The Hellhound Sample

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-05-01
  • Publisher: Scb Distributors
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Written by one of rock's most renowned word-slingers, Ralph Gleason Award winner Charles Shaar Murray, The Hellhound Sample is a serious contender for the title of the definitive rock'n'roll novel. Its focus is on the Moon family, an African-American musical dynasty spanning three generations. At its head sits James "Blue" Moon, legendary blues guitarist from the Mississippi: his daughter, Venetia Moon, is a soul diva, and his grandson, Calvin, a millionaire rapper, producer and mogul. But the Moon clan's seamless influence on pop culture masks a family riven with discord. Venetia hasn't spoken to her dad in years, and has fallen out of love with her music, too, churning out lucrative but vacuous jingles and adverts. Meanwhile her son, Calvin, is living a double-life. By day a paragon of hip-hop machismo, his label specializing in often violent, homophobic and misogynistic recordings, by night Calvin frequents rent-boys and gay clubs. And people are starting to talk - a situation that threatens to endanger both his livelihood and life expectancy. James Blue himself is having a worse time still, having just been diagnosed with liver cancer. Blue realizes it's time to put his house in order, pull together his dispersed family, and make one final record. Looking to kill both birds with the same stone, he contacts his daughter and grandson and invites them to record with him, opening up a can of worms sealed for decades. Enter hapless and affable British rock legend Mick Hudson, trailing a string of addictions, divorces and demons as he staggers through his fourth decade of musical stardom. On top of all this, the troubled troubadours have to deal with murderous homophobic yardies, teenage daughters, imposing managers, an increasingly curious media, their own sizable egos, Robert Johnson (or at least his ghost)... and the Devil. Or whatever entity it was that slipped Mick and James their talents, guitars and fortunes, and is now starting, in their dreams and visions, to get a bit impatient for a certain unspecified recompense. The Hellhound Sample is a hilarious, reeling distillation of six decades of musical mythology and history, the world of rock'n'roll re-imagined, in peerless prose, by a writer that partied with the Stones, took tea with Miles, and nearly came to blows with the Clash. Funny, warm and vivid, with a cast of genuinely unforgettable characters, The Hellhound Sample is The Corrections of rock.


Mick Hudson always used to say that the inspiration for the invention of Velcro must've been the floor of the Marquee Club. Take a bunch of cheap but heavy-duty industrial carpeting, marinate it for decades in a toxic blend of sweat, trodden-in cigarette ash and spilt drinks, and you had something which stuck to the soles of your boots like it loved you so much it didn't want to let you go, making this weird schlup-schlup sound with every step you took. And, strangely enough, this phenomenon seemed to remain constant no matter how many times The Marquee shifted location. The prosaic explanation was, of course, that an economy-minded management simply took the same old carpet with them whenever they moved. Mind you, four decades and change as a professional muso, with all the attendant substance abuse involved, must've played absolute hell with Hudson's memory for minutiae. The first time he'd played the celebrated rock dive, where every big name from the Stones onwards had gotten their start, had actually been at the original premises in Oxford Street, and in those days the club hadn't had carpet at all, just a bare wooden floor. That was when he was playing lead guitar for Bluebottle, his first professional band. 'Professional', in this particular context, simply meant that they didn't have day jobs: whatever meagre income they managed to scrape together derived more or less exclusively from playing gigs. And their so-called manager was about as much use as a chocolate teapot. Arthur Blunt wasn't even really a manager at all, just a friend of the drummer's dad who'd played piano in music halls a long time ago and fancied 'keeping his hand in with show business.' Under his 'expert guidance,' the band had released one single on EMI's HMV subsidiary, a Brill Building pop song wished on them by their producer, which they'd attempted to roughen up with the wailing harmonica and rustling maraccas standard for post-Rolling Stones R&B groups with pop ambitions, but it had been a disaster. Simultaneously too poppy for the band's small but growing live following and too raucously bluesy for mainstream pop fans, it had fallen between the two stools with a resounding thud, selling barely 500 copies.

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