Angel with Drumsticks by Pamela King

Angel with Drumsticks is an unusual and interesting memoir. The synopsis (set out at the end to assist readers of this review) makes clear this account relates to the results of an ‘experiment’ authorised by the Vatican.

81ibbuuqb6l-_sl1500_The tale basically regards how some Italian young people responded to an enterprise arising from the Vatican II council. As the book explains, the aim of the council was to: ‘make the Church more relevant to the young people, to modernise the Church and to be more welcoming to entice them to follow its spiritual path, rather than exhort them to do so.’ The reader is shown how a young music band’s countrymen acclaimed them a success and how their ‘professional’ lives changed as a result. However, as tends to occur with each new generation, there was some conflict, well at least friction, between traditionalists and the up and coming generation of young people. Nevertheless, these young men where not out to be contradictory or to undermine the Roman Catholic Church but simply wished to help and support the fulfilment of Vatican II aims. In truth they were grateful to have been asked to be part of the project ‘La Messa Dei Giovani’.

When reviewing it is best, and quite honestly only fair, to avoid the inclusion of spoilers. However, in this case the synopsis readily sets out what the book is about and indicates the consequences for the protagonists of their willing participation in a new venture.

On the surface this memoir appears to only be of interest to a limited audience e.g.:

  • Those interested in the decisions etc. of the Vatican II council.
  • People who would like to know how the conclusions of Vatican II were or were not implemented.
  • Critics of the Roman Catholic Church.
  • Vatican conspiracy enthusiasts.
  • Conspiracy theorists.
  • Historians with a particular interest in The Catholic Church.

Nevertheless, others are strongly encouraged to read it. It is not something that would normally catch my attention but, if ignored, I would have missed out on an interesting and informative read.

Evidently a lot of research has gone into the writing of this book. The historical photographs and media extracts included assist the reader by providing a fuller comprehension and understanding of the well-presented facts and information.

Rating: As said, it is evident considerable research has been undertaken in the preparation of this informative memoir. This has enabled the historical details underpinning the story to be presented in a readable and clear manner. It is true the book would benefit from further proof-reading; there are numerous minor errors. Nevertheless, as these are primarily typographical or wrong word order they do not detract from the tale. As anyone who has read my reviews knows, I generally consider most books realistically fall within the tree stars rating band. But not in this case. I have no hesitation in allocating four stars (4*) to this absorbing memoir.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in:

  • A different type of memoir.
  • Modern history.
  • Music history.
  • Vatican/Roman Catholic history.

It is not a long book (97 pages including photographs and media extracts).

My copy: Though this has not influenced me in the least I should mention the author, Pamela King, kindly agreed to review one of my books long before asking if I would review Angel with Drumsticks. Her acceptance of my book was unconditional. She did subsequently ask if I would consider hers and I was more than happy to do so. Pamela then kindly provided me with a free copy. Again I must emphasis this did not influence me in the least; I firmly believe, if the rating system is to have any value, we need to be honest in our reviews. To be otherwise does no favours to readers or authors.

Synopsis: ‘A scathing indictment of how the Vatican handled the aftermath of the La Messa Dei Giovani in April 1966, this emotive book chronicles the story from a formerly silent perspective; the founder of the Italian Beat band Angel and the Brains.

It recounts the band formation and its music ambitions and relates the true story of what happened in the 12 months after “La Messa” was conceived to fulfil the desires of Vatican II to make the Catholic Church appealing to young people. Then, because of resulting bitter and vicious arguments within the church and the media, the Vatican took a course of action that was inconsiderate, hurtful and cold hearted.

It explains how the young musicians, responded to an invitation from the church only to have their fledgling careers destroyed.

The reader will discover that many articles in recent years are wrong in their descriptions of what happened following La Messa and falsely acclaim it as being a successful innovation of the Catholic Church at the time.’

Availability: The book is available both in paperback and as an e-book.                  

It is also available in Italian at:

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