Like most people with an interest in the mod scene I have always been fascinated and intrigued by the enigma that is Pete Meaden. From my first introduction to him in the pages of Richard Barnes’ ‘Mods’ to the snippets of information provided since then, I have wanted to know who he was what motivated him, where he had come from and what he did after the 60s up until his untimely death. It was therefore with great excitement that I awaited the release of I’m The Face.
This book sadly does not meet any of my expectations.
The attention to detail – so much a part of the mod ethos – is sadly missing. Mistakes are evident throughout the text: one of the most glaring is the photograph used to show the Meaden-penned 45 ‘Zoot Suit/ I’m The Face’. Unfortunately, instead of showing the 1964 single, an image of a later reissue is used. Even the most basic Google search would bring up the original and a copy could easily be sourced to use.
Each section of the book is littered with examples of why the author believes he and Meaden are similar. These statements are not needed. I got the impression that Mr. Wilky felt that his readers would want to know as much about him as the subject matter; I have to applaud his own delusional self belief and the fact that he sees himself as a ‘natural leader and influencer of men’. The further into the book I read, the more I felt the title was being used as a description of how the author sees himself and not Pete Meaden. Similarly, Mr Wilky’s constant rants about the modern music industry and the state of politics were completely unnecessary.
I did also start to wonder if he was being paid to use the interrobang: its constant usage began to annoy me after the first chapter. It is reminiscent of my son learning a new word and using it in every sentence. The repetition of the same text throughout the book also indicates poor proof reading.
What the book does succeed in doing is filling in some of the gaps in my own knowledge of Meaden’s life. Much of it quotes other peoples work directly: many of these sources I was already familiar with but some I look forward to reading. Also, some of the photographs used were new to me. Although I do wonder if maybe his life would better suit a chapter in a future book about the mod scene or early days of the Who.
In the hands of somebody like Paul Anderson or Paulo Hewitt this book could have been so much more. Unfortunately what we have is a complete mess that has left me disappointed and with the sense that a great opportunity has been missed.
If 2014 was a high point for releases of modernist related literature then with the release of this book 2015 is the low point. If you buy one mod related book this year then don’t make it this one.