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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous memories of 70s/80s london in a working class family
I found this a fabulous autobiography. In fact I managed to read the book in one sitting as it gripped me so much.

I related so much with Gary's story of growing up in a working class family in London in the 60s/70s. Yes, my mum too insisted on net curtains and yes my family had day trips to Southend!

Great read too for those who grew up listening...
Published on 15 Sept. 2009 by Tracy H 68

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Little Bit More, Please..
Gary Kemp, one -half of the Kemp Brothers and one-fifth of Spandau Ballet lets us into his world as he re-counts the events that led to the formation of the highly successful 80's pop-band Spandau Ballet through to their demise and resurrection. He tells us of his very working-class unbringing, his close relationship with his brother, the highs and lows of his musical...
Published on 15 May 2010 by Paul A. Kirwan


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous memories of 70s/80s london in a working class family, 15 Sept. 2009
I found this a fabulous autobiography. In fact I managed to read the book in one sitting as it gripped me so much.

I related so much with Gary's story of growing up in a working class family in London in the 60s/70s. Yes, my mum too insisted on net curtains and yes my family had day trips to Southend!

Great read too for those who grew up listening to Spandau Ballet and who had always wanted to read Gary's side of the story.

The final chapter where Gary relates the loss of his parents, the birth of his third son and the rebirth of Spandau Ballet is brilliantly written. You get sense that finally after an eventful, challenging and interesting life he is finally at one with who he is and what has made the man.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a look...., 18 Nov. 2009
I read this book after seeing the re-formed Spandau Ballet on their recent tour (excellent show), and I was quite impressed. I had always thought of Gary Kemp as clearly very talented, but a bit pompous and arrogant. There are some traces of this in the book but I found it an interesting read, very well written and Gary comes across as quite a likeable bloke.
The reason I wouldn't give it 5 stars is that while the author gives the reasons for the beginning of the feud with Tony, John & Steve, that story jumps straight to the court hearing and then jumps again to the recent reconcilliation with nothing inbetween. I totally understand that he probably doesn't want to re-open old wounds with all the bandmates reconciled, but it would have been better to hear Gary's side of things after Tony wrote about it in his book.
This aside I would recommend this book to any music fan - a lot better than most musician's autobiographies I've read.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kemp's song of ages should be heard..., 7 Sept. 2009
By 
Apollo 11 (UK) - See all my reviews
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Kemp's memoir is that rare beast - a compelling, intelligently (self) written and touching book about a life in pop. There's been a few great stabs at pop culture commentary through autobiography, not least Robert Elms' The Way We Wore (which this is something of an unintentional companion piece to), but the real value of I Know This Much, aside from its glistening prose, is in witnessing someone discovering themselves.

Always something of an odd penny, the Spandau songwriter and arguably its spiritual leader was always wiser than his pop position called for, and his working class soulboy roots never really sat comfortably with his angular New Romantic entrance. This rendered him somewhat pretentious to many, and his flaunting of left-wing politics often grated when framed by his band's timely, aspirational image.

However, with the benefit of distance and maturity (and following his time in the wilderness, as Joe Strummer would say, when discussing that inevitable period between an artist's fall and his redemption), Kemp is able to reflect with great poignancy on a young man's journey into, and through the shining city of dreams. In Kemp's case that city, metaphorically, but more often literally - and literary in its evocation - is unmistakably London, and the metropolis is ever present like a ghost, framing his actions and attitude. Street styles pass like parades, the inevitability of fate is etched into the architecture that backdrops his successes and failures, and he evocatively maps his own journey from boy into man, into middle age by returning to places only to find the crowds and the faces have all moved on.

At root, though, this book is a record (and celebration) of his parents' success in raising their two balanced sons - Gary and his brother Martin. The feeling of close family warmth, and ceaseless support is palpable; and gives both Kemp and the book its strength. From the sheer and challenging poverty of his childhood, through to the sensitively handled, near tear-jerking account of his parents' death within days of each other in 2009, money and success is always comes second to recollections of his brother, mother and father. Kemp is evidently, despite his aloof lone wolf image, a highly sensitive and lovingly loyal chap, but this is an identity that he has to arrive at; and time and the ravages of age are the consequential pain of his slow lesson. The injustice suffered by his parents (not least his father who, like many of his time fell between opportunities; and as a poor working man never quite managed to break his intellect and potential free from the crushing trap of class) sit heavy with Kemp, and go some way towards explaining his love-hate relationship with fame and evident awkwardness with wealth.

I Know This Much is, as a consequence, also a slow revealing of what happens when your dreams are exceeded in the glare of global fame. And in being so it is a touching testament to spiritual growth. But growth is nothing without pain, and each man is defined by his nemesis. In career terms, for Kemp, his foe was 'the enemy' - Duran Duran. Rarely mentioned, but pitched as the proverbial Villa to his beloved Arsenal, their parrallel rise is only occassionally referenced; but when it is, there is a growing sense of antagonism born of Kemp's adolescent competitive streak, which festers into frustration as the demands of fame and fortune lead him to strive for greater and greater goals - leading to him failing both himself and the band he has become increasingly responsible for.

Whilst record labels do come in for some criticism, not least in the States, Kemp grumbles in grey tones when discussing Duran's growing lead over Spandau. Initially this comes across as bitterness, yet as his journey unfolds, Kemp is able to quantify the feeling of having to compete with his own previous successes; his inability to focus on one songwriting direction, and the self-destructive frustration it generates. Where this takes this book is interesting, and far from becoming a jaded casualty of celebrity, Kemp instead takes his tale towards the mid-career crisis that is common to all - come pipe fitter or pop star - and his gravy train eventually, inevitably derails itself in pain.

Strangely, the best parts of this book are those that top and tail the Spandau of his years. The rise through childhood, warm in the bossom of family, is genuinely heartening; and the later attempts at band reconciliation, which dance a painful two-step with the passing of his parents is truly remarkable. Across the initial pages, and again towards the end, I felt like I was witnessing the unveiling of a pop contender to 'Journey Through a Small Planet' (Emanuel Litvinoff's memoirs of growing up in the Jewish settlements of the East End) or even a 'Cider With Rosie' (Laurie Lee). Yet, unfortunately, Kemp's evocative prose tends to lose its sparkle when recounting the more traditional tales of fame and fortune; perhaps giving testament to his newfound values system.

On the downside, there are times when the author lets himself down by flagging his influence on others (not least when Kemp can't help but recall how Quentin Tarantino admitted to basing the iconic suits of Reservoir Dogs on Gary and his brother in The Krays movie), but Kemp is of an artistic temprement, and these things tend to come with the territory.

I'm curious to see whether old resentments will return, resulting in 'serious' music critics walking a wide berth around this book; or whether Kemp's contradition as a bright man with pop aspirations will muddle his art again, as this book could very easily disappoint those looking for a fluffy read, and bypass the doubters who really should do themselves a favour and witness his fantastic prose. However, I for one feel better for having read this, as it is as touching and loving, and emotionally didactic as any classic song of heartbreak. And, I reckon that will be good enough for the man himself - and a goal worth achieving.

So, in short, I Know This Much is a lovely, sometimes frustrating, but nevertheless highly recommended read for anyone interested in (a) music, (b) the impact of the Eighties as a decade of style, media and/or politics; and (c) more intimately, as a testament to the fact that age and the passing of time gets to us all, regardless.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Little Bit More, Please.., 15 May 2010
Gary Kemp, one -half of the Kemp Brothers and one-fifth of Spandau Ballet lets us into his world as he re-counts the events that led to the formation of the highly successful 80's pop-band Spandau Ballet through to their demise and resurrection. He tells us of his very working-class unbringing, his close relationship with his brother, the highs and lows of his musical life, his brief movie career and his flirtations with drink, drugs and the other half. The book also provides a perfect backdrop to the evolution of the New Romantic era. The book is well-written but I felt that it dabbled rather than delivered. It moved too fast through the years and ignored aspects of his solo career that I was interested in. The much-publicized court case was skimmed over and not covered in the detail that I expected. On the other hand.. his account of his father's death was harrowing and heart-wrenching. It could and should have been more comprehensive, but I enjoyed it and Gary was good company for the few days that I shared his life with him.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gary Kemp`s Book, 23 Oct. 2009
By 
Mr. B. F. C. O'sullivan (`beckenham Kent) - See all my reviews
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It`s a fairly honest and acurate account of the way he saw things. I`ve never really liked him but you respect him a lot more, after reading this book , for his honesty and detail of a very important time in London`s club history. He dealt with his family life in a touching way and we can all relate to his hopes and fears about relationships and career. I did really enjoy this book and it does make you think twice about the group,as i always thought they were a bit naff compared to the competition but you have to give them , and especially him, their dues as they were in the right place at the right time and Gary saw the opening and strode right in and took control.
If you have any interest in the Blitz, Billy`s, and the host of musicians that emerged from that scene , then you will really enjoy this ...... as anyone who is is probably around 50 and they can relate to a life that is mapped out from boy to pop star to just a normal bloke.... i hope !
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, honest and heartbreaking, 26 Mar. 2011
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Before I read this book I'd heard people say how well-written it was. If I'm honest, I took that with a pinch of salt, assuming that the reviews were a little biased. I was completely wrong. This is a superbly well-written autobiography. The vivid desciptions and use of verb tenses really transport you into the moments Gary Kemp describes, so you feel as though you are there with him. This isn't just a book about a pop band; it's also an historical document, describing a time and place that just doesn't exist anymore. It's also a very honest book - he talks candidly about the pressures of being the sole songwriter and the paranoia that that brought with it, as well as the part he played in the problems in Spandau's history. It would have been easy for him to blame others, but if anything he puts the blame squarely on himself. The chapter about his parents' deaths, written with heartbreaking honesty, is also truely moving. An exquisite book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 15 Oct. 2009
By 
Elizabeth A. Hardel (Chicago, Illinois) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: I Know This Much: From Soho to Spandau (Audio CD)
I loved reading this book and, being a fan of Mr. Kemp, it was brilliant to hear him read it. Mr. Kemp put life into the words that my imagination just couldn't, that's not to say it is not a very well written book, it is. There are just things his voice does, puts emphasis on things that are important to him that the reader may not understand. I'm on my way to England very soon, Mr. Kemp will make the 9 hour trip tolerable and maybe even enjoyable! Thank goodness for iPods!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Searingly Honest, 23 Sept. 2013
By 
T. A. Sainsbury (London) - See all my reviews
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Gary Kemp wrote three of the most perfect pop songs of the modern generation (True, Gold and Barricades) and the man he got to sing them had a perfect voice, but beyond that I knew little of either the Spandau or Kemp history. This book is huge; not just as a pop memoir but as a lesson in how to mature gracefully within this narcissistic business. Kemp is heart wrenchingly honest in his assessment of the New Romantic period and the part he played in it. He is tough on himself, perhaps sometimes unnecessarily so, after all stardom, adulation and wealth came early and few are equipped to deal with it, but his self deprecating, emotionally intelligent approach indicates just how far he has come as a person. He fell victim to the hype, made some mistakes, (notably around Live Aid/Band Aid) and he could have spared us his inner most thoughts. But he spares us little of what he is thinking and this is a much better book for it. It is short on the more salacious details and heavy on the more interesting, thought process that he himself went through. His parent's death is handled beautifully and it is that event that catapults the band back onto the stage again. Given the high profile court case, celebrity marriages and friendships this book could have read like a gossip column but the end result is so much classier than that. More The Times than The Mirror. I liked Kemp a lot.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frills and Spills: a romp through the 80s, 16 May 2010
By 
Ms. Nancy Buckland "foxymissb" (Liverpool, Merseyside United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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As a huge fan of New Romantic music in the 1980s I awaited this book with much anticipation. While much has been made in the press of the Spandau fued, Gary Kemp has said little about it. But this book is so much more than the story of Spandau. It is a heartwarming tale of a life of someone who wears their working class origins with pride, of family life, and most of all of enduring friendships. The best parts of the book cover Spandau's early years in the London club scene and there are appearances from many famous faces, with much witty repartee from a certain George O'Dowd. I suppose the huge rise and demise of Spandau in the 80's reflected what was happening in the world - great came from the ashes of the late 1970's but disappeared as greed became good. This is a witty, beautifully written aurobiography that puts cobbled together ghost written efforts to shame. I can't recommend enough it, everyone who grew up in this period will be whisked back in time. Yes, even you Duranies!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful soul behind the songs and the person innit, 23 Feb. 2013
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This book have made me moved to the highest point of realization being a fan of this group for almost 30 years now. Never thought how amazing the stories behind the group that almost exactly the same conclusion landed in my mind when the group went on (thought then) permamnent hybernation. I also feel connected now with the author & the songwriter himself to the moods, way he thought & treated the rest of his mates. This book really have corrected (negative) impressions I had with the "soul man" imprinted on me and not because Tony is the "love of my life" as avid fan of the frontman. Of course at the end of the book, I can say now that Gary Kemp has a heart of a hero hailed from triumphs & tribulations....... and I'm definetly your fan.
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I Know This Much: From Soho to Spandau
I Know This Much: From Soho to Spandau by Gary Kemp (Audio CD - 3 Sept. 2009)
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