Punk Rock Historian and Professional Consultant
City Baby from Highgate to Hawaii, Life and GBH
(This is a edited edition of this review originally included in NEW WAVE CHICKEN Fanzine Volume 6)
I always knew that it was blind ambition, intuition and lack of experience which brought all of us punk rockers together. A magical musical continuity of anger and emotional explosions!
The guys from my youthful punk days are always with me. They have made such an impression on my life. At the time I had something to offer them too. A Fanzine was a way to meet the bands. A way for punkers to promote their bands and communicate with their fans. As a journalist I had a lot to offer these youthful punks.
I loved every second and I took their attention to heart. A “wildfire” of creativity, freedom, and rebellion. In the 1980s it was a tight scene backstage. I became intimate with many of the players. This is the world in which I met Ross.
It was some 20 years later, around 2004, a lot of my punk memories came back to me. In the 1990s I suppressed these memories, due to having babies and going back to university. My blood resurrected these memories in powerful dreams and walking reflections of regret.
At that time, I had a recurring dream about GBH touring in Kansas City. This Birmingham UK band has traveled throughout the United States more than most US Citizens.
Anyway, in my dream they get pulled into danger by a tornado. Yet regardless they play the large auditorium show filled with punks. When I heard the song Stormchaser on their Punk Junkies CD, I was excited to hear it because the song now heightens my dream.
I was also thrilled and proud to find out that Ross was coming out with a book. After 2009 a punk rock nostalgia exploded in the world. Ross’s book was just at the beginning of this strange nostalgia. I ordered the book internationally and it was at the house within the week.
I love the honesty of Ross’s memoir. He outlines the early punk scene to the present time, and he correlates this to his life. Ross does not shy away from anything; the heights of joy to the depth of depression; as it was for many of us punks, it was a matter of the right ‘time and place’ for falling into the punk scene. The same goes for Ross getting into a band like GBH. It’s all about a bass guitar and a young punk.
“…It’s a difficult balance, seeming keen without looking desperate. Reminding people, you’re there without getting on their tits. And I guess I must have got it about right, because after a few months, when Sean left, Jock phoned me up and asked me if I fancied joining the band. You up for that, Ross? They needed a new bassist…”~ Pg. 48
Innocence resonates throughout Ross’s book. From his years as British youth to years later finding love in Hawaii. Ross echoes his mistakes, and regrets. He also tells the story of integrity as a punk with a solid underground identity. I surprisingly read that (Charged) GBH shunned MTV because they would not kiss ass; and ignored Metallica because they were heavy metal long hairs.
As any acid trip, Ross had one that defines the bravery of a generation. A creative, awake and musically inspired underground generation!
“… This went on for hours. More and more of the same. It was incredibly intense. God and Jimi and Anne Carpenter and the devil and the fucking taxi driver, fighting over my soul right up to the point I passed out in exhaustion…’~ Pg. 121
City Baby, from Highgate to Hawaii…life and GBH. has had reprints since 2013. A popular book that is a hell of a lot of fun to read too. The book is becoming a punk classic and is as unique as Ross. I vote for him, the ambassador of PUNK ROCK!
“…rushing for a pint of Guinness, and even then, they don’t really seem to help. This is just a flesh wound. And it’s on my picking hand, which somehow has two working fingers, which means I can play bass. So, no. I won’t go to hospital. I’ll play punk instead.”~ Pg. 240