Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mick Farren and the History of Speed

by Rich Dana

Here is a short excerpt from my article in this month's Little Village Magazine...

In Mick Farren’s latest book, Speed Speed Speedfreak (Feral House Press, 2010), he examines the history and sociological significance of amphetamine and discovers that the use of speed is woven throughout the tapestry of 20th century culture. Invented initially as a bronchodilator at the beginning of the industrial age, it didn’t take long before Benzedrine became the fuel of the burgeoning entertainment industry, the assembly line industrial model and the war machines of governments across the globe.

In 206 fast-paced pages (the book itself is shaped like a giant “black beauty” dextroamphetamine capsule) the author keeps readers engaged with a mix of historical detail and political intrigue, infused with an insiders look at the effects of speed on the psychedelic ‘60s, biker culture and the punk music scene. As the lead singer of the British proto-punk band “The Deviants,” Farren experienced the story first hand and tells it with a survivor’s sense of humor. He was coming of age when the leather-clad Beatles were playing maniacal, speed-fueled marathon rockabilly sets in the strip clubs of Hamburg. He was on the scene when Roger Daltrey was stuttering “fa-fa-fade away,” imitating the speech pattern of The Who’s speedfreak fans (the fashionable teenage “Mods” used “yellow jackets” and “green and clears” to cope with the mindless workaday world of post-war England)..... Read More