Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Kids Are All Square: Medway Punk and Beyond (Countdown Books) out on 15th February


Authors: Bob Collins & Ian Snowball


 Shipping starts 15th Feb 2014

 Price: £9.85 (+ £1.80 p&p)

First 300 copies will be numbered and signed by both authors.

1980. Punk is Dead. At least in its original form. Many tried to keep it alive. People took different paths – to Goth, to Crass, to Oi, to psychobilly. But only in one insular corner of the South East of England did a small group of people latch on to the heart of the issue.

Everyone looks back on the over-produced sanitised sounds of the 80s with a mix of embarrassment and incredulity that it was tolerated. Well tolerated, and indeed embraced it was – by people who really should have known better. But not the Medway people. They were onto it like a shot.

Unlike others they focused on the sound of records. They couldn’t understand why modern records didn’t have the same raw punch of early blues and beat records from 20 years earlier. So they tried things, they tried playing live in the studio, they tried using one microphone to record the whole band. They tried using old equipment. And they made records – lots of records. And they never really stopped, undaunted by how the rest of the world judged them, focussing only on doing things properly. At the heart of this were The Milkshakes. Billy Childish and Mickey Hampshire, locking themselves away till they got this thing right. Immediately, others followed. The Prisoners, The Dentists, The Claim. All followed very different musical paths, but all deeply immersed in the Medway way of doing things.

Now Billy Childish is a major cult figure, his music world renowned; inspiration to Seattle grunge, the White Stripes, Blur and even Kylie. The Prisoners led directly to acid jazz and a strain of the Manchester sound typified by the Charlatans and Inspiral Carpets. Now for the first time in one book, the story of Medway music is told. It’s not the greatest story ever told but it might be the most significant piece of recent music history that you’ve never heard of, a story that needs telling; the story of the bands, the fans, the venues that made the Medway Towns a unique place at a unique time.

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