Music Mentor Books
LAST SWILL AND TESTAMENT
THE HILARIOUS, UNEXPURGATED MEMOIRS OF
Paul 'Sailor' Vernon
(Blues fanatic, rare record dealer, ligger,
erstwhile bon viveur and friend to the stars)
Paperback, 228 pages, illustrated, 2008
Born to shell-shocked parents in shell-shocked London shortly after the end of World War II, Paul 'Sailor' Vernon came into his own during the 1960s when spotty teenage herberts with bad haircuts began discovering The Blues. For the Sailor it became a lifelong obsession that led him first to record collecting and stalking unsuspecting visiting bluesmen, and then into a whirlwind of activity as a rare record hunter, record dealer, magazine proprietor/editor, video bootlegger and record company director before a variety of personal and business setbacks eventually ushered him into seeking a more stable form of existence.
The many twists and turns in the author's rollercoaster adventure of a life are all vividly charted in this hilarious illustrated autobiography. GASP as you read how he road-tripped his way through the Deep South armed only with a Rand McNally map, a Swiss army knife and an emergency jar of Marmite! MARVEL as you absorb in-depth descriptions of legendary performances by long-departed giants of the Blues! CHOKE on your coffee as one rotten gag after another blindsides you! REND YOUR GARMENTS as you realize just how many original Blues 78’s went through his sweaty hands! SHOUT “BLIMEY!” within earshot of surprised elderly relatives as you follow the rags-to-riches tale of his extraordinary life! It’s all here in this one-of-a-kind life history that will leave you reaching for an enamel bucket and a fresh bottle of disinfectant!
Paul Vernon is perhaps the first record collector-dealer to ever have a book written about him - even if he wrote it himself. Many VJM readers will be familiar with the man who worked with Trevor Benwell on VJM during the 1970s then launched his own iconoclastic Sailor's Delight filled with cheeky humor and great post-war blues 78s and LPs. (He finally comes clean about the bogus Robert Johnson photograph that appeared in SD about the same time Steve LaVere located the real one - about time, Paul.).
Unlike VJM, Paul filled up SD's pages with his own records which required him to scrounge the world to find them - and the collecting escapades in doing so are duly recorded in the current work with aplomb and good humor. Later, Paul was a pioneer in documenting and reissuing traditional world music, particularly in Portugal, Greece, West Africa - an effort aided enormously by being one of the privileged few to gain access to the legendary EMI archives, which have the most complete files on recording activity around the world (not to mention hard copies of the 78s) anywhere. He also worked with cartoonist Gene Deitch in reissuing a privately recorded tape of John Lee Hooker's earliest performances.
The reason Paul could pull off the feat of gaining entrance to EMI, and other ventures in his life is the reason why this book was published - he's got a surplus of good humor and knowledge of the blues that he sprinkles liberally throughout the book.
The book is a lot of fun to read and a welcome relief from the fawning, pretentious scholarship of many blues books. Read it over a weekend and have a laugh over a true character." VJM (March 2008)
"This book is not meant as a sociological study of the effect of the blues on a NW London geezer; rather, it is written to make people laugh along with – not at – Paul, and it certainly achieves that noble aim. So, whether you are one of Paul’s many friends, one of his few detractors, or just somebody who really doesn’t know the guy at all, but wants to know more and have a good number of laughs along the way, I do recommend that you beg, borrow but preferably not steal a copy of what is, as Sailor describes it, a description of a love affair with music, at which blues/RnB is at the core, over the past 45-odd years – 'the true essence of being alive'. Aye aye, Sailor and thanks." Blues & Rhythm (April 2008)
"Readers familiar with SD won't be surprised that the narrative is informed, affectionate, often poignant and always replete with zany humour. It'll have you rushing for a dry handkerchief one moment, and a clean pair of underwear the next. Adorned with Dave Clarke's original SD cartoons, this is essential for every blues fan with a sense of humour." Record Collector (May 2008)
"Paul's prose, reverential in parts, rosily nostalgic in others, poignant in places and laced with just plain daft humour throughout, brings the story vividly to life... a rollicking read." Juke Blues (June 2008)
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