By Peter Guralnick
Rock 'n' roll was born in rural Alabama, 1923, in the form of Sam Phillips, the youngest son of a large family living in a remote colony called the Lovelace Community. His father had a gift for farming, which was brought to an end by the Depression. His mother picked guitar and showed the kind of forbearance that allowed her to name her son after the doctor who delivered him drunk and then had to be put to bed himself. And yet from these unprepossessing origins, in 1951 Phillips made what is widely considered to be the first rock 'n' roll record, Ike Turner and Jackie Brenston's 'Rocket 88'. Just two years later a shy eighteen-year-old kid with sideburns, fresh out of high school, wandered into his recording studio to make a record 'for his mother', secretly hoping that it might somehow get him noticed. His name was Elvis Presley. Elvis's success, and the subsequent triumph of rock 'n' roll, was initially propelled to an almost astonishing degree by a limited number of releases by Carl 'Blue Suede Shoes' Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis - all from this tiny, one-man label. An engaging mix of biography and anecdote, Peter Guralnick's book brilliantly recreates one shining moment in the history of popular culture. And Sam Phillips was the man who brought it all about.
By Clive Small Tom Gilling
Organised crime doesn't just exist on our television screens. The real world of serious crime operates every day in every country. It is a multi-billion dollar business and at its core are the drug trade and a world of secrecy and self-protection where intimidation and violence are used as the first and only resort.Smack Express takes us deep into this world and unravels the web of criminal connections that are at the heart of the Australian underworld. It is about stand over merchants, big time drug dealers and small time crims, politicians, corrupt police, informants, undercover cops, contract killers, criminal gangs, and lawyers and accountants operating on the edge of the law. It is also about the Calabrian Mafia, triads and an international milieu that has connections across Southeast Asia and into Columbia.Authoritative and meticulously researched, Clive Small and Tom Gilling fit together all the pieces of this frightening and fascinating puzzle. Theirs is the book on organised crime for this generation.
By Alan Parker
The last word on Sid Vicious - the world's most iconic punk figure.The old school register for Soho Parish Primary school has a note in the margin recording that five-year-old John Simon Ritchie turned up for his first day at school unaccompanied in September 1962. He'd walked from his mum's council flat near Drury Lane, across Covent Garden and several major road junctions to Gt Windmill Street alone. Somehow it's a fitting start to the wild and troubled life that would be Sid Vicious's. It's also a story that's indicative of the detailed research Alan Parker has put into this biography of Sid Vicious. He spent an evening discussing young Simon Ritchie's schooldays with the headmistress of Soho Parish, has interviewed the likes of fellow Sex Pistols Paul Cook and Glen Matlock at length, as well as numerous other punk luminaries. The basics of Sid Vicious's brief 21 years are well known: art school, junkie mother, life in a squat, a year in the Sex Pistols until their demise in 1978, Nancy Spungeon's death, Sid's arrest, followed by Sid's own fatal overdose on 2 February 1979. Parker brings a wealth of new detail to the story, much gained from the New York Police Department and extensive interviews with Anne Beverley (Sid's mother), prior to her own suicide in 1996. This enables him to come to dramatic conclusions about who killed Nancy Spungeon and how Sid himself died. This will be the definitive and final word on Sid Vicious, and the perfect tribute to a man who has become a true icon of the 21st century.