A Punk Rock Autobiography
The Passion Series: Book One
by Trevor Aindow
Review by Barry Boy
4Play: A Punk Rock Autobiography – The Passion Series: Book One by Trevor Aindow is the first autobiography of a musician that I have ever read, and it took a bit of getting used to, because, in a way, it is using one type of art to describe another. I will try to make that observation clearer as I progress.
The narrative is written partly in the third, but mostly in the first person and is suitable for readers of all ages, which I found slightly surprising for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because it is not what the media has led us to expect from Punks – they are alledged to be violent and foul-mouthed – and secondly, because 4Play unfolds mainly in the UK county of Merseyside in the period between 1980 and 1985, which Aindow himself characterises as being: “… in Thatcher’s Britain of recession, street fights, twenty-four-hour riots, scandals, chaos and political problems…”
Aindow describes in detail the four Punk bands he was involved with during that era, namely: Blitzkrieg, Mayhem, Catalyst and Hot Rain. There is also a tribute chapter to the legendary Stranglers, which Aindow credits with not only getting him started in music, but being a forty-year inspiration to him. It is an excellent resource for those who like the Stranglers.
One of the most noticeable aspects of 4Play is Aindow’s constant questioning of the morality of Punk. He definitely feels that the Punk movement was a beneficial force for social change, but he also asks, several times, “Are we any better off now?”
However, the answer, not made that explicit, seems to be that Aindow thinks that we are not.
Aindow’s style of writing belies his musical heritage in a way, because he often disregards the conventional rules of prose, grammar and spelling, in the same manner that the words to songs often do, making the flow of 4Play more lyrical than literary. I don’t know whether this is intentional or not, but it could be remedied by editing. Whether that would detract from the autobiography as it now stands though is another thing.
I suspect that many musicians would leave it as it is, but others would rather a cleaner, more conventional style.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading 4Play. It taught me a lot, not only about the Punk scene in Southport and Liverpool, but also the attitude of the aficionados of Punk too, as opposed to the ‘plastic Punks’ that Aindow derides. It also gave me an insight into Punk philosophy and inter-band politics – how bands form, and why they split up.
Those who come from Merseyside, have an interest in the history of music in general or Punk in particular, or just those who would like to understand the the early Eighties in the UK, will get a lot out of this autobiography.
I am looking forward to reading the other parts of the Passion Series – the title says it all, doesn’t it?
Top marks, Mr. Aindow, for delivering 4Play, your first book in The Passion Series – you obviously care about your art!