photo & text by nacrowe
as a music fan its always INTRIGUING to learn about the behind-the-scenes inner-workings and machinations of CONSEQUENTIAL operators like PRODUCERS, MANAGERS, ENGINEERS and even ROADIES. in his engaging memoir LUNCH WITH THE WILD FRONTIERS: A HISTORY OF BRITPOP AND EXCESS IN 13 1/2 CHAPTERS (JAWBONE PRESS, 2019), you are introduced to the world of IMAGINATIVE media manipulations and greasy pole climbing that is PUBLIC RELATIONS through PHILL (now JANE) SAVIDGE of the noted now-DEFUNCT firm of SAVAGE & BEST. at the height of the BRITPOP movement in the 1990s, this PUBLIC RELATIONS firm was at the center of the BRITISH YOUTH CULTURE having represented heavy-hitters of the period including SUEDE, PULP, ELASTICA and THE VERVE among many others. LUNCH WITH THE WILD FRONTIERS is basically a guided tour through the period and how he was able to adroitly manipulate PRESS COVERAGE and keep his clients and their new projects square in the BRITISH public's notoriously FICKLE focus and attention.
so in essence this book is really about the fine art of BULLSHITTING.
SAVIDGE seems to be such a PRETERNATURAL talent at the art of NETWORKING and HYPE-BUILDING that his memoir showcases him in the same room serving the interests of everyone from DAVE STEWART (EURYTHMICS), KEITH ALLEN and ANDREW LLOYD WEBER to PAUL ALLEN, DAMIEN HIRST, A. R. RAHMAN, JARVIS COCKER and even LOU REED. its all very INCREDIBLE and FASCINATING, but you get the sense throughout that SAVIDGE is a very USEFUL instrument for effectuating a DESIRABLE outcome, be it PRESS about a nightclub or a new band in a very specific BRITISH periodical. to that end he is singularly focused and uniquely poised to perpetually create what we now refer to in the digital era as "content." the dude was a constant producer of CONTENT that effectuated BENEFICIAL outcomes for his clients and provided unique access as a gatekeeper to a new generation of innovators pushing culture. long-term though, it is never made clear how said ATTENTION benefited everyone. seems like a never-ending hamster wheel of DRUGS, LIES and HYPE. plus with the never satiated public consumption of said CONTENT, there is always the threat of being overtaken and replaced by newer, younger, hipper artists and individuals involved in ever more DESIRABLE and DEBAUCHED situation. it seems in retrospect that the cheque written by SAVAGE & BEST was sadly delivered to the following generation of subsequent artists to pay up. some with UNFORTUNATE results.
even though this memoir chronologically doesnt overlap with the likes of AMY WINEHOUSE or PETE DOHERTY, it was never that far from my attention the darker aspects of chasing down and falling into this type of RABBIT HOLE. despite all of the GLAMOUR and DETACHED AFFECTION related to PRESS COVERAGE, you also get the sense that one's IDENTITY and PUBLIC PERSONA is what is at stake and being bartered over in the process. some get LOST.
what is so COMPELLING about this book is how little i learned about SAVIDGE as an individual away from his MANIPULATIONS in the ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY. he is a complete CYPHER. it is probably what made him such a great PUBLIC RELATIONS agent.
LUNCH WITH THE WILD FRONTIERS is definitely an INTERESTING book with a UNIQUE perspective on the BRITISH MUSIC INDUSTRY during the BRITPOP period. definitely worth checking out.