Recommended Read: Frank Sidebottom-Out Of His Head by Mick Middles

The mind of Chris Sievey was clearly a treasure trove – indeed, a veritable Aladdin’s Cave – of bright and shiny ideas, many of which, thankfully, came to fruition. Most notably in the effervescent forms of The Freshies and Frank Sidebottom.

The Freshies were a brilliantly eccentric power pop/ new wave band who cheekily surfed the Manchester pre-punk, punk, and post-punk scenes, and came painfully close to success with a bouquet of great singles such as ‘I’m In Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk’ and ‘I Can’t Get ‘Bouncing Babies’ By The Teardrop Explodes.’

Sievey’s later creation, Frank Sidebottom, was a surreal half-man/ half-puppet version of George Formby whose anarchic performances enlivened kids television shows and late night TV alike in the ‘90s, and whose live shows seemed to have garnered an strangely obsessive fan base. When Chris Sievey died in 2010, however, he left behind a hell of a musical legacy that showed the he was more than just a novelty act.

Out Of His Head was written by Sievey’s friend the journalist Mick Middles and is as intoxicating and sobering as Sievey’s life seems to have been. The book’s timeline spans more than a quarter of a century and includes cameos from Sievey’s family and friends as well as the likes of Mark E Smith, Steve Coogan, Jon Ronson, Caroline Aherne, Chris Evans, Mark Radcliffe, and, er, Bros.

Frank Sidebottom – Out Of His Head is a fascinating and bittersweet read, and is very highly recommended.

out of his head

Recommended Read: Them by Jon Ronson

them‘I Wish My Life Could Be/ As Strange As A Conspiricy’ Primative Painters by Felt

And don’t we all. Conspricy is at the heart of some very popular  works of fiction: John Huston’s film Winter Kills, The X- Files, The Matrix

But is it so much fun in real life?

I remember reading and enjoying Welsh journalist  Jon Ronson‘s columns for the London listing magazine Time Out – this was in the early ’90s, I think – and catching some of his documentary series The Secret Rulers Of The World early in 2001.

Ronson is a funny writer but also very thoughtful and self-depreciating.

In the 2001 book Them (no connection with the ’50s sci-fi film -or is there, mmm), Ronson spends over five years with ‘extremists’ such as the Ku Klux Klan, Omar Bakri Muhammad, David Icke and Dr Ian Paisley. He visits a Jihad training camp,  an Aryan Nations camp and attends a weird pagan ceremony in California. He’s threatened, chased by Men In Black types and told to ‘F*** off’ by Lord Denis Healy!

On the way he finds out that all these extremists share a belief  in the  New World Order. A sinister cabal controlling the world. (Mostly Jews, apparently, although in Paisley’s case, unsurprisingly, the NWO are run by the Catholic Church.)

And so he digs further and tries to find out if there really is a NWO.

This is a fascinating and funny read which is also  infuriating, frighting and at times touching.

In the hands of,say, Louis Theroux it could have been a little smug or sneery but the warmth of Ronson’s personality shines through.