‘Success and humility don’t have a tendency to walk hand in hand’ – Creation Stories by Alan McGee

csamrrralSo I have to admit that I’m conflicted. I’ve got a lot of time for Creation Records. Like Factory, they put out a lot of good stuff. A lot of shit, let’s not split hairs, but a lot of good stuff too. Alan McGee’s Creation Stories isn’t, of course, quite what it says on the label – David Cavanaugh’s book, The Creation Records Story: My Magpie Eyes are Hungry for the Prize is (quote unquote) the definitive story of Creation. Alan McGee’s book is the Alan McGee story. Or excerpts from the Alan McGee story. We hear about his upbringing, his early years starting bands, his move to London, all of that. We also get – thanks to the way in which the story is told – a good sense of what McGee himself is like – full of argy-bargy, a motormouth, opinions on just about everything. He is also someone who doesn’t seem to be too big on reflection, particularly in the early years, when it’s far closer to Howard Marks’ Mr Nice than anything else.

But I’m almost getting ahead of myself. The meat of Creation Stories focuses on the time McGee spent looking after Primal Scream, Oasis, The House of Love and the Libertines. A lot of pills are taken, a lot of thrills are had, bellyaches are experienced. Like those flying men, McGee goes up-dee-up-up and down-de-down-down. It’s good to know that he didn’t have it all handed to him on a plate even if he did piss a lot of it up the wall at various points. The school he’s part of – the leather pants, taking drugs, playing geetars school – may have been a cliché by the time he and his biggest bands were busy ruling the world but, let’s not forget, he was also busy bankrolling the likes of My Bloody Valentine and The Boo Radleys so he wasn’t all bad. He takes issue at times with the Felts and Pastels of the world (McGee’s aesthetic is one of sell and get big fast) – and you know what, there’s things to be said on both sides (good music should be heard but popularity tends to induce bloated shit and fallouts – the tales told herein of House of Love and Oasis attest to that).

It’s certainly an easy read and for the most part compelling even if you emerge from the book thinking, yeah, I don’t think I’d like to be stuck in a lift with Alan McGee. It isn’t so much that he’s full of himself (success and humility don’t have a tendency to walk hand in hand) and more that he can be a bit of a name-droppy bore at times (‘and I was saying to Mick Hucknall, Mick, Mick, you’re a cunt – me and Bobby Gillespie had a right laugh etc). If you feel as I do about Pete Doherty, you’ll also find a lot more in here that demonstrates what a no talent craphole he is (at one point Doherty tries to trash a hotel room and throws a TV through a window; except the window is reinforced and the TV bounces back and knocks him out – this is held up as an example of what a legend Doherty is; you read thinking, replace the word legend with the word bellend and you’ve got that right). As a snapshot of a time – that leery, laddish, mid 90s, Loaded, Irvine Welsh world – it does a good job. You certainly end up feeling that time passes and you can close the book on all of that.

Any Cop?: It’s one of those ‘man behind the men’ stories and no doubt McGee did a lot of good as he was shovelling barrels of Columbian up his cakeholes (I came away with a mad urge to listen to the House of Love again). As a book, it’s a mixed bag but if you have a slight interest in the time or the music you’ll get some sort of kick out of it. It’s basically a twenty first century E that leaves you hankering for the days when there were proper drugs.


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