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Fried & Justified

Mick Houghton

A candid frontline account of an illustrious gonzo career as an independent music publicist
during the post-punk heyday of the 80s and 90s, featuring an introduction by Bill Drummond and new cover artwork by Jimmy Cauty.

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Date Published
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A Book of the Year, Uncut

We arrived in a fleet of white stretch limos at a clearing in a wood near Woking. Here the K Foundation was exhibiting a million pounds in cash, while Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty circled the perimeter in two orange Saracen armoured vehicles, blasting out Abba’s ‘Money Money Money’ . . .

The list of bands and artists Mick Houghton worked with in an illustrious career in the music business reads like a Who’s Who of some of the greatest, most influential and downright dysfunctional cult groups of the post-punk era and beyond – Ramones, Talking Heads, The Undertones, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Felt, Sonic Youth, The Wedding Present, Spiritualized and Elastica among them. Often judiciously (or unintentionally) sidestepping the major trends in music – baggy, grunge and Britpop – his reputation for attracting outsiders led to him working with artists as disparate as Sun Ra, Andrew Oldham, Ken Kesey, Bert Jansch, Stereolab, Mercury Rev and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci.

But the three acts Mick is most closely identified with are Echo & the Bunnymen, Julian Cope (and the Teardrop Explodes) and the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu/KLF in all their guises. Between them, these three played a significant role in shaping the musical landscape of the eighties and nineties, and – as confidant and co-conspirator – Mick was with their chorus along the way, carefully navigating the minefield of rivalries and contrasting fortunes. It is Mick’s indefatigable belief that it was always the music that came first, and it is his knack of attracting so-called difficult and troubled artists that makes Fried & Justified such an amusing, honest and insightful tale.

Critic Reviews

An entertaining memoir recalls twenty heady years at the centre of the British music business.

Financial Times
Critic Reviews

Excellent . . . Remind[s] us that the best pop culture often comes together thanks to accidental, passionate heroes, standing out against the crowd in the most brilliant way.

Jude Rogers, New Statesman
Critic Reviews

As a publicist, Houghton found himself uniquely placed as both an insider and outsider, watching acts morph from bright young things to industry deities to burn-outs and back to being creative again. Such trajectories involved brilliance, stupidity, ambition, dysfunction, madness, love, hate, sex, alcohol, drugs, bust-ups – and gigantic egos. It’s all here in gory backstage detail . . . Fried and Justified sheds light on a bygone industry that, although flawed, occasionally nurtured genuine misfit-creatives

Barbara Ellen, Observer
Critic Reviews

Houghton’s unfussy affection for his charges makes it a celebration of life on the musical margins rather than a compendium of gossip . . . As parallel histories of the UK alternative scene go, this one leaves them all behind.

Jim Wirth, Uncut

Mick Houghton began his career writing about music before starting as a PR at WEA in 1978. Two years later he set up the independent Brassneck Publicity. He began writing again in 2001 for Mojo and later Uncut, and has since published two books, I’ve Always Kept A Unicorn: The Biography of Sandy Denny and Becoming Elektra: The True Story…

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