A Dysfunctional Success – The Wreckless Eric Manual – Eric Goulden

The third in my occasional series of essential Rock Reads, this is a rip-roaring rampage through the early existence of one of punk’s more iconoclastic sons, a warts and all tale of Eric’s life, from his earliest memories, through school, adolescence and his time at Stiff Records where he recorded and released songs such as the great Semaphore Signals, Reconnez Cherie and of course Whole Wide World. As the punk bubble burst, Eric’s “career” stalled, even though he continued to write great material, and the book chronicles his decline through alcoholism and failure to his decision to repent and begin to rebuild his life with The Len Bright Combo.
This, on the face of of seems a bit of a downer, but Eric’s brash forthright honesty and lack of self-pity make it a great read, and throughout we meet a great cast of supporting characters, Nick Lowe, Dave Robinson, and looming large, Ian Dury. We inhabit seedy flats, and even seedier rehearsal rooms and subhuman recording studios, but none of this deters our hero from his need to make music which is always honest and often perversely upbeat.
Eric finally seems to have found some sort of stability with the lovely song writing Amy Rigby (clearly something of a saint) and they write record and perform together. Long may they continue, their couple of releases so far are well worth tracking down, possessing a delightful lo-fi charm.

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