Apathy For The Devil by Nick Kent (Da Capo Press)

Apathy for the Devil is two books in one – it’s a look back at the state of music in the 1970s, and it’s an autobiographical memoir of author Nick Kent’s tumultuous life during that decade. I’m not sure how Kent pulled this off, but he seems to have been right in the thick of the action during almost all of the decade’s greatest pre-punk musical stories. Watching the Stooges burn out in Los Angeles? He was there. Touring with Led Zeppelin? He was there. Fascinating encounters with Ziggy-era Bowie, Beefheart, MC5, Roxy Music, Chrissy Hynde, Hawkwind, Can, Bob Marley and a host of other legends are all recounted  here with glorious candor. As for Kent, he speaks quite honestly about himself, including the battle with heroin addiction which basically took him out of the picture for the back half of the decade. Although heroin addiction is never a good thing, Kent’s move to the sidelines may have been well timed as he quite literally became a target for British punks after receiving a well publicized bicycle-chain beating from Sid Vicious (strange since Kent played guitar in an early version of the Sex  Pistols). Whether recalling a peak or a valley, Kent’s book (the title of which comes from a particularly cutting Bob Dylan put-down of the mid-’70s Rolling  Stones) is consistently entertaining and it gives a fresh perspective on perhaps the greatest decade in music history. My only complaint: Why didn’t anybody catch the errant mention of The Cramps being from Los Angeles?