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Ten Thousand Apologies: Fat White Family and the Miracle of Failure

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A glorious indictment of the banality you swallow everywhere else, it is arguably the least patronising guitar music ever made.

Frontman Lias Saoudi, with his occasional urge to smear his own shit on himself when playing live, offers his thoughts in short pieces punctuating the narrative, and his remarkably honest conclusion is they messed it up themselves.After their parents split up, the young Saoudi boys move with their mother to Northern Ireland, to Cookstown, a narrow-minded loyalist stronghold. It’s a bleakly comic fat white knuckle ride through a mad and clearly maddeningly turbulent stretch of time, with realism regularly injected by lias’s well-written interjections - epic for any fans of his life beyond the neutral zone series. Ten Thousand Apologies” is quite cleverly structured, with Stripe offering a 3rd person narration of the band’s history (one pockmarked with self-destruction and squalor), while Saoudi interjects in the first person.

Suddenly you find yourself with two sets of friends, one half of which renders you a turncoat with the other, less fortunate half. There is a socio-economic/political element within this, which gives it the credentials of a State of the Nation piece. It is to Saoudi’s credit that he doesn’t spare himself taking responsibility for his often fractious relationship with his increasingly volatile brother, and an ongoing inability to tackle Adamczewski’s often overbearing and self-destructive behaviour.In many ways, this is a rock book that is less about music and more about race and class, as it was a surprise to find that the often half-naked and addled Lias of the band’s incendiary live shows was also a fine art student at the prestigious Slade School in London. Ten Thousand Apologies, with its detailed descriptions of fuck-ups and come-downs, of opportunities missed and decisions untaken, isn’t going to change this reputation.

And that they find the right way to soothe the turmoil in their sarcastic, artistic, political, absolutely nutted, still homeless souls. Was thinking about it constantly between reading and there was something special about being taken back to the period of time spent listening to FWF records as a college and university student, seeing them play at home in a Swindon pub of all places, going White Hotel for Moonlandingz (one of the best gigs I've ever been to). Fully bound in purple cloth covered boards; front cover artwork embossed in black; acid-free Fedrigoni paper; Fabriano Tiziano mid-blue endpapers. Smith, the Fat Whites' story is a frequently jaw-dropping epic of creative insurrection, narcotic excess, mental illness, wanderlust, self-sabotage, fractured masculinity, and the ruthless pursuit of absolute art.From the mountains of Algeria to the squats of South London via sectarian Northern Ireland, Ten Thousand Apologies is the sordid and thrilling story of the country's most notorious cult band, Fat White Family. It may not make for the best music but it certainly makes for a compelling story and repeatedly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

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