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Paul Higgins
63 posts

Edited Jan 08, 2017, 11:13
The Rock N' Roll Memoir
Jan 08, 2017, 11:13
As you've probably seen elsewhere I'm the new boy on here! Please don't bully me or take my dinner money! Ha ha!

I've been thinking of a new topic I can start on here and triggered by talk of books on another topic decided on this - the rock n' roll memoir!!!!!

So here are my reviews of some of the ones sitting on my shelves at home. There are many others but I didn't want to be sat here all day doing this and it's also meant as a way of getting you lot to share your thoughts too on books you've read. Be interesting to see what people recommend or even differences of opinion on the ones I have mentioned.

Here's my list...

JULIAN COPE: HEAD ON/REPOSSESSED
Doubt there's anyone on here who hasn't read this and is unaware of it's supreme greatness in the endless world of the rock-star-memoir but thought it would make a good starting point. Utter classic and so, so detailed!!!

BEZ: FREAKY DANCING
I liked this even though I thought some of it was made up (sorry but people who take huge amounts of drugs DON'T remember how many spliffs were rolled on a certain night twenty years ago! Well I couldn't anyway!) I was ALMOST convinced until I read Shaun Ryder say years later Bez's other-half at-the-time wrote it and most of it is made up. Cheats!

KEITH RICHARDS: LIFE
This is up there with Copey's classic if not better and is a fascinating glimpse into the great man's world. Yes he touches on drugs but, for me, it was his love of music I enjoyed reading the most in this book and his honesty and passion. The myth about this man is not quite equal to the reality. He often kind of says he paced himself and used drugs to help creativity in the studio (like with the 'Exile' recording) instead of other people of the time who smashed the drugs in heavily and ended up dead at an early age.

KRIS NEEDS: NEEDS MUST
This is one of the best if you ask me and Kris has had an amazing life via his work and befriending many of the stars he interviewed from The Gun Club's Jeffrey Lee Pierce to Keith Richards. His down-to-earth often humorous style is highly infectious and he comes across as a beautiful soul with a colossal passion for music. I was facebook-friends with him for some time (before he disappeared off there) and he really is one of the good guys and so ego-less and kind to people. A true gent!

KRIS NEEDS: THE MUSIC, MYTHS & MISADVENTURES OF PRIMAL SCREAM
His own wonderful autobiography (above) really takes some beating I feel but this one actually, amazingly goes one better. The Scream, like Keef, have a myth about them as regards their chemical appetites over the years but while this book has plenty of talk about that (usually steeped in humour) he also focuses on what huge music-freaks the band have always been and their major influences are spoken about almost on every page. Great photos, great design and a great story! Highly recommended!

JOHN LYDON: ANGER IS AN ENERGY
Another man with a great story to tell and his charm, sense of humour and love of life come jumping out at ya throughout these 500 something pages. I liked it for the most part but found by the end of the whole book it seems to be a 'sit-down-and-listen-to-Uncle-John's-opinions' on everything and anything rather than straight-forward story-telling which I found a little tiresome I have to admit. I do like the guy though, don't get me wrong!

KIM GORDON: GIRL IN A BAND
Can't recommend his book enough! A fascinating read beautifully written by someone who is clearly a very intelligent human being! It ain't 'the story of Sonic Youth' which I found disappointing upon that realization but soon warmed to the fact it's Kim's story and her early accounts of moving to New York and what that felt like are second-to-none! Can't help feeling this was a REVENGE book though to throw the shit back at her ex Thurston written so soon after their separation. Kim's scars are clearly still very raw. I think me and any other Sonic Youth fan would never take sides as, let's face it, Kim & Thurston are BOTH hugely talented at what they do and equally contributed to making The Youth a super-special band. If Thurston is a love-cheating rat it's not really of great concern to average music fans really as it's his music we love him for not his personal life. Would still have been a great book if you'd have left that stuff out Kim!

TIM BURGESS: TELLING STORIES
Lovely memoir by a sweet soul who seemed to lose any rock-star-ego at the same time he quit drugs and booze. Yes there are tales of debauchery (cocaine up the ass anyone?) but he's a changed man now and all the more better for it and has a lovely, likable writing-style. Yes he had a serious drug problem for a long, long time but his passion for music even outshines that. Wonderful!

DICK PORTER: A SHORT HISTORY OF ROCK N' ROLL PSYCHOSIS (THE CRAMPS)
Nobody has wrote the definite book on The Cramps. This is better than nothing though but at only 140 odd pages still leaves room for someone to write a proper-more-detailed account of this fascinating, one-off band. Maybe Ivy will treat us to her autobiography one day! Still an interesting read where you might find out a thing or two you didn't know about the band already. Great photos too!

Talking of short-ones...

JOHNNY RAMONE: COMMANDO
This in only 175 pages long but is short-and-to-the-point just like the best Ramones song was. The Ramones documentary film paints Johnny as a bit of a heartless slave-driving beast but he was the driving force and backbone of the Ramones. He had the vision for the band and kept them together. No Johnny - No Ramones - simple as that! He comes across as a kinder soul in this book luckily and it makes for a great read. The book is a different shape/size to most and has a super-thick cover - it's very unique! Going into 'High Fidelity' territory somewhat (a music film about music nerds who make loads of 'best...' lists) Johnny treats us to his 'best top 10...' lists at the back of the book on virtually everything... even TV shows! A great book!

LEMMY: WHITE LINE FEVER
Another short-sharp blast through the life of a rock n' roller. A hugely lovable man with a great story to tell who we assume is being very honest. Great!

DAVID KATZ: PEOPLE FUNNY BOY: THE GENIUS OF LEE 'SCRATCH' PERRY
A huge reggae bible at 500 pages long. This is certainly NOT for the casual reggae fan or casual Perry fan but rather a full-on highly-detailed account of Lee 'Scrtach' Perry and his life in music. The amount of recordings and music that is talked about here is staggering. Surely one of the best books on reggae ever written!

WYNDHAM WALLACE: LEE, MYSELF & I - INSIDE THE VERY SPECIAL WORLD OF LEE HAZLEWOOD
I'm a huge Hazlewood fan and while people like Rodriguez (who is great, don't get me wrong) get acclaim after only making two albums and a movie made about them Lee Hazlewood is still the worlds biggest unsung hero! He did so much and was a genius! No movie about Lee though, no induction into the rock n' roll hall of fame and (up until this) no book!!!!! Like The Cramps there is still a great book waiting to be written about his life but for now this one will do fine! This book is a delightful account of hero worship by the author that turned into him being Lee's manager and even friend. It's deeply moving, well-written and more-than-anything an original idea for a book where you really get a feel for what Lee was actually like. For Lee Hazlewood fans this is a must!!!!

NEIL YOUNG: SPECIAL DELUXE: A MEMOIR OF LIFE & CARS
Writing an autobiography is hard but writing two, well that's something altogether! I sort-of liked Neil's first but found it a bit random and the Tarantino-styled chopping-and-changing of the running order a bit unsettling to say the least. Neil writes beautifully (probably takes after his Dad!) though but I preferred this, his second. This is done with an original slant using his memories of the cars he's bought over the years (his hobby, there are LOADS of them!) to trigger other memories and tell the tale. I've never been into cars, don't even drive and have no interest in minor details but it's the way he talks of his passion and links it into memories of his life (like his dogs, for example) I found irresistible. Neil comes across as a beautiful soul with only love for his life and the people in it and there is enough talk about music in this book to keep you interested. A beautiful read!

Now its your turn - fire away!
Sanctuary
Sanctuary
4648 posts

Re: The Rock N' Roll Memoir
Jan 08, 2017, 12:58
Paul Higgins wrote:
As you've probably seen elsewhere I'm the new boy on here! Please don't bully me or take my dinner money! Ha ha!

I've been thinking of a new topic I can start on here and triggered by talk of books on another topic decided on this - the rock n' roll memoir!!!!!

So here are my reviews of some of the ones sitting on my shelves at home. There are many others but I didn't want to be sat here all day doing this and it's also meant as a way of getting you lot to share your thoughts too on books you've read. Be interesting to see what people recommend or even differences of opinion on the ones I have mentioned.

Here's my list...

JULIAN COPE: HEAD ON/REPOSSESSED
Doubt there's anyone on here who hasn't read this and is unaware of it's supreme greatness in the endless world of the rock-star-memoir but thought it would make a good starting point. Utter classic and so, so detailed!!!

BEZ: FREAKY DANCING
I liked this even though I thought some of it was made up (sorry but people who take huge amounts of drugs DON'T remember how many spliffs were rolled on a certain night twenty years ago! Well I couldn't anyway!) I was ALMOST convinced until I read Shaun Ryder say years later Bez's other-half at-the-time wrote it and most of it is made up. Cheats!

KEITH RICHARDS: LIFE
This is up there with Copey's classic if not better and is a fascinating glimpse into the great man's world. Yes he touches on drugs but, for me, it was his love of music I enjoyed reading the most in this book and his honesty and passion. The myth about this man is not quite equal to the reality. He often kind of says he paced himself and used drugs to help creativity in the studio (like with the 'Exile' recording) instead of other people of the time who smashed the drugs in heavily and ended up dead at an early age.

KRIS NEEDS: NEEDS MUST
This is one of the best if you ask me and Kris has had an amazing life via his work and befriending many of the stars he interviewed from The Gun Club's Jeffrey Lee Pierce to Keith Richards. His down-to-earth often humorous style is highly infectious and he comes across as a beautiful soul with a colossal passion for music. I was facebook-friends with him for some time (before he disappeared off there) and he really is one of the good guys and so ego-less and kind to people. A true gent!

KRIS NEEDS: THE MUSIC, MYTHS & MISADVENTURES OF PRIMAL SCREAM
His own wonderful autobiography (above) really takes some beating I feel but this one actually, amazingly goes one better. The Scream, like Keef, have a myth about them as regards their chemical appetites over the years but while this book has plenty of talk about that (usually steeped in humour) he also focuses on what huge music-freaks the band have always been and their major influences are spoken about almost on every page. Great photos, great design and a great story! Highly recommended!

JOHN LYDON: ANGER IS AN ENERGY
Another man with a great story to tell and his charm, sense of humour and love of life come jumping out at ya throughout these 500 something pages. I liked it for the most part but found by the end of the whole book it seems to be a 'sit-down-and-listen-to-Uncle-John's-opinions' on everything and anything rather than straight-forward story-telling which I found a little tiresome I have to admit. I do like the guy though, don't get me wrong!

KIM GORDON: GIRL IN A BAND
Can't recommend his book enough! A fascinating read beautifully written by someone who is clearly a very intelligent human being! It ain't 'the story of Sonic Youth' which I found disappointing upon that realization but soon warmed to the fact it's Kim's story and her early accounts of moving to New York and what that felt like are second-to-none! Can't help feeling this was a REVENGE book though to throw the shit back at her ex Thurston written so soon after their separation. Kim's scars are clearly still very raw. I think me and any other Sonic Youth fan would never take sides as, let's face it, Kim & Thurston are BOTH hugely talented at what they do and equally contributed to making The Youth a super-special band. If Thurston is a love-cheating rat it's not really of great concern to average music fans really as it's his music we love him for not his personal life. Would still have been a great book if you'd have left that stuff out Kim!

TIM BURGESS: TELLING STORIES
Lovely memoir by a sweet soul who seemed to lose any rock-star-ego at the same time he quit drugs and booze. Yes there are tales of debauchery (cocaine up the ass anyone?) but he's a changed man now and all the more better for it and has a lovely, likable writing-style. Yes he had a serious drug problem for a long, long time but his passion for music even outshines that. Wonderful!

DICK PORTER: A SHORT HISTORY OF ROCK N' ROLL PSYCHOSIS (THE CRAMPS)
Nobody has wrote the definite book on The Cramps. This is better than nothing though but at only 140 odd pages still leaves room for someone to write a proper-more-detailed account of this fascinating, one-off band. Maybe Ivy will treat us to her autobiography one day! Still an interesting read where you might find out a thing or two you didn't know about the band already. Great photos too!

Talking of short-ones...

JOHNNY RAMONE: COMMANDO
This in only 175 pages long but is short-and-to-the-point just like the best Ramones song was. The Ramones documentary film paints Johnny as a bit of a heartless slave-driving beast but he was the driving force and backbone of the Ramones. He had the vision for the band and kept them together. No Johnny - No Ramones - simple as that! He comes across as a kinder soul in this book luckily and it makes for a great read. The book is a different shape/size to most and has a super-thick cover - it's very unique! Going into 'High Fidelity' territory somewhat (a music film about music nerds who make loads of 'best...' lists) Johnny treats us to his 'best top 10...' lists at the back of the book on virtually everything... even TV shows! A great book!

LEMMY: WHITE LINE FEVER
Another short-sharp blast through the life of a rock n' roller. A hugely lovable man with a great story to tell who we assume is being very honest. Great!

DAVID KATZ: PEOPLE FUNNY BOY: THE GENIUS OF LEE 'SCRATCH' PERRY
A huge reggae bible at 500 pages long. This is certainly NOT for the casual reggae fan or casual Perry fan but rather a full-on highly-detailed account of Lee 'Scrtach' Perry and his life in music. The amount of recordings and music that is talked about here is staggering. Surely one of the best books on reggae ever written!

WYNDHAM WALLACE: LEE, MYSELF & I - INSIDE THE VERY SPECIAL WORLD OF LEE HAZLEWOOD
I'm a huge Hazlewood fan and while people like Rodriguez (who is great, don't get me wrong) get acclaim after only making two albums and a movie made about them Lee Hazlewood is still the worlds biggest unsung hero! He did so much and was a genius! No movie about Lee though, no induction into the rock n' roll hall of fame and (up until this) no book!!!!! Like The Cramps there is still a great book waiting to be written about his life but for now this one will do fine! This book is a delightful account of hero worship by the author that turned into him being Lee's manager and even friend. It's deeply moving, well-written and more-than-anything an original idea for a book where you really get a feel for what Lee was actually like. For Lee Hazlewood fans this is a must!!!!

NEIL YOUNG: SPECIAL DELUXE: A MEMOIR OF LIFE & CARS
Writing an autobiography is hard but writing two, well that's something altogether! I sort-of liked Neil's first but found it a bit random and the Tarantino-styled chopping-and-changing of the running order a bit unsettling to say the least. Neil writes beautifully (probably takes after his Dad!) though but I preferred this, his second. This is done with an original slant using his memories of the cars he's bought over the years (his hobby, there are LOADS of them!) to trigger other memories and tell the tale. I've never been into cars, don't even drive and have no interest in minor details but it's the way he talks of his passion and links it into memories of his life (like his dogs, for example) I found irresistible. Neil comes across as a beautiful soul with only love for his life and the people in it and there is enough talk about music in this book to keep you interested. A beautiful read!

Now its your turn - fire away!











Welcome Paul - great post...
spencer
spencer
2843 posts

Edited Jan 08, 2017, 13:35
Re: The Rock N' Roll Memoir
Jan 08, 2017, 13:34
Nico: Songs They Never Play On The Radio - James Young. One word: essential.
Dog in fog
Dog in fog
251 posts

Edited Jan 08, 2017, 14:48
Re: The Rock N' Roll Memoir
Jan 08, 2017, 14:34
"Cockney Reject" by Jeff Turner with Garry Bushell. We go a long way back: it was my first gig - I was 16, Jeff Stinky Turner was 15. I WISH I had had the opportunity to sing that Sound of Music song to him! ;-) I still adore "I'm Not A Fool".

I also remember reading a good one on TBBs' Brian Wilson around 15 years ago...

Edit This is the one - "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by Brian Wilson:
https://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=17043021717&searchurl=kn%3Dbeach%2Bboys%2Bbrian%2Bwilson%26sortby%3D17
thesweetcheat
thesweetcheat
5851 posts

Re: The Rock N' Roll Memoir
Jan 08, 2017, 20:41
Head On/Repossessed is probably the best one I've read.

Also Viv Albertine's Clothes, Music Boys, which captures the rush of punk as well as the extra difficulties faced by women trying to get somewhere in the music industry.

Lydon's first one, No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs is very good too.

Dylan's is a terrific read, but you'd need a bunch of other ones to fill in the gaps!

Of the Manchester crew, Hooky's first two (Hacienda and Unknown Pleasures) are great reads, his last one was an arduous trial to read though. Morrissey's is very entertaining apart from the bits about the court case. Just finished Marr's book which, if not as well written as JC etc is massively life-affirming and positive. I'd like to read Steven Morris' memoir if he ever writes one. And Bruce Mitchell's. I've not got round to reading Mark Burgess' yet, despite having it on the shelf for years.

I'd also greatly recommend Paul Morley's "Nothing" which I found very moving.
keith a
keith a
9125 posts

Re: The Rock N' Roll Memoir
Jan 08, 2017, 23:16
thesweetcheat wrote:
Head On/Repossessed is probably the best one I've read.

Also Viv Albertine's Clothes, Music Boys, which captures the rush of punk as well as the extra difficulties faced by women trying to get somewhere in the music industry.



Yes, those two take some beating. The sections on the early punk scene and The Slits in Albertine's book were obviously going to appeal to me, but there's much more to her story than that. There are times when her openness makes makes for fairly uncomfortable reading, but nonetheless I couldn't put it down. It reallyt is up there with Julian Cope's Head On in the great music autobiographies - it's that good. For those of you into this kind of thing...if you haven't read it yet then you must.

Here are some others I've read in recent years...

Bedsit Disco Queen - Tracy Thorn. This is enjoyable too and I say that as someone who's not a major fan of the music. Obviously, an altogether less rock'n'roll book, but well worth a read.

Life - Keith Richard. This was pretty good once it got to the Stones. The childhood years I found quite annoying. He seemed desperate to make his childhood sound more exciting than it really was.

The Big Midweek: Life Inside The Fall by former bassist Steve Hanley. Very good it was, too, as Steve outlines the, er, difficulties involved in working with MES for the best part of twenty years. "There's four of us sat here, we're all bigger than him and the only reason we're not fighting back is because we love being in the band. Not because of him. In spite of him" says Steve halfway through the book... Smith's book is obviously well worth reading, too.

New York Rocker: My Life In The Blank Generation by former Blondie bassist, Gary Valentine. Well worth checking out if you're into the New York punk scene or you want to know what it's like to go on tour with a certain Iggy Pop!

Read & Burn (A Book About Wire) - Wilson Neate. It's such a lovely looking book it almost seemed a shame to read it! Anyway, after a shaky start - anyone who says punk was over by the summer of '77 is a trendy revisionist trying too hard IMO (It can't be over before Never Mind The Bollocks has been released!!), but once it got going it was an excellent read. It makes you wonder how they've managed to stay together so long seeing as they (Newman and Gilbert in particular when Bruce was still there) were singing from such different hymnbooks. So if you like Wire and you haven't read this then I can definitely recommend it.

The Thing Is - Dave Fanning. I used to listen to Dave Fanning back in his early days on Irish radio station, RTE, and even though the reception here in North Wales was pretty dire I'd still tune in to hear his mix of old, new and local acts. I'm not saying he was the first person to play Nick Drake on the radio because he clearly wasn't but he was the first I heard play him, because back then no-one else was doing it. Anyway, I've just finished his book, which was pretty good. Admittedly too much of the last part consisted of name-dropping people he'd met which would have been OK if there were interesting anecdotes to accompany this, but too often that wasn't necessarily the case. All the same there was still much else to enjoy from a bloke I've got a lot of time for.

Anger Is An Energy - John Lydon. It might just be me but the photo on the cover of the latest Lydon autobiography looks like a bloke who is trying too hard! And there's numerous occasions in the book where you think this is a man who has long since started to believe his own publicity - a man who will contradict himself sometimes within the space of a few paragraphs. However, for all that, he's a fascinating fella and if you like a good music biog then there's much to entertain you here.

And finally for now...

Falling and Laughing: The Restoration of Edwyn Collins - Grace Collins
A very moving account of Edwyn's illness and subsequent health battle.
Kid Calamity
8931 posts

Edited Jan 09, 2017, 15:37
Re: The Rock N' Roll Memoir
Jan 09, 2017, 15:37
Keith, how did you get on with Lesley Ann Jones' biography on Marc Bolan, 'Ride A White Swan'?

In my opinion, it was pretty flawed, but told a less glamourised and sycophantic tale. And I kinda liked that more honest approach.
keith a
keith a
9125 posts

Re: The Rock N' Roll Memoir
Jan 09, 2017, 21:25
Kid Calamity wrote:
Keith, how did you get on with Lesley Ann Jones' biography on Marc Bolan, 'Ride A White Swan'?

In my opinion, it was pretty flawed, but told a less glamourised and sycophantic tale. And I kinda liked that more honest approach.


I thought it was a bit shit to be honest!

It was like something out of The Sun. Not a patch on the Mark Paytress biog. That wasn't sycophantic either but was altogether better written and researched.
Monganaut
Monganaut
1696 posts

Edited Jan 10, 2017, 00:55
Re: The Rock N' Roll Memoir
Jan 10, 2017, 00:30
Some good calls in the lists above, i'd like to second the "New York Rocker: My Life In The Blank Generation" as a great read. His follow up about the 'occult' side of the 60's is worth a punt too.

Also muchly enjoyed the scene overview of 'Our Band Could Be your Life', great potted histories of numerous punk/hardcore/noise bands from the 80's/90's, most of whom I've known and loved dearly.

Starman / David Bowie - Paul Trynka.
I'd not realised how many abortive attempts Bowie made at 'fame' till I read this. Nor that it took him so long to actually start making any money from his efforts. Loads of info and stories, and always had me reaching for the records to accompany any given chapter.

Those Luke Haines books (Bad Vibes and Post Everything) are funny, dry and satirical. Almost a guide to how not to have a successful band, or at least how to throw a spanner in the works.

I also muchly liked...

Hell Bent For Leather - Seb Hunter
The hilarious posturing and posings of a wanna be metal band.

Neon Angel : A Memoir Of A Runaway- Cherie Currie
Worth reading for her post Runaway story alone. How many ex rockstars do you know that have been kidnapped by a murderer and almost (almost) met their end that way.

Hooleygan: Music, Mayhem, Good Vibrations - Terry Hoolie
Fascinating and uplifting read about Belfast/Northern Irish record store owner cum DJ who made such a difference to 'the kids' during (that should read as despite) of the troubles going on between the IRA and UDF. Not a bad film either.

Ones I didn't really enjoy...

Scar Tissue - Anthony Keidis
Dunno how true much of this is, but it just struck me as page after page of bullshit, so gave up half way through

Keith Richards - Life
Thought this would be great, but I'm afraid for some reason It just didn't engage me, and tbh, I found it a tad dull. Another exercise in down playing Brian's input and claiming Jones's legacy as his/their own.

Bolan: The Rise and Fall of a 20th Century Superstar - Paytress
Hated this, not so much for the writing, but for making me realise what an out and out wanker Bolan was. The guy came across as vindictive, self serving, mean spirited, asshole. Just vile. Think I got about half way through before I felt I'd heard enough. I do still like his music though, more fool me.

Edit...

Just noticed this book about Post Punk. Anyone read it/ recommend it?
http://repeaterbooks.com/books/post-punk-then-and-now-gavin-butt-mark-fisher/

Ditto this one. Electri-City: The Dusseldorf School of Electronic Music.
http://www.musicroom.com/se/id_no/01125498/details.html
keith a
keith a
9125 posts

Re: The Rock N' Roll Memoir
Jan 10, 2017, 19:43
Monganaut wrote:


Bolan: The Rise and Fall of a 20th Century Superstar - Paytress
Hated this, not so much for the writing, but for making me realise what an out and out wanker Bolan was. The guy came across as vindictive, self serving, mean spirited, asshole. Just vile. Think I got about half way through before I felt I'd heard enough. I do still like his music though, more fool me.




Blimey! You thought he came across THAT badly?! Wow!
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