For nearly two decades, Martin Hudson ran the Classic Rock Society, a Yorkshire-based organisation seeking to revive the fortunes of rock music in Britain via a series of concerts and a newsletter, Wondrous Stories.
The 90s especially were difficult times, with rock – specifically prog rock – marginalised. Hudson had no industry experience or journalistic training, but sought to right what he saw as a wrong, and he achieved a laudable degree of success. At over 220 copy-heavy pages, this weighty tome tells that story. It’s all here, in all the detail you could ever want. The fact Rick Wakeman threw his influence behind the campaign by becoming an honorary president only confirms the kind of goodwill Hudson could generate. However, those outside the CRS circle might struggle to get past the notion that this is one long directory of dates, band names, line‑ups and facts, as well as some truncated snippets of the magazine’s own interviews. No real opinion is expressed on the concerts staged – we learn that Hudson had decreed to his writers that “destructive” reviews were forbidden – and the narrative feels like an extensive list, from the amount of towels used onstage by Camel (four, when the band had demanded 10) to the 384 shows in which the author had a part in staging for the Society. That said, some of us are listy, and this is aimed at those with an extreme interest in the subject, so CRS regulars will want to read it and are sure to get something out of this. Also, admirably, Hudson is taking no money from the proceeds, which are going towards Rotherham Hospice.