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The Rock N' Roll Memoir
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Paul Higgins
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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!
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