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P. R. Vincent (UK)

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The Bluffer's Guide to Rock Music (Bluffer's Guides)
The Bluffer's Guide to Rock Music (Bluffer's Guides)
by Eamonn Forde
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.14

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, but who's it for?, 28 Nov 2013
I like Eamonn Forde. I always loved his contributions to the late much-lamented magazine, The Word (and its excellent podcasts), and his knowledge of rock and pop music and its associated industry is impeccable. Plus he's funny as hell. So what we have here is a crash course in the history of rock music, unashamedly subjective and crammed with in-jokes. It has enormous fun with the stereotypes and sacred cows of rock, and that's where I become puzzled. If this is aimed at seasoned rock-music afficionados, the kind who've always had at least one subscription to the NME, Q, Mojo or The Word, then this is all very familiar and well-trodden ground, however entertainingly told. If it's aimed at neophytes, well much of this simply reinforces many of the myths and stereotypes which - although music fans still riff off them - are just plain untrue when you examine them. Case in point: saying that all prog-rock bands were university educated, were very serious, were steeped in classical music, and played enormously long gigs, is Received Wisdom that's way off target on all four counts. (Respectively: no more so than members of any other early-70s bands; they had neither more nor less of a sense of fun than any other bands; more came from jazz or psychedelic-pop backgrounds than classical music; their gigs were mostly a par-for-the-course 90 minutes or so). So any neophyte seeking wisdom and enlightenment here would find mostly the same re-heated misconceptions they'd get from the tabloid press - only more comprehensively. And why would someone who knew nothing about rock music WANT this kind of breadth of "bluffer" knowledge anyway? People who aren't into rock music generally seem pretty contemptuous of it, so it's hard to see why they'd want to read this. Which leaves me wondering where its audience is going to be found. I wish Eamonn massive sales of this book, of course - he's a lovely chap. But I'd be surprised if it's bought in volume, other than perhaps by well-meaning relations as a Christmas present. An oddity.

Downside Girls
Downside Girls
Price: 2.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent side-dish to the Hidden Empire series, 4 Oct 2012
This review is from: Downside Girls (Kindle Edition)
Being a short (novella-sized) book, I read this in a single sitting. It's a collection of four short stories by a British SF writer who I admit is new to me, but has previously written a series of novels - the Hidden Empire series - set in the same story universe. These stories are set in that shared universe, and the first three are interlinked. Fenn is a gifted writer, having the uncanny knack of explaining very little, but leaving the reader enough clues to fill in the blanks and slowly begin to understand the universe of the stories. I'm sure this makes the Hidden Empire novels even more rewarding to read, and I'm very keen now to do so! The realisation of exactly how the Angels fit into the society was nicely shocking! I won't talk about the specific storylines here, since as Alastair Reynolds says in his excellent introduction, the brevity of short stories makes spoilers even more annoying than for novels. I'll certainly be reading more of Ms. Fenn's work!

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