raw Power before he becomes a narcissistic lying junkie sociopath with zero to say about the world? To Nick’s credit, he admits he’s been a “bad person” who's “done many bad things.” Near the end, he also admits he’s a pretty bad writer: “True wit and illumination were still awfully difficult to detect in the sentences I was scribbling down.” However, he (falsely) suggests his terrible writing was a temporary circumstance caused by drug abuse. Absurdly, he even compares himself, favorably, to Thomas De Quincey, revered author of Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. Hey Nick—it's a lousy comparison! Not a joke: Kent says he nearly died from pneumonia, got off drugs, and finally found the love and light of God. Right—he found Jesus. He says this occurred after he dropped to his knees and prayed in a wooden chapel in “a little Finian’s Rainbow kind of village bathed in the idyllic rays of an early afternoon sun high in a cloudless blue sky." Nick adds that he’s now “a responsible middle-aged homeowner, taxpayer and parent.” He seems to exist in a state of rigid disdain for all music produced in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s (except for The Smiths, of course). Ah, well, I guess everything Nick did was just a waste of time after all. Nick Kent doesn’t seem to stand for a damn thing except an armload of sweet rockin' records from the early 1970s. “Apathy for the devil,” Nick recounts, was what Bob Dylan replied when asked his opinion of a mid-70s Rolling Stones performance. So no, no particular Nick insight there, either. Just stealing something bitter and forlorn that Bob Dylan said, in hopes of eking out a trifle more career mileage.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    The overall message from this book that I took was Nick pleading "I wasn't just a hanger-on, I wasn't just a hanger-on!", causing me to think, "Wait a minute, mate, Jagger, Richards, Stewart, Bowie, Bolan, Plant and Page, they had the talent and mystique. You were just a hanger-on, weren't you?" He was also a good looking boy, as the front cover attests, which no doubt helped him to hang on in there, defying Sting's cogent observation that all music journalists liked Elvis Costello because they The overall message from this book that I took was Nick pleading "I wasn't just a hanger-on, I wasn't just a hanger-on!", causing me to think, "Wait a minute, mate, Jagger, Richards, Stewart, Bowie, Bolan, Plant and Page, they had the talent and mystique. You were just a hanger-on, weren't you?" He was also a good looking boy, as the front cover attests, which no doubt helped him to hang on in there, defying Sting's cogent observation that all music journalists liked Elvis Costello because they all looked like him. Kent, however, sees himself at pretty much the same level as the aforementioned rock gods, although he brandished a pen instead of a microphone. Or at least he'd certainly like to be at that level. He's just about self-effacing enough to get away with it, although there's a lot of "poor me" stuff that gets in the way of a decent yarn or vicious swipe. He makes the schoolboy error of being yet another guy who claims he gave Malcolm McLaren the inspiration for the term "punk rock", although he admits it was either him or the New York Dolls that did. Never mind the thousand other claimants, of course. To me, this just seemed like another desperate leap for significance, as much of the book does. I'd admit there are a mere handful of journalists who make a lasting impact through journalism, but it tends to be investigative journalism. No doubt Kent, Shaar Murray, Birchell, Morely et al would beg to differ of course. And, to be fair, Kent has written books, and this one was pretty good. The book's chapters are done on a yearly basis as the decade of the seventies roll by, although the final two years, 1978 and 1979, are compressed into one. This is because, I suspect, the drug addiction was really taking its toll by then. After forming the Sex Pistols - yes, really - Kent becomes pretty vague about a lot of stuff, and the last chapters contain a lot less pithy anecdotes and a lot more retrospective writing one suspects to have been researched with the aid of back copies of NME and Google searches. "Apathy for the Devil" is a good book and easy to read. For anyone interested in recalling the music of the time, this adds a colourful perspective to some of the main players.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Peter O'Connor

    Nick Kent loomed large in a time when rock journalism not only meant something but when some of the more established scribes enjoyed or fell victim to the same trappings of fame as their subjects. The good thing about reading a book written by an old journo is that it is likely going to be well written. That is no exception here where Kent takes the reader on a bare knuckle ride through his rise to fame and, in turn, his junkie fall from grace. Although prone to maybe taking a little too much Nick Kent loomed large in a time when rock journalism not only meant something but when some of the more established scribes enjoyed or fell victim to the same trappings of fame as their subjects. The good thing about reading a book written by an old journo is that it is likely going to be well written. That is no exception here where Kent takes the reader on a bare knuckle ride through his rise to fame and, in turn, his junkie fall from grace. Although prone to maybe taking a little too much credit for shaping the decades musical output, Kent nonetheless tells a cracking tale and gets to drop the names of rock royalty that most of us could only dream about. Like any slow motion train wreck, Apathy for the Devil is both uncomfortable and compelling.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carole Tyrrell

    I had really enjoyed reading Nick Kents previous book, The Dark Stuff, and was looking forward to this one after the 16 year gap between them. However, this is very different and feels more like a collection of anecdotes loosely put together and was ultimately disappointing. I was an avid reader of the NME during the 70s, the 80s and the 90s and Kent and Charles Shaar Murray featured heavily as writers on it. However , with the onset of punk which swept away all before it, he became one of the I had really enjoyed reading Nick Kent’s previous book, The Dark Stuff, and was looking forward to this one after the 16 year gap between them. However, this is very different and feels more like a collection of anecdotes loosely put together and was ultimately disappointing. I was an avid reader of the NME during the ‘70’s, the 80’s and the ‘90’s and Kent and Charles Shaar Murray featured heavily as writers on it. However , with the onset of punk which swept away all before it, he became one of the old guard being attacked and ignored by Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons, the new enfant terribles on the block. One of the reasons that I didn’t like this book as much as ‘The Dark Stuff’ is that Kent becomes almost a Zelig type figure who always present at every major gig, always part of the scene and whatever’s going on. But after a while it does become wearying and begins to read more like a pub bore’s tales. Apathy begins in the ‘70’s after our hero’s conventional upbringing and then takes his first steps into journalism on the ‘alternative press’ before moving into music journalism. He was certainly one of the prettiest stars on the scene with his kohl rimmed eyed as he reveals escapades with the Stones, Bowie, Led Zeppelin and his short lived affair with Chrissie Hynde. Oh yes and he was very briefly part of the Sex Pistols. Somehow I couldn’t see kohl and studs mixing too well or Kent and Vicious for that matter. However, Kent paints a vivid portrait of the heady excesses of the ‘70’s, the slide into corporate stadium rock into the itunes world and X Factor sterility. Kent is an onlooker, an observer of Spinal Tap silliness and I got the feeling that he would have loved to have been centre stage as a performer instead of in the dressing room, the wings or the audience. If you run with the devil then eventually he will catch up with you and Kent acquires a serious heroin habit and hits the skids. But he manages to get himself out of its clutches and achives a happy ending in Paris. I did find Kent’s writing style in this to be less involving than in The Dark Stuff as perhaps his focus on talents such as Brian Wilson and Syd Barratt was greater. These were well-researched, well written pieces on artists in which Kent seemed genuinely interested in as opposed to a collection of anecdotes. Mind you, I’d love to have his memories.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Georgette

    Wow, I was all over with this one. I've read another of Nick Kent's books, which I had enjoyed immensely. This, unfortunately, didn't prove to be the case here. He came across as a whiny prat most of the book, judgmental of most of the singers and bands he was speaking about, and their drug/alcohol addictions, while the whole entirety of the 70's Kent himself was messed up on drugs. It just didn't jive at all. The tone of the book, I thought, was idle worship and musical stories as well as his Wow, I was all over with this one. I've read another of Nick Kent's books, which I had enjoyed immensely. This, unfortunately, didn't prove to be the case here. He came across as a whiny prat most of the book, judgmental of most of the singers and bands he was speaking about, and their drug/alcohol addictions, while the whole entirety of the 70's Kent himself was messed up on drugs. It just didn't jive at all. The tone of the book, I thought, was idle worship and musical stories as well as his thoughts on that decade. Instead, it seems like much of the book was an excuse for him to bitch about his relationship with Chrissie Hynde hitting the skids and how it supposedly scarred him for years after it's demise(he gave her gonorrhea, would you blame her for leaving? Come on!). He goes on to first diss, then love, then back to diss Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop is mentioned by his real name throughout the book(as if he and Kent were best friends), yet the second he acts in a punk manner and whips out the organ and pisses on a dissenter, all of a sudden, Kent pronounces him as "annoying." It just seems to smack of favoritism. Nick Kent, a professional music writer for NME for many years, just can't seem to seperate professional from personal here, and I believe the book suffers because of that. Any other time, this sort of book, would've entertained me. I just had to keep setting it down and coming back to it, because it so annoyed me, the petulant tone throughout. If you have nothing nice to say, overall, why write a book about it?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    Believe the hype. Whatever damage Kent did to himself through long-term hard drug addiction hasn't impaired his critical faculties; his "memoir of the '70s" functions as both a clear-eyed overview of the decade in music and pop culture and a lucid, sharp-tongued, and occasionally scandalous recap of his own experiences with everyone from Led Zeppelin to the Sex Pistols, with a sideline as a fairly standard-issue though engagingly written drug narrative. (Act I: I did heroin and it was great! Act Believe the hype. Whatever damage Kent did to himself through long-term hard drug addiction hasn't impaired his critical faculties; his "memoir of the '70s" functions as both a clear-eyed overview of the decade in music and pop culture and a lucid, sharp-tongued, and occasionally scandalous recap of his own experiences with everyone from Led Zeppelin to the Sex Pistols, with a sideline as a fairly standard-issue though engagingly written drug narrative. (Act I: I did heroin and it was great! Act II: I did heroin and it was hell! Act III: I cleaned up and found God and had a kid and now everything is awesome!) Kent's take on any of these individual topics would have been worth a read; the combination is especially winning (I could have done without the trite, saccharine finale, but I don't begrudge him it under the circumstances). The book demonstrates that the lazy book-jacket comparisons to Hunter Thompson and Nik Cohn (as seminal cultural critics derailed by their own overindulgence) don't do Kent justice, as neither Cohn nor Thompson in their latter days had it together enough to write a book of this quality.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    One of the top rock and roll memoirs I've come across. It's simultaneously funny and tragic. Music journalist Kent is great writer with a dry sense of humor and during the 70s, he was a witness and participant in the escapes of David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Iggy Pop, Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols, and a cast of thousands. He's also brutally honest about how his addiction to heroin and other substance undercut his creativity and personal life to a harrowing degree. A terrific follow-up to his collection One of the top rock and roll memoirs I've come across. It's simultaneously funny and tragic. Music journalist Kent is great writer with a dry sense of humor and during the 70s, he was a witness and participant in the escapes of David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Iggy Pop, Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols, and a cast of thousands. He's also brutally honest about how his addiction to heroin and other substance undercut his creativity and personal life to a harrowing degree. A terrific follow-up to his collection of articles, "The Dark Stuff"

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    Some interesting stuff in here. Overall, though, I really dislike Kent's style. He does have great stories, but is just full of himself. I give him points for being friends with Iggy Pop and having a serious relationship with Chrissie Hynde. And putting the music of the time in context is good. I didn't know much about what England was like in the 70s drugwise. Lots of heroin. That was interesting.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ian Mapp

    For the most part, the book reads like a cross between Alan Partridge ("needless to say, I had the last laugh" and Father Ted's Award Acceptance Speech ("and next we come onto Liars"). So why the high rating? It charts an entertaining life - warts and all - in a turbulent decade of change but high popular culture. And Nick Kent was at the very centre of it. It's told year by year through the 70's - although focus is lost slightly as we reach the end of the decade. I'm also pleased that an For the most part, the book reads like a cross between Alan Partridge ("needless to say, I had the last laugh" and Father Ted's Award Acceptance Speech ("and next we come onto Liars"). So why the high rating? It charts an entertaining life - warts and all - in a turbulent decade of change but high popular culture. And Nick Kent was at the very centre of it. It's told year by year through the 70's - although focus is lost slightly as we reach the end of the decade. I'm also pleased that an afterword chapter details what Nick is up to through the following three decades. I really liked him on paper and pleased that he's doing fine. There's no way I'd allow him to crash in my house. Nick was a desperately young writer in the golden age of the NME. Only 19 at the start of the decade, he had access to all the major and minor players on the pop scene - from the very top with the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin to having a formative part in the Sex Pistols before they shook up the industry in '76. No doubt he could spot talent - promoting Iggy and Television when no one else did. He mixes the story between the Super Groups and his own personal circumstances well - matching the bands drug for drug and forming relationships with all the stars and would be stars. These relationships range from a partnership with Chrissie Hynde to being bicycle chain whipped by Sid Vicious. He hasn't necessarily learned much from damning people in print. He'd probably be bicycle chain whipped by Jah Wobble for what he wrote about him here, if their paths ever crossed. Highly entertaining and importantly, a gateway to other resources - with a year by year recommendation at the bag of the book on the key tunes. They're not at all obvious. Will very probably move on to his other book the Dark Stuff.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tim Niland

    This is something of a companion piece to UK music journalist Nick Kent's collection The Dark Stuff, which brought together some of his best music writing for the New Musical Express in the 1970's as well as later pieces. Some of that story is echoed here, but the focus of this book is more purely autobiographical, focusing on his descent into drug abuse during the second half of the decade. Beginning with early framing sections about how he became a music obsessive, he quickly moves from a This is something of a companion piece to UK music journalist Nick Kent's collection The Dark Stuff, which brought together some of his best music writing for the New Musical Express in the 1970's as well as later pieces. Some of that story is echoed here, but the focus of this book is more purely autobiographical, focusing on his descent into drug abuse during the second half of the decade. Beginning with early framing sections about how he became a music obsessive, he quickly moves from a local alternative paper to the big leagues, ditching college in the process and was soon travelling to the USA meeting up with his contemporaries at Creem magazine in Detroit and partying with the Stooges and the MC5. A difficult breakup with Crissie Hynde, later of the Pretenders, led to his first dabbling in hard drugs, but the mid-seventies were Kent's peak, touring with the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin and writing lengthy profiles from the inside. But as his appetite for heroin increased, and the nature of the music changed he was thrown into a dark spiral, as the Stones and Zeppelin stagnated.His one-time friend Malcom McLaren had the nascent Sex Pistols turn on him in sometimes violent ways and Kent was soon watching the punk movement from the outside as homelessness and loss of confidence in his writing skills plagued him even further. This was a fascinating book, on one side it is one man's fall to struggle with a crippling drug addiction and his survival strategies (you can register as a drug addict in the UK to receive methadone, whereas in the US you can just get arrested) but it's also a thumbnail history of rock 'n' roll from the inside and Kent makes for an interesting and brutally honest guide.

  15. 4 out of 5

    El_kiablo

    This book is three hundred and fifty pages of first person stories of debauchery and catty comments about famous people, all delivered with unapologetic boldness... And then it ends on a Come To Jesus moment? What the fuck? I get that Kent had to stop doing cocaine with Keith Richards if he was going to survive. Obviously it's relevant to the story if he stops being a junkie and settles down with a wife and a kid. All of that is standard issue once-upon-a-time junkie memoir stuff and I can live This book is three hundred and fifty pages of first person stories of debauchery and catty comments about famous people, all delivered with unapologetic boldness... And then it ends on a Come To Jesus moment? What the fuck? I get that Kent had to stop doing cocaine with Keith Richards if he was going to survive. Obviously it's relevant to the story if he stops being a junkie and settles down with a wife and a kid. All of that is standard issue once-upon-a-time junkie memoir stuff and I can live with it. But the sudden shift into spirituality in the last chapter... That doesn't sit well with me. You can be a sarcastic dick and a family man simultaneously - but I have a harder time reconciling a newfound "the Lord moves in mysterious ways" attitude with a "my memoir should be full of dirty laundry airing and score settling" intention. It either means that the preceding three hundred and fifty pages were written in bad faith or it means that the last minute conversion is hollow and that's a lose-lose proposition. Solid book but man it does not stick the landing.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Peter Pinkney

    Rolling Stone had Greil Marcus, Creem had the unsurpassable Lester Bangs, and our very own NME had the brilliant Nick Kent. I can remember in my teen years desperately looking for any Nick Kent pieces every Friday when I bought the latest issue. This was a time when the music press were on an equal footing to many of the stars they wrote about. Incisive philosophical articles lifted music critics from the previous "what is you favourite colour, ideal date, favourite food etc etc ad nauseum" of Rolling Stone had Greil Marcus, Creem had the unsurpassable Lester Bangs, and our very own NME had the brilliant Nick Kent. I can remember in my teen years desperately looking for any Nick Kent pieces every Friday when I bought the latest issue. This was a time when the music press were on an equal footing to many of the stars they wrote about. Incisive philosophical articles lifted music critics from the previous "what is you favourite colour, ideal date, favourite food etc etc ad nauseum" of previous rock/journalism. This book is a fine companion to his collection of Nick's rock writings in The Dark Stuff. Never gossipy, just straight forward stories of the bands, he wrote about, intertwined with his increasing drug dependence. He certainly blows apart the myth of punk rock with his memories of what a nasty bunch of creeps that a lot of them were. Top journalism, and I hope Nick writes more memoirs. PS I've always felt I knew Nick even though I never met him. He had/has that wonderful ability in his writing to feel that he is personally talking to you, a rare gift.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Allan Heron

    A tale of the 1970's ftom the perspective of Kent's rise and fall personally and professionally. Provides a captivating alternative view on the punk years, via his involvement with the Sex Pistols from their earliest days.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Bloxham

    Self indulgent and piteous recollections of a decent writer. He instigated far more than given credit for , punk etc. Just wish it had carried on further down the road. The music writing at the end is ace.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alex Bleach

    A really good account of 70s rock music. Nick Kent's prose is poetic and informed, but engaging throughout.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Oh Mr. Kent! Its quite a tale you weave, my good sir, of your tragic figure cutting no mean swath through that hazy decade formerly and still known as, the 70s, Iggy, Lester, Bowie, Chrissie, Zepp, the Stones, the Clash, and the Pistols, among others, playing their supporting parts in your tragicomedy with unbridled gusto as the heroin jostled with common sense and basic biological needs in your veins and viscera while friendships, love, and employment ebbed and flowed on the tidal wave of your Oh Mr. Kent! It’s quite a tale you weave, my good sir, of your tragic figure cutting no mean swath through that hazy decade formerly and still known as, the 70’s, Iggy, Lester, Bowie, Chrissie, Zepp, the Stones, the Clash, and the Pistols, among others, playing their supporting parts in your tragicomedy with unbridled gusto as the heroin jostled with common sense and basic biological needs in your veins and viscera while friendships, love, and employment ebbed and flowed on the tidal wave of your addiction, and of course, your ego. Oh, and can I forgive you for not responding to young Stephen Morrissey’s letters? Perhaps your cold callous neglect helped fuel some of the best music in pop history. Maybe. It’s a damn wonder that you lived to tell the tale, my good sir. The heroin tried to kill you. Sid Vicious, at the behest of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, or so you report, tried to kill you. Street thugs left you for dead in a vacant lot, but you walked away from it all, not unscathed perhaps, but more perplexing, none the wiser, either. You felt no pain, you say. The heroin helped. Of course it did. Through it all, you failed to see that it was you trying to kill you. The eleventh hour arrived, you slept. Eleven-thirty, you slept. You went home one Christmas, your mom cried at your ghostly figure darkening your parents’ doorstep. Nothing. Eleven-fifty-nine strikes. An illness takes you to the precipice of your earthly existence. Finally, you wake up, with a little help from your friend methadone, and commit yourself right then and there to a good old fashioned regimen of hard work and perseverance with the ultimate goal being the achievement of full fecal integration. Good on ya, and thank god. This book is just what the world, maybe the music world, not to mention my little world, needs right now. This is a story yours truly can identify with, or at least would like to identify with. I’ve been through my crap, too, ya know. Who hasn’t? Kent’s memoir is quite reminiscent of Toby Young’s How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: A young idealist tosses himself into the cynical world of entertainment and fashion, gets tossed to and fro, gets smashed to bits, yet manages to come out of it all still alive and much the better for it. The upshot in Kent’s case is that after going through hell, he finally meets and marries a nice girl, moves to Paris, starts writing again, becomes a father, becomes a Christian, and other gooey good-guy, dominant-culture-reinforcin’ stuff. However, no matter how gooey and gushing it may seem from the outside, I cannot begrudge him of that. In fact, call me a wee bit jealous of his descent into the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie. Like Young, Kent seemed to have a lot of fun along the way, despite his long spell of being a junkie ghost about London, and more far-flung parts. Kent not only wrote about the above-named luminaries, but became friends with them as well. He shacked up with pre-Pretenders Chrissie Hynde, and became good buddies with one James Osterberg, aka, Iggy Pop who wound up saving Kent’s life one deep dark night in Los Angeles. It may be the book’s most harrowing moment as well as its most uplifting. Per Kent, Iggy displayed a kindness and human decency that were “thin on the ground” in the 70’s. That episode pretty much sums up the whole book and its position in the universe of books, or at least memoirs. I’ll have to say, Apathy for the Devil is pulling a bit of an Iggy in this decade where quality memoirs are ‘thin on the ground.’

  21. 5 out of 5

    Poosco

    Loved this book, but because I think Iggy is a god and Lou is cunt, I cant be considered unbiased. Nevertheless with the exception of a hint of self serving recollection, this is a great front row seat to a time when rock ruled! Loved this book, but because I think Iggy is a god and Lou is cunt, I can’t be considered unbiased. Nevertheless with the exception of a hint of self serving recollection, this is a great front row seat to a time when rock ruled!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Luke

    This book is largely about '70s music on the surface, but it's about the glorification of self-destruction caused by '70s music at a deeper level. Nick Kent was on of the worst victims who survived to tell about it. I've never been one to listen to much '70s music, except for the late '70s art-house new-wave music that Kent so adamantly condemns, but it was really interesting to learn about the few artists I do listen to, as well as the artists my dad grew up enjoying. Kent's honesty about his This book is largely about '70s music on the surface, but it's about the glorification of self-destruction caused by '70s music at a deeper level. Nick Kent was on of the worst victims who survived to tell about it. I've never been one to listen to much '70s music, except for the late '70s art-house new-wave music that Kent so adamantly condemns, but it was really interesting to learn about the few artists I do listen to, as well as the artists my dad grew up enjoying. Kent's honesty about his own fall from grace is refreshing to say the least. He doesn't sugar-coat any of his own faults, nor does he refrain from speaking ill of those who helped feed his self-destructive habits--many of whom are famous and were close friends of his. He does throw a little too much shade, though, to people who maybe didn't deserve it. To some extent, this book exposes the Dark Secrets of many involved in the music scene (whether the musicians themselves, their managers, or members of the press), some of which may be unnecessary. At the same time, it's even questionable as to whether some of these people were even that horrible, or if they had just pissed him off. Like Cat Stevens: he admits to hating the guy, despite never meeting him, for the sole reason that, in college, he was trying to sleep with many of Stevens' groupies. Nick Kent's involvement in the music scene, despite how detrimental it may have been to him, is still really interesting to read about. Between snorting heroin with Keith Richards, getting severely beaten with a bike chain by Sid Vicious, receiving embarrassing fan letters from a teenage Morrissey, and being mentioned in a spiteful love song by the Pretenders, his life is something to be glad wasn't yours and to envy at the same time. The book's prose was at times a little trite, but his transitions through time and subject matter were almost always seamless (he often jumps forward or backward in time or focuses on one musician before jumping to another). He also writes some of the most original and clever similes and metaphors I've ever read. Sometimes his storytelling comes off as a bit self-indulgent, though, where he's simultaneously aware of how toxic the '70s were for him and at the same time how blessed he viewed his life to be to know so many famous musicians. But the book was extremely enjoyable. I, like him, am a severe lover of music and have at times fantasized about being a music journalist. But this book acts almost as a warning to me against a music lifestyle of any sort. So I guess I'll just stick to buying records and buying excessively more expensive stereo equipment.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Niklas Pivic

    I was quite surprised with Kent's simple style of writing. At first, judging the book by its cover, it's true, it seemed like a simple rock 'n' roll take, but not so. At least not for the first half of the book anyway. Kent tells of his life as a child, a teenager and getting smitten with hormones, non-moans and the likes. Gripes. Loves. His first tastes of music. The Beatles. The Rolling Stones. Getting aurally smacked by Led Zeppelin, seeing them in concert, getting backstage due to a mate. I was quite surprised with Kent's simple style of writing. At first, judging the book by its cover, it's true, it seemed like a simple rock 'n' roll take, but not so. At least not for the first half of the book anyway. Kent tells of his life as a child, a teenager and getting smitten with hormones, non-moans and the likes. Gripes. Loves. His first tastes of music. The Beatles. The Rolling Stones. Getting aurally smacked by Led Zeppelin, seeing them in concert, getting backstage due to a mate. School, moving away from home, starting out with writing about music and then, as the 1970s and Kent's youth really gets going, so does his writing. As stated, it's simple yet nothing's lost by that; it's a bit like Morrissey's lyrics; even though they're simple there is a lot behind it (even though this is actually short-changing Moz). As Kent moves into writing for NME and getting his paws dirty in private with the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones plus getting his lingual traits in order, he meets with Lester Bangs and the Creem unit while visiting the USA for the first time. He also contracts STDs and starts doing heavy drugs. A lot of the writing is about the waves of music during the 1970s; from the folk to the rock to the punk and into his heavy drug-use which inevitably turned him into a pathetic, homeless junkie. Most of this book is very entertaining, interesting and funny; Kent jabs at himself with swagger as he should; the man is actually the reason why "Metallic KO" came into existing in the first place, and if that wasn't enough he actually was there during a lot of what happened; Iggy's getting into David Bowie, talking with Lester Bangs about interviewing Lou Reed, sticking around the making of "Exile On Main St". Even though Kent does a good job at staying humble throughout most of the book, there is a bit of grumpy old man in here which doesn't suit the general taste of the book, and reminds me of how he's portrayed - and of how he portrays himself - in Julien Temple's "The Filth And The Fury": a belligerent, pompous person who tries to be somebody he's not. On the other hand: who's not, at some times? All in all: a lot better than a bunch of autobiographies on music, but quite the way away from the poetic, autobiographic side of books, e.g. Patti Smith's radiant "Just Kids". Get this and you won't be disappointed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    A 3.5 really... After dropping out of university, Nick Kent got to realise his dreams in the 1970's and soon found himself interviewing and reviewing many of his musical icons as one of the leading writers for the NME, which was going through a pivotal time. Seduced by the rock n roll lifestyle, Kent's life soon goes from elegantly wasted to plain toxic as his heroin addiction holds him tighter within it's grip, rock makes way for punk and Thatcher comes along to try and ruin the country. Having A 3.5 really... After dropping out of university, Nick Kent got to realise his dreams in the 1970's and soon found himself interviewing and reviewing many of his musical icons as one of the leading writers for the NME, which was going through a pivotal time. Seduced by the rock n roll lifestyle, Kent's life soon goes from elegantly wasted to plain toxic as his heroin addiction holds him tighter within it's grip, rock makes way for punk and Thatcher comes along to try and ruin the country. Having read The Dark Stuff I already knew that Kent writes incredibly well on the subject that he's most passionate about - music. While he's almost as passionate on the subject of himself, while still very good this doesn't quite hit the heights of his musical musings, though is still incredibly accessible, informative and entertaining. If Kent is to be believed, he was there at many of the pivotal moments in musical history (I'm not quite sure I entirely believe all of it - Kent does have the self-absorption of the junkie and has a habit of making the entire decade seem all about him). Of particular interest was the punk explosion, and his recollections of McClaren, the groups on the scene and the violence that went hand in hand with punk were some of the more interesting parts for me. It's hard to remember at times just how young Kent is whilst all of this is happening, sometimes he seems so cynical and jaded that you're expecting him to be a middle-aged man when along comes a reminder that he's just barely into his twenties (though that might be due to it being a memoir, and the middle-aged voice leaking through). I didn't always agree with Kent's opinions - there were times when he'd make a statement on a particular artist or song and I'd want to slap him, but part of his allure as a writer is that he's rather opinionated so I'll give him a slightly begrudging pass on those.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    Apathy For The Devil by Nick Kent This book whose subtitle is a 1970s Memoir takes the reader on a trip through the ripped backsides of the 1970s and Nicks own hell bound ride through sex and drugs and rock and roll as a music journalist who was at many of the places youd have wanted to be in that time period. He hung out with everyone from the rolling stones to the sex pistols spent time doing drugs with Led Zeppelin and Iggy and the stooges dated Chrissy Hynde before she was famous, got so Apathy For The Devil by Nick Kent This book whose subtitle is a 1970’s Memoir takes the reader on a trip through the ripped backsides of the 1970’s and Nicks own hell bound ride through sex and drugs and rock and roll as a music journalist who was at many of the places you’d have wanted to be in that time period. He hung out with everyone from the rolling stones to the sex pistols spent time doing drugs with Led Zeppelin and Iggy and the stooges dated Chrissy Hynde before she was famous, got so drugged out that he was homeless for a long period of time going from one shooting gallery to the next to stay off the streets barely surviving and yet still managing to keep the odd article coming out. He eventually found salvation through ten years on a methadone programme and then eventually kicked it all and moved to Paris, somehow he has pieced together enough of what happened to make this a great rock and roll survivor story and if this doesn’t put you off getting involved in heroin or trying to keep up with Keef Richards little will. It is also paints a good picture of just how much has changed since the 1970’s as you’d never find the squats and degradation in the areas they were when he is writing about going to score heroin on Cheyne Walk that is now just multi million pound houses and apartments. Now I really ought to find his earlier book The Dark Stuff that contains many of his classic articles from the 1970’s NME.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Spiros

    Nick Kent was called a wanker by Led Zeppelin in 1972; he spent most of the latter half of the '70's getting beaten up, most famously by Sid Vicious, and strung out on heroin. Whenever, in the course of this largely well-written and darkly humorous memoir, Kent ventures an opinion, my knee-jerk reaction is to emulate Barry in HIGH FIDELITY and shout out "That's BULLSHIT!!!". However, I have to give him full marks for the following passage: "Two years earlier, glam had been the big noise in town Nick Kent was called a wanker by Led Zeppelin in 1972; he spent most of the latter half of the '70's getting beaten up, most famously by Sid Vicious, and strung out on heroin. Whenever, in the course of this largely well-written and darkly humorous memoir, Kent ventures an opinion, my knee-jerk reaction is to emulate Barry in HIGH FIDELITY and shout out "That's BULLSHIT!!!". However, I have to give him full marks for the following passage: "Two years earlier, glam had been the big noise in town [Los Angeles] but now it was dead on its legs and the rugged and rigidly heterosexual Eagles had lately risen up as the new Messiahs of West Coast rock. It wasn't hard to fathom out why. Their music was as comfortable and reassuring to mainstream America as slipping on an old pair of slippers. It didn't challenge its audience on any level or promote alternative lifestyles. It just blended together contemporary hippie mysticism with fanciful cowboy folklore and then seved the combo up like a musial box of chocolates wrapped in a ribbon-bow of mock-prairie harmonizing. Their records were like those washed-denim jeans that were so in vogue at the time: bland, inauthentic but impossible to escape." Also, I must mention that the repeated use of the phrase "fathom out" started to grate on me: "fathom" by itself would work just fine.

  27. 5 out of 5

    James

    If I was rating the quality of the writing, or the quality of the anecdotes, I'd give this four stars. If I was rating Kent's likeability or his reliability as a narrator, I'd give the whole affair two stars. On the whole, I'm torn; this memoir is a bunch of good stories to take with spoonfuls of salt, written by an author who seems almost painfully quick to condemn in others the personality quirks which make him so compelling, and who comes across as a self-aggrandizing narcissist even when If I was rating the quality of the writing, or the quality of the anecdotes, I'd give this four stars. If I was rating Kent's likeability or his reliability as a narrator, I'd give the whole affair two stars. On the whole, I'm torn; this memoir is a bunch of good stories to take with spoonfuls of salt, written by an author who seems almost painfully quick to condemn in others the personality quirks which make him so compelling, and who comes across as a self-aggrandizing narcissist even when he's purportedly demonstrating his own vulnerability. And it's not that I think the actual Nick Kent is an actual narcissist— hell, I don't know, I've never met the man— but Nick Kent is a great rock journalist, which means the core of his talent is mythmaking, and spinning dross into gold, and these talents make for great color pieces about entertainers, but not so much for good memoirs. It's a good book, no doubt, and Kent's place within the milieu of '60s and '70s rock— a scene I find fascinating— is undeniable. But I find it really hard to trust the man's stories, a fact which poisons a lot of the book's best tableaus. Definitely worth a read, in any case.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mike Caulfield

    Two stars may be a bit low -- the end dragged on. I might have given it three at points in it. It's best talking about emergence of punk, and in its insight into Bowie and Iggy Pop. He savages much of the punk scene as genuinely sociopathic, although with some of the incidents I found myself wanting a second point of view. The book is impressive in that it tries to capture the entirety of the 70s music scene through many subcultures: glam, pub rock, punk, etc. and tries to unify the meaning of Two stars may be a bit low -- the end dragged on. I might have given it three at points in it. It's best talking about emergence of punk, and in its insight into Bowie and Iggy Pop. He savages much of the punk scene as genuinely sociopathic, although with some of the incidents I found myself wanting a second point of view. The book is impressive in that it tries to capture the entirety of the 70s music scene through many subcultures: glam, pub rock, punk, etc. and tries to unify the meaning of the 70s, which is presented as a bit of a lost decade -- Kent sees the pioneers in the early 70s (e.g. The Stooges) as channeling that disillusion into art, but depicts the general trajectory of the decade as one which moved towards ever diminishing humanity, ending finally with the bankruptcy that was the majority of the punk scene. This trajectory neatly follows his own, which, as he admits, may have colored his take. All the same it's probably a good read for those interested in the scene in the 70s, but not a great one, and likely not of interest to those uninterested in the stars parading through its pages.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    I picked up this book because Nick Kent covered music when I was growing up and I remember him and a lot of the other writers he talks about. It is interesting just to hear how screwed up a lot of these people are. Kent was a very good writer but like so many in that industry he got f**ked up with drugs. I am sure in a lot of the ways the fact he was a wild drug addict helped him to mix with a lot of the rock stars of that day as he was hardly going to blow the whistle on their excesses. I think I picked up this book because Nick Kent covered music when I was growing up and I remember him and a lot of the other writers he talks about. It is interesting just to hear how screwed up a lot of these people are. Kent was a very good writer but like so many in that industry he got f**ked up with drugs. I am sure in a lot of the ways the fact he was a wild drug addict helped him to mix with a lot of the rock stars of that day as he was hardly going to blow the whistle on their excesses. I think what any (sane) person reading this will understand is that hard drugs (I'm not talking weed here) f**k you up and certainly do not enhance your life. I enjoyed reading this book, hearing stories about all the bands I grew up with and the trails and tribulations that many of them went through, Also it was quite shocking to hear just how many of the people that became 'idols' are f**ked up violent psychopaths and how others are just plain depressed or helpless messes. It's a well written book and it's great to find out that he came out the other end of his wilderness years and got his shit together.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kahn

    As a rule, journalists - and critics in particular - think the world revolves around them. Clearly Nick Kent subscribes to this. It could be that this is one of the most important accounts of the 70s, it could be that Mr Kent has actually created one of the most important cultural texts of the modern era - but I only got as far as page 50. In that time I learnt that Keith Richards took to heroin because of Jagger's rumoured dalliance with Pallenberg AND because of Altamont (not both together, you As a rule, journalists - and critics in particular - think the world revolves around them. Clearly Nick Kent subscribes to this. It could be that this is one of the most important accounts of the 70s, it could be that Mr Kent has actually created one of the most important cultural texts of the modern era - but I only got as far as page 50. In that time I learnt that Keith Richards took to heroin because of Jagger's rumoured dalliance with Pallenberg AND because of Altamont (not both together, you understand, each individual incident lead him separately down the path to Junkieville), that while Performance was such a great film that made such an impact on his life he didn't bother to find out Nic Roeg was involved, and that he was one of the few who saw an early Patti Smith show in a shitty pub and spotted straight away she was destined for greatness. Bollocks. What I also learnt is that Mr Kent is a lazy writer who likes to over-write his sentences to make his work seem important and worthy, thinks it's cool to dismiss Chaucer's place in literature history, and is too lazy to research his facts. No stars, and I've still rated it generously

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