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Owning Up: The Trilogy [Paperback]

George Melly
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
Price: 9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

27 July 2006
This single volume includes three famous memoirs - Scouse Mouse, Rum, Bum & Concertina and Owning Up, with a new introduction by the author. Scouse Mouse is a funny and frequently touching story of the author's 1930s childhood in a middle-class Liverpudlian household. Rum, Bum & Concertina, the naval equivalent of wine, women and song, describes Melly's National Service as one of the most unlikely naval ratings ever. He becomes an anarchist and connoisseur of Surrealist Art while self-educating himself on some of the wilder shores of love. Once demobbed, Melly comes to London to work in an art gallery, and in Owning Up he describes how he slipped into the world of the jazz revival, revelling in an endless round of pubs, clubs, seedy guest-houses and transport caffs while surrounded by a mad array of musicians, tarts, drunks and arch-eccentrics.

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Owning Up: The Trilogy + Slowing Down + Take A Girl Like Me: Life With George
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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (27 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141025549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141025544
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 212,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

George Melly was born in 1927. He made his name in the jazz revival scene of the late 40s and 50s, singing with Mick Mulligan's band. In the 60s he became one of the UK's most ubiquitous critics, writers and TV personalities. He has published a great number of books, including four volumes of autobiography: Owning Up (1965), Rum, Bum and Concertina (1977), Scouse Mouse (1984) and Slowing Down (2005). Today he can be found singing with the trumpeter Digby Fairweather. In 2004 he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC's Jazz Awards.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Autobiography at its finest 17 Feb 2004
Wit, raconteur, art connoisseur, surrealist, lascivious jazzman, sexual athlete and wearer of some of the most dangerous suits in Britain, Melly's autobiography is every bit as provocative and bizarre as the man himself.
Written in reverse order but rearranged into chronological order in this edition, it's best to tackle the volumes that way round.
Scouse Mouse covers George's upper-middle-class childhood in Liverpool between the wars. This is a fascinating account of his family, the arts scene in Liverpool, and of a city and lifestyle now almost completely vanished; there are plenty of laughs along the way too.
Rum, Bum and Concertina describes Melly's spell in the Royal Navy, his burgeoning sexuality, and his contact and involvement with the London art world, in particular the Surrealists. Probably the weakest of the three, but again a fascinating portrait of two very different aspects of his life.
Owning Up sees George falling victim to the dreaded curse of Jazz, describing in scabrous, lip-smacking and often highly self-deprecating detail his torrid days with Mick Mulligan's band. At the end of this book he decides to forsake the jazz life for writing and broadcasting...
...but of course an afterword describes his subsequent jazz career with John Chilton ;)
George is a national treasure; his books are warm, acerbic, waspish, astonishingly perceptive and almost infinitely readable. A real treat.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swinging and singing 18 Oct 2007
Owning Up remains the true highpoint for me with its loving evocation of a world that was already vanishing when George wrote it back in the early 60's. To anyone who still thinks the 50's were stuffy and conformist in Britain, such as Daily Mail readers for example, this book will provide the necessary corrective. The only difference with that decade and the 60's was that suddenly everyone was aware of the hedonism going on underneath the surface. Even if you're not a jazz fan, the book will rivet you with its graphic descriptions of Melly and partner in crime Mick Mulligan cutting a swathe through late night drinking clubs, provincial dance halls in such glamorous locations as Grimsby and Boston, (Birmingham's reputation never recovered from the battering George gave it in this volume) and scrubbers - always scrubbers! Is there something in the female psyche that pre-programs them to offer themselves sexually to otherwise physically-unappetising musicians? Whatever, generations of spotty adolescents in rock bands who wish to discover if the best form of willy-warmer is a supermodel's mouth are eternally grateful! Rum, Bum and Concertina shocked me when I first read it back in the 70's but remains an intriguing picture of George - a round peg in a square hole if ever there was one - somehow finding time to fit in National Service in the navy whilst attending art galleries, anarchists meetings, and homosexual orgies. There's even a guest appearance by the great Louis Armstrong - the man who ignited George's mania for jazz in the first place. Buy it. When they made George they threw away the mould - and clean forgot how to sculpt another one.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immensely pleasurable social document 24 Sep 2001
By A Customer
Why has nobody reviewed this? Is it because Melly is perceived as a frivolous figure? Or is it, more likely, the silly titles of the first two vols (actually the last two published)? Anyway, it is pure joy, and not in a frivolous, moon's-a-balloon sense but as fascinating social history (like James Kirkup's 4 volumes of memoirs, unhappily not yet gathered together). And you don't need to (a) like jazz (b) think George can sing!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read on paper, less so on Kindle 6 Mar 2011
By Henry B
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
George Melly's accounts of three phases of his own life are charming, humorous and fascinating. However, the transfer to Kindle format is less than wholly successful. Numerous instances betray the lack of competent proofreading, e.g. "Ullet Road" is given as "UHet Road","1912" as "191Z" and many times two adjacent words are run together with no intervening space. It's not so bad as to make the text incomprehensible, but frequent enough to make the reading experience jarring.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good time George shares all 2 Mar 2004
The first of the trilogies in this collection is especially good and evocative of the times (pre war Liverpool). He writes very honestly and openly of his life and in that most overused of phrases it's a real page turner.
Whether you like jazz or not is irrelevent, if you like biographies, you're going to love this and 3 books for this price is great value, just hit the order button now!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best biography i have read 13 July 2003
This is the funniest ,most honest biography i have ever read,George has that rare ability to paint a picture with the minium of words and is not afraid to show his own shortcomings.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious 28 Aug 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a weighty tome incorporating all three of Melly's autobiographies from 1965 onwards. It is a wonderful book, beautifully written, with flashes of humour and perception in equal measure. The first book, Scouse Mouse, covers his school days, the second, Rum , Bum and Concertina covers his time in the Navy and the final, Owning Up, is all about life as a jazz musician in the 1950's and thereabouts. I preferred the first two sections - Melly's life growing up in 1930's Liverpool and the hilarious account of him doing absolutely nothing for a year on HMS Argus tied up in Chatham from 1945-6. Truly Melly was the King of the Skivvers but, importantly, he was not lazy. (He spent most of that year going up to London to visit jazz clubs and other dens of vice.) Melly is a superb conversationalist, raconteur, he has the ear for language and his memory is truly astonishing. (His memories of his penniless prep school headmaster are particularly amusing.) The book is a bit fruity at times, particularly in the middle section, but not so much as to cause offence. I certainly found all the tales of shenigans in the Navy more amusing than smutty. This book is probably for the older reader - not for your average adolescent - but you don't have to be a jazz fan to appreciate it. The world of jazz has lost a wonderful man.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant - so sad it ended!
The world of jazz is something of a mystery to me. Not only do I not like it, I positively hate it. Thankfully this book doesn't contain a note of jazz, although it has a lot of... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Peter H
5.0 out of 5 stars George Melly's honest portryal of sexual flamboyancy.
George Melly pulls no punches and tells of his experiences in honest and succinct way. He would have made an interesting and passionate friend.
Published 4 months ago by Birderic2
George Melly had a unique writing style which brought his stories to life in such a colourful way - his use of the English language was absolutely terrific and deeply skilled. Read more
Published 4 months ago by J. McCarraher
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book well worth reading
Good book well worth reading, lots of detail . George certainly had a very interesting upbringing .this is a long read with many interesting elaborations on the times George grew... Read more
Published 5 months ago by R P Davenport
4.0 out of 5 stars They Don't Make Them Like This Any More!
George Melly was a one-off, and this book is a splendid romp through his life. My reason for awarding four and not five stars is that the first of the trilogy, about his early... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mike Jacobs
5.0 out of 5 stars A FAVOURITE
Finally, got all three books together in one volume. A great read and already it's loaned out to friends. Super!
Published 10 months ago by dek potter
3.0 out of 5 stars I bought it as a present for someone else
I bought it as a present for someone else - it's a book for heaven's sake! When someone has read it they will have read what they wanted to. Read more
Published 13 months ago by David Clifford
4.0 out of 5 stars Owning up trilogy
A good read, and an amazing insight into George Melly's action packed, and sometimes sordid life. My opinion of him has not improved, but what he got up to is staggering
Published 15 months ago by Alsman
4.0 out of 5 stars 'chutzpah'
George Melly was outragious ,vulgar,hilarious & witty he had a great appetite for life & this book follows the exploits of this larger than life character . Read more
Published on 1 Oct 2011 by D. S. Sample
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous writing
George Melly has an amazing memory for detail and interiors as well as a rollicking wit and enjoyment of life. I wish I could write like him. Read thse books years ago. Read more
Published on 31 Mar 2011 by sue law
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