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Breaking Glass

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Star, London, 1980
(price: 95p; 160 pages)

The blurb on the back:

BREAKING GLASS is a group, trying to slice through the hassles and the hype of the music business and make themselves heard.
DANNY is their manager, dazzled by the rock & roll rebel dream - trying not to get suckered by the record moguls' system.
KATE is the singer, ambitious and visionary - but the rock & roll machine could burn her out before it makes her a star...
BREAKING GLASS - the ultimate rock movie.

opening lines:
The Rainbow is to rock music what Bond Street is to London's smarter tourists: never cheap, often nasty but, nevertheless, with a reputation for being the best.

A standard tale of a rock band pursuing stardom and discovering that it ain't all that it's made out to be, Breaking Glass wouldn't know an original idea if it came with a letter of introduction from Oscar Wilde. But it did have the pretended novelty of being about a New Wave band knocking out 'the usual tuneless belligerent stuff about alienation and contempt' (p.14), and the movie had the benefit of Hazel O'Connor - she may not have made a very impressive rock star in her own right, but curiously she was quite convincing when portraying one on the big screen.

Susan Hill's novel, 'based on a screenplay by Brian Gibson', is just about competent but unspectacular - perfectly readable, in fact. And there are some nice notes on the period, including an attack on the gentrification of football as long ago as 1980:

’Your lot have systematically stolen working-class culture, as you would call it, and tried to make it your own. You want to control everything, don’t you? You take over football and write about it as if it was grand opera, you eat faggots with red wine and sour cream and call it budget cookery, advertising executives wander round in boiler suits. It’s an insult to the people who have to wear overalls and get their hands dirty for a living.’ (p.99)

And it comes with the complete lyrics of Hazel's songs as an appendix. What more could you want?

After the sell-out

Additional note: Following the death of Susan Hill on 18 May 2004, a couple of obituaries, in the Guardian and the Bookseller, filled in some details of her life. She was primarily an editor, working most successfully at Sidgwick & Jackson in the late 1980s, where she brought in the likes of Bob Geldof's autobiography Is That It? and Boy George's Take It Like A Man. She had earlier been responsible for Barbara Hulanicki's From A To Biba, and she was not, of course, any relation to the woman of the same name who writes stuff like The Woman In Black.


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