For an instant don’t take into consideration you musical taste. You could eventually like his musical production or not, but in any case It is undoubt that in the last fifteen years Peter Doherty has probably been, along with Julian Casablancas and The Strokes, who we could define as the most popular personality among the new generation of rock’n’roll band and musicians. Born 12 March 1979, in Hexham, Northumberland, to a military family. His father Peter John Doherty, was a sergeant in the Royal Signals, while his mother, Jacqueline Michels, was a lance-corporal in Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, he formed The Libertines in 1997 with Carl Barat and later the indie band Babyshambles, and both of them were and are actually considered as two of the most influential bands in the last years. Before starting his solo career and along practising other form of arts like painting, writing, acting and following in the foosteps of model and ex-fiancée Kate Moss, also modelling. But Pete Doherty hasn’t been popular through the years only because his arts. Following a classic tradition into rock and roll and pop stars, Doherty has been repeatedly arrested for drug offences nd those arising from dug use, such as driving under the influence, car theft and driving with a suspenced licence. He has pleased guilty to possession of crack cocaine, heroine, cannabis and ketamine and his addictions have resulted in jail time and mutiple trips to rehabilitation facilities. He stated that he had been a rent boy and that during that time he robbed one of his male clients. His tumultuous relationship with Kate Moss was always covered by the press and one of the most discussed in the last decade.
Me for first I’ve to confess that I know much more of him because shit like gossip and magazine chronicles than because of his music and I guess that my case it’s not what we could define as something rare. Not an unique case at all. And the most curious thing it’s that I generally I’m not too much into these kind of notices, but, you know, the power of the ‘gossip’ stays properly in the fact that also if you’re not interested to it, you will in any case come to know these notices.
Because I could imagine that out of Italy not everyone eventually know who I’m talking about, I will do rapidly a description of him and what recently happened. Born in 1977 in New York City, USA, he is the son of Margherita Agnelli and Alain Elkann. His older brother is the actual main owner and the President of the most important Italian industry, the FIAT (‘Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino’) and of the FIAT Chrysler Automobiles N.V., the seventh world power car and automobile industry group. The grandson of the famous Gianni Agnelli, who was the founder of the FIAT and in practice on of the most relevant (if not the most at all) figure in Italian society, economy and politics in the last century since the post-war and when Italy became a Republic.
Considering that the Agnellis are the most important family in Italy, Lapo, who has never obtained a relevant role into the several family affairs and businesses, has become along the years very popular and unpopular the same time and since the 2005 he has become costantly object of gossip chronicles. On one hand he is presented as a smart guy, considered several times as the ‘Best Dressed Man’ by Vanity Fair, and because his several relationship with beautiful girls, actress, models, millionairs artists. But he has got what we could define a dark side. Different times he has been involved into sexy scandals and because his excess in assuming drugs that constricted him in being recovered and to period of rehabilitation.
The last scandal happened in the US, New York, some days ago, when was arrested by the New York Police Department after he simulate to have been abducted in change of an amount of money of ten thousands dollars. An amount of money he needed actually because he made a lot of debts because of sex with prostitutes and the use of drugs.
Inevitably in Italy the fact was immediately on the first page of the majority of the newspapers and the question was discussed and it’s actually discussed on the radio and on the television by newcasts and entertainment formats. Everyone is of course conmdmaning him. What a better occasion, then, for everyone to pour out all the moralism and the repressed anger they got inside? They’re actually very lucky that there’re person like Lapo Elkann. Don’t want of course to make him a martyr or a victim. Because he is actually not. To say it all, he’s a victim, but he’s a victim first of all of himself and later in a certain sense he is also a victim of all this fucking system that requires, feeds himself of this kind of news and at the same time feed the anger and the frustration of who read their magazines, watches their tv programmes. If Lapo has got some guilt, this is just something of what he has to answer in front of the Court. About the rest, if you want my opinion, I am sincerely very moved because the story of this guy. And this despite the fact he is very rich and borious (he is also a supporter and part of the family which own the Juventus, and because I support Inter – I also have got a my own blog where I discuss about this crazy football team – I really hate Juventus!), I feel a strange kind of empathy with him. All I frankly wish to him, it is to find some peace and balance in his life. He really needs. The rest it doesn’t count.
This new album, ‘Hamburg Demonstrations’ (out via BMG Righs Management), maks a departure for Pete Doherty. This because of his career as musician, this is in fact the first record he’s put out that few people outside of his fanbase will be paying much attention to and because he has finally closed his story with The Libertines; this is possibly, and also for those reason, because of his personal life that has inevitably entered in a new phase. That will in any case different from the previous. Don’t know if better of worse. But surely different and this is a relevant fact, because it implies what we could consider a growing and this is for definition something necessearly good.
Recorded in Hamburg with producer Johann Scheerer, ‘Hamburg Demonstrations’, with a cover album very pop-art, a kind of vintage photo-collage, it’s an album full of contents and evidently not just a repetition for Pete of what were the sonorities and the themes yet proposed with The Libertines and Babyshambles. Because of this, don’t know actually if to consider this as his best work, to make a comparison with his not solo works is actually complicate and unuseful, I’m willing to consider this record as a ‘manifesto’. Out after a tour Doherty made in South America with the Puta Madres, a band that in practice it has got components coming from different countries and because of this a congregation of different cultures, ‘Hamburg Demonstrations’ sees for the first time Pete Doherty really proves himself in the role of the classic solo songwriter and even trying to argument and write about important actual and personal issues, taking for a moment a part his deep reverence for the poetry and the literature and in practice showing an human aspect of his personality he never showed before. This doesn’t mean of course he is now what we could define as a new John Lennon and neither he will become a strange kind of Billy Bragg. We’re not talking about a masterpiece album, but if you would approach to it pretending that you’re going to listening to a relevant chapter in the history of the British songwriting, please leave it immediately, you won’t make nothing good for yourself and also for him in this case.
A long time resident in the City of Paris, one of the most poignant song on the album it is surely, ‘Hell To Pay at the Gates of Heaven’, a song written in the aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris the last November and in which he sings, ‘Come on boys, you gotta choose your weapons, J-45 or AK-47,’ where the J45 it’s of course a Gibson guitar, a dark lyricism to argue that, as he declared, ‘Music is a poignant tool of counter terrorism and the ultimate form of peace.’ Probably not so original, but something surely we all passionate about music are always considering about and could really comprehend.
Mainly inspired about the sonorities to a certain British style that made mostly think about The Kinks (‘Kolly Kibber’, the kinky ballad ‘The World Is Our Playground’, the same ‘Hell To Pay at the Gates of Heaven’), of course into some songs you would inevitably recognize what it is Pete Doherty’s own style and sonorities that for the rest are inevitably typical of garage and rock tradition of the new millenium. ‘A Spy In The House’, ‘She Is Far’ are ballads almost murmured by the cigarette smoking voice of Peter Doherty and with soft arrangments. ‘She Is Far’ it’s something in which we could even recognize violin arrangments: it’s quite a piano orchestra song.
Other songs, on the other hand, are some materials that who is a long-time fan of Pete Doherty would probably know yet in form of demos and unreleased or new version of released with Libertines. ‘Oily Boker’, for example, was a song released in 2004 and contained in the album, ‘Music When The Lights Go Out’, here played with an introduction in the typical British garage style and latter ending as a kind of drunk ballad with the playing of the harmonica and accompanied theatralically by the sound of the arp of a guitar. There’re then two version of ‘I Don’t Love Anyone’. One is almost romantic, slow, melancholic, another piano song in practice; the second one fits much more with the sonorities that are typical of Doherty, it sounds much more rock and with that typical tonalities that found its origin in the sixties British pop tradition. ‘Birdcage’, then, was a song he wrote even in his pre-Libertines years.
But probably another interesting song of the album and also one of the much more significant in an emotive sense (later than musical) it’s ‘Flags From The Old Regime’, a song he wrote for and dedicate to his longtime friend, Amy Winehouse, who died tragically in July 2011. Just for the chronicle, I remember I was in Rome the day after at a concert of Lou Reed (one of the last concerts of the great Lou) and he dedicated to her one of his most emotional song, ‘The Bell’. It was probably the best moment of the event.
Back to Doherty and to an album sung with an hyronic style, what we could define as a dark humour, but also argumenting about relevant issues, we could possibly consider this as a new start into his career and possibly into his life not just as singer and songwriter. Much of this of course it will depend from himself and if he will decide to persecute this line and perhaps stopping to living that role of a decadent icon of the rock and roll and in a way that it was possibly inspired to the French movement of the 19th Century and a posture that he would have consciousnessly decided or not, but that in any case made him through the years being not considered seriously. Because, it could sound really strange, but the truth it is that when you’re going to get into some problem, people generally are never taking you seriously. They on the contrary will be against you. Because when you’re not well, you’re inevitably considered strange. People don’t understand you or they just don’t want to and when you’re a stranger, faces look ugly, when you’re alone.