Right To Reply
As the author of what Mark Morris very kindly contends is the 'leading contender for the title of the laziest, most incompetent, lamest piece of publishing perpetrated on these Isles,' I thought I would take the opportunity to respond to his charges. For those who haven't read his review, I will respond by quoting Morris' criticisms - if they can be called that - first.
A) 'With one of the ugliest covers...' - Can't do anything about your taste. It's not great but it ain't bad either. And any cover that has Kevin Rowland on it can't be too bad, surely?
B) Typos, spelling mistakes. Editor's fault not mine. Give him a bell.
C) 'Bewilderingly titled.' Why bewildering? The title comes from a McGee quote within the book and also applied itself to the roller-coaster life of both himself and the label. Perhaps, you haven't read the book properly?
D) I only spoke to a 'handful of Creation characters.' Well, if fifteen people are a 'handful' then fine. There were more whose testimony I left out for various reasons but you wouldn't know that.
E) 'Brother PH is taking it to another level claiming an author's credit for pressing the record button...It doesn't stop there. At various points McGee helpfully suggests names of people Hewitt should interview. Needless to say Hewitt didn't talk to Adam Sanderson or Claire Grogan.' Okay, stop right there. 1) I am certainly not your brother. 2) It really does amaze me that even when you - in football terms - set your stall out, supposedly intelligent people simply ignore your aims and chastise you regardless. Let's go to page 13 and the following quote taken from my introduction where I tell Ed Ball, 'I should say here that what I was attempting to do within the book was capture the spirit of Creation Records. That company put out an astounding amount of music and I had no interest in dissecting every piece of it. No interest at all. After the first McGee interview I just knew this was a great story and that the best thing was to highlight the great albums artists while painting the overall picture. That's why I interviewed the people within the company and not the bands.' Clear enough for everyone. I didn't speak to Claire Grogan because she was not -as far as I know, you may have other info- an employee of Creation. Adam Sanderson - like some other folk, Dick Green springs to mind - turned down my interview request for their own reasons. The above quote also answers Morris's next 'criticism.'
F) 'Why is Paolo Hewitt who hated indie pop in 1987 writing about Creation?' Why the fuck shouldn't I? And who are you to tell me what I can or can't write about? I am a music journalist. I love music. I also love a good story. An absolute nobody from Scotland coming to London with nothing and making an absolute fortune is the kind of story that I am a sucker for, especially when they're as incident filled as McGee's. Also, hate to tell you this but it is not 1987 anymore. No, it's true. Look outside your window. 2001 now and, believe it or not, my musical tastes have changed. How amazing. Praise the Lord and pass me the new Jayhawks album. The fact of the matter is that Creation was home to three bands and one artist I have huge regard for. Primals, Teenage Fanclub, Oasis and the aforementioned Mr. Rowland. That alone gives me every right to write about the label.
My suspicion is that you and the other Creation heads can't get round the fact that the label was as much about, 'My Beauty' as it was 'Loveless.' Both set out to challenge their audiences. Both were great works of art and that's what I highlight in the book. Of course, with another writer you approve of, you would no doubt be praising him for showing us a side,of Creation that is often forgotten...' With me, because of your prejudices, you can't see the wood for the trees. Luckily, a lot of other people can which is why my very brilliant tome was Border's ninth best selling music book of last year.
G) The book was based on two other books I had recently read. They were Truman Capote by George Plimpton and Please Kill me by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. Both use the interview only quotes method and both are great. I like this approach because for me it's a new avenue of expression. It is not an easy method either and is somewhat akin to painting as you build up the picture with the tools available. The skill is in where you place the quotes. I won't go into the hours I took to realise this book but you believe me my friend, it is not as easy as it reads. Far from it.
H) '..Followed my lord and master Paul Weller..' You know absolutely nothing about my relationship with Paul. Nothing. So your choice of words either betrays real jealousy or a very malevolent spirit. Either way, if I were you I would have it looked at. Meanwhile, just to show you how far off beam you are, I didn't follow Paul into House music, I put him onto it with a tape I made him in 1989.
H) '..Accidental insights..' So all the revelations from the book that you chronicle over two long paragraphs were arrived at accidentally? I hate to get personal but .... The insights and the stories were arrived at because I interviewed McGee and others relentlessly and through doing so gained their respect and trust. That's why the book is so powerful. Through my talent as an interviewer. Not through accidents. And, no, the book was not about making McGee look good. It was about telling the truth which is why it is so compelling.
I)'The Super Furry Animals barely get a mention.' - I'll take that one on the wrist. For once, you're right. The book should have made more of their contribution.
J) From your 'review' and use of phrases such as 'radical post-structuralism' and your little Richard Rogers jibes I take it you were at University. Maybe when you were there you learnt that books can be read on many different levels? Maybe when you were there you were taught that when an author says, 'This is what I am trying to achieve', he should be judged on how well he achieved it and not on what your idea of what his book should be. Maybe you were also taught that just because something is different from the mainstream it doesn't necessarily make it bad?
Maybe, I don't know. Perhaps you're just too conservative. How about you go back, pick up my book and re-read but this time with the following thoughts in mind. Does this book capture the spirit of Creation records? Does this book give us an insight into the man behind the label? You can ask the audience, you can phone a friend but I'll tell you now for nothing that the answer is of course, yes, every time. Perhaps then you'll start to understand as to why someone had the cheek to charge a whole ten pounds for it.
© Paolo Hewitt, February, 2001 2001