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Published December 5th, 2023
296pp / 6 x 8.5 in (150 x 215mm)
£16.95 UK / $24.95 US / $32.95 CAN
‘It is exactly Simpson’s peripheral vision, his ability to be ever present yet never central to his city’s musical history, that makes Revolutionary Spirit such an important work.’
Andrew Male, The Guardian
‘Rarely have missives from the front line been so wild, so well-told and so full of joy and frustration in almost equal measures.’
Banjo, Louder Than War
‘One of the great Liverpool music biographies.’
DJ Fuzzyfelt, Outside Left
‘There was stiff competition, but Paul Simpson had the best voice on the early 80s Liverpool scene. Now he’s written the best memoir since Head On, bringing all the city’s characters, clubs, and hedonism vividly to life. I was in stitches … that is, when I didn’t have my hands over my eyes. Wonderful stuff.’
‘I’ve been lucky enough to have been reading Paul’s fantastic and hilarious writing in private for many years. Now it’s your turn.’
‘Reads like a book that is already a Penguin Modern Classic. And not in a Morrissey way but a proper way.’
‘A refreshing antidote to the rock memoir trope—a savant’s charter, if you will. Beautifully written and extremely entertaining, Revolutionary Spirit often works to its own, inner logic; there are passages that bring to mind Fournier’s Le Grand Meaulnes, or Carey’s The Horse’s Mouth.’
Richard James Foster
‘The craziest book I’ve read about what being in a band really means. This actually details exactly what happens to your life then, now, and forever.’
‘A fascinating and at points laugh-out-loud tale full of all the drama befitting the times, the music, characters, and the human condition.’
It fades in. The bass is inaudible, and for reasons unknown even to the band, the single has been recorded in mono. There’s no seven-inch available, and the cover art looks like the design on an airline sickbag . . .
Part memoir, part social history, Revolutionary Spirit is the poignant, often hilarious story of a cult Liverpool musician’s scenic route to fame and artistic validation. If Morrissey was the Oscar Wilde of the 1980s indie scene, Paul Simpson was its William Blake, a self-destructive genius so lost in mystical visions of a new arcadia that he couldn’t meet the rent.
Simpson’s career begins alongside fellow Liverpool luminaries Julian Cope, Ian McCulloch, Bill Drummond, Ian Broudie, Will Sergeant, Pete Wylie, Pete Burns, and Pete de Freitas at the infamous Eric’s club, where, in 1976, he finds himself at the birth of the city’s second great musical explosion. Along the way, he co-founds and christens the neo-psychedelic pop group The Teardrop Explodes, shares a flat with a teenage Courtney Love, and forms The Wild Swans, the indie band of choice for literary-minded teens in the early 1980s, who burn bright and brief, in the process recording one of the all-time great cult hit singles, ‘Revolutionary Spirit’.
Marriage, fatherhood, and tropical illness follow, interspersed with artistic collaborations with Bill Drummond and members of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, among others. Following an onstage reunion with Cope at the Royal Festival Hall, Simpson discovers that seven thousand miles away, in the Philippines, he is considered a musical god. Presidential suites, armed guards, police escorts—you couldn’t make it up, and, incredibly, he doesn’t need to.
Revolutionary Spirit marks the arrival of an original literary voice. It is the story of a musician driven by an unerring belief that artistic integrity will bring its own rewards—and an elliptical elegy to the ways it does.
Paul Simpson is a musician and artist. Across four decades in music, he has released critically acclaimed singles and albums with The Teardrop Explodes, Care, and The Wild Swans. In 2000, he completed a Visiting Fellowship at Liverpool School of Art and Design at John Moores University, where he worked on the spoken-word project The Dream Diaries. Today, Paul paints and creates collages from his home in Glasgow. He is currently working on a novel.