From the leafy suburbs of Surrey to the world (and back again) JC Carroll’s journey is the epitome of rock n’ roll survival. His is a story of a meteoric rise and an equally dramatic fall and (Still) Annoying The Neighbours is not only testament to JC’s irrepressible nature but also an exemplary account of an era when anything seemed possible.
The boy named Jean-Marie Carroll (soon abbreviated to ‘JC’, for the obvious reason) was born in Camberley in 1956 and his early life followed a typical route; grammar school then a boring job in the city. A succession of bands followed with punk arriving at just the right time and JC, never one afraid to take a leap, wholeheartedly grasping its DIY ethos. An escape from the drudgery of a career as a banker JC threw caution to the wind and hooked up with The Members. JC paints a vivid picture of that different age when London was less glass and steel and populated by squatters and artisans and when, before rampant Health & Safety, gigs were truly dangerous.
After inking a deal with Virgin Records The Members caught the nations ear with ‘The Sound Of The Suburbs’ 7”. The soundtrack for a generation it was both a blessing and a curse; it opened a lot of doors (such as Top Of The Pops and Old Grey Whistle Test) and a deal with Virgin Records but it also set an almost impossible president, how could you ever top such an irresistible slab of vinyl? It’s a feat the band almost managed with ‘Offshore Banking Business’ but when the punk bubble popped The Members were unceremoniously dropped. Pulling no punches JC succinctly encapsulates the triumph and tragedy that followed as The Members limped on towards the Orwellian year of 1984.
We’ve all heard stories of minted rock stars living it up in Tudor mansions but not so much of artists who’ve been chewed up and spat out by an uncaring industry, and without enough cash to pay the rent. Indicative of the music he produced JC turned his hand to a multitude of occupations such as Shopkeeper, Fashion Designer and Script Writer. Of course, music was in his blood and it was only a matter of time until The Members rose, phoenix like, and their second incarnation (which continues to this day) was just as entertaining as their first, and JC dishes the dirt candidly.
As anyone who has JC enter their orbit will testify, he’s a thoroughly good egg and his straight-talking, earthy nature shines through every page. (Still) Annoying The Neighbours is a compulsive read and is a close to a bull free account of those times we’re likely to get. A riveting read.
- Reviewed by Peter Dennis
- (Still) Annoying The Neighbours is released by Anglocentric and is available here
- The Members