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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant read about Her Majesty's favourite skinhead.
Madness fans: THIS BOOK ISN'T ABOUT MADNESS. There are a few interesting revelations, but it's about "What made Graham MacPherson into Suggs". Just thought I'd start there, as it seems to be a constant complaint in other reviews.

I've read a lot people associated with 2-Tone, and this was my favourite read, because (1) It's not ghostwritten, or not...
Published 9 months ago by A Parrott

versus
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing - not enough Madness
Disappointing. Madness were the first band I ever saw live, and The Prince still has to be the most infectious dance track ever. But there just isn't enough of Madness in Suggs' book. It's as if he's trying so hard to be someone other than the singer from Madness, that his motives obscure his own (and the band's) true legacy. Want stories about the creation of One Step...
Published 15 months ago by Andrew GC Davison


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant read about Her Majesty's favourite skinhead., 27 May 2014
By 
A Parrott "Polly the Wasp" (Reading UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: That Close (Hardcover)
Madness fans: THIS BOOK ISN'T ABOUT MADNESS. There are a few interesting revelations, but it's about "What made Graham MacPherson into Suggs". Just thought I'd start there, as it seems to be a constant complaint in other reviews.

I've read a lot people associated with 2-Tone, and this was my favourite read, because (1) It's not ghostwritten, or not much at least, because you can tell Sugg's way of speaking coming through the words. (2) He doesn't big himself up, quite the opposite if anything. (3) No-one gets slagged. Nice, easy read, plenty of anecdotes, made for holiday reading. you may not learn much, but there are plenty of fact-heavy books for that, this is just a pleasant few hours of company with a nice guy.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing - not enough Madness, 24 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: That Close (Kindle Edition)
Disappointing. Madness were the first band I ever saw live, and The Prince still has to be the most infectious dance track ever. But there just isn't enough of Madness in Suggs' book. It's as if he's trying so hard to be someone other than the singer from Madness, that his motives obscure his own (and the band's) true legacy. Want stories about the creation of One Step Beyond? Or how and why the song Michael Caine evolved and how they got the man himself onto the record? Or how they matured into some of the finest songwriters around? No chance. Want to know how Suggs makes bruschetta, or enjoys cycling in southern Italy? Then you're in business.

He's a third of the way into the book before Madness even emerge as a band. You're wondering how he's going maintain that detail throughout Madness' career. Simple; he doesn't. A few chapters later, they're splitting up. No mention of the six albums recorded in between. He goes into excruciating detail about a New Year's Eve, but doesn't mention recording Absolutely, 7, the Rise and Fall etc. The sequencing jumps around a lot and while I'm sure there's something to be said about avoiding a straight, chronological narrative, it sill leaves you feeling a little short-changed.

What is written is good however; very entertaining. There's a real warmth and honesty to his tales, and he's a good narrator/raconteur. I'd imagine his one man stage shows are a gem.

So, caveat emptor. Be aware that you are getting a well written and entertaining autobiography. You are not getting a book about Madness.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Biography, 25 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: That Close (Kindle Edition)
For any Madness Fan, or anyone interested in the Social and Music scene of the 70's and 80's this is a fantastic read. The style is honest and truthful, but the narrative walks the reader through the authors extraordinary lifetime events in a natural and moving way. - Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a mess, 9 Sept. 2014
By 
Peter Lee (Manchester ,United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: That Close (Kindle Edition)
This is a slightly odd autobiography. For the first two thirds or so it tells the story of Suggs's life from childhood to the present day, and it is an enjoyable read, although some will be disappointed that Madness seem to be treated almost as an aside in a way, with fewer than expected stories about the band and its members. Towards the end however it does seem as though Suggs was maybe told by the publisher that the book was too short, so the remaining part is taken up with what feel like extended anecdotes about family holidays, friends, football, meals he's had and so on. It's entertaining enough, but it feels a little "will this do?", as though it was added to pad the book out. An easy read, but it feels like it needed more work to knock it into shape.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Soon as I wake up, every night, every day, I know that it's you I read to take the blues away! ;-), 23 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: That Close (Kindle Edition)
As a lifelong Madness and Chelsea fan I was expecting a good read - which is exactly what I got! Admittedly I did panic a bit when I was about two thirds through and there hadn't been very much detail about the band's successful years, but this was addressed more towards the end of the book. A little more of this wouldn't have gone amiss and as others have commented, a little more chronological order to things would have made it all a little easier to follow. Hence 4 stars and not 5.

Reading the book has encouraged me to buy and listen to The Liberty of Norton Folgate, which I'll be doing very soon. It seems I've missed out on a real treasure.

In summary - a good guy, a good read and a brilliant, unique band.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A supremely enjoyable biography, 7 Oct. 2014
By 
This review is from: That Close (Hardcover)
A supremely enjoyable biography.

I am a similar age to Suggs and also grew up in north London so there were many aspects of his story that I recognised from growing up in the same place at the same time.

That said, he has plenty of amusing and interesting tales to tell, and this book is peppered with them. He's also an enthusiastic and engaging narrator. So, whatever your background, if you enjoy books that embrace social history, music, travel, humour, growing up, families, and this thing we call life, then you should find plenty to enjoy here.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT, 18 Feb. 2014
This review is from: That Close (Hardcover)
I love Suggs, I love Madness, I watched "The Prince" on TOTP in 1979...I think you get the picture. I got this as a present and the first couple of chapters started off really well - reaching 50, facing your own mortality, looking back, & it gave a vivid account of his early years. And then? It just wanders off in to a stream of non-linear anecdotes, focussing more on Chelsea than Madness. It lurches back and forth betweeen events, some garnering far more detail than they deserve; others getting precious little detail at all. For example, Mike Barson's departure from the group in 1984 is reduced to one sentence. The Madness reunion makes mention of Barson rejoining but not wearing a balaclava...excuse me? It's only later in the book - much later - that a passing mention is made of Barso arriving at photo shoots just prior to his 1984 departure wearing balaclavas. It meanders on with litle or no consequence and very little point and is a massive disappointment. Suggs' "Disappearing London" was far better. PS - no-one plays "base guitar".
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great book about Suggs (a pretty good book about Madness), 23 Jan. 2015
By 
Mr. N. Jones "Nik" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: That Close (Hardcover)
That header may seem a little unfair. After all this is a book about Suggs rather than a history of Madness, and as such it is a cracking read. Suggs explains at the start that he didn't feel comfortable using a ghost writer so he wrote it himself, and while another writer may have written more 'professionally', the book is refreshingly in his voice (even if he does use the word 'duly' way too much). You can tell from his lyrics that Suggs is a natural story teller and his book is no different. From tales of chasing wheels of cheese down the road in his youth to dining in a tree top village in Jamaica, he paints wonderful and engaging pictures about his life. Always suffused with his trademark humour.
As I mentioned in the header, Madness is only one part of his story, it's a big part obviously, but if you're going in looking for in depth accounts of the song writing processes then you'll come away disappointed.
It's a minor quibble however. That Close is a thoroughly enjoyable tour through an interesting and refreshingly grounded life. Now I just hope Mike Barlow decides to put pen to paper.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Its fantastic book about Suggs; not just Madness. The Clue is in the Title :), 20 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: That Close (Hardcover)
Fantastic story of how Suggs got his stage name, rose to fame.

Some people have said "Oh, theres not enough about Madness in here" - Er, when he was born, just like the rest of the band; they didnt release One Step Beyond in the late 1950s as Madness. Its a book about Graham McPherson, not a biography of Madness.

Still a great book though.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well written book, 31 May 2014
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This review is from: That Close (Hardcover)
I had no idea that Suggs went thro so much in his early years, I knew he was a London boy (as I am a London girl) but did not realise he had such a hard upbringing. It was very interesting to read all his lifestory and interesting to say the least to read how he became a very well known and popular pop singer after all the hassle he had in his younger days. He was a naughty boy at times so that added interest to the reading mix. My only complaint and I wrote to the publisher about it (not had a reply tho)!!! is that he is an avid Chelsea supporter - whilst I have no problem with that, he mentions that he had been to all the London football clubs with his beloved Chelsea playing league games and there are eight in total. THERE ARE NINE IN TOTAL - he forgot about my Mighty Eagles - CRYSTAL PALACE FC - he never mentioned them once and I think that should be brought up to date and altered!!! Ha ha - but a good book nonetheless, worth a read.
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