There is music that you think is good, there is music that you think is bad, and there is music that you have no idea about. That is, there is music that you listen to, and love, but might actually be total bobbins. We all have records (downloads, streamys, whatever you call them now) that we can’t objectively evaluate because they are too wrapped up with memories, nostalgia, and emotions that were once more passionate. Is The Looks Or The Lifestyle any good? Were Pop Will Itself the ground-breaking and influential musical behemoth I believe they were? Maybe in a twenty-mile radius around The Dorchester, Wolverhampton’s most exciting indie disco (now gone, but always in our hearts) they were. But not internationally. Not in any way you could actually prove.
They were great though, the Poppies.
They definitely had their moments.
I’ll have a listen and get back to you.
This idea of unknowability is the topic of Hangin’ Tough by Rebecca Wallwork, number one hundred and thirteen in Bloomsbury’s 33⅓ imprint (which, if you don’t know, is a series of books each concentrating on a classic album). Wallwork investigates the origins of the band, the role Maurice “the General” Starr played in their creation and development, and how the music she loved as a teenager affects her now.
Obviously, there are a few of us that would not consider Hangin’ Tough a classic album but
- That is kind of the point of the book.
- Let’s Talk About Love, arguably the highlight of the series, is about a Celine Dion album.
- They’ve done The Who and The Jam, and, sorry dads but, you know… they are not good.
- Shut up.
- No really, The Who were rubbish, shut up.
- Yeah. The Jam too.
- No. You shut up.
Where was I?
Oh yeah, Hangin’ Tough. Have you ever watched New Kids on the Block videos on Youtube? I have, researching this review, and OMG like wow for reals guys. Srsly. If those were ever good, then time has been spectacularly cruel to them. You have to respect Wallwork for her commitment to the furthering of human understanding here. The creation of this book required a bravery, an audacity, that is a wonder to behold. You don’t just say, “Maybe Hangin’ Tough is actually good?” You don’t. You just don’t.
I really enjoyed this book. It does what the best of this series does, tells you things you didn’t know and made you question what you thought you did. And while it may not be quite up to the standard of Let’s Talk About Love, it is still a great book. I love the way she describes her relationship with New Kids on the Block:
“It’s like they run through my veins and are a part of me, like they are mine. And I have no clue whether or not they’re even very good.”
Any Cop?: Yes, certainly. This is a brief, brilliant, history of lost time.
ps I’ve checked, and it turns out Pop Will Eat Itself were awesome.