The sixth book in the Art Decades series (which, as you’ll remember, has brought us A Life in Thirty-Five Boxes: How I Survived Selling My Record Collection, We the Youth: Keith Haring’s New York Nightlife, Searching for Love: Courtney Love in Liverpool, 1982, My Second Home: Sylvia Plath in Paris, 1956 and All You Need is Dynamite: Acid, the Angry Brigade and the End of the Sixties) focuses on Steve “Cressa” Cresser, whose name will likely only be known to you if you are of a certain age with a tendency towards a certain kind of music (and quite possibly an affinity for Manchester) in that he was, for a time, regarded as the fifth member of the Stone Roses, akin to their Bez (although he regards himself as the better dancer of the two – leastways until he broke his hip after being roughed up in the street – but all of that was later on).
Not All Roses charts the rise, fall and slight redemptive return of Cressa, from the high times of the Hacienda days to the low times of homelessness, drug addiction and no one returning his calls any more (he’s particularly impassioned about John Squires, the Roses guitarist). As you’d expect from Haslam at this point, there are diversions that take in 60s night clubs, homelessness and poverty in Manchester and other bands signed to Rob Gretton’s record label (which signed Cressa’s shortlived band Bad Man Wagon), as well as sidesteps into Haslam’s reading (from Mark Lanegan’s Sing Backwards and Weep to Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater, De Quincey, we learn, also having been a resident of Manchester at one point). You read Not All Roses and you come away wishing Cressa all the best. The Bad Man Wagon revival starts here!
It’s a worthy addition to the series at any rate and we hope Haslam just runs and runs (can’t wait for the last days of Nico, shacked up with John Cooper Clarke, or even Engels in Stockport – Haslam must be working on one or both of these sometime soon, surely?!?).
Any Cop?: Essential for anyone interested in the good and bad old days of Manchester.