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Apathy for the Devil: A Seventies Memoir Paperback – August 31, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
The subtitle of Kent's first memoir, and first book since 2002's The Dark Stuff collected his writings on rock music, says it all: this is a staggering and vibrant account of one music critic's decadent decade. Kent, whose journalism helped define the UK's New Musical Express in its heyday, reportedly spent 15 years working on this book, sifting through his drug-addled memory to provide a blow-by-blow, year-by-year account of his dark and chaotic journey from teenage fan to celebrated music critic to serious junkie. Packed with up-close-and-personal encounters on both sides of the Atlantic with the likes of the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and Led Zeppelin, this memoir is a refreshingly bleak and grimy chronicle of an oft-mythologized era. Kent's sometimes unfavorable recollections seldom veer into character assassinations, nor does he glorify the sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll lifestyle that nearly killed him. Along the way, Kent falls in love with Chrissie Hynde, takes a beating from Sid Vicious, and finds a life-saver in Iggy Pop. Kent's personal, candid style makes the exploits, few of which are pretty or heroic, read like an intimate all-night conversation. 10 pages of b&w photos.
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“Apathy is not some sordid tale of rockstar trainspotting…Kent mattered (and matters still) because he was a great writer, a passionate music love and a man able to tap into the cultural zeitgeist at will. Essential reading for anyone who cares about the rock culture of the ‘70s.”
Glide Magazine, 10/27/10
“[A]nyone who can write a memoir that includes folks like David Bowie, Chrissie Hynde, Lou Reed, and Keith Richards and never comes off as a name-dropper must be telling a pretty good story, wouldn’t you say?”
RollingStone.com, “25 Coolest Rock Memoirs”
The Onion’s AV Club, 9/1/10
“Apathy ping-pongs easily between personal reminiscences and more general overviews of rock’s shape each year.”
Library Journal, 9/24
“A candid, graphic, and fascinating memoir of [Kent’s] 1970s… Amazing true stories on every page… Highly recommended for anyone interested in the dark days of rock and in British rock journalism.”
Milwaukee Shepherd Express, 11/8/10
“[A] compelling page-turner and revealing look at the origins of heavy metal, space rock, glitter and punk.”
Crawdaddy! , 11/24/10
“At once sentimental, salacious, and sometimes shocking slice of essential music memoir…If there is redemption in Kent’s decade of groping in the dark, it’s that he lived to illuminate it; his emotional appreciation of rock’s art prevails over 30 years of chitchat and theory about it…A whistle blower and old-time investigative journalist, Kent fulfills a necessary function as truth teller in the flighty discourse of pop culture. Reporting back from a time when the complicity of the press and the audience converged to become the great rock ‘n’ roll swindle, he’s done his due diligence and given us more than a glimpse behind the curtain.”
Detroit Metrotimes, 11/30/10
“One of the more fascinating reads of the year.”
“Englishman Nick Kent had a front-row seat for the tumult of music that spilled out of the ’60s into the ’70s…He depicts it all with the same honest flair that put him on the map as a journalist in the first place.”
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Top Customer Reviews
There are moments when Kent makes a good point about some personality or state of affairs in popular music, but there are others where he reveals a personal bias that is not persuasive. It's not hard to tell when Kent worships a musician, e.g. Iggy Pop who has messiah-like qualities when described by Nick Kent. He remembers Rod Stewart as a jovial companion, apparently missing the part where Rod demoted his old bandmates to backing-musician status and then jettisoned them altogether. But when he dislikes someone, e.g. Jethro Tull, then even their best work is ignored in a sweeping indictment claiming nobody but ignorant Americans could have made such an entirely worthless band successful.
Like many professional critics Kent sometimes yields to the temptation to write a cutting phrase rather than offer real insight into a subject. Ultimately this is self-defeating, because criticism of lasting value isn't merely clever, it has to do more than demonstrate how biting the critic can be. At times Kent throws real light on music and the business that surrounds it, the reader feels informed. But all too often I had the feeling that Kent's views on someone or something were dictated by the quality of drugs available to him at the time. I kept wishing he'd been far less wasted when forming the impressions he relates, and perhaps forgotten that he plays guitar too (probably better than those bastards up on stage). So if you're putting together a list of books about rock music you need to read, this one can go on the list re: the 1970s, but not at the top of the list. Like the music of that era it ranges from good to disappointing, maybe that's as it should be.
Apathy for the Devil is the seventies memoir of Kent, who at the age of 20 became one of rocks premier writers, touring with everyone, partying with everyone and ended up a homeless, broken junkie with nothing - all this in the space of 10 years.
It's a memoir of brutal honesty with his admitting he got too big for his boots way too fast and the smack got him.
He met everyone who was anyone in the 70's music scene and became a celebrity himself, usually due to his totally self destructive side which consumes him in the end. There are anecdotes too numerous to even bother mentioning but its all fascinating stuff.
Its great reading especially for the rock and roll trainspotter, but as Nick Kent is a seriously gifted writer its doubly good.
And this isn't a plot spoiler, he cleaned up and has been "Joe Persil" for 20 years. I am hopeful that this will get him writing a bit more, 16 years between efforts is a bit on the tired side.
A brilliant "must" read
His pithily erudite exposé of the transatlantic cess-pit of rock music in the seventies is by turns amusing, terrifying, touching and mesmerising.
Characters are assassinated, reputations are restored, motives are explored and virtually anyone who was anyone - from The Rolling Stones to The Sex Pistols - is analysed with the clinically detached eye of a man who has been there, seen it, done it, and just about survived to tell the tale.
If you only read one book concerning the Viper-Pit that was the music game in the seventies, make it this one.
Apathy for the Devil is two books in one – it’s a look back at the state of music in the 1970s, and it’s an autobiographical memoir of author Nick Kent’s own tumultuous life during that decade. I’m not sure how Kent pulled this off, but he seems to have been right in the thick of the action during almost all of the decade’s greatest pre-punk musical stories. Watching the Stooges burn out in Los Angeles? He was there. Touring with Led Zeppelin? He was there. Fascinating encounters with Ziggy-era Bowie, Beefheart, MC5, Roxy Music, Chrissy Hynde, Hawkwind, Can, Bob Marley and a host of other legends are all recounted here with glorious detail and candor. As for Kent, he speaks quite honestly about himself, including the battle with heroin addiction which basically took him out of the picture for the back half of the decade. Although heroin addiction is never a good thing, Kent’s move to the sidelines may have been well timed as he quite literally became a target for the British punk scene after receiving a well publicized beating from a bicycle-chain wielding Sid Vicious (strange since Kent actually played guitar in an early version of the Sex Pistols). Whether he’s recalling a peak or a valley, Kent’s book (the title of which comes from a particularly cutting Bob Dylan put-down of the Rolling Stones) is never less than entertaining and his first-hand accounts give the reader a fresh perspective on what was perhaps the greatest decade in music history. My only complaint: Why didn’t anybody catch the errant mention of The Cramps as being from Los Angeles?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
the fact of the matter is that N.K. cannot write.Read more