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Inside the Zoo with U2
Author: Lola Cashman
Publisher: John Blake
Length: 260 pages

They've a way to go before they're subject to the sheer wealth of different titles that The Beatles or Bob Dylan currently command shelf space with in Britain's High Streets. But U2 books are still appearing with welcome regularity at the moment, with some 15 of them published in the last ten years.

But another tour book--after two or three such efforts covering Dublin's finest in the mid-nineties--doesn't, at first, exactly bring with it waves of novel expectation. This one, however, may still go down as a favourite among hard-core fans, as for a change, it comes from the pen of the "official band stylist."

Lola Cashman, the dizzy daughter of a notorious character from London's east end, was already enjoying a somewhat bohemian lifestyle working with Terence Donovan and David Bailey, when approached by Bono Vox to completely overhaul the band's image. Not a fan of U2, she nevertheless accepted the gig, jumping on board to tour the world.

But don't be deceived by the book's title, nor the recent shot of Bono on the cover: this is all about working for the world's biggest band during its 1987 Joshua Tree tour. Readers expecting a chronological account will be disappointed; the author pays little heed to context and, at times, could be talking about any U2 gig at any time. If you're looking for a seedy, true-adventures-of, type of tour exposé, then look elsewhere. Far from it being a story of groupies, drug busts and mystery deaths, the four band members are painted as being remarkably normal people in the circumstances . . . all the while surrounded by intense media attention and industry figures that appear ruthlessly competitive.

In fact, the most shocking tale is that of a naked U2, hot out of the showers post-concert, disagreeing violently over which pair of new underpants is which. There's also the author, being frog-marched out of the Vatican with The Edge and his wife after a hilarious misunderstanding; we get the time when, live on stage she kicked Bono accidentally in the groin--and the evening when she comforts a sad Jack Nicholson through a night of joyous U2 music just a short distance away.

This work isn't authorized. It's also one that would've benefited from better editing. Important names such as Paul McGuinness and Phil Joannou are spelt incorrectly throughout. There's the feeling of a book being done on the cheap; but herein lies its charm. Cashman writes how she speaks and the inner photos are from her own collection. Unfortunately, although she describes U2's clean living, Christian image by instead describing them as four fragile human beings, this is a book that only hints at the band's spirituality. It's for U2 fanatics. Those looking for an understanding of their beliefs will be better served by Steve Stockman's _Walk On._

3 and 1/2 tocks

John Cheek  "Cheek, John" <>  25 September 2004


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