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3.5 out of 5 stars15
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on 9 August 2013
Being something of an addict to post war British history, I had to buy this, although I was slightly worried by the fact that Jones is, or at least was, a contributor to the truly awful Daily Wail and, worse, openly supports David Cameron as if this was nothing to be ashamed of. Having reached the end I would certainly recommend it to you.
The text weaves together, skilfully for the most part, the 1985 Live Aid concert with various elements of the history of the decade - the chapter dealing with Paul Weller handles the left, Elton John discusses Princess Di, Queen discusses AIDS - you get the picture. The book has a strong slant towards popular culture rather than politics of course, with the day handled chronologically rather than the decade. Perhaps inevitably, there is a bit of a London thing going on here.
The writing is mostly good although there are a number of slightly annoying minor issues. One sentence paragraphs for journalistic impact and a tendency to repeat some phrases. On the other hand we are left in no doubt about where the author stands on some of the performers and I did wonder how many digs were the product of previous run-ins during his career as a journalist. There are many revealing insights and some great one-liners.
Readers who enjoyed this book should have a look at the work of Alwyn Turner who uses popular culture as a medium for his books looking at the 70s and 80s.
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on 30 August 2013
Was a bit wary of reading this after being disappointed with When Ziggy Played Guitar. This however is excellent, describing the Eighties through the prism of Live Aid and the performers on the day. In its own way it is at least as good as the other chroniclers of post-war Britain - Sandbrook, Beckett, McSmith et al. Slightly repetitive last chapter and wouldn't have lost anything if the chapter on the Philadelphia show went under the red pen.
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on 19 February 2014
I bought this book because I wanted to know more about Live Aid - the concert and its aftermath. This author does give us some info ,at the start of each chapter, about the each artist who played - but then goes off on a tangent about anything loosely connected about the 80's. He talks about everything from New York literature to the miners strike . I know the title says THE EIGHTIES but it claims to be mostly about Live Aid . If you are looking for a book just about Live Aid and behind the scenes - then this is not your book!
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VINE VOICEon 14 April 2014
Dylan Jones's retrospective of 1985's Live Aid concert is well-meaning, but way too long and too broad in scope to be a consistently good read. Taking the running order of the acts as his chapter headings, the book occasionally feels as long as the original concert, and achieves something of the inconsistency of the event itself - a few nuggets and insights interspersed with a lot of dross and quite a bit of repetition.

"Zeitgeist", "global jukebox" and "global phenomenon" are over-used expressions by Jones throughout the book, so much so that they lose their impact before too long, and the combination of personal "I was there" reflections, wider social commentary (much of it simply not supported by convincing evidence) and other source material gives the overall tone of the book an uneven and rambling feel - occasionally taking on the tone of a Ronnie Corbett style monologue from The Two Ronnies in that Jones seems to wander all over the place before drawing the threads of the point to some sort of cobbled conclusion.

There are, however, some good bits. Points about lack of big black acts of the day wanting to take part are well-made, and the concluding chapter shows an awareness that Live Aid didn't change as much as it hoped for, and in some ways you have to have a grudging respect for acts who actually didn't want to be involved because they doubted the success of the outcome or the point of the venture in the first place. Thirty years on, it would he hard to disagree with that stance.

Like many books of this genre, the writing isn't great - Jones feels like he is struggling to marshall his material into shape in several places, making it feel like an A level essay that's got out of control. But the shallow nature of pop musicians comes over well, and the book re-creates the mood of the times and the impact of the event well enough.

Live Aid is better viewed than read about. A couple of excellent BBC documentaries from around 2005 tells the story much better than Jones can, and he clearly has topped up his knowledge of the concert with YouTube viewings, and drawn heavily on people who were there and can reflect on it more meaningfully than he can (notably Mark Ellen).

Overall, something of a laboured review of an event that undoubtedly defined much of the Eighties, but perhaps some of the claims that Jones makes for the importance of the concert are overblown, and certainly could have been expressed with fewer words.
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on 8 July 2015
A look at the career credits of Dylan Jones creates certain expectations. That he can write with style. With focus. That he can channel information in a coherent journalistic form. All of those expectations would be wrong. This book is dreadful. So irritating it's virtually unreadable. I purchased it on kindle in anticipation of the 30th anniversary of Live Aid. i hoped for - and expected - a delicious insider's compendium of untold anecdotes and backstage gossip. What a huge letdown. The concert is an excuse here. Like a Ronnie Corbett story Jones meanders and wonders off from the acts and the big day in self indulgent, irrelevant fashion with irritating regularity. The social history of the 80s provides filler for chapters in the most unexpected, irrelevant places. No opportunity to speak about himself is ever consciously missed. At times there are so many 'I' references it's like pseuds corner in Private Eye. When the writing is about Live Aid itself it's interesting. But that's less than 10% of the focus of this book. All in all it's an unfocussed mess. An annoying instance of life in the metropolitan media elite fooling am author into thinking *he* is the story. From the editor of a magazine like GQ it's deeply disappointing frankly.
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on 25 June 2015
Absolutely bloody dreadful, stopped reading after the first chapter.
Dylan talked rubbish about Ultravox, but the what do you expect from a Daily Mail journalist
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on 2 June 2014
Really interesting insight to the putting on of Live Aid and this time in history, having watching the show fascinating read
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on 31 July 2013
if you lived in the 1980's and you were part of the Live Aid story in any way then this book is for you
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on 7 March 2015
I was deeply disappointed by this book (it irritated me so much that I didn't finish it, so it's possible I missed some of the good stuff). I remember Live Aid very clearly but his account doesn't bring it to life for me. I agree with the earlier comment that said there is no doubt where the author stands on some performers, and I also wondered if he was paying off old scores. But much of the writing only regurgitates Bob Geldof's autobiography "Is That It?" except it's much bitchier. I'm not sure that bitchy comments about Princess Diana's hair add to the experience - it was the 1980s for God's sake. We ALL had bad hair. Even Jones's hero Bono. If you want to find out about Live Aid, watch it on YouTube and make up your own mind.
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on 25 August 2015
Great insight into the music and politics of the decade.
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