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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book since the last one
I loved the last John Peel book, Margrave of the Marshes, and was horribly sad to think there could never be another one. Well, happily, I was wrong. Here is another one. A whole volume of Mr Peel's finest writings from over the years on all sorts of brilliant, bizarre and very Peelie subjects. A complete and utter joy from start to finish. You need this in your life!
Published on 23 Oct 2008 by Dave

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shaving, Robert Wyatt, Lena Zavaroni, and an old Olivetti Typewriter
I have to admit that I wasn't all that impressed by John Peel's truncated and digressive, posthumously-published autobiography, Margrave Of The Marshes. My feeling is that much of the praise that it attracted derived from an understandable outpouring of sympathy, and respect, following the beloved DJ's death in 2005, rather than for the work itself. Did this obliquely...
Published on 13 July 2012 by S. Bailey


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4.0 out of 5 stars A Mind Less Ordinary, 19 Jun 2011
By 
Eugene Onegin (Lincoln England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Olivetti Chronicles (Paperback)
If you read this book which I strongly recommend that you do, you will discover why John Peel was so widely loved and respected and why his death was such a loss for so many. It is not because this volume will introduce you to a great writer because on a technical level, the fluency and syntax of a Peel article could be a touch ecentric to say the least, but because the words still ooze the inexhaustible enthusiasm Peel had for life and, above all, music. And what a range of music he enjoyed anything from Captain Beefheart and punk satirists Half Man, Half Biscuit through Michael Jackson and Prince to Mike Oldfield and Rachmaninov. All of these artists and many more are discussed in these pages with the wit and perception that catergorised his radio programmes. However, what came over to me reading these short articles for magazines as diverse as Radio Times and Bike is the fact that Peel believed music was one of life's pleasures and one should take it seriously enough to afford passionate advocacy to the good and have the courage to call rubbish rubbish. As he writes in one of his articles, his aim was not simply to reflect what you were listening to, but to bring music that you had not come across to your attention because he thought it deserving. There are certainly some glorious observations on show here my personal favourite being his analysis of glam Heavy Rockers AC/DC's concert as 'a crowded and extremely good-natured masturbation ritual'. Plenty of laughs then, but also more serious pieces such as 'Rock's in Trouble' or his end of year pieces in The Listener which wittily but intelligently offered a commentary on the previous 12 months music. My only regret finishing this anthology is that will be no more new thoughts from John Peel's pen. Rather than losing him so young, we need a lot more who share his catholic taste, shrewd judgement and love of something beyond the ordinary.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book, beautiful man, 22 Sep 2010
This review is from: The Olivetti Chronicles (Paperback)
This made me laugh out loud at times. And that is rare indeed these days. I had no idea he was writing so entertainingly and well in the 70's. I have been eking these out, reading a few when I have a cup of tea. He had a real gift with language - English, understated, romantic, foolish, resigned, playful, colourful, honest. Two bits that struck me yesterday were: 'I have a theory, untainted by research...' and 'I tugged my forelock. As my forelock is now at the back of my head, I may have looked threatening'.

To his family: I would like to see a sequel, please. I know the quality is likely to be lower but it can afford to be.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An unforgettable voice, 15 Sep 2009
This review is from: The Olivetti Chronicles (Paperback)
The mighty John Peel, so cruelly taken from us too soon, was a wily and yet fond observer of the peculiarities of this bizarre thing we call life. As well as being the much loved Radio Presenter, accumularist of LPs and champion of the lesser known life-forms of the music business that he would discover in the darker crevices of the rockpools of life, he was also a significant contributor to various periodicals, his articles, more often than not, proving to be a particular high spot of that particular edition. His articles in the Radio Times were, for me at least, an essential part of that magazine whilst he was contributing and many of those are happily collected in this four hundred-odd page volume.

With an ever present deadpan charm and dry wit these ramblings on Rockaboogie and so much more chronicle many of the manifest absurdities of life from the exotic alternative lifestyles of the 1960s to the rural family life of the alarmingly so-called naughties via the manifest ridiculousness of the day-to-day life of a minor celebrity. He had his own idiosyncracies (about which he was usually suitably self-deprecating), his own "sacred cows" (which he could get quite vocally protective about albeit in a very repressed British kind of a way), his own favorites (that he would promote shamelessly) and he was prone to the occasional flight of fancy. Regularly there is half an eye on the fortunes of his beloved Liverpool FC or the strange role a father can play in the family unit but generally this is ultimately a celebration of the enjoyment and appreciation of popular (and unpopular) music of many sorts and rightly so for a man who made his living the way he did. Throughout the book, covering amazingly more than a thirty year span, there is always that distinctive style, so distinctive in fact that you can almost hear that unforgettable voice in your head as you read the words off the page, all written with the sharp eloquence of one whose prose could disguise a surprising shyness in public. There might be an occasional tendency for unashamed sentimentality - which is a rare virtue in the modern era - or he might have felt the need for issuing a much needed pithy rebuke, but that all seems to have been delivered with a great deal of humanity and an air of disappointment with a much-loved world rather than with any outright hostility towards it.

The alphabetical (rather than chronological) approach to the presentation of the content did pain me rather, but that's probably my problem and not the compilers and I do rather suspect that, in the end, this approach did probably make for a more suitably eccentric editorial mix. It did, however, mean that my interest would ebb and flow alongside Mr Peel's hairline, but the relative brevity of each piece means that there's always another morsel just over the page if the current one is not to your taste. I will admit that I found it a bit of a long slog when deciding to read it from cover-to-cover, but as a book to dip into from time-to-time (maybe park it in your smallest room for visitors to browse through during brief interludes - I'm sure Mr Peel would appreciate the whimsy of that) it makes for a satisfying and amusing read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for all Peel fans, 9 Aug 2009
By 
I. D. Murphy "smurf2005" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Olivetti Chronicles (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book. Like millions of britons I grew up listening to John Peel and his amusing anecdotes told in his inimitable self-deprecating style. This book reminded me how sorely he is missed. Many of the sections are columns from newspapers and journals such as "Sounds", "Melody Maker" or "Radio Times". Almost all are very funny, some are heart-warming, and many made me laugh out loud. Despite his self-deprecation Peel had a real gift for words, as many of us already knew from listening to his radio shows where he engaged with the listener in a way that no other DJ I have ever heard could. Although he championed punk Peel retained an open heart that he retained from his hippy days, which made him a kind and generous man. Read this book and remember him fondly, or pick it up and meet a one of kind great man for the first time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great over breakfast, 26 Mar 2009
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I read this over breakfast for a few weekends. My poor husband had to dodge flying toast crumbs as I spluttered with laughter. It's really entertaining - and also informative. I loved the description of Tom Waits in 1976... see if you can find it...
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mIxed Bag, 18 Dec 2008
By 
Mr. Peter Steward "petersteward" (Norwich, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Peel was always something of an enigma - very much the maverick, trend setting DJ but also strangely part of the establishment and that comes out in this book, which collects together many of his articles and columns for a variety of sources from Disc and Sounds magazines to the Radio Times.

The fact that the articles are not in chronological order tends to lead to confusion as you suddenly realise that he has jumped 20 years. Peel's strengths were in writing about music and it's interesting in the cold light of day to look back on his musings on the likes of the Fall and Captain Beefheart.

Unfortunately his general writing can be very obtuse and quite aggressive and I found this at times quite confusing and even obtuse. There is no doubt that when Peel died we lost a gem of a man who brought so much raw and new music to the public's attention. Sadly his columns written on his old Olivetti typewriter (hence the title) are not quite the art form that publications employing him would have us believe. And I have to put him right on one aspect. He regularly refers to Ipswich as a city. Ipswich is a town, it has never been awarded city status.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great man. Great life. Not such a great writer., 15 April 2010
By 
Lutz Svensson (Deptford, London, UK.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Olivetti Chronicles (Paperback)
I know I'm going against the populist flow, here, but I found this collection pretty disappointing. I was a Peel fan (Radio 1 and Radio 4), but to my mind the man's unique gift came in the form of his vast knowledge and open-mindedness about music, and in his persistence in bringing it to the public's attention.

However... I don't think that even JP particularly rated his own abilities as a writer, and this collection seems to bear out this opinion. Relatively little of it, you should also be warned, is about the music he loved and broadcast. Of the stuff that is, much is from his Sounds columns of the 1970's - which (at least in the early 70's) were mostly written in an affectedly pert/twee/court jester-y style (think Homer Simpson when he embraces hippie-dom and announces himself The Cosmic Fool...) that really, really grates. Some of the later pieces for the Observer are a bit more palatable, but there's a *lot* of whimsy to wade through between the occasional gems.

I can't help feeling that if John Peel was still alive, he probably wouldn't have wanted these writings collected and published - and there are far more fitting tributes out there to his life and work, especially in the form of the music he loved, played and brought to the wider public attention it deserved.
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The Olivetti Chronicles
The Olivetti Chronicles by John Peel (Paperback - 21 May 2009)
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