Book review – Broken Greek by Pete Paphides

Quercus [Publication date 05.03.20]

An entertaining memoir that works on two levels, first and foremost as a musical journey through the hits (and some misses) of the 70s and 80s charts, and secondly his own family and their move to Birmingham from Cyprus.

He gives a very open and honest recollection of his childhood and the tough times his parents had in adapting to their new surroundings, in particular his dad who missed his family connections back in Cyprus. The one constant (well apart from his parents running a chip shop!) is his love of music and not just the obvious artists, as the Barron Knights for instance feature a lot in the narrative.. When he meets the band after a show he nervously queues up for each band members autograph, who all dismiss him quickly after signing his records, until he reaches the bassist and he makes a big fuss of the young fan. It raises an interesting point for him as he thinks being in a band like the Barron Knights would be cool and fun, whereas in reality most probably not as you have to sing the same humorous songs night after night. For the pop fact fans the Barron Knights are still touring, albeit with one original member, and they plan to bow out later this year after sixty years on the road.

It is the pop knowledge he displays and relates about bands that makes it a fascinating read. One minute you are reading about Gary Numan and the synth pop bands like OMD, then it is back to one of his long standing musical loves ABBA. The book also rekindles things you had forgotten about like Dial-A-Disc or the fact that most shops stocking records had the full top 75 singles on display (certainly my local WHSmiths in Hanley did). Or those forgotten chart botherers like Starsound (Stars On 45) or Bow Wow Wow. The latter manufactured by Malcolm McLaren, who took Adam Ant’s backing band and Adam Ant had the last laugh going onto more chart success with his new Ants.

If you love music and how it weaves its way into our lives, this is a perfect read.

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