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M. J. Prendergast "Mark Prendergast" (UK)

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1916: The Easter Rising
1916: The Easter Rising
by Tim Pat Coogan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scintillating ride of a read thru the 1st and only Revolution in British 20th Century history!, 13 Mar 2014
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For years I stayed away from reading material like this because having been brought up in Dublin I was exposed to the legend of 1916 on an almost daily basis. Decades of objective distance made reading this book, the 1st for me by Pat Coogan, a real experience. Like Joyce in France I can envisage every single street,alleyway and place checknamed. I was always especially fond of Countess Markievicz (nee Gore Booth) and she comes out of this a real heroine. You can feel the tension build as the idealists,bathed in poetry and Irish myth, set forth on what was to be one of the most hopelessly heroic events in Irish and British history. What comes across is that this band of
poets,school teachers,lawyers,writers and English aristocrats were not
military people at all. But a band of people stuffed full of idealism and
pride that Easter 1916 in Dublin was the appropriate time for the 1st and
only Revolution on British soil of the 20th Century. No thuggery,
alcoholism, exploitation or foolishness was tolerated. The Constutution
signed by Pearse,Connolly et al called for equality in everything a small
free Ireland could offer. The rebels were easily cut to pieces by the
British army and navy. The subsequent summary executions (both de Valera and
Constance Markievicz escaped death by the skin of their teeth) was the very
wrong thing for Asquith to allow for it turned not just the Irish people
against his Liberal government but a large chunk of the world especially in
America. Pat Coogan guides us through all the differing levels of that
momentous week. Even hardened high-ranking British officers were impressed
at how the rebels handled themselves, not only with dealing with injured
Tommies, shipped in at short notice from the mainland,but in the degree of
dignity in the manner of their surrender. All went to their deaths either
reciting poetry or singing Irish songs. The photos are an eye-opener too. I
deducted one star for the inappropriate Aftermath section at the end.
Instead of a thorough chapter on what happened in Dublin after the Rising
and sketching out the subsequent careers of the survivors especially
Constance Markievicz and Eamonn de Valera, Pat Coogan leaps to the 21st
Century bringing in the Good Friday Agreement and the so-called Real IRA,
who to my mind after Omagh have no business being mentioned in the same
breath as Pearse and Company! Mark Prendergast

Irish Rock: Roots, Personalities, Directions
Irish Rock: Roots, Personalities, Directions
by Mark Prendergast
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars To Balance Out Mr Asquith's Extremely Negative Review, 23 Mar 2013
The review below was written about the American Edition of 'Irish Rock'which for all intents and purposes is the same. It is not written by me but balances out for the casual reader or customer the contents of my first boyhood book written with passion,dedication and enormous optimism.In fact I am the very first person in the world to write a book on the subject and the plethora of books that have come afterwards are testament to the importance of the subject. Mark Prendergast

Review by John L. Murphy 12 Sep 2006

This valuable book may be inevitably dated as I review it over fifteen years after I bought it. It's a 1989 edition, unchanged save a two-page preface, of a 1987 title published in Ireland as more blandly if sensibly 'Irish Rock.' Still, as with Colin Harper and Trevor Hodgett's "Irish Folk, Trad & Blues: A Secret History" (London: Cherry Red, 2005; also reviewed by me), it offers the perspective of an obsessed, well-educated, and youthful Irish fan turned diligent chronicler. Both books share an engagingly intelligent yet consistently lively way of narrating, insight into the ups and downs of fame and its discontents, and an impressive knowledge of the more dimly recalled nooks and obscured crannies amidst which lurk the remnants of hundreds of bands and thousands of songs. Unfortunately, much of their discography can now be obtained only by the affluent collector rather than the curious listener.

Prendergast went on around the millenium to publish a thick book, "Ambient," on the surprisingly wide musical and historical perimeters as well as the heart of that then-trendy sound; little in Isle would anticipate this later interest. Attention-- too rare in many music books for the common reader-- is paid to elegant prose style, appropriate metaphors, and careful annotation. The book's only four chapters, but many sub-sections. 1) Beat Groups to Prog; 2) Folk into Rock; 3) Van M.; 4) Modern Music. Intriguing in retrospect that one of the biggest, if brief, successes of the 90s was not yet on Prendergast's or anyone's radar at the time of this book's appearance, Cranberries. That band's sudden rise and fall would have offered its own instructive lesson on the comet-like path so often understandably sought if less rarely attained by Irish musicians here: leaving the pub and townhall for the giddy dazzle of international stardom and chart hits. Of course, alongside such as Clannad, U2, Sinéad, Bob Geldof, Pogues, and less so on Undertones, SLF, Hothouse Flowers, and more on Thin Lizzy, Rory Gallagher, and Christy Moore, for example, there are dozens of little-known artists that however briefly Prendergast allows finally at least in print their own moment in the limelight.

These musicians often prove to me more fascinating. Horslips, Virgin Prunes, Radiators (from Space), Dr. Strangely Strange or (for me still unheard--that record collector vs. curious fan dichotomy preventing me from finding an affordable copy of...) the album produced by Hendrix of Eire Apparent: such lesser-known artists (at least outside of themselves limited Irish circles) for me gain in allure. The stories of those better known to me appear less engaging, perhaps since they tend to repeat what fans already may know. Yet his sections on such artists are dependable guides into the Irish-dominant facets of more popular artists' careers, especially in their lesser known formative years in Ireland. Of course, for such a book to appeal to a wider readership, the bulk of the text is given over to more familiar artists whom Prendergast generally allows their fair say with well-chosen quotes, lots of primary archival research, good publicity photos, and fresh interviews, He also includes mini-reviews and tracklists of a standout artist's best records.

These reviews for me tend to tilt a bit too generously, and Prendergast in his geniality may allow his first-hand acquaintance with some of the artists he endorses to be naturally forgiving especially of their more craven moments on vinyl in their bids for mass acceptance (i.e. outside a few hundred folks in Ireland). Taken with an antidote against blarney within these pages, Prendergast does provide a thoughtful tour through a half-century in which Irish musicians-- and I stress those less recognized abroad such as Horslips who had chosen to remain in Ireland rather than rush off to London or L.A. early in their careers-- step out from the shadows and stereotypes into which they had by London or L.A. been often exiled to or relegated. I often return to this book as a reference and only wish that Prendergast would provide a follow-up from circa 1988 to the present to continue the tales he tells and to introduce new ones.

Van Morrison: No Surrender
Van Morrison: No Surrender
by Johnny Rogan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Encylopedic And Jaw-Dropping Feat Of Absolute Commitment, 22 Feb 2013
It has taken me six weeks to read and re-read Rogan's mind-boggling feat of absolute research and commitment. At 650 pages it's a magnum opus and as an author of work on Van Morrison I can attest that 'No Surrender' repays microscopic inspection. On almost every page I learned something new especially about his early life in a 'Belfast Before The Troubles'. Many have criticized Rogan for delving deeply into Northern Irish history but this is ,in fact,the very strength of the book.And it took him 22 years of dogged chasing,interviewing,archive study and sheer patience. As an Irishman myself there are facts in here that had even slipped from my consciousness over the years. When all is said and done the history of Ireland from 1650 onwards forms a bedrock for the history of Europe. US & Them simplicities fall away as Rogan illuminates a provincial Ulster population that would eventually descend to atavistic tribalism. No wonder Morrison couldn't wait to get to America in the 1960s and only returned sporadically after that.

Rogan's pacing is superb. A real page turner Morrison's early struggles are documented unflinchingly. We get a real sense of a do or die struggle as Morrison makes a go of it with The Monarchs and then with Them, whose treatment at the hands of the music industry was shameful to say the least. The Bert Berns period is thoroughly investigated and once we get to 'Astral Weeks' Rogan is belting on all cylinders. Yes there is criticism of Van but no one could spend 22 years on a biography unless they had a deep-seated love and respect for the man. The attention to Belfast history is absolutely necessary given that Morrison has spent the bulk of his career writing and singing about the days of his Northern Irish youth. 'Coney Island','On Hyndford Street', 'Pagan Streams', 'Cypress Avenue' and more are all reminiscences driven by his Presbyterian youth. Later chapters do have their fair share of gossipy stuff regarding former Miss Ireland Michelle Rocca but it all reads seamlessly. For anyone who wants to get a true insight into the life and times of Van Morrison this IS the must-read biography. And incredibly after all that time and energy Morrison's innate mystery remains intact to the end!

Mark Prendergast (Author of 'Van Morrison' in "Irish Rock:Roots,Personalities & Directions" (1987) and 'Van Morrison' in "The Isle Of Noises- Rock & Roll's Roots In Ireland" (1990))

Irish Rock: Where it Comes from - Where it's at - Where it's Going
Irish Rock: Where it Comes from - Where it's at - Where it's Going
by Tony Clayton-Lea
Edition: Paperback

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars PURE THEFT,DISHONESTY AND DECEIT!, 22 Dec 2012
The authors of this book are dishonest and spiteful people who directly lifted much of the text from my original work Irish Rock:Roots,Petrsonalities & Directions (1987). It is also the subject of a High Court Order which insists that the book displays prominently the phrase: "The Authors would like to acknowledge that Irish Rock (O'Brien Press 1987) by Mark J. Prendergast was an important source or reference used in the preparation of this book.". The book should not be sold,consulted or considered as an original work. It is tantamount to plagiarism. Mark Prendergast Dec 2012

Lost Tapes Box Set
Lost Tapes Box Set
Price: £30.46

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prehistoric Future Indeed, 6 July 2012
This review is from: Lost Tapes Box Set (Audio CD)
Can-The Lost Tapes, a compendium of three hours of material sifted from more than 50 hours of archive tapes spanning a decade from 1968 , has caused a mighty wave amongst musos the world over. We've had scribes with their mouths open citing an equivalent to Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes and even the lost archive of The Rolling Stones. Some reviews are so gushing that you'd think the Lost City Of Atlantis had just surfaced somewhere in the Mediterranean. It took Irmin Schmidt¹s son-in-law, Jono Podmore, years to sift through the hours and hours of tapes, which had been carefully curated in a temperature-controlled storeroom in Germany. Schmidt never considered the archive really lost but just forgotten and it had to be someone with fresh ears, with some distance from the creativity itself, that had to do the trench work of sifting,identifying and re-compiling.

But let's get rid of a few myths first. I've read comparisons to Kraftwerk and that if the crafty Dusseldorfers were Germany's answer to The Beatles then Can were its Rolling Stones. This is pure fantasy. Can were very much an underground band, only denting the Top Of The Pops studio in London in 1976 with 'I Want More' a track pushed by Virgin whom the signed to in 1975. Fanciful hindsight can easily distort and Can are more accurately accommodated inside progressive rock and can rightly be seen as Germany's answer to Pink Floyd. During the 1970s an apocryphal story has the mighty Can turning down a support slot with the Floyd because they would have to play a shorter set than normal. In the world of Messrs Czukay,Karoli,Liebezeit and Schmidt this would be a no no. Instant composition, improvisation or just plain fearless courage; take your pick, opening this archive brings you that much closer to what Can were all about.

Firstly exactly one third of the 30 tracks feature the original American vocalist Malcolm Mooney. There's an intense spidery quality to the rock played with Mooney, the same kind of intensity beloved of lovers of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd. And it covers more or less the same late 1960s period. A track like the brilliant 'Waiting For The Streetcar' could easily have made it to Monster Movie ,if it were a double album. Moving into the Damo Susuki era one is struck at just how different the material here is from the released albums. 'Spoon' , a three-minute single from 1972's Ege Bamyasi is transformed here into a 16-minute juggernaut of explosive drums,searing guitar and improvisatory genius. 'A Swan Is Born' bears little or no relationship to the finished track 'Sing Swan Song' off the same album and so forth and so on.

In 1974 and 1976 Can released two albums of off-cuts Limited Edition and Unlimited Edition featuring their famous Ethnological Forgery Series. Here 'EFS 108','Dead Pigeon Suite' and 'Evening All Day' could easily come from them. Fans of Ambient will swoon in front of 'Nocturnal' and 'Alice', the latter the long sought-after theme music from Wim Wenders's breakthrough film Alice In The Cities from 1974. The set ends on a high note with two incadescent live versions of 'Mushroom' from 1971's Tago Mago and for me the best track on the album a gorgeously live and for once note-perfect version of Ege Bamyasi¹s 'One More Saturday Night'. In short far more in every way than was expected.

Mark Prendergast, London. (Author of The Ambient Century).
Comment Comments (16) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 16, 2012 3:24 PM BST

Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music
Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music
by Rob Young
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.59

13 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NEITHER 'SEMINAL NOR 'DEFINITIVE'......................................., 28 Jan 2011
At nearly 800 pages Rob Young's "personal view of folk music in the British 20th Century"(according to Fabers)has attracted its fair share of criticism, and not without justification. Yes,as an author myself, first editions of big ambitious non-fiction books like this are liable to be error-ridden: usually a combination of fatigue, over-worked and underpaid editors and deadlines. Accepting that is one thing but condoning demarcation,re-colonization and history making is another. There are several lamentable aspects of this book which led me to expel it from my library. The worst being the re-drafting of music history to demarcate an English folk-music as if what happened in Scotland, Ireland and Wales was of little importance.The Guardian, as often as wide of the mark as they hit any kind of bulls-eye, described the book as 'seminal' but it's anything but. 'Electric Eden' ignores truly seminal books about the history of Irish rock and folk music. The former was 1st broken by myself into the world in 1987 with the publication of 'Irish Rock:Roots, Personalities & Directions' and again in 1990 by the publication of 'The Isle Of Noises' in the USA. (I note the re-appropriation of Shakespeare's lines in the opening pages of Young's tome). The journey of Irish traditional music to an international music in the late 20th Century was brilliantly outlined by Nuala O'Connor in 'Bringing it All Back Home' in 1991, also a BBC TV series. No references to any of these truly 'seminal' works appear in 'Electric Eden'! Either the writer forgot that they existed or didn't bother to use his British Library pass to check!

In the end it's just another of Fabers' colonizations of music history. Alex Ross's ridiculous 'The Rest Is Noise' re-wrote the history of 20th century composition, Greil Marcus's skewed and almost unreadably indulgent book on Van Morrison 'Listening To Van Morrison' was hopelessly shy on any kind of substance and now this bloated self-reflective distortion of a door stop! And for the record, Fabers may have spent forever getting the font right to spell Led Zeppelin's fourth album as Zoso but the analysis of Led Zeppelin is not only one of the worst I've ever read in my life, it criminally ignores the Celtic roots of Page's guitar imagination, the technical reasons why a line can be traced from Africa to Ireland and then to Page himself, whose Gaelic blood lent Zeppelin's music (like the similar Irish braon in Hendrix ,Phil Lynott and John McLaughlin) that ancient resonance that catapulted Zeppelin into the global stratosphere. And it's music itself that this brick, in the end fails to address. Scant on musicology and scientific reasons for folk music's evolution the book falls back on journalese and clever word-isms. Well it may satisfy the lazy Guardian-reading English middle-classes but it certainly does nothing for the true music of these Islands in total. That task still awaits its Boswell. Mark Prendergast,London, January 2011 (Author of Irish Rock, The Isle Of Noises & The Ambient Century).
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 7, 2013 7:39 AM GMT

Krautrock: Cosmic Rock and its Legacy
Krautrock: Cosmic Rock and its Legacy
by Erik Davis
Edition: Paperback

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars German Electronica Finally Nailed In Coffee Table Heaven, 29 Oct 2010
Krautrock or Cosmic Rock & It's Legacy is by far the most visually perfect rendering of the music that emanated from Germany from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s. It's 8.5 inch by 10.5 inch size enables wonderful photographs to be displayed. My favourite is a full colour image of Karlheinz Stockhausen (the father of German Electronica) at the controls of the studio as he creates his almighty 'Hymnen' in 1967. Other wonderful images are Tangerine Dream with Klaus Schulze on drums, Cluster manipulating banks of equipment, Tangerine Dream against a forest of Moogs,rare images of Harmonia and the wonderful Gille Lettmann of the Cosmic Jokers. There are 31 band profiles, 8 wonderful label tabs with copious colour illustrations of those far out covers like those of Ohr, Kuckuck,Brain and the legendary Pilz which means Mushroom. Of great interest is the analysis of the producers including profiles of Dieter Dierks, Rolf -Ulrich Kaiser and Conny Plank. And this entire glorious tome ends with a timeline which puts the entire experience in context including copious mention of the infamous Baader/Meinhof gang or Red Army Faction. Exhaustive and quite brilliant in every way.

Mark Prendergast (Author of The Ambient Century-From Mahler To Moby)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 6, 2010 11:17 AM GMT

Hymns to the Silence: Inside The Words And Music Of Van Morrison
Hymns to the Silence: Inside The Words And Music Of Van Morrison
by Peter Mills
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.42

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last Van in all his glory, the music and words analysed to perfection, 18 Oct 2010
Peter Mills is a very serious writer. He took 25 years to write nearly 400 pages on Van and it's a tour de force in every way. Here Mills gets inside every nuance of almost every song that Van Morrison ever wrote. He approaches the spiritual and physical reality of Van Morrison like no other (including myself) before.Here Mills's enormous reach builds entire cathedrals out of songs. In his analysis of creations like 'Coney Island', which transcends normal song structure, he has no problem relating it to 'Wild Mountain Thyme' and its genesis from the McPeake family to worldwide absorption on The Byrds 'Fifth Dimension' album of the 1960s. With Mills it's like Russian dolls or a kaleidoscope of ideas. There's a bottomless feel to the writing, you dive in and your hooked for hours. You'll come back again and again for more. This is the way music books used to be written and am glad to see the serious head down and go for it tradition is alive and kicking. Superb.

Mark Prendergast: (Author of Irish Rock (1987); The Isle Of Noises - Rock's Roots In Ireland (1990).

Listening to Van Morrison
Listening to Van Morrison
by Greil Marcus
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.35

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Obviously Not Listening To Van At All, 6 Oct 2010
When I heard that Greil Marcus, the venerable sage of American rock writing, was working on a book on Van Morrison I felt , at last, someone with real gravitas is gonna take on what is an awesome body of work.In the past I have taken Faber & Faber to task for publishing poor books about music, written by authors more concerned with their own egos than the subject matter. One day in their offices I flagged up a book that had massively innacurate descriptions about U2 and The Durutti Column. The answer from the editor in question was " who cares, it sells anyway". Obviously the same criteria was applied to Marcus's book.

The cover, an out-shot from 'St Dominic's Preview' sessions in 1972 is brilliant, conveying all the pent-up artistry of a lone genius suffused in blue hues in a church doorway. (The fact that it's identical to Peter Mill's 'Hymns To The Silence ' mega-tome is just another oversight that slipped the sloppy minds at Fabers.) No matter I bought the book at London's Review Bookshop with enormous enthusiasm and joy. On the way home, on the train I dipped into it. Reading the 'Astral weeks' section first I felt it was an impression rather than an analysis. 'Veedon Fleece' is only referenced by one song! But on pp 85 he literally writes off 15 albums in a handful of pages. There are passages on 1980s recordings like 'A Sense Of Wonder', 'Avalon Sunset'or 'Hymns To The Silence' which are the very essence of Morrison, spiritually committed, epiphanous and full of that unique sense memory that only Morrison can bring to a song. Listening to 'On Hyndford Street' is like walking back in time to a Belfast long lost to time and space. Unfortunately Marcus touches none of this in a book that is beautifully designed but in the end is rather empty inside. A huge disappointment!

Mark Prendergast (Author of 'Irish Rock - Roots, Personalities Directions','The Isle Of Noises' & "The Ambient Century'. (Oct 2010)
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 13, 2013 9:21 AM GMT

The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century
The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century
by Alex Ross
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.79

3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Rest Is Not Noise, 6 April 2009
The Rest Is Not Noise

On the 6th of April 2009 I wrote a detailed and critical review of Alex Ross's mega tome on 20th Century Music `The Rest Is Noise'. For whatever reason the review was pulled from Amazon because somebody didn't like it! This to me smacks of too much power and too little faith in our democratic system of free speech. I, as a writer myself ,have had a wealth of positive reviews and the occasional bad review both in print and on Amazon. I have never elected to have a review expunged on the basis that it wasn't favourable. So let's see, three years later what do I feel now about `The Rest Is Noise'.

The book is extremely egocentric and eccentric. Originally subtitled `From Vienna To The Velvets' (a title borrowed from myself) the book goes out of its way to ignore the bulk of 20th Century Music: no Hendrix,Love,John McLaughlin, Captain Beefheart or King Crimson. There are a few pages at the end about Eno and The Velvet Underground but the feeling is cursory as if appended in afterthought.

One would expect a book of near 700 pages (it took me a week to read it and an entire day to write the original review) to give many citations to a priori works that paved the way for such a creation. I mentioned 20th Century music writers like David Toop, Joseph Machlis, Norman Lebrecht, Ian MacDonald and even my own work on The Ambient Century but all are treated as if they never existed.

My strong contention was this was a work that firmly re-routes 20th Century Music as primarily the creation and re-iteration of a handful of Jewish composers. Yes I'll admit the profound importance of Mahler, of the 2nd Viennese School et al in the shaping of that century's music but the constant harping on about Wagner's so-called anti-semitism ignores what for me is the beauty of the century, the creation in Stockhausen's words of `a universal music of all peoples,races and cultures'.

To this day I'm disappointed that such a skewed work should get such lavish praise. By erecting such a huge barrier between Composition and as he says "the noise of the rest" he , in a strange way seems to undermine the progress of the last 50 years. He returns to the orthodoxy of "the barriers are up and why shouldn't they"; of Jazz is ok because it's technical but Pop / Rock /Ambient /Electronica / Krautrock and such should be ignored because they are too simplistic; of placing Pink Floyd in the "File under Pop" bracket, of ignoring literally thousands of great sonic moments because they are not "high-brow" enough.

In the end what completely undermined the book's hype as one of the greatest 20th century music books ever was the lack of adequate discography. Ross's paltry list of five essential 20th Century recordings , a mere five discs accorded to Schoenberg/Webern, Stravinsky, Benjamin Britten,Oliver Messiaen and Steve Reich says everything you need to know about the limitations of his perspective. Of course there's no Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (the first true meeting of Pop/Rock & Classical music) nor Hendrix's mind-blowing Electric Ladyland? Why should there be! In Ross's mind they are merely good examples of Noise!

Mark Prendergast January 3rd 2013

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