Every so often a book comes along claiming to be “the book they didn’t want you to read” and that’s usually just PR guff, but in the case of ‘Losing It’, that may very well be true. Adam Morris was the founder back in 1979 of the indie label Malicious Damage Records, which released post-punk bands Killing Joke (who he was also tour manager for) and Ski Patrol amongst others, before going on to work as a tour manager, distributor, and manager of leading Ambient House/Rave act The Orb (where he was dubbed “the Peter Grant of Ambient House”) and co-founder of the label WAU/Mr Modo Records (Mr Modo being Adam’s nickname). In 1994 though he exited stage left and was subsequently cold shouldered by most of the music biz – obviously having upset too many people. At that point he started to write’ Losing It’, which is a semi fictionalised account of his experiences. Yes, it has taken that long for him to finish it and get it published!.
An undertow of ill feeling sets this remarkable roman-à-clef apart from so many rock’n’roll books. Identities are so very thinly veiled any old muggle that was about in the 80s could see through it: Harry Viderci, Laquerhead Records, The Pederasti, Jeremy Fingers - an obsessive, unpredictable and paranoid freak, given to bizarre occult rituals to help his band to succeed. Iceland and New Zealand as the only safe places on the planet come the apocalypse… Ring any very loud bells? The Orb hardly fares any better, represented by the fictional band Cloud Bass (who Adam did actually write and release a rather mediocre EP and 12” by to bring the semi-fiction into reality) and their festival and stadium appearances across the world.
The majority of the book recounts the various extremes, ill advised scrapes, and tight spots the characters get themselves into, all accompanied by maximum profanity and a level of copious drug taking that would be hard to survive if genuine, and is, it has to be said, extremely entertaining. More so if you were ever a fan of either band or recognise many of the locations and events referenced.
Less enamoured with all of this, I gather, are the members of Killing Joke and the Orb parodied in the book and if I was Adam Morris I would probably be checking underneath my car before I started it each morning.
One entry early in the book I took issue with though was the perpetuation of the story that animated children’s TV series Captain Pugwash sneaked in obscene names for its characters (Master Bates, Seaman Staines, Roger the cabin boy etc). Speaking as a long time fan I can be pretty categorical in saying that was actually a hoax at the time and the real names were innocuous (e.g. Barnabas, Tom the cabin boy), though you could still have a bit of a snigger at Pirate Willy. Aside from that miniscule quibble though, this is a thoroughly enjoyable read, perfect for long journeys, and made all the more entertaining by knowing that it has ruffled so many feathers. It might have taken almost 30 years for Adam to get this book published, but I’m mightily glad that he did.
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