Literary Scene: Book Review: The Devil Won’t Take Charity – Kim Volkman 2017


I guess if I wanted critical acclaim I’d have picked music that doesn’t ruffle any feathers…(Nikki Sixx ‘The Heroin Diaries’2007)

Not a quote from Kim Volkman’s biography ‘The Devil Won’t Take Charity’, but I think one of the overriding messages from the book, and what anyone who’s wired a bit differently thinks about often. The frustration that Volkman feels about the success of manufactured music and musicians is palpable and valid. We know about human psychology and how important it is at a base level to belong, but for the life of the different, we can’t understand why real talent is doubted, ignored by the masses and seen as so confronting that we can’t acknowledge it. We can’t fathom why evolution hasn’t caught up with a species that no longer has to be part of a homogenous pack for its survival.

‘The Devil Won’t Take Charity’ does nothing to allay the idea that it takes real pain to create beauty. Volkman’s dysfunctional family, the possibility of a purposeless life, or at least a life that contributed negatively to society was a genuine prospect. If it wasn’t for a series of fortunate coincidences, it would have been likely that the local music scene would never have known about Volkman’s talent with a rhythm guitar.

The book isn’t polished like some multi millionaire rockstar’s press release, but is raw, just like the St Kilda scene was back in the day. Less like a waltz and more like a staccato punk pogo, the events fire off the pages in an excited diaspora of recollections. Reading about Kim Volkman’s life is kind of like sitting with him in a bar, sharing a beer and having a chat about old times.

Probably the appeal of the book will be local rather than general. There’s a lot to recognise in it if you frequented the iconic bars and clubs during the period when St Kilda had a heartbeat. There’s also a lot to recognise if you were part of the music industry back when music was made on stage and not processed in a studio and trucked to the venue before the gig. [pullquote]‘The Devil Won’t Take Charity’ is a valid part of the fabric that made St Kilda what it was.[/pullquote] The book ends with a start rather than a gentle wind down. This is understandable as Volkman has a lot of life to live yet, but the full stop then self-proclamation about his talent is unsettling. Despite this, ‘The Devil Won’t Take Charity’ is a valid part of the fabric that made St Kilda what it was. We all hope that St Kilda will once again find life and the blood won’t be totally sucked out by those who are just trying to make a quick buck without the aches and pains of hard work. Long live Kim Volkman and those who are genuine about their art and the contribution it makes to our lives.

Special edition copies available:

6 x 9 inch paperback, first edition, hand numbered. Limited run of 300. $30.00 plus postage. THE DEVIL WON’T TAKE CHARITY

Autobiography by Kim Volkman, edited by Pauline Bailey.

Foreword by Patrick Emery.

Front cover image © Christopher Rimmer and back cover image © Zo Damage.

Grab your copy here.


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About Sharon Brookes 66 Articles
Sharon is a freelance music journalist with 20 years experience writing for street press, web publications and blogs. She specialises in reviewing gigs, books, CD’s, and theatre productions.

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