Book Review – Ticket To Ride by Graham Sclater


Graham Sclater spent much of the sixties playing in beat
groups in and around Britain, and more importantly, in Beat Central,
Hamburg. Of course, we all know that The Beatles set the beat boom off over in
Deutschland, and literally hundreds of English groups went over chasing the
same dream. Ticket to Ride, Sclater’s first novel, sees him charting the insane
rock & roll life of The Cheetahs, a group of young lads finding their feet
(both in music and in their life) slap bang in the middle of the Reeperbahn,
the infamous red light district made so famous by the Fab Four.

The book is a cracking little kitchen sink drama, littered
with all the hopes and dreams that any young kid with an interest in music has.
As opposed to being a wordy effort, that many books of this ilk suffer from,
Sclater has kept it simple and straight forward, which allows Sclater to show
the reader that he’s still a fan, and the enthusiasm he has, is shared quickly.
From the tales of uppers, backroom sex and teenage fumblings, to name checking
vintage gear and records, the whole tone of the book is one shot through Super
8. Obviously, with any book dealing with The Dream, it occasionally gets a
little dewy eyed, but this again underlines how much the subject means to
Sclater, rather than being someone writing about something from borrowed
nostalgia. As Sclater lived it, the devil of the book is in the detail. Ticket
to Ride perfectly captures that youthful optimism that was prevalent during the
mid sixties, and that feeling that any young Englishman with a guitar or a Vox
Continental, could take over the world. Thankfully, Sclater has kept the warts
in, with the lads getting ‘a dose’ and the constant shivering that seems to
prevail through the tour.

The innocence that is now lost in teens is alive and well
with The Cheetahs. The post war fall out has not given birth to a Cosmopolitan
bunch; if we now have backpackers and worldly teens, Ticket to Ride
shows a bunch of lads almost unable to look after themselves in what might as
well be an alien planet. A lot of music books have the ‘us against the world’
attitude in the band featured, but Sclater is smart enough to sidestep it. The
fractions that appear throughout the shifting hierarchy expertly show how bands
operated back then, when rock music was in its infancy, and without a five year
plan, and thankfully, an absence of spin and PR.

The book itself is a breeze to read, and difficult to put
down. Just about anyone with an interest in music (and not just sixties music)
will be able to buy into the ride detailed by Sclater. Ticket to Ride has it
all. Prostitution, deceit, drugs, alienation, violence, camaraderie, and most
of all, good time rock and roll. Available to buy from

Ticket To Ride by Graham Sclater ****

Mof Gimmers


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