Tosh's Reviews > Memoirs Of A Geezer: Music, Mayhem, Life

Memoirs Of A Geezer by Jah Wobble
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Oct 23, 2009

really liked it
Read in October, 2009

Public Image Ltd has hooked me on Jah Wobble when I first heard “Public Image”. Johnny (Lydon) Rotten’s band right after the Sex Pistols. Punk was moving to another world, and Wobble and his bass was taking me to another part of the neighborhood. Also being aware of the visuals of the bands and artists (which for me is extremely important), Wobble had a great look. A two-day beard, a suit, and strong facial features. He also seemed to have a wild sense of humor.
30 years later he wrote his first book, a memoir that is both culturally interesting as well as a personal statement on a life that is well lived. The cultural aspect is the first thing that got my attention in this book. The title says it all “Memoirs of a Geezer.”
A geezer I presume is British slang for a man, who is basically a good fellow. Wobble is obsessed with fellow citizens who were raised and went to public schools. Which is a high-class world of privilege. Wobble, by his nature, and being a hardcore East London mentality – hates that world. And this is one of the many things that make him interesting as well as a good document how the British see other English people.
Wobble strikes me as a personality, a character and at times a slightly dangerous man. Especially under the spell of alcohol. Jah Wobble hasn’t drink since the 80’s and through out his career he has made a series of great recordings. So what we have here is a musician struggling in 20th Century London. Of course the main interest is in the Public Image years, and they are fascinating. But equally fascinating again, is his take on being British and the class system. A really good read, and I think a must for those who are interested in the music world circ. 1970’s/1980’s.
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Reading Progress

10/23/2009 page 45
12.78% "Love this book so far."
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by D. (last edited Oct 27, 2009 01:11PM) (new)

D. Pow I still remember how weird & cool and different Metal Box was. One thought that Lydon was going to be a great creative force in the years to come. One thought wrong.

Aside: Keith Levine was one of the more lyrical guitarists to come out of the punk movement.


Tosh That line up of PIL was excellent. Perfect band. At the time one felt that they could do anything or go anyplace circ. Metal Box. And Metal Box is one of the great albums of the 20th Century.


message 3: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Jackson Totally agree about Metal Box and that line-up. Shame that when Lydon recently reformed PiL to play the Metal Box album live that he didn't invite either Wobble or Levine to rejoin the band! A real crime. Did the book indicate if there's still bad blood between them all?


Tosh Wobble doesn't seem to be a bitter man, but he does bring poison out. It sounds like everything is ok between them now, but then, Wobble felt Lydon learned from the master - Malcolm M. Also hard drugs came between him and Levine. I think Lydon and both Wobble are sour towards Levine.

And Lydon is crazy not having Wobble and Levine on the stage with him. I don't know if they would do it if offered....but that album was made by three men. And you need all three to play it alive.


message 5: by Nathalie (last edited Oct 28, 2009 06:41AM) (new) - added it

Nathalie I still have my original 'Metal Box' - badly pressed and warped even when it was new, so I hardly dare get it out of its canister. It was the first time a bunch of white boys cranked up the bass and drums dub style and, along with Levine's woozy guitar sound, nothing has ever come close to it.

Unlike Lydon, who dined-out on and then ploughed the old punk field and a depleted Pil, Wobble went on exploring new music after his collaboration with Levine and Lydon.


Tosh, a geezer is British slang for a man, but a man with a particular Jack the lad character. No upper-class 'chap' would refer to another as being 'a right geezer'.



Tosh Ah I learned something today! Merci.


message 7: by Nathalie (last edited Oct 28, 2009 06:38AM) (new) - added it

Nathalie This country is still so divided by class and the way people speak is the first giveaway. I remember when Wobble made a record of William Blake's poetry set to music, and a reviewer questioned Wobble for reading Blake as though he was ordering a pint in the Queen Vic, a pub that features in the soap opera 'East Enders'.

Anyway, Tosh, for your delectation here's a website that's keeping up to date with modern London slang usage and abusage, rather than the pickled cockney rhyming slang you find on most websites:

http://www.londonslang.com/







Tosh Thanks for that website! The Wobble book really goes into the class structure of London and the nature of its violence. Their is a strong sub-text in his memoirs about race, neighborhood, and aging. Also there is a sense of violence running through the book as well. And also the reasons for a life-long East Londoner leaving its neighborhood.


message 9: by Ben (new)

Ben Winch Wobble rocks! And 'Public Image' is one of the great singles. Nice one, geezer.


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