Book review: Gutter Black: A Memoir

Last updated 05:00 12/05/2014
gutter black
LIFE IN THE GUTTER BLACK: Dave McArtney playing at 2012’s Gluepot Reunion gig at the Powerstation.

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It's been a long time since I have read a book that I wanted to tell everyone about, and it's been even longer since I wrote a book review, so here goes!

This month is New Zealand Music Month, a time when we reflect on or attempt to increase the public profile (and hopefully their yearly income) of our talented musicians.

There is one Kiwi musician that won't be part of this year's music month - just like he wasn't in 2013 - Dave McArtney.

This month saw the posthumous release of McArtney's book Gutter Black: A Memoir, and I must say that reading it was a pleasure.

The antics, stories and myths that surround Hello Sailor and all the colourful people who were with them, were always something that I wanted to find out more about.

McArtney's memoir also gives the reader an insight about McArtney, he was someone who was a thinker, well read and would have been wonderful person to call friend. This was something I already had concluded after the one conversation I had with him, many years ago.

There were great stories of his younger days, the LA days, and the realisation for the reader that Hello Sailor was formed and found first success in a music scene incredibly different from the one we have today.

The Sailor boys were pioneers of New Zealand music, getting original Kiwi songs on both the radio and people's turntables (and getting the first gold record for a Kiwi band in the process).

It wasn't all glamour and at some points it wasn't always fun either, but the boys have left their mark on the New Zealand cultural landscape. Their story shouldn't be forgotten. And it was great to have the story written by someone who was actually there.

Gutter Black doesn't answer all the questions that this girl had, and that is the sign of an excellent memoir, leaving the reader wanting more.

So if you are going to read any book this year, make it Gutter Black: A Memoir by Dave McArtney. And kids, buy it too, read about those who forged the trail for today's crop of Kiwi musicians to follow.

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