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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly entertaining read
As a teenager growing up in rural America, I often dreamed of places like London and Leeds, of The Clash and sell-out rock 'n' roll gigs. I wanted to move to England and marry a rock star. It never happened (the rock star part).

And so when I picked up Andy Kershaw's No Off Switch, I was drawn in at once to his fascinating, first-hand account of this world. The...
Published on 1 July 2011 by NDM

versus
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but not as great as he would have you believe
This is an enjoyable read most of the time, but also it reminded me of some of the dreariness of rock pre 1977. The music stuff is like the best and the worst of what the Old Grey Whistle test presented, a homage to big name rock and prog rock. You wouldn't know, reading this, while Kershaw was ents-sec at Leeds Uni promoting the Who et al, the best of punk and soul were...
Published 10 months ago by Pat McCarran


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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly entertaining read, 1 July 2011
As a teenager growing up in rural America, I often dreamed of places like London and Leeds, of The Clash and sell-out rock 'n' roll gigs. I wanted to move to England and marry a rock star. It never happened (the rock star part).

And so when I picked up Andy Kershaw's No Off Switch, I was drawn in at once to his fascinating, first-hand account of this world. The book is humorous and full of energy and cheek. Kershaw's lived a life most of us can only dream of, and still, the book is accessible, relatable.

I was touched by Kershaw's honesty and self-deprecating candour about his shyness throughout his youth. About the time he worked up enough courage to approach the cool, assured Entertainment Secretary in the student union at Leeds University; a guy with `bog-brush hair'--a much older, mature student--and ask him for his job when he left. It was Kershaw's first day at uni. He was scrawny and `looked about twelve,' in comparison. And even though he was terrified and the guys hanging around nearby laughed him off, the Secretary, Steve, immediately signed Kershaw up as an Entertainment steward. `I was in. I was signed up. Me. I belonged,' Kershaw writes.

This is just the beginning. Kershaw has a way of inviting the reader in--of hauling us into the moment, right beside him. While he's travelled to 97 of the world's 193 countries, reported from the frontlines during the Rwanda genocide, worked alongside Billy Bragg and the Rolling Stones, his fears and insecurities, his enthusiasm, are what makes this book come alive. Which of us doesn't want to belong? Which of us still remembers the day we stood, with nervous energy, in a crowd at our first concert, our ears blasted by stereo noise, cherishing our ticket stubs?

I highly recommend this book; it captures the essence of youth and is an all-around entertaining read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heady brew, 10 Dec 2012
This review is from: No Off Switch (Paperback)
All those other reviews are right - this is a gripping description of the life of a one-off, packed full of fantastic stories, descriptions, atmosphere and opinion. I don't think I've ever read a book so imbued with personality as this one. This book is quite likely to knock into a cocked hat any other autobiography you may have read in recent years - in fact, Andy Kershaw's life is the kind of life that biography was invented for.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable (okay, I know that's not a real word) autobiography, 5 Jan 2012
By 
Dr Roots (North East of England) - See all my reviews
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For Kershaw fans, I cannot recommend this book enough. I can guarantee you will enjoy every page. I'm 59 and have listened to radio (and music) all my life since I was 5 years old and found a 10" 78rpm of Lonnie Donegan's "Cumberland Gap" and asked my mother to play it. That was it, that was all it took, I was off. And in all that time I have to say that Kershaw is one of the very best broadcasters this country has ever produced. As a music anorak, I'm often heard to say that one of the greatest items in my personal music collection is a number of boxes of tapes of Kershaw programmes from the 90s/new millenium that were completely outstanding in their choice of latin, african, asian, folk, country and r&b greats. I even went out and bought an enhanced FM radio aerial for the purpose. This book is also a must for any fans of the late, great John Walters, who - inevitably and quite rightly - features prominently in a number of chapters. Today, Andy seems thankfully to be over his well publicised difficulties of a few years back. Frankly, I'm not interested in the details of that. As long as all concerned have moved on, I don't see any reason why our airwaves should be short-changed any longer by his absence, since his series for Radio 3 a year or so back. A terrific read from terrific broadcaster.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well that put me right...., 15 Aug 2013
This review is from: No Off Switch (Paperback)
To be honest, one of the main reasons for buying this was seeing review after review of how good it is on Andy's Facebook page - nothing can be that good right? I wanted to give it 4 stars!
I was wrong, a compelling story of his exploits over the years with a number of my musical favourites (as well as many I've never heard of..), i cant decide whether he's lead a charmed life, been ridiculously lucky to do so much, or is a product of relentless enthusiasm & curiosity (probably the latter).
I rarely leave any reviews because not much deserves it, but this does.
Refreshingly honest about a number of subjects & unafraid to speak his mind - & after some of the stuff he's seen & experienced you can understand why trivial doesn't concern him - it's a compelling read.
2 complaints: could have done with another 200 pages to get to the end of my holiday......& he really should have lamped Michael Stipe.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spit on yer hands and grab another hold!, 14 Aug 2013
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This review is from: No Off Switch (Paperback)
One of the most entertaining and informative reads I have enjoyed in a long time! Made me feel poignant reflecting on the loss of a golden era of radio and entertained with descriptions of friends and family along the way. Andy Kershaw knows who he is, and at no point does this touch the misery memoir genre (I'm sure his daddy would never have sold him for a pack of cigarettes). When the third wave of life hits, he voices an appreciation of the support people have given so he 'spits on his hands and grabs another hold'. In writing this, he carries on being a great public service broadcaster for me. Laugh out loud funny and incredibly poignant, a real achievement in writing. (Will now be the most colourful resident in Tod since the departure of Bin Laden's daughter in law!).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AK, 19 Mar 2013
By 
David J. Yeo "David Yeo" (Devon, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: No Off Switch (Paperback)
I was a regular listener to the A K programmes since he started on Radio 1 so as I keen to read his autobiography. As soon as I received it I became immersed and hardly spoke a word to the family until I had finished reading it. The reviews are all true. It is a most interesting and entertaining book.
In 1985 our TV gave up the ghost and we took 14 years before we replaced it. Radio was therefore a big part of our life. I was not a great lover of mainstream music but it was quite difficult to find programmes that appealed to my tastes. I enjoyed the Alexis Korner programmes, a local blues programme and tuned in most evenings to John Peel. (I admit that I often found the Peel programmes to be heavy going and tended switch off unless there was a chance to hear an extract of Rawlinson End) When Andy started on Radio 1 I was like a pig in muck and became an avid listener. Unfortunately the BBC mandarins constantly shuffled the timeslots and the shows were often past the bedtime of this working man and it became necessary to record the programmes on cassette and listen at a convenient time. I purchased a music centre that enabled me to set a timer but missed countless shows for a variety of reasons; power cuts causing the timer to reset, cassettes installed the wrong way around, GMT altering for daylight saving etc etc. Consequently for ten years or so there was always a note marked “AK” floating around the kitchen as a reminder to check and record the programmes.
Any car journey became a time to listen and my two sons (now 27 and 30) spent their formative years listening to virtually wall to wall Kershaw. This has had a huge influence on their current listening habits and their ability to enjoy anything from Ivor Cutler to Diblo. I have a camper van with a cassette player and I must have at least 50 AK programmes (all unmarked) which still get aired on a lucky dip basis whenever I travel. (It was replaying the tape of Andy’s trip to Mali that prompted me to check out the current whereabouts of Andy which resulted in me discovering the book)
The thing that has amazed me most about the book is that I although I have listened to countless hours of Andy’s programmes and was very familiar with his personality I found that I had in fact known very little about his involvement with the BBC 4 programmes.
The only disappointing thing about the book is that I have finished reading it. Hopefully it’s success will encourage those at 6Music to realise that although they have a fantastic station they are missing one ingredient.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read, 10 Mar 2013
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This review is from: No Off Switch (Paperback)
A good friend of mine recommended this book to me and I devoured all 408 pages in a matter of three days. Despite not being much of a fan I really enjoyed reading this biography. Essentially the book covers:

- Andy's childhood
- His time at Leeds University which was devoted to working in Ents, failing his degree and finally booking all the bands
- Being a roadie and driver for Billy Bragg
- Presenting the Old Grey Whistle Test (and Live Aid)
- Being a Radio 1 DJ
- Fearlessly working as an occasional travel and war correspondent in some of the most dangerous places on earth
- Breaking up with his wife and children
- Suffering a breakdown, alcohol abuse and being on the run from the police
- Recovery and re-establishing himself

It's a great read and Andy's passion and uncompromising opinions fill every page. For all his strong views, he comes across as one of the good guys with an incredible array of entertaining and interesting stories to recount. If you have any interest in music, the media, social history, travel, relationships, politics and foreign affairs then I'm confident you'll enjoy this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Substance Over Style, 18 Feb 2013
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This review is from: No Off Switch (Paperback)
Andy Kershaw is a thrill seeker with a kid in a sweet shop attitude to, well, the world really, and all that is exciting there in it. Marvel at the audacity of this gobby gentleman as he boldy goes to various un-glamourous and frightening places around the world seeking out the horrror, humanity and good (and bad) music to be found there. Applaud with glee as that gentlemanly gobbiness is put to good use and shakes them up in the potty republic that is Radio 1. Refresh your playlist using Andy as a 'good music' barometer. Oh and get teary eyed, a lot.
You may, reading this book feel, like me, that you've been whisked from heaven to hell and back again feeling exhausted and exhilarated. This book may also, like me, make you demand of your children, "Can you point to Mali on a map?" (they can) or "Do you know who The Beach Boys are?" (they do now).
This book deserves to be taken out of cult status and bought for anybody over 16 that can read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is our Tale, 18 Feb 2012
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This review is from: No Off Switch (Kindle Edition)
`No Off Switch' shakes a bit of a stick at, `accepting the accepted'. It rattles between intimate, seemingly insignificant, tales of childhood to the world stage. It rolls through amusing observations that make you laugh out loud, to the harrowing times Andy Kershaw spent coming to terms with the consequences of his rift between Juliette and their children.
The fact that Andy Kershaw has been in the public eye has undoubtedly given this book what the media (often spuriously) refer to as 'Public Interest' but it goes beyond that. His interview with Bob Dylan is as candid and as self deprecating as it gets. The blunt remarks about certain `iconic' musicians lend more weight to Kershaw's overall sincerity.
This is more than the record of one man's life, it represents the last 50 years for anyone with an ear, a brain, a sense of the joie de vivre that makes us want to travel, experience culture - our culture, the culture of the world... In a sense we've all been there.
For the young it is a big slice of modern history. To his contemporaries it is our tale. To the old it's a scolding - This is how most of us had to make our own sense of the world you handed down to us: through music, through a refusal to accept things without questioning them, through picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves down and getting back on the bike!

[...]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars W T F is this!, 14 Jan 2012
I have just finished reading `No Off Switch' and it has left me with the weird disorientated feeling that I most associate with the end of long Rock `N' Roll tours - when you realise that you will no longer be seeing your temporary tour family every day.

Few books have ever evoked that feeling and none so powerfully.

It took me four attempts to read the chapter on Rwanda. Its simple eloquence brought the reality of horrors to life far more effectively than any TV footage, no matter how graphic, ever could. It is very hard to read through tears.

I would need at least 600 pages of my own to put into words every thought and memory that this book has provoked, from 1980's Rock `N' Roll to a new perspective on the reality of `bonkers regimes'.

Andy Kershaw may have `No Off Switch' but reading the last chapters makes me think he might, in Sonny and Dolly, have found his pause button. I would like to think so.

This is not just a review - I hope it is also a big thank you to Andy for putting it all into words.
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No off Switch
No off Switch by Andy Kershaw (Paperback - 8 Jan 2014)
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