The blurb on the back:
A giant rock group tour is being planned, with top names from the United States, and security is the big problem with the promoters. How can they avoid the appalling violence from rioting fans, without jeopardising the lives of the security guards themselves?
If you've been around this site before, you'll know that I'm definitely not a biker, and know bugger all about these Hell's Angels novels that the New English Library used to pump out in the 1970s. In the mods vs rockers split that historically divided British youth culture, my musical tastes were firmly with the rockers, but my stylistic preferences were even more firmly with the mods - they dressed better, they had aspirations and they washed. Sounds good to me.
Consequently, anything I might say about these novels is probably not worth the bytes it's typed with. Nonetheless, I've long been aware that Mick Norman is rated higher than his rivals*, so I approached this one with some interest. And - guess what? - even I think it's pretty damn fine.
Partly the attraction is that it's such efficient writing: really tight prose that captures characters in a couple of sentences and then sets them loose in the action. But there's also a fantastic vein of what would nowadays be regarded as playful post-modernism. The novel (the third in the series, following on from Angels From Hell and Angel Challenge and preceding Angels On My Mind) is set in the near-future of the 1980s and includes chapters supposedly extracted from publications of the period. Here, for example, is an '80s Angel named Brenda being interviewed by Oral magazine:
You see what I mean? Self-referential stuff like that wasn't much in evidence in the 1970s, but became all the rage in the future he was describing. And there's masses of such entertainment going on, including a prophecy that Reagan will wipe out the Angels in America. There's even a bit of RS Thomas' writing, long before he became the most celebrated living British poet, as well as confirmation that even in the '80s the eternal verities will prevail, so that when the Angels have a party, they play:
Well, okay, we can all obviously live without Sha Na Na, but you take the man's thrust. And if you do want some nostalgia, my copy of the book has a Woolworth's sticker inside the back cover offering it for sale at the price of 18p. That's a decent offer, that is.
And finally, being someone who venerates Buddy Holly as the most gifted artist ever to work in rock & roll, I'd like to say that that's the best dedication you're going to find on this site.
Mick Norman - as if you needed the likes of me to tell you - was a pseudonym used by Laurence James, one of the editors at NEL who ventured off into writing and eventually produced an estimated 150 novels. (This is what's known as a conservative estimate - i.e. you shouldn't believe it.) Amongst them were the later Confessions novels under the name Jonathan May, and some horror under the name Richard Haigh.
* I'm particularly indebted to David Kendall for directing me to Mick Norman's work, and to Ryan Taylor for additional information including the website listed below.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 4/5
visit some excellent web-pages on Laurence James
bonus Mick Norman cover scan