Cropheads Between the Covers Special

She’s My Witch, Stewart Home, 2020 (London Books)

9780995721746As with Defiant Pose (1991), Red London (1994) and Tainted Love (2005) before it, Stewart Home raided his record collection for this novel’s title, epitomised by mean and moody rocker Kip Tyler’s smouldering classic single. ‘She’s My Witch’ has been covered by several artists since its 1959 release, most notably in a Cramps style by the Panther Burns (1987), woozy garage rockers the Fuzztones (1992) and most recently psychobillies The Radiacs (2010). I mention these only as Home’s own musical tastes and live forays, particularly to Dalston’s Garageland, get frequent mentions and largely fuel the online relationship which unfolds between the novel’s two protagonists, Vespa-riding personal trainer (and former skinhead) Martin Cooper and video editor Maria Remedios, a former dominatrix more likely to be found in bars with Hells Angels and skinheads than behind an editing suite in her native Spain (in one Facebook message she rues how the latter are now all “just fat middle-aged men”). This in itself opens up the time and place of the novel, East London in the post-financial crisis, pre-Brexit era (understandably as this is published on John King’s London Books imprint, the jacket text goes in heavy on this) where personal wellness and the creative industries meet, mutually reinforcing. As London riots then prepares to stage a few weeks of global sport, Martin and Maria get further acquainted on social media and commence the exchange of favoured YouTube clips of garage rock and proto-punk and the odd cult film trailer. Continue reading

A Sense of Style: Modzines

Modzines: Fanzine Culture From The Mod Revival, Eddie Piller and Steve Rowland, 2019 (Omnibus)

“The US Army parka, the trilby hat, the Harrington jacket, desert or monkey boots and a Fred Perry t-shirt made up the basic look. Small pockets of adherents sprung up in certain areas, like East London, Paddington and Waterloo, as they grew in number, these new mods began to coalesce into a scene.”

It may read like a casting for Call The Midwife extras, but in 1979 it was a chance meeting of some West Essex schoolkids in the queue for Who documentary The Kids Are Alright outside South Woodford’s ABC cinema which sparked a resurgence in the gospel of scooters, amphetamines, frenetic guitars and the written word, at least on the part of Modzines author Eddie Piller. Continue reading

Cropheads Between the Covers – Festive Roundup

Skins: A Way of Life, Patrick Potter, 2018 (Carpet Bombing Culture)

Indefatigable is not a word to be thrown around lightly, unless perhaps you’re George Galloway bending a knee to the nearest tyrant. But is there any other for the sheer number of chroniclers of skinhead? It’s a rich and varied genre of texts, more often than not inches of girth in photography rather than analysis, as we’ve considered before, with its own standard-bearers and flops.

SKINS-inner2-72dpi
Uneven diatribe with decent visuals

Where then does Skins: A Way of Life sit? Is it a Nick Knight, a George Marshall or a just a dud? I’m happy to report it’s none of the above, though it’s not going to win any prizes for analysis, that’s for sure. And why should it? Even before its release on Carpet Bombing Culture (who’ve already put out the likes of Derek Ridgers’ subcultural portraits), it managed to elicit its fair share of favourable coverage, though doubtless the upcoming Spirit of 69 anniversary played a part.

Much of the text forms a single-handed diatribe rather than an overview or potted history of skinhead since the days of 1969, not to mention being uneven in parts (plus don’t even get me started on the Adam and the Ants comment). Another coffee-table book perhaps, but as sure as Sweden gave us IKEA it also gave us Perkele. And like a copper’s knock on society’s windscreen when we shouldn’t be behind the wheel, Potter is one author reminding the publishing world that skinhead remains as worth talking about in print as well as ‘well-received’ BBC4 documentaries and the occasional Viceland feature.

As much as his last book Mods: A Way of Life documented that subculture as experienced on a thousand council estates, there are photos here you will have seen a million times and a satisfying number you may not have. Next year also sees the imprint put out former Scootering editor Martin ‘Sticky’ Round’s Scooter Boys, which should act as something of a triple-decker or proof of how the subcultures doubled up in the 1980s.
Stevo Continue reading

Cropheads Between the Covers – Books Roundup #1

9781138202115Skinhead History, Identity and Culture
Kevin Borgeson and Robin Valeri, 2017 (Routledge)

Skinhead History, Identity and Culture is published by academic imprint Routledge in their Crime and Society series and at £110 a pop you may be tempted towards criminal enterprise just to afford a copy. Continue reading

Do the monkey: Eastern Bloc boots for East End kids

We hope this article will shed light on questions you were always afraid to ask, for few topics are more divisive than monkey boots. However, Crombieboy does not pretend that his stab at trackng the history of the boot is comprehensive. It’s just an attempt that heavily relies on word-of-mouth accounts – for few topics are more shrouded in mystery than the history of this fine footwear item. If you know more than he was able to find out, we’d encourage you to enlighten us. Continue reading

Zine review: Verbal #5

You’d have to go back quite some time to find proper skinzines like Hard As Nails, Zoot, Bovver Boot and the like. Back far enough, in fact, to the era before even the MP3 or dial-up modems.

Verbal, despite the aggro title, isn’t a ‘sussed skin’ zine in the vein of Hard As Nails, though it’s arguably as sussed as any of those earlier titles, and no one could deny that editor John King has more than earned his stripes as the novelist behind Skinheads and the Human Punk nights at the 100 Club, if not more. Continue reading