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Sunday, 13 July 2014

All that Glitters: The England's Dreaming Tapes part two

Slogging up and down the sun-baked streets of Warsaw on my birthday - braving the commerce-ridden hell of Nowy Swiat with only the down-at-heel welcome of Lenistwo as a refuge - what better time to ruminate over the latest couple of hundred pages of Savage's The England's Dreaming Tapes? 

Well, for what they're worth, here are my latest findings, various tweaks on the received wisdom or at least reminders of some key points and key personalities. Especially the latter. Human frailties, eh?

There are multiple attestations to the fact that Sid Vicious was "funny" and "smart", with Viv Albertine saying he only pretended to be stupid

Joe Strummer and Mick Jones had strong hippy-ish backgrounds and Strummer in particular was quite cut off from the McLaren / Sex / King's Road scene

Time after time London colleges feature strongly in key people's backgrounds: St Martin's, Goldsmith's, Hornsey, Chelsea - London punk would never have happened without further education

The squat scene was important, allowing people to be away from home but not necessarily working

Several people say that Lydon was "feminine" or "small" and in various ways very insecure

Adam Ant says that his impression of Steve Jones at the Bazooka Joe St Martin's gig was that he was "tiny"

One of the Sex / King's Road crowd - the camp, flamboyant and very interesting-sounding Alan Jones - says when he was introduced to Cook & Jones ("two Cockney boys") he was wrongfooted by their "niceness", which didn't fit with the local bohemian muso scene around the Roebuck pub

Despite Lydon's insecurities he was extremely keen to get taken on as the Sex Pistols singer and was thought to be "ambitious" by several people

Steve Jones was regularly physically sick with stage fright before the gigs

Many of their best gigs appear to have been at the Nashville pub in west London, often in front of 20 or 30 people, including on at least one occasion prolific early-seventies gig-goer "Jesus"

Nobody - absolutely nobody - has a good word for Nancy Spungen, with the partial exception of Glitterbest's Sophie Richmond

While numerous people comment on McLaren's ruthlessness and his capacity for empty words, he is often praised for his warmth and lack of social stand-offishness  ("he wasn't snobby", says Viv Albertine)

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