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Stars Are Stars - Kevin Sampson
by Dave Wiggins
On Friday 17 July 1980, I bought a 7 inch single; 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' by Joy Division. I have played it at least once a week in the intervening 26 years.
It's official - doing a book is the new rock 'n roll, and a whole phalanx of young(ish) and local(ish) writers have got current, or recent, titles either on the shelf in good book stores, or being reproduced on stage. Dave Hewitson, Phil Thornton, Dave Kirby, Nicky Allt, Mark O'Brien and, in fairness, Andy Nicholls, to name but most of them, all producing contemporary and incisive stuff to tempt a variety of palates. The granddaddy of them all, though, is Birkenhead's very own Kevin Sampson. Twenty five years after his first ever piece appeared in 'The End' ('Billy Bull', and Samps' recollections of workin' the season in Llandudno in 1980, was one of the all time great articles anywhere, ever), Sampson has just released his 6th book, and it's a corker.
It's an all-embracing tale of Love, Heroin, Toxteth, Llandudno, and Joy Division, and introduces Danny May - surely a Holden Caulfield for the 21st century - an aspiring artist straight outta the mean streets of L8. Falling in love with the wistful, but driven, Nicole, we follow Danny between 1976 and 1980, as he attempts, unsuccessfully, to get into Art College, and his subsequent spiraling into the shady world of smack, and being willing to stoop to any level in pursuit of a £5 bag. The journey takes us from Granby, to Darwen, stopping off briefly to catch Joy Division live in Paris and The Clash in London, Eric's in Mathew Street, then onto Samps spiritual homeland of Llandudno, before returning us, shaken, to a burning Rialto as Toxteth is set ablaze on consecutive hot summer nights in '81. I used to think that reading a book 'in one sitting' was a cliché, or some bad suck'oling by the reviewer, but I must 'fess up, I couldn't put this down. For those of you of a certain age, in particular, this is essential reading. Catch this falling star, and watch it cut your hand to pieces. And Everton even get a mention, despite Samps being an arch red.
Go and get it now.
Soundtrack to the novel
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