**** Designer Magazine's Book Selections For The Month ****
May 2003

Footnote* by Boff Whalley

Boff Whalley, guitarist with often mocked but extremely relevant agit-pop group Chumbawamba, tells the story behind the headlines. For every Prescott soaking and Brit Awards appearance lies tales of shoplifting and communal living and yet for an avid Chumbawamba fan it doesn't scrape nearly deep enough. "Footnote" merely offers a matter of fact, almost tedious account of the years leading up to the bands crossover success with "Tubthumping" and while it will certainly be a revelation to casual Wumba fans the hard-core devotees will certainly be left feeling short-changed.

On the occasions where Whalley actually has chance to offer a little bit more (the origins of the bands name / the various times in cells being held without reason) he simply knocks off a lazy anecdote before going on to recap his days watching Burnley FC. The fact that he simply leaves the whole Credit To The Nation story as simply "a horrifying litany of rock 'n' roll disasters and mistakes and breakdowns, from A and b and back again" proves that Chumbawamba will only tell the truth when it's in their own interests. Despite the fact that he claims that one day it will be written down, you get the feeling that Chumbawamba will never uncover the truth of what really happened to Matty Hanson following his involvement with the band.

For a band whose songs "Enough Is Enough", "Give The Anarchist A Cigarette" and "Mouthful Of Sh*t" influenced me in such a way that politics became as important as rock & roll, it's a pity to say that Boff's foray into literature does not have the same impact. Maybe if you've only heard "Tumbthumping" and would like to know what they stand for and what they did in the years preceding and following that chart success, it might offer a little explanation. For the long-standing Chumbawamba fan it leaves you asking more questions than it gives answers for.

Alex McCann

For more info www.pomonasounds.co.uk

Reefer Madness: ...and Other Tales from the American Underworld
by Eric Schlosser

Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation" book was probably the biggest Anti Capitalist book since Naomi Klein's "No Logo" book and as a vegetarian it proved time and time again why we shouldn't eat at the likes of McDonalds and Burger King. But still since the publication of that book hundred of thousands of meat eaters have decided to stop eating at Fast Food outlets after they found out that what they are in fact eating is food processed so much that it looses any flavour or taste and has to be chemically enhanced to taste as real meat should.

"Reefer Madness" looks at the American Underground's three stable sources of income - marijuana, illegal migrant labour and pornography - and shows just how much income this provides as a percentage of GDP. In Britain the underground market accounts for 12.5% which in comparison to Nigeria 76% shows just how inter linked a countries economy is with the underground.

Eric Schlosser looks at the opinions of both the left and the right and also looks at the cultural impact of these areas in 3 separate essays that will both enlighten you and educate you at the same time. As a book it's also a much more interesting read than "Fast Food Nation" which perhaps suffered through a lack of variety and almost repetitive nature throughout due to the singular subject matter.

Alex McCann

For more info www.penguin.co.uk

Clubland Confidential by Frank Owen

Remember when clubs weren't just a stale leisure option sitting side to side with a Friends DVD or a night in watching Big Brother. Remember when they were hailed as a genuine youth revolution to compete with the then rock & roll stars of the time who were simply treading water and playing the same old card tricks. "Clubland Confidential" looks at the US Club scene and more specifically Michael Alig, the self-publicised king of New York, and coincides with the release of the "Party Monster" film starring Macauley Culkin as Alig.

Frank Owen spent a decade in the clubs with these Club Kids and watched first hand as the drugs got out of control and everything began to implode around their world. Many people will have heard of the violent murder of Angel Melendez at the hands of Alig, but few will no the facts or indeed what happened afterwards and Owen goes on to look at the impact this event had on the New York Club Scene.

Both "Clubland Confidential" by Frank Owen and Boy George's "Taboo" have provided an insight to a time where clubbing was a real experience, but at the same time they both look at an impact the drugs and violence had on the people involved. It's hard to imagine that now in the noughties, the odd UK Garage shooting aside, we will ever revisit such exciting and decadent times again.

Alex McCann

For more info www.randomhouse.co.uk

Web Of Deceit - Britain's Real Role In The World by Mark Curtis

Just a few weeks ago the British Tabloids were commenting on how the Eurovision Result of Nil Points for Jemini showed us just how disenfranchised Britain is from the rest of Europe. It seems almost trivial to talk about a song competition, but with the results often decided more by a countries political leanings than the song itself maybe the "great coalition" between Blair and Bush had really woken up people who weren't aware of how Britain's foreign policy affects the rest of the world.

With a foreword by John Pilger and a personal recommendation by Noam Chomsky it's almost irrelevant for me to review this book when the worlds thinkers are praising this book for it's honesty and investigative journalism. many of us know that both Britain and the US often violate international law and even tabloid whores know that since Britain defied UN Resolutions on the war in Iraq...but do you know that Britain slaughtered a million people in Indonesia in 1965 or the effects of Britain's intervention in Kosovoa or Afghanistan.

Curtis has provided an exhaustive resource on Britain's real role in the world since 1945 and just a look at the chronology of the major events covered in this book would wake up most people to reading this book from cover to cover. An essential book for anyone wondering exactly why the world hates America and is starting to hate the UK with as much vengeance.

Alex McCann

For more info www.randomhouse.co.uk

Deep In A Dream: The Long Night Of Chet Baker by James Gavin

Sometimes you don't even have to hear the music of a person to be intrigued by the story that surrounds them. Marilyn Manson, Morrissey and David Bowie are just a few example of the artists that regardless of your musical preference everything from the legendary quotes to their life stories can't help but draw you in. But what of a figure in classical music or jazz than can override the job title of musician and become a cult figure - introducing one Chet Baker who's story matches that of rock & roll self destruction through a love affair with drugs.

Gavin looks at Baker's troubled childhood through to his mysterious death in Amsterdam in 1988. His iconic image still live on today and more recently it's been reported that Brad Pitt, Leonardo Dicaprio and Jim Carrey all went to play Baker in a autobiographical movie of his life. Anyone wanting to listen to the music can download a few tracks from Kazaa, but you'll only really ever get to the heart of the man by reading Gavin's definitive autobiography of the legend

Alex McCann

For more info www.randomhouse.co.uk


Few publishing houses have made as big an impact on the Independent Publishing scene that Seven Stories Press has over the past decade. In 1999 it was named the fastest growing independent publisher in America by Publishers Weekly and since the events of September 11th, 2001 Seven Stories has stepped up production to tell the truth and facts behind the campaign of misinformation from the American Government.

Although Seven Stories publishes many authors books covering areas such as Human Rights And Politics, African American Interest and American History amongst others it's really the work of Noam Chomsky, Mumia Abi-Jumal and Howard Zinn that in no small part have been responsible for the success of the publisher. Name checked by everyone from rock bands such as Rage Against The Machine through to activist groups / parties such as the Socialist Worker in the UK these authors are really enlightening today's youth to what is going on the world and are as important to our development as Marx was previously.

Naturally with the internet people have information such as this at their disposal, Seven Stories offers a series of free E-books for this very reason, but there's still something much more rewarding about reading a book from cover to cover. Other publishing companies may dip into issues such as this with the success of Stupid White Men by Michael Moore (a book which was originally going to pulped until a librarian stepped in and saved the day) and No Logo by Naomi Klein, but few published house go out of their way to published the facts that everyone else is afraid to.

For more information, full catalogue and new releases check out: www.sevenstories.com

All books featured in Designer Magazine's Book Club are available at Waterstones
You can also make purchases online from the web sites listed above


May 2003
* Footnote by Boff Whalley
* Reefer Madness by Eric Schlosser
* Clubland Confidential by Frank Owen
* Web Of Deceit - Britain's Real Role In The World by Mark Curtis
* Deep In A Dream: The Long Night Of Chet Baker by James Gavin
* Publisher Profile: Seven Stories Press

March 2003
* The Book Against God by James Wood
* Jesus by A.N. Wilson
* The Invisible Grail by John Simmons
* Tilting At Windmills: How I Tried To Stop Worrying And Love Sport by Andy Miller
* The Making Of Poets: Byron And Shelley In Their Time by Ian Gilmour

February 2003
* The Long Suit by Philip Davies
* Talk Of The Devil by Riccardo Orizio
* This Is Craig Brown - The Very Best Of Craig Brown
* Practical Astrology By Numbers - Simon G Brown
* Sound Recording Advice by John J Volanski

January 2003
* Gangs Of New York by Herbert Asbury
* Revolution The Making Of The Beatles White Album by David Quantick
* Adult Entertainment by Chloe Poems
* Where Did It All Go Right? by Andrew Collins
* Hip Hop Immortals Vol 1