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Blue Suede Studies

Hugh Barnes, 19 December 1985

Elvis and Me 
by Priscilla Beaulieu Presley and Sandra Harman.
Century, 320 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 7126 1131 2
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Are you lonesome tonight? 
by Alan Bleasdale.
Faber, 95 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 571 13732 6
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Elvis and Gladys 
by Elaine Dundy.
Weidenfeld, 353 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 9780297782100
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The Johnny Cash Discography 
by John Smith.
Greenwood, 203 pp., £29.95, May 1985, 0 313 24654 8
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Horse’s Neck 
by Pete Townshend.
Faber, 95 pp., £6.95, May 1985, 9780571138739
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Like Punk Never Happened 
by Dave Rimmer.
Faber, 191 pp., £4.95, October 1985, 0 571 13739 3
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Starlust: The Secret Fantasies of Fans 
by Fred Vermorel and Judy Vermorel.
Comet, 253 pp., £4.95, August 1985, 0 86379 004 6
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The Beatles 
by Hunter Davies.
Cape, 498 pp., £12.95, December 1985, 0 224 02837 5
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... incidentally, as much the lunatic behaviour of their drummer, the late and lamented Keith Moon, as Pete Townshend’s songs of adolescent rebellion that won them column inches. Moon was juvenile, a jester from Wembley who delighted in pranks. But the group was remarkable for other things. While the Beatles accomplished a smooth crossing-over into show ...

Sunlight

Philip Horne, 28 September 1989

The Pale Companion 
by Andrew Motion.
Viking, 164 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 670 82287 6
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... Companion. It is striking that the figure on a poster for The Who in a boy’s study – ‘Pete Townshend, wearing his white boiler-suit, leapt on the wall behind Alex’s black, curly hair’ – is now one of the novelist’s new colleagues at Faber: but in this work at least there is not enough done for the reader to feel offered more than the ...

The Hell out of Dodge

Jeremy Harding: Woodstock 1969, 15 August 2019

Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music 
by Michael Lang.
Reel Art Press, 289 pp., £44.95, July 2019, 978 1 909526 62 4
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... with it: ‘I think this is a pile of shit while John Sinclair rots in prison.’ (Like Hoffman, Pete Townshend went off-message from ‘the spirit of Woodstock’ at that point. ‘Fuck off!’ he announced. ‘Fuck off my fucking stage!’) But Lang never imagined the festival as a political event and it never was: this was a countercultural ...

We were the Lambert boys

Paul Driver, 22 May 1986

The Lamberts: George, Constant and Kit 
by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 388 pp., £13.95, April 1986, 0 7011 2731 7
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... was the wittiest person in the world ... He was one of the biggest life forces I’ve ever met.’ Pete Townshend said: ‘When he died I felt I’d lost the last sense of everything coming into my life; I felt from now on I was never, never going to get topped up ...

Even If You Have to Starve

Ian Penman: Mod v. Trad, 29 August 2013

Mod: A Very British Style 
by Richard Weight.
Bodley Head, 478 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 224 07391 2
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... find two more different musical cries: Davis’s liquid tone is hurt, steely, recessive, where Townshend’s is upfront, impatient, hectoring. One arrow points in, the other out. But somewhere in the journey from one to the other, from cool, cruel blue to Townshend’s three-minute psychodrama – ‘I look all white/but ...

Dialect does it

Blake Morrison, 5 December 1985

No Mate for the Magpie 
by Frances Molloy.
Virago, 170 pp., £7.95, April 1985, 0 86068 594 2
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The Mysteries 
by Tony Harrison.
Faber, 229 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 9780571137893
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Ukulele Music 
by Peter Reading.
Secker, 103 pp., £3.95, June 1985, 0 436 40986 0
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Hard Lines 2 
edited by Ian Dury, Pete Townshend, Alan Bleasdale and Fanny Dubes.
Faber, 95 pp., £2.50, June 1985, 0 571 13542 0
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No Holds Barred: The Raving Beauties choose new poems by women 
edited by Anna Carteret, Fanny Viner and Sue Jones-Davies.
Women’s Press, 130 pp., £2.95, June 1985, 0 7043 3963 3
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Katerina Brac 
by Christopher Reid.
Faber, 47 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 571 13614 1
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Skevington’s Daughter 
by Oliver Reynolds.
Faber, 88 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 571 13697 4
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Rhondda Tenpenn’orth 
by Oliver Reynolds.
10 pence
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Trio 4 
by Andrew Elliott, Leon McAuley and Ciaran O’Driscoll.
Blackstaff, 69 pp., £3.95, May 1985, 0 85640 333 4
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Mama Dot 
by Fred D’Aguiar.
Chatto, 48 pp., £3.95, August 1985, 0 7011 2957 3
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The Dread Affair: Collected Poems 
by Benjamin Zephaniah.
Arena, 112 pp., £2.95, August 1985, 9780099392507
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Long Road to Nowhere 
by Amryl Johnson.
Virago, 64 pp., £2.95, July 1985, 0 86068 687 6
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Mangoes and Bullets 
by John Agard.
Pluto, 64 pp., £3.50, August 1985, 0 7453 0028 6
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Ragtime in Unfamiliar Bars 
by Ron Butlin.
Secker, 51 pp., £3.95, June 1985, 0 436 07810 4
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True Confessions and New Clichés 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 135 pp., £3.95, July 1985, 0 904919 90 0
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Works in the Inglis Tongue 
by Peter Davidson.
Three Tygers Press, 17 pp., £2.50, June 1985
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Wild Places: Poems in Three Leids 
by William Neill.
Luath, 200 pp., £5, September 1985, 0 946487 11 1
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... Poetry written in dialect seems to be undergoing a resurgence. Tony Harrison has made extensive use of Northern idioms. Tom Paulin has been busy raiding Ulster (and, I suspect, Scottish) dictionaries. Craig Raine has produced a manifesto, ‘Babylonish Dialects’, on dialect’s behalf. And several of the books under review here – by Scots, Welshmen and British West Indians – cannot be read without the glossaries which they thoughtfully provide ...

Backlash Blues

John Lahr, 16 June 2016

What Happened, Miss Simone? A Biography 
by Alan Light.
Canongate, 309 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 1 78211 871 8
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... and to adopt African dress, ‘the first true music industry radical feminist’, according to Pete Townshend. In the process, Simone and her songs – the performance of self – had become part of the ground on which African Americans stood. ‘White people had Judy Garland. We had Nina,’ the comedian Richard Pryor said. Simone’s voice answered ...

Dazed and Confused

Paul Laity: Are the English human?, 28 November 2002

Patriots: National Identity in Britain 1940-2000 
by Richard Weight.
Macmillan, 866 pp., £25, May 2002, 0 333 73462 9
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Pariah: Misfortunes of the British Kingdom 
by Tom Nairn.
Verso, 176 pp., £13, September 2002, 1 85984 657 2
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Identity of England 
by Robert Colls.
Oxford, 422 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 19 924519 3
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Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, October 2002, 1 85619 716 6
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... began to appear in the oddest places: on Mary Quant miniskirts and draped round the shoulders of Pete Townshend (Patriots is always keen to assert the world-beating quality of British pop). Weight seizes on this, arguing that such ‘promiscuous use’ of the national flag was ‘the most visible sign that the British were reclaiming patriotism ...

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