25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
If like me you enjoyed reading Stuart Maconies recent 'Pies & Prejudice' you could do worse than give `Cider with Roadies' a try.
In this earlier book he describes his life as a music lover using the same brand of wit and good humour that shone through in Pies and also in his many appearances on TV and radio.
The book is basically in two sections. The first describes how he first became aware of music when he was a child - playing the odd assortment of records owned by his parents - through to when he started going to gigs and also playing in a band. This to me is the stronger section because a lot of what he writes about strikes a chord with me, as it will to most readers in their forties. The second section concerns his stint as a writer for the NME and to me the book flags slightly here because at times it becomes too much of a list of performers he has interviewed and places he has visited.
All in all this is a book that is well worth tracking down.
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2006
I inherited this book from a mate while we were on a motorbike tour. He'd got half way through and chucked it over to me saying it was the biggest load of rubbish he's ever read - he'd not even got half way through it!
Maybe it's just as well that, "One man's meat is another mans' poison" because I thoroughly enjoyed reading of Maconies journey, as he takes us from his first Beatles influence to his life as a Top DJ: via INXS, The Smiths, work as Teacher at Skelmersdale college and journalist for NME.
Witty and articulate, Maconie's tale of his life as a "Muso" unfolds with great ease and at times I actually laughed out loud at some of his tales - 4 days with a "Napalm Death" in the tour van in France is priceless. Being a Scouser who loves music and lives in Wigan maybe I can identify with this book more than most but whatever, it's a nice easy read that flows very well.
There are a couple of inaccuracies in here. Stuart, if you can get from Edge Hill College in Ormskirk to Liverpool on a bus in twenty minutes I salute you, because you'll be the first person ever to achieved such a feat! Also if you drove through Limoges to get to Le mans in France let me tell you, you went one hell of a long way round.
Some of the tales in the book are obvioulsy "flowered up" for the sake of effect but then again aren't most autobiographies? A great little book, highly recommmended if you need a bit of light reading and a good laugh.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 20 May 2004
This is probably the most acutely observed book I've yet read about how pop music frames the lives of blokes of a certain age. At best High Fidelity provoked the odd wry smile or occasional frisson of recognition. Cider With Roadies is much more representative in the way it gets under the skin of pop obsession. It'll also make you laugh yourself into a prolapse. You don't have to have lived in Wigan or worked for the NME to recognise yourself in these pages. And he's absolutely spot on about the the cult of Mark E Smith. I'm not a mate of the author, penning a gushing review to add a few sales. This gush is sincere.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I picked this up cheaply in Fopp's last year, wondering if Maconie's memories of growing up with pop music would have any resonance for me (we're roughly the same age). Almost immediately, I found myself nodding in agreement with his recollection that, in his school, "you were Slade or T. Rex" (p31), and his memory of being blown away seeing the Mahavishnu Orchestra for the first time on the BBC - with the guitarist "pulling faces if he'd caught himself in his zip" (p43) - but I didn't realize how thoroughly I'd been hooked until my sharp intake of breath at his assertion (p49) that "Sylvia" was a track off Focus's Moving Waves - a canard that he nevertheless corrects immediately. His musical journey eventually led him to writing for the NME, although by the time he got there, I'd stopped treating every word in that august publication as gospel (partly because of a lack of appreciation of the music of the day), and so missed out on his writing.
Judging from this book, that was my loss: he has a pleasantly exact style that neatly evokes the people and places he describes. He also has a sharp wit, memorably describing (p111) a sour-faced girl as someone "who made Siouxsie Sioux look like Moira Stewart", having a face like that of "a bulldog licking piss off a nettle" - a simile which caused me to choke with laughter upon first reading it (and which almost edges out my favourite disparaging comment - first encountered long ago in Private Eye's "Dear Bill" column: "He's about as much use as a one-legged man at an arse-kicking party").
Alongside that achievement, Maconie's somewhat diffident claim to have invented the "Britpop" label is rather small fry - although I was more interested to discover that he was the origin of the urban legend that UK game show host Bob Holness played the saxophone solo on Gerry Rafferty's hit single "Baker Street". Add to that his casual mention of two intriguing facts that I hadn't previously known (the mother of Monkee Michael Nesmith was the inventor of Liquid Paper, and the cake on the cover of the Rolling Stones' Let It Bleed was baked by Delia Smith), and you have a stimulating, entertaining read.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2007
A really great read for anyone, who like me is grazing 40 and loves music and the indie scene in particular. Stuart's style is witty and entertaining not deep and self revealing as other memoirs are but that is easily overcome by the depth of detail about the music which is the focus of the book.
It was a great joy for me reading this on holiday in the sunshine but being transported in imagination to the Wigan Casino and great gigs in Manchester etc. Seeing the rise of the Factory records and The Smiths through the eyes of someone who was there is a true joy.
I can't help but give it 5 stars.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2007
The rating is based on the fact that I have probably read no more than 6 books from cover-to-cover in my adult life (unless for work / study purposes)...but this I did! As other reviewers have said, it does help if you are music mad (check), play/have played in a band (check), know Wigan, Southport and Ormskirk very well (check)...and are 40-something (check!!). Having said that, there is something to delight everyone. My wife never reads autobiographies and was waiting for me to finish so she could continue her read. And now on to Pies and Prejudice for the summer hols... Cheers Stuart!!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 18 August 2004
Stuart Maconie's isn't a proper autobiography, in the sense that it doesn't cover many of life's milestones. For example, the book brings us fairly up to date in Maconie's career, but we don't find out whether his parents are still alive. The book is also poorly edited in that it is littered with spelling mistakes.
That said, this is a brilliant account of the evolution of a pop music lover's taste as he moves from Beatle-loving infant to writer for Q magazine, DJ for BBC Radio Two and contributor to TV nostalgia programmes. It helps that he is of a similar age to me (fortysomething) and many of the artists he picks out are also favourites of mine (e.g. Gentle Giant, Chic and Return to Forever). But while I was brought up in southern England, Stuart was raised in the north-west. He likes many artists and styles I have yet to grow fond of: Morrissey, Northern Soul, and the Clash, for example. And while I often dreamed of being in a band -- it would have helped if I'd bothered to learn an instrument -- Stuart actually did it, albeit to no great commercial success.
Maconie is particularly good on the religious divide that separated school kids in the 1970s. Were you a Slade fan or a T Rex fan? On such theological questions hung the matter of whether you would get beaten up at the bus stop by the school bully.
Spelling aside, Maconie is a great writer. (His three years studying for a degree in English Literature gets much coverage in the book.)
Maconie knows his audience and readership. While a family update would aid the completeness of the autobiography, Maconie knows that most of his readers would rather see the space devoted to his views on Sting (negative) and facts about Eno than his aunt Mildred's kidney problems.
This book is firmly aimed at people who lived through the 1970s knowing that there was almost nothing more important than pop music.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is a delightful memoir – the story of Stuart Maconie’s love affair with music. It takes us from his first concert at the age of three (The Beatles, which is unbeatable by any standards), through Northern Soul, progressive Rock, the arrival of Punk Rock, a short lived attempt at playing in a band and his later career as a rock journalist. Maconie is always humorous and slightly self mocking, but his enthusiasm is unfeigned and always honest. This will make you dig out obscure albums as well as listen to old favourites with fresh interest. All music lovers will enjoy this and, as an added bonus, Maconie is charming and excellent company, who will make you laugh out loud. A joy to read – but why it is not available on kindle I have no idea. It is surely deserving of re-release. However, for now, dig out a paperback copy and discover the highs and lows of fandom and working for the NME.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Part memoir, part annotated CD catalogue Cider With Roadies is Stuart Maconie's therapeutic attempt to explain away his obsession with music. To achieve this with intelligence, humour and more than a few well-aimed jabs at the industry is no small achievement. At times the detail becomes a little too manic - naming all the members of Mud or the lyricist of 'Land Of Make Believe' by Bucks Fizz being just two of many examples - and none too convincing but Maconie's ability to conjure up time and place in his narrative more than make up for this. His description of the Wigan punk scene is both funny and accurately observed as is the part dealing with the various incarnations of his band - any one who has, as a teenager, naively decided to write pop history with a cheap electric guitar and a few like minded friends will squirm with embarrassment at the memory.
Where the book loses its dynamic, however, is when Maconie grows up and starts work for NME. As he describes it being a music journalist during the late eighties sounds like a mundane circuit of interviews, exotic photo shoots, name dropping and matey anecdotes. It takes effort to prevent the last eighty or so pages from plummeting into Michael Winner territory but somehow Maconie rescues it with that inimitable Northern humour and a definition of music journalism as "the daftest, most innocent, maybe the most honourable branch". More front than Wigan Pier, that Stuart Maconie!
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 13 June 2005
Tremendous read, though I guess it helps if you're in your forties, you grew up with the NME as your guiding star and music is still a disproportionately dominant force in your life. If any of that is true, this really can't fail, but it's more than just another wallow in nostalgia. Sweetly undercut with generous and self-deprecating wit and, lest that sound fey, a tea-out-of-nose moment on every page to boot. In places, this is seriously funny. Not just music... girls, growing up, the grimness and otherwise of Life Up North, the student existence ... all get turned over nicely and Maconie offers some invaluable insights behind the scenes at the NME of the 80s. Great companion piece to Giles Smith's 'Lost in Music' which was the trailblazer for this sort of work and which also can't be recommended too highly.