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Last year's book ‘Banned in the UK : Sex Pistols Exiled to Oslo 1977’ ended up being my book of the year, just overtaking some strong contenders like Tony Beesley's ‘Our Generation’ Northern punk trilogy and Jah Wobble's autobiography. It was outstanding on several levels - firstly for being well produced - I get fed up with paperbacks that fall apart on first reading and books full of typo's and mis-spells - plus it had a batch of great previously unpublished photos and an in depth account of the Oslo gigs of the Sex Pistols Scandinavian trip. It was a great read, well laid out, with lots of ephemera (tickets, flyers, posters, newspaper cuttings etc) as well as the new photos. In addition, the authors tracked down as many of the original audiences (and a few who wished/claimed to have been there, but weren't - see also David Nolan's ‘I Was There’ Pistols book).

Now there's a second book, this time telling the story of the Trondheim leg of the tour. After an exhibition there of photos from the first book, Trygve and Harry were contacted by a local woman, Teddie, with a story to tell.  In addition to the report of the gig, the book's based around Teddie recounting her brief liaison with Sid. Appointed to act as translator/liaison with the group, she ends up hanging out with them  It's a shame there's only the one pic of her in the book - a small b/w photo of Steve Jones showing her his “Collection” (best not ask what of?!), but maybe she wants to keep a low profile now. Not that there's anything sensational or lurid in her account, she's very discreet in fact about whatever happened between them. The picture that emerges of Sid here is really interesting, coming at a time when he was fairly new to the group and before heroin began to take him over completely. True, there's friction between them when Teddie catches him shooting up, though it sounds like the drug involved is speed rather than smack.

As in Oslo, Johnny Rotten enjoys being away from the London spotlight. There's a really good interview with local fanzine Rockefilla spread through the book, where he maintains his point that punk's meant to be about living / looking / thinking for yourself, not just swapping one set of stereotypes for another. Sadly this point is lost on a lot of the audience who think that if you're a punk you've got to spend all your time gobbing at anyone within range. The description of the July 21st gig really catches just how foul this mass spitting could be - if there was one thing I could go back in time and change about punk, that'd be it...

There are some great little vignettes which illustrate the Sid's friendly and humorous sides. The one time he tries to act ‘in character’ it's a disaster: at a post-gig meal in a local club, an old rocker bares his arse at Sid to show his scorn for the group. Sid takes up the challenge, fronts the guy up in the gents - and gets seriously battered for his pains.

Where there had been little knowledge of punk in Oslo, it turns out that Trondheim youth were much more hip to what was going on, thanks to a regular newsletter from London in the local press by Casino Steel. The Boys are one of the most underrated groups (and largely overlooked now. Have a listen to ‘Alternative Chartbusters’ some time) of the first wave of punk. At the time it seemed strange enough that they even had a steel guitar player, let alone one who was the coolly-named Norwegian, Casino Steel. His newsletters back home (while not always 100% accurate it has to be said) gave an account of the growing momentum of the punk scene - in terms of music, style and attitude - in London. He also demanded the demise of the bloated arena prog acts like Yes and ELP, to be replaced by music that actually reflected the lives of real people and didn't demand serious expertise and expensive equipment to play.

Once again it's great to get such a detailed focus on a gig that totally captures a scene that was still taking shape then - and seems a long way from the dire American tour that was to come only six months later. There's a real contrast between the excitement and intensity of the gig itself and the aimless filling of time in and around the hotel or ambling around a strange town looking for beer, pizza, ice cream and anything else that Trondheim might have to offer. It's great that the authors have involved roadies Boogie (John Tiberi) and Roadent in the story, key figures at the time.

As in the first book, the authors have tried to compile a list of everyone who was at the gig - from the Pistols themselves downwards, including someone who had a ticket but fell asleep en route at the station! There's even a spreadsheet based around the birth-dates of the Oslo and Trondheim gigs - more interesting than it sounds and also indicative of the fresh approach of the writers. The Scandinavian tour has hardly been covered in Pistols' lore - compared to the amount of books and articles about the US trip, for example It's a contrast to the narrow, formulaic nature of a lot of UK punk literature where the authors are content to rehash the same subjects and material and end up presenting a narrow and simplified version of the story.

Like the first volume, this book is worth buying just for the photos - whether action shots from the gig, or lovely oddities like Sid playing with a toy motor-cyclist at breakfast - but there's so much more to recommend. There's been some real work involved in the research, writing and editing here, and the result is another book that's essential for anyone really interested in the Sex Pistols and the early days of punk.

Get the book: 'SID'S NORWEGIAN ROMANCE: Sex Pistols Exiled To Trondheim 1977' by Trygve Mathiesen, with co-research by Harry Nordskog (Melhus Communication, available from Amazon)

Review by Den

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