Great book review by Ian Taylor of the Mad Not Mad Fanzine !
"... THE SKAPONES: WAY OUT WEST
2019, The Specials and Stuff…
By Paul Williams (2022)
During the dreary lockdown days, our friend Paul Willo, the hardworking family man, Specials biographer, Specialized charity kingpin and frontman of North East Ska band The Skapones decided to find creative ways to pass the time. One of these was to consign to print the most amazing tale of the band’s journey so far – an amazing DIY tour of the United States!
2019 was an amazing year for Paul and The Skapones, starting with the usual busy schedule of gigs at festivals, pubs and clubs up and down the country but then transcending the mere ordinary when The Specials invited them to play two support slots on their 40th Anniversary UK tour. Even as this magic unfurled, so even wilder ideas were beginning to ferment. A budget tour of America, including a date at the legendary Whisky A Go Go in LA.
This book tells the whole tale and is convincingly told in Paul’s voice. Not dressed up, not played down, honest, bold and and resolutely DIY, just the way the band has always tried to be.
The community man shines through; the family man, the political voice, the warts and all genuine reflection and wish to do things right. The passion, the blood, the sweat and the tears. There is bullish confidence but also an endearing innocence and an honest ‘fair cop’ attitude to decisions and actions, right or wrong.
Starting slowly and building, conveying the relentless graft of home gigs, the story then picks up to a thoroughly magnetic tale of living a dream and taking on America, the place that broken many a bigger band. In between the music moments, Paul bestows interesting nuggets of info on various locations in America. And it’s got proper soul.
Some passages had me chuckling out loud, others gritting my teeth in frustration, but most of all, as my family and I have known Paul for years (my daughter Tilly and I even get a mention for our attendance at the Darwen Live gig) and recently got to know ace guitarist Mark Wilson, it is intensely emotional. I lived the journey with them and at times felt so moved at the thought of a mate fulfilling such a dream that I was close to tears.
This isn’t a seamless professional book, it’s not clinical perfection…it’s so much better than that. It is an honest, from the heart revelation of the real world of grass roots music and all it should mean. In short, it’s an essential tale of one of Ska’s hardest working bands and the men and women behind it, from band members to family members to fans.
It’s such a kick to be a small part of the story. Pork Pie hat off to you, Mr Willo. This is a must-read book.
IAN TAYLOR, MAD NOT MAD Zine... "
You can get the book via Amazon at-
Or direct from us (Free Live CD while stocks last)
And if there's any left.. At gigs from merch stall...