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Monday, December 28, 2009

WWW of Spin Turlock #5: "All of My Friends Were There"

I received my copy of Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk In Toronto & Beyond 1977 - 1981 right before Christmas (thanks Ralph!).
Liz Worth, the author of this surprisingly hefty tome - it clocks in at 373 pages - had been working on this for a couple of years now, talking to the handfull of people who made up the scene back then; most of whom I know and many of whom I count as friends.

Worth accurately captures their voices and juxtaposes them in a way that lets YOU be the judge of What Really went Down. In fact, her own voice rarely appears in the book: there's a brief intro, a list of characters, and the clips start rolling.
And that's dandy for those people who were involved, and fine for the fans of the form. I could see, say, people like John Armstrong or Lindsay Hutton eating this stuff up. They'd have an indoors field day with this, (especially true in Hutton's case: as Scotland is not equipped to deal with Canadian type winters. I digress...).If you own say, 5 - 6 singles from this time and place, it puts a face to the sound.

And if you're a resident of Hamilton, Ontario you might be sussed by the presence of of Teenage Head, Simply Saucer, & The Forgotten Rebels, the former two acts cast as important predecessors to the scene. My presemce in the book is minimal: by the time I became an active participant (80 -81), that scene was winding down. I heard about all this stuff while attending a rural high school, mainly through Peter Goddard's columns on the Toronto Star, but Queen Street in Kincardine is a looong way from Queen street Toronto.

Which leads me to the next point: I'm not sure how this would work for people who weren't involved. A couple of pages of historical context from the author, a discography and a time line might have helped.

I guess you could just read it for the anecdotes sake. There are lots of great stories, even if some of them are not substantiated. Steve Leckie's alledged demands for Kentucky Fried Chicken during a last-ditch attempt to get him the Big Recording Deal comes to mind, as does any story involving Crazy Harry.

Finally, I 've always wondered why people used to think I was in the Diodes. Thanks to the full-colour black & white photos in the book, I understand now....whew!

Photo: Paul Robinson, cleverly disguised as the author, kneeling with the Diodes

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