THIS IS OUR GENERATION CALLING BOOK REVIEWS
Big Cheese (March 2011)
This is Our Generation Calling by John Damon
Tony Beesley is a bonafide fan who has just also turned out to be a rather good writer. This is the third part of his trilogy of books covering the Yorkshire punk and mod scenes of the 70’s and 80’s that he grew up on and his attention to detail is astounding. Interviewing the bands, promoters and punters that made up the scene and what they went on to do later and packed with pictures and flyers from bands and fans, we even get the Arctic Monkeys tracing their roots. This is a well-written document of a scene that is clearly close to Beesley’s heart. If you were there you will want to relive it again through this excellent and totally thorough book.
Vive Le Rock issue 2 (March 2011)
This is Our Generation Calling 8/10 by Shane Baldwin -
This is the final instalment in Tony Beesley’s trilogy of books covering the punk and mod scenes in South Yorkshire. His first book, Our Generation, covered punk and mod in and around Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster from 1976 to 1985, while the second, Out of Control, concentrated on punk venues The Outlook in Doncaster and Rotherham’s Windmill. All
three books let the musicians, fanzine writers, promoters and fans tell the story, alongside Beesley’s own reminiscences. This time he has found many more of the scene’s movers and shakers and also brings us up to date, via many of the musical fads that followed punk and mod, to current bands like Arctic Monkeys and The Violet May (above). When you consider that South Yorkshire didn’t produce one major punk band, yet the scene there was so vibrant that it can produce three such fascinating books, it makes you realise that every city could probably deliver a series like this… if someone could be bothered.
Mudkiss fanzine review by Den Browne
This is Our Generation Calling! Punk & Mod in & around Sheffield - It's been a real joy over the last year to watch the progress of Tony Beesley's "Our Generation" series, now completed with the third book - "This is Our Generation Calling!" - following on from "Our Generation: the Punk & Mod Children of Sheffield. Rotherham & Doncaster 1976-1985" & "Out of Control; Punk Rock at the Doncaster Outlook & Rotherham Windmill 1976-1978". "Our Generation" reverts to the large paperback format of the first book, which is great as it means there's even more room for all the fan photos, flyers. reviews, cuttings, tickets & other bits'n'bobs that usually get lost.This time the story focuses on the tail end of the initial surge of punk, and the many diversions that followed: New Wave, Powerpop, Two-Tone/ska, Mod & Post-Punk, early Goth to name but a few. There are huge differences in terms of influence, importance & longevity here, but all receive equal attention. It's a great reminder of the diversity of that era, & there are fans of every genre represented here. In addition, it makes the point that people always listen to all kinds of stuff, despite media attempts at stereotyping punks, soul boys, whatever. There was a real feeling of "where do we go from here?" after the end of the Pistols & the first wave of punk lost impetus - did you go back to the rock or funk you'd been into before, with a bit of added reggae? Maybe you'd succumb to the "New Wave" diluted punk offered by the mainstream? Or follow the likes of PIL, Magazine & the other post-punk pioneers on their journey into the Can-zone & beyond?
Meanwhile papers like Sounds & NME were casting around frantically for the next big scene - one week it'd be the Pleasers, then Secret Affair, or maybe August Darnell/Kid Creole?!It's basically the same characters (& the author himself) telling their stories in the three books, which is cool, as by the end of this one I felt like I almost knew folk like Julie Longden & Steve Marshall. Equally, where in the first book their contributions were mostly edited into a patchwork of short quotes, here the extracts are much longer & give more of an idea of the personalities as well as the music they liked (or didn't). With more space the stories & characters are able to develop a depth almost like a novel, so the book's never in danger of just being a list of groups & gigs. There's a universal vibe here - alongside the music & the styles - the whole late-teens/early 20's experience, where you're consumed with all the "Who am I? What do I want? What do I really like?" type issues, & all the leaving home/going out into the world stuff like relationships is coming on strong - the uniquely intense friendships, & tentative early relationships that are rarely so intense again.Musically, the book takes in the whole long trip from punk up to recent groups like the Libertines & Arctic Monkeys & even finds space for the usually overlooked tribute band scene. The sheer diversity of music & sub-cultures covered here is head spinning. There's a lot on the various phases of the Mod revival & scooter (ist) scenes, & the way that 2-Tone & ska managed to be retro/revivalist & very much in the present at the same time. And so it goes - the early days of the Sheffield electro scene, the first tentative stirrings of Goth & the differing directions taken as punk evolved through new generations, not forgetting rave, grebo, grunge, Britpop & many more - they're all recorded here. So many music books are content to take lazy "big picture" perspective - the "Our Generation" series is like some fabulous musical & social time-capsule."The devil's in the detail", says the cliche, but it's the layers of detail that really make this book so effective. If you're intrigued by things like a local newspaper report which begins "An outing from a South Yorkshire yoghurt factory turned sour when rival fans clashed at a Sheffield pop contest", then this book is for you.Apart from the great stories & pics recorded in the book, there's also another story going on here, & it should be a real inspiration to any wannabe writer. When the first of these books came out, it was a real home-produced labour of love, just like all those self-funded punk first singles, when it's a buzz just to see your name out there. Tony Beesley marketed it mail order from home, but now he's broken through to the mainstream market of places like Smith's, HMV & Waterstones, on the strength of word-of-mouth & not resting on his laurels once the writing was finished.
Modculture.co.uk review by Paul 'Smiler' Anderson
Punk and mod scenes around Sheffield. Paul 'Smiler' Anderson reviews."
It's funny how sometimes you remember certain days in your life that at the time never seemed to have any specific importance attached to them. Then at some point in the future you just seem to recall it and realise it captures a moment in history that is personally sacred or emotional. One such day that springs to mind is a day sometime in the mid 70s when I was sat around my gran's house chatting to my uncle. I was probably around eleven years old, and my uncle was joking as always. 'Do you know that there are two pop stars calling themselves Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious?' he quipped. 'Yeah, right, of course there is!' I replied in full knowledge of the usual leg-pulling aimed at me. Little did I know that the following year I would actually own records by Rotten and Vicious.
Tony Beesley's book is chock full of recollections from contributors who at the time could never foresee the importance of such youthful exuberance as attending their first concerts or shopping trips into town. Many people could deem such retrospection as insignificant and may even possibly be right, but to people such as myself who came from the very generation that the book is created from there are some nuggets of gold.
Many of the younger members of the mod scene these days seem to have inherited a somewhat romanticised view of how the mod culture should have developed. They seem happy to embrace the cool aspects of tailor made clothing and original sixties music styles, but seem dismissive of the cruder elements of the punk and revival period of the late 70's that has helped forge the mod scene that we see now. Hopefully books such as this will help people to understand the basis on which the longevity of the culture was assured.
Having interviewed many original mods from the 1960s for one of my own projects, I could not help but realise that the early revival Mods were a complete paradox to their forerunners. In the 60s the originals had tried to dispense of a drab black and grey post-war Britain and inject some colour into the world. By the late 70s that world had been infested with loud garish flares, bright colours and glitter inherited from the hippy and glam rock eras. Punk rock came bursting through and stripped that away, so that by the time of the mod revival ('78/'79) the mods were screaming for some conservatism in the form of shoes, straight legged trousers or suits.
'This Is Our Generation Calling' contains interviews with many of the people from Sheffield who helped shape the mid 1970s and 1980s with their own non-conformist attitudes in both fashion and music. Covering a period of transition from girls wearing outrageous punk styles in an era when the Yorkshire Ripper was slaying vulnerable women, up to the present day, meeting punks, scooterboys, mods, goths, new romantics and futurists along the way. Sure there are a few pages that you might scan through if you find reading about other youth cultures tedious but I personally see this book as an all encompassing journey that leads you to learn about other tribes on the periphery of our scene.
Stories such of that of Pete Skidmore certainly reflect pretty much my basic entry level into the strange world of mod. Out of the dying ashes of punk, a smarter look evolved that certainly owed a great deal to a certain Mr Weller. Tales of crossing into uncharted waters to parts of town inhabited by neanderthal boneheads, and risking a good kicking for that elusive holy grail that would turn out to be a pair of drainpipe trousers seem strange in a world of internet trading. From these early days of a pre-Quadrophenia scene you get to delve into segments of peoples lives. For some it was travelling around watching the early bands such as The Chords, Secret Affair, and dare I say it, The Merton Parkas, leading up to The Jam splitting. The devastation of Weller's decision left many directionless and uninspired enough to seek their kicks in other scenes. Meanwhile other mods went into overdrive as they began to track down the original 60s roots of the culture.
Below Paul Weller chatting to Jam fans outside the Sheffield Top Rank March 1982. This photo is included ion the book along with other Jam exclusive photos
I smiled at a few of the stories that I too had personally experienced, and are etched in my brain forever, such as dodging skinheads in Carnaby Street who were trying their best at highway robbery! Memories of the C.C.I rallies to some awful godforsaken town full of marauding casuals intent on maiming you. Although they are painted as violent times, they were often carefree, and more importantly full of fun. Heather Quinn’s memories of folllowing Steve Marriott around to his later gigs also reflected my own from that period.
I must say 'This Is Our Generation Calling! – The Conclusion' (which is the last in a trilogy of books on the subject of the punk and mod ethos in the Sheffield region) weighs in at 420 pages. Hats off to author Tony Beesley, as I know from my own experiences in this field just how much hard work is involved. If I were to have any criticism of the book it would be that sometimes it flits between eras and you find yourself going from 1985 back to the late 70s. I also hate the use of the word 'Modette' but then that is purely my own personal view and does not reflect on the book. Sometimes the project can come across as over ambitious, as Tony tries to encapsulate practically every alternative fashion from the late 70s to the present. Believe me it’s all here from the halcyon early days of Punk right bang up to date with the area's latest musical offerings The Arctic Monkeys and Twisted Wheel. 80s punk, acid house, Britpop, and acid jazz are all touched upon albeit too briefly at times. One of the books greatest features is that musically, everything is seen from a fans perspective including lots of concert and backstage photos of some of the greatest bands of the period. The book boasts unseen images of The Stranglers, The Clash, The Jam, Iggy Pop, Madness, The Specials and others. It also highlights bands that never quite made household names such as The Prams and The Negatives. It was nice to learn a bit more about a young band I once saw at Scarborough Mod rally in June of '85 called The Way. I’d actually mentioned them in a write up of the rally for my fanzine at the time.
To put it in a nutshell if you want to find out more about how the mod revival came about and gradually developed, or if you have a passion for bands from this period then maybe you should get Santa to bring you a copy!!
(First reviewed on 11th November 2010)
This is Our Generation Calling includes over 800 exclusive photos in black and white including many rare photos of Mod Rallies of the early to mid 80's, The Jam in concert, the Specials first tour and Secret Affair in 1979 etc.
South Yorkshire Times October 2010