Charles Rawlings-Way – These Are Such Perfect Days: The Del Amitri Story (3 stars)

Charles Rawlings-Way – These Are Such Perfect Days: The Del Amitri Story

Fastidious and detailed biography of the much-loved but somewhat neglected Glasgow band

It's interesting to read this book in the knowledge of the shortly-forthcoming film about Travis, Almost Fashionable, which takes the novel approach of profiling the band in light of the huge critical apathy which follows them around, even though they were once one of the most successful groups in the UK and beyond. A similar thing may be said of Glasgow's Del Amitri, whose critical star has waned, although they have recently returned to gigging for adoring, nostalgic fans. But why should the tastes of the present outweigh the successes of the past?

This band, as the author is keen to drive home, have sold six million records, had a top ten US hit (with 'Roll to Me') and seen five of their six albums go top ten in the UK. Their history is that of a creditable career rock group, yet – as documented here – even they are unsure why anyone would want to tell their story. 'There's no story,' singer Justin Currie recalls, during his foreword, telling Australian travel writer Rawlings-Way, 'and besides, nobody cares…In the blizzard of internationally successful Scottish rock groups (like) Simple Minds and Orange Juice in the early 1980s, Del Amitri are usually written out. I understand that and don't resent it.' Yet the band emerged amid Glasgow's post-punk scene and were early favourites of John Peel, even supporting The Fall (although Mark E. Smith 'hated them').

Rawlings-Way's achievement, then, is not just in telling Del Amitri's story, but in framing it in the context of why it should be told. He's a fastidious and detailed writer, poring over the details of the group's lives together and apart, and a series of comprehensive appendices – including one which categorises the group's songs 'by mode of heartbreak' – emphasises this; although having written the book at a distance, the evocation of the book's other character, the city of Glasgow, feels somewhat detached. Yet by the end the group's journey feels like the reader's, and their achievements are once more remembered.

Out 7 Jun (Urbane)

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