“ SQUAT CITY ROCKS: proto-punk and beyond. a musical memoir from the margins.
Having experienced punk’s hurricane (particularly The Clash) at very close range, I find most stuff trotted out about it and them in recent years superficial and irritating, but this is one of the good ones, guaranteed to raise a smile. Richard Dudanski was drummer with The 101ers, the high-octane London pub-rock band fronted by Joe Strummer, so obviously his book is of special interest to Clash fans. But it’s much more than that, particularly the accounts of life they shared in Maida Vale’s pre-gentrification squat land, with all the characters, DIY electrics, survival techniques and sinister Special Patrol Group elevated into the realms of fascinating historical document by his acute eye for detail.
Crucially writing without bitterness or self-aggrandisement, Dudanski gives a fascinating account of Woody Mellor’s transformation into Joe Strummer and the full-blown conversion to punk’s manifesto which broke The 101ers and drove him to become the movement’s most revered figurehead. Dudanski’s colourful life after The 101ers provides further engrossing reading as he goes on to play with Metal Box-era PiL, doomed punky reggae pioneers Basement Five, Tymon Dogg, The Raincoats and assorted subterranean London underground outfits, before locating to Granada with long-time partner Esperanza
Concluding with reuniting with Strummer before his still-shocking death in 2002, the book stands as a rare glimpse into a little-documented aspect of a lost London and a poignant tribute to his old friend Joe, further enlivened by Esperanza’s illustrations, often executed back then.
Kris Needs “
Kris Needs “