Stephen Brotherstone & Dave Lawrence - Scarred For Life: Vol One book review

A nostalgic deep dive into the dark side of the 70s

Scarred For Life: Vol One artwork

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If you ever pored over the gaudy pages of Misty and Action comics, if you’d never miss a chance to admire Joanna Lumley’s acting skills on Sapphire And Steel, if you’d Clunk Click Every Trip and Think Once, Think Twice, Think Bike, then you’ll find much you forgot you’d forgotten here.

In their weighty, text-heavy tome, Brotherstone and Lawrence pick the 70s-shaped scab off your memory, with their highly personal but well-informed perspectives on the grittier cultural stuff of the era, including TV (Survivors or On The Buses, the dance skills of Legs And Co. and a terrifying plethora of Public Information Films) to pulp literature (the tawdry gonzo-lit of the New English Library, The Night Of The Crabs, 2000AD et al). The authors, who were both aged in single digits at the time, have curated a fascinating child’s-eye compendium of hundreds of similar artefacts. On the music side, there’s a piece on the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and their ‘Top 10 UFO Songs Of The 70s’ features Zappa, Styx, Yes and Steve Hillage. A labour of love, this 740-page Proustian rush reminds you that the golden era of prog (and disco, and punk at that) offered welcome musical counterpoint to a pretty bleak decade.

Grant Moon is the News Editor for Prog and has been a contributor to the magazine since its launch in 2009. A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.