Review - POWDER
Sampson’s sprawling rock & roll odyssey, Powder is as much a
caveat for aspiring musicians as it is a hilarious and moving account of
life in a rock & roll band.
novel charts the rise and fall of the Grams, a band from Liverpool slugging
their way to the top of the musical heap in London and abroad. After
suffering through the commercial breakthrough of his former support group,
Grams front man, Keva McCluskey, is on the ropes. Enter manager, Wheezer
Finlay, and maverick producer, Guy De
Burret and the Grams begin their inevitable rise to stardom.
reading Powder, I was skeptical about cracking the spine on
another—albeit fictional—music industry tell-all; the media giants have
effectively pre-empted the rock and roll exposé by launching their own
flotilla of intimate biographies on the music mainstream. Thanks to the
advent of Reality TV we’ve found ourselves – for better or worse –
harnessed snugly to our musical heroes. The discovery? J-Lo likes hanging
out at home, Tommy Lee is being raised by his kids, and Ozzy Osbourne
requires military assistance to operate a television remote. With all our
rock idols rushing to the confessional and the backstage open to the
fans—at least on TV—I found myself wondering if another book on the
subject is really necessary.
answer is yes. Kevin Sampson launches an irreverent broadside against both
the industry and the talent it represents in this riotous take on the music
scene. If the corporate machine that claims its pound of flesh is the devil
incarnate, the author makes it clear that the Grams are willing participants
in their own demise. The result is a biting satire on the perils of rock
life including the narcissistic behavior that we forgive in our most
loathsome idols. Former manager of the Liverpool band, The Farm, Samp-son
deftly balances the daily vices of the Grams against the godlike
image they project while onstage.
Producer Guy De Burret’s reaction to seeing the Grams perform live
perfectly captures the feeling that every fan must have while in the
presence of musical greatness:
band…everything, blew him away. He loved them absolutely. If he had spoken
just then he would have burst into tears. He looked around the room at all
the faces, all lit up, their mutually insignificant lives briefly
intertwined for…the sake of this untouchable group…the sense of self
that coursed through his arteries was crushing.”
reading Powder, I recalled that glorious feeling I had smashing my
stepmothers Peggy Lee records against the lamp post in my high school
parking lot in retaliation for a year of missing rock albums and T-shirts.
Written by a man who has prowled every inch of the music scene, Powder
is charged with all the energy of a live concert.
Sampson once said in an interview that the only nice people on the road were
the caterers. Based on that statement you might think he’s glad to be away
from everything to do with music. Don’t believe it. Powder, for all
its hip cynicism, pays tribute to that indescribable moment in rock music
when we realize we’ve discovered a band that will change our lives
by Kevin Sampson