Posted by:on June 12th, 2006
Johnny Green & Garry Barker
Faber and Faber, Inc.
238 pages perfect bound
8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
Review Date: 6/12/06
A Riot of Our Own is a short memoir (238 pages) of life on and off the road with the Clash. If you’ve read anything about the Clash you’ll recognize the name Johnny Green. He started as a roadie for the Clash in 1977 and quickly graduated to jack of all trades band manager/minder, facilitator, valet and troublemaker. He split from the band Some time after the release of London Calling, either to see America from outside the bubble of the tour bus, or because the Clash had become too large and things had gotten too easy.
There has been a lot written about the Clash, including the shrill tattle-tale, would-be expose Last Gang in Town by Marcus Gray, who is curiously quoted on the back jacket. While Marcus’ book attempts to dissect and dispel the myth of the Clash, Green’s book simply tells it as he remembers it. Sometimes flattering, sometimes not, but always interesting. It appears to be Green’s story, written with the help of Barker, but in Johnny Green’s voice. Green’s casual an intimate knowledge of the band makes for good reading and insight into the Clash as human beings and a sense of what it must have been like to hang out with the Magnificent 7. As with any good friends, if you spend enough time with them they will likely get on your nerves at times. You may have read about Jones being “difficult’ for some periods, but it’s surprising how much of a pompous prick he could be sometimes. You can give your friends a hard time like no other but you still stick up for them if anyone else badmouths them. Green’s stories read like you are sitting at the bar with him talking about old friends. A Riot of Our Own is interesting because it tells an insider’s version of some of the more famous Clash events as well as some you’d never be privy to otherwise.
A Riot of Our Own. Riot was written before the untimely death of Joe, and includes a forward by the man himself. There is a short section of photos by Pennie Smith including the famous cover shot of London Calling as well as a few less published snaps. Ray Lowery once accompanied the Clash on tour as a sort of a war correspondent illustrator and he provides the visual punctuation that sums up a particular moment in Green’s tales.
It seems the Clash managed to surround themselves with interesting characters. Green’s memoir is good above and beyond being just the story of the Clash. As it ends you’ll find yourself disappointed that there is no “Part II” chronicling Green’s post-Clash adventures. Any further time spent by me talking about this book is time wasted by you not reading it. A Riot of Our Own is essential reading for anyone with more than a passing interest in the Clash or Punk Rock from that era.
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