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Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781474619493

Price: £20

ON SALE: 15th April 2021

Genre: The Arts / Music / Music Reviews & Criticism

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The story of two outsiders and obsessives whose collision prompted an evangelistic alliance on the furthest frontiers of underground music.

Steve Davis first met Kavus Torabi – guitarist with Gong, Guapo, Cardiacs and Knifeworld – in the mid-2000’s at a gig by French underground rock legends Magma. Over the next few years, this unlikely duo’s shared affinity for visionary psychedelic music would become the foundation of not only a firm friendship, but also the most infectiously inclusive broadcasting style since the much-mourned death of John Peel.

In their weekly radio shows and a one-of-a-kind live DJ roadshow which included a legendary appearance at Glastonbury, Steve and Kavus mapped out a musical landscape of rare enchantment, where the only passport needed was a pair of open ears. No-one, least of all Davis and Torabi themselves, was expecting the 6-time former World Snooker champion and a British-Iranian underground rock musician to become one of the most trusted brands in British alternative music.

As Steve and Kavus were starting to get to grips with the challenge of their newfound status, events took a further unexpected turn. Suddenly they found themselves in a band together. And not just any band … as two thirds of Britain’s (if not the world’s) leading harmonium, guitar and analogue synth power-trio (with Michael J.York of Coil)The Utopia Strong, the two friends found themselves plunging into a vortex of spontaneous compositional excitement.

How Steve and Kavus pulled this off is just one of the many questions MEDICAL GRADE MUSIC will try to answer. Part sonic memoir, part Socratic dialogue, part gonzo mission to the heart of what makes music truly psychedelic this book is the first work of joint autobiography to ever trace the evolution of a life-changing friendship through the discographies of Gentle Giant and Voivod. From the chip-shops of Plumstead to the the wildest shores of Plymouth’s nineties thrash scene. it’s a funny and fearless buddy movie of the soul, with a soundtrack that will make your eyes bleed.


So here we have our Butch and Sundance, adrift on strange seas with heads full of stray cats and gentle giants, magmatic rumbles surging up from hidden volcanoes, new lands glistening with life in a Roger Dean dawn. For all those boys in RAF greatcoats with stacks of LPs tucked under their arms waiting for MAN to come on; all those girls who insisted you come with them to see King Crimson at the Rainbow in 1973 and to their spiritual descendants, wherever and whoever they may be
Spider Stacey
Not sure how two heads discussing weirdo music became the feelgood music book of the year, but if the legendary Nurse With Wound List blew your mind, Steve and Kavus's navigation of the freak zone will warm your heart
David Keenan
Medical Grade Music is an extraordinary, vital trip to the heart of the underground. Funny, deeply human and often surreal, it's one of the most original and entertaining music books I've ever read - but it's also one of the most touching
Harry Sword
I couldn't get past the intro
Barry Hearn
Amiable, unusual and occasionally impenetrable . . . [Davis and Torabi] recall their intertwining musical passions with self-effacing wit and no small measure of detail
Theirs is one of the great unlikely bromances, and their enthusiasm for the music that they champion, as fans, curators and creators fizz off the page with the kind of dilated, white knuckle spirit of adventure that created it in the first place. This is a trip into a parallel musical universe and a great primer in the kind of ambitious music that the more conservative punk/pop/rock narratives tend to dismiss. More than this though, it's a roadmap on how to follow your dreams (and trips) to their illogical conclusions and a paean to friendship, and a rollicking read
Louder Than War
An enjoyable "pot-pourri of excess, poor behaviour and unfortunate lifestyle decisions"