july bookshelf


Tim Wells – Rougher Yet (Donut Press, 2009)

Another collection of poetry from Stoke Newington resident and ex-Blagger Tim Wells. Covers reggae, life in the London Borough of Hackney and much more besides. You don’t see me write about poetry much, eh? Maybe I like this because of its punky approach and an almost perfect meshing with things I do write about…


J Gottlieb & T Linehan (eds.) – The Culture of Fascism: Visions of the Far Right in Britain (I B Taurius, 2004)

Wordy but still readable collection of academic pieces examining the cultural side of Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. Did you know that uber fascist Arnold Leese used to cuss them for not being anti-semitic enough? Apparently he used to refer to them as the British Jewnion of Fascists.

The pieces here are variable, but there are some nice bits on the BUF’s evolution (and ideological opportunism – racism and anti-semitism as tactics when it suited them). Also lots of quotations from fash journals with them getting hot under the collar about the degeneration of culture and wanking themselves senseless about “the new fascist man” and “purfying the nation”.

Most interesting for me were the bizarre approaches to jazz. On the one hand “primitive native jew tunes with only that jumble of rhythm once associated with the half-civilised” which aimed to sap the vitality of gentiles and make them more likely to succumb to jewish domination. One the other hand, the BUF advertised its own “aryan” or “de-Judaised” jazz bands at social events.

Overall this book confirms my impression that fascist approaches to culture are essentially composed of outrage at decadence mixed up with an incredibly repressed need for “purity”. Which possibly explains why modern manifestations like the output of the BNP’s godawful record label are so hilariously awful.


Martin James – Fatboy Slim: Funk Soul Brother (Sanctuary Publishing, 2002)
I never even knew there was a book about Fatboy Slim until I saw this on the shelf in my local charity shop. James also wrote the first book on jungle (“State of Bass”) which is very good. As regular readers will know, I enjoyed big beat and Mr Slim’s DJ sets very much, so this was a nice surprise.

Unfortunately this isn’t really much cop. Partly this is because it’s an unofficial biog, based on press clippings (many of which I was alarmed to find I could remember from the time) and interviews with some of Norm’s colleagues and mates. But because Quentin/Norm/Fatboy is┬áso nice there is no real scandal here, which means we are left with the story of a good bloke who likes his tunes and a good time being in some bands and playing a lot of records.

There are a lot of deviations to up the wordcount. For example about the single most interesting thing in the book is that Norm’s parents are adherents of Oahspe and that he was brought up with that belief system and still finds it useful today. Unfortunately there is virtually nothing about what actual impact this has had on his life or family, instead we get 3 boring pages explaining the belief system and its origins. There are similar deviations explaining both early hip hop and the group Massive Attack.

You’d be better off listening to this whilst reading this.