on 22 March 2015
I am a pretty big fan of Ms Quatro. I even got her to sign my copy of this book and one for a female friend. And this gift revealed an insight into the effect the book has on an audience. I found it all a bit too emotional and heavy on 'relationship' issues and far too light on the creative process and recording of her catalogue of albums. My female friend, on the other hand, thought it was a great read and that the relationship, touchy-feely stuff, was riveting and brave.
I was dying to hear about what drove her to write certain songs, what the creative tensions were in the recording studio given the obvious influence her uber-producer, singles songwriter Mike Chapman and her image-building manager, Mickie Most. She is far clearer about their effect on her band-mates than on her. And the albums are dispensed with disappointingly quickly, with her often saying she liked certain songs she wrote, rather than explaining much about them. There are some precious creative insights for the ardent fan to grasp at, just not near enough. I also didn't get much of a sense of what it was really like to be an almost lone female in the 70s rock scene. Then there is the psychic stuff, which adds to the odd rambling nature of the second half. Interesting, though, to read her raw honesty about the devastation of things like the failure of her turn in Annie Get Your Gun on the West End and the implosion of an album she recorded in the late 90s with a French producer.
There is also the unsuccessful decision to write the book in two voices - Little Suzi from Detroit and 'Suzi Quatro' the rock star. This never really works and, by book's end, overwhelmingly makes her sound like her ego is much bigger than the levels of enduring success she retains and her generally accepted (ie unfairly overlooked) position in the pantheon of rock. A ghostwriter would no doubt have shaped the book and this device to greater effect and diffused the egotistical self aggrandizing side of it all with a greater sense of humility. As it is, her writing style is too often dismissive of things that seem like they would have been momentous personal or creative events and often too conversational and slightly ungracious.
It is a shame, because this is an interesting life. Her achievement is probably to graphically and honestly illustrate that she was nothing like her hard rocking image, but rather, a sensitive fallible woman working hard to keep her family relationships on an even keel and to salvage and hold together a once extremely successful career. This is harsh - but for a big fan, I was surprised how bored I was at times. In the end, it just feels like her story could have been told a whole lot better with some strategic outside help.