Into the Valley : Richard Jobson
At the end of this book, Richard Jobson admits to agreeing to getting involved in too many projects at once, before really thinking through how he will manage them all. This is a feeling I certainly recognise, and one that has enabled Jobson to lead an incredibly interesting, creative and productive life. He has been involved not only with one fairly successful and totally brilliant band, along with another critically and artistically successful one, but he has also worked on spoken word albums, acting endeavours, arts events, avant garde happenings, TV Shows, poetry producing, film writing and directing, and much more. Given all this, you can understand that he chose to write this book by reciting it into a phone for automatic transcription by a whizzy app. I guess it also explains the typos and slightly annoying errors which remain in the book and which I found rather distracting, not just as an overly pedantic primary school teacher, but mainly because this is very frustrating when Jobson speaks (and usually writes) with such articulate intelligence.
However, this certainly doesn't detract from the enjoyment and pure pleasure of this exuberant telling of the tale of Jobson from his childhood up to the original break up of The Skids. He writes with such vivid ebullience that it is a real addictive pleasure to read and relive the highs and lows of his life, and The Skids. It is certainly not a 'Greatest Hits' memoir, for the narrative is illuminated by an honesty and which other authors might avoid. It is moving to hear of his excitement at the way his life was turned upside-down by Into the Valley's appearance on Top of the Pops, reassuring to be reminded of the band's commitment to anti racism and anti Fascism, touching to hear of the genuine intimacy between him and Stuart Adamson back in the early days and heartbreaking to learn of the latter's early erratic behaviour, which must have been signs of future sufferings to come for the troubled guitarist.
There are also several revelations in this book, factors in the life of the band and some of its members which had never been publicised before. Most blatant of these is the news that, as a result of the traffic accident which opens the narrative, Jobson has been continually subservient to epilepsy and has had to keep this under control with drugs that haven't always left him feeling great . This meant that throughout his youth, he genuinely never expected to live much longer. This explains why he always tried to cram so much into a short space of time. Interestingly, he also thanks this ailment for his continued survival, for without the requirements of his medication, he might have been more tempted by the roc'k'n'roll excesses which have carried off too many of his contemporaries far too soon.
Also of great interest is the relationship of the band to their record label and to their various producers, and how these coloured their recorded work. The 'controversy' around the remixing and re-release of Days of Europa in a different sleeve is explained, as is the failure of the band to have a proper crack at the American market. And I was amused (if not a little shocked) to read the vehement contempt Jobson now holds for the track 'Iona' ('a piece of mush sentimental crap that idiotic stupid song') and its composer, former band mate Russell Webb ('that person.... when I was left with Webb...the project was fucked'). I actually laughed out loud when the narrative returned for the fourth time to forcibly ram home this point. No wonder 'Iona' is missing from The Skids lyric book, the perfectly punctuated 'No Bad Words'.
The Skids were early heroes of mine and no doubt partly responsible for who I am today. This explains the over excitement in my review here of the gig where I saw them live for the first time after 38 years of waiting. Their renaissance, with new gigs and new recordings and a new self confidence and self belief, has given me (and many others) a great deal of pleasure,. As has their new album, Burning Cities, which went to number 2 in the vinyl chart, pipped to the post only by Leo Sayer, of all people. As has this book, a wonderful, honest and entertaining addition to the collection of any fan of The Skids.
Now I'm off to check this piece for typos and other excitable errors...
Buy Into the Valley here https://www.wymeruk.co.uk/webshop/books/punk/into-the-valley-the-autobiography-richard-jobson/
Buy No Bad Words, all Richard Jobson's Skids lyrics, here http://www.the-skids.com/apps/blog/show/45612065-the-skids-no-bad-words-1977-2017-by-richard-jobson