Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Pearl Lowe: All That Glitters

I've got to be honest, I didn't know much about Pearl Lowe.  Yes, I remember Powder, the Britpop band that she fronted.  But thinking about it, I don't really remember them as a band as much as I remember them being featured in the famous Britpop Now program that Damon Albarn presented back in 1995 (repeat on BBC4 in 2007).  Even then, the reason why they stood out was that they were the one act on the show that I didn't know!

A quick check of Wikipedia reveals that Powder only released 3 singles and the most successful of those (Afrodisiac, the song they perform in the clip above from Britpop Now) reached the dizzy heights of number 72 in 1995.  So, not a promising start but I thought that her autobiography might offer some interesting insights into the music scene from someone who was there and knew how to party.

Music is a minor theme in this book though and we seem to go from placing an ad in the NME for musicians to having a manager, getting a £100k deal and rubbing shoulders with members of Blur and Pulp within a couple of months.  In fact the ease with which Pearl seems to have got deals for Powder, Lodger (the 'supergroup' she fronted with partner Danny Goffey & members of Delicatessen) and then her solo album is remarkable.  The ease with which each project was set aside also seems equally remarkable. 

So if you're buying this book looking for a music biog then you may be disappointed.  Although Powder may not feature as much as you might hope, powder of a different kind takes a more central role because really this is a book about drugs and her battle with them.  As such it's a brutally honest, compelling read.  

Yes, she comes across as a spoilt little rich girl sometimes (the part when their manager informs her and Goffey that they are spending £20k per month and they ask if that is a lot, is priceless).  The lifestyle of never ending parties and society events does not entirely endear her either and she also, despite her protestations, frequently comes across as a bad mother too, leaving her kids in the care of nannies whilst she lies on her bed in an opiate haze.  However she writes openly (this is clearly not ghost written) and it offers an insight into the all-consuming nature of drug addiction and the effects it has on the victim and those around them.  Her flaws are there for all to see and that demands a certain respect.  She's since re-invented herself as something of a domestic goddess with a successful design company and having read the book nobody can begrudge her that.

I picked this book up cheap and second hand expecting a book about music.  I knew her vaguely as the singer in a minor Britpop band, not knowing that she was more famous for being an 'It' girl.  Will I read it again?  Probably not, but I enjoyed it anyway.

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