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The Crack Magazine

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Tenement Kid by Bobby Gillespie

There are real rock stars and then there are a whole load of corporate shills who are factory farmed into existence for one job, and one job only. Their job is to milk the consumer cash cow without doing much to either rock the system or shock said cow into psychologically induced cash retention. I guess it wouldn’t surprise you to know that these factory farmed stars have been known to tremble when Bobby Gillespie’s squeaky leather trousers are heard - ffs the guy is so cool he doesn’t even wear wellies. Tall, thin with leather jacket (or suit jacket with lapels as wide as the wingspan of a 747) that artfully hangs off his fragile frame, Bobby Gillespie is the rock star’s rock star. He’d be a cliche if he wasn’t so well read and musically literate. The man oozes rock n roll. He’s a student of the kind of musical lore laid down by folks like Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Poison Ivy and Iggy Pop. Quite simply you live rock n roll to the max. You don’t disappear into a big mansion and become reborn as an ‘elder statesman’ dispensing milky platitudes. You wear your leather trousers and your fucking sneer until the day Elvis, Jimi and Little Richard come careering down the road in a ghostly Cadillac that knocks you firmly and finally up to rock n roll heaven. Now, you may be asking, how in tarnation am I ever going to learn to walk the path of rock n roll righteousness in a time of musically modified pip squeakery? How indeed? Well, you could start with Tenement Kid, Bobby Gillespie’s punchily written beast of a memoir. Throwing haymakers from the get-go you’ll read about Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Robert Tressell and Muhammad Ali among others. And let’s face it, you’d be hard pressed to think of anyone else in the music industry to reference this lot in the first chapter of a memoir. It doesn’t let up: local Labour politics, Andrew McGee, JAMC, and all the tales of life on the road and in the studio that all lead to the musical legend that is Screamadelica. The tenement kid done good and, by learning the lessons dispensed within (and never wearing wellies), so could you.

Steven Long

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