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Bournemouth A Go! Go!: A Sixties Memoir Paperback – 8 Nov 2012
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About the Author
Jon Kremer was born in London but has lived in the Bournemouth area since his teenage years began, which coincided with the start of the Sixties. For over 40 years he owned Bus Stop Records, Bournemouth's original vintage vinyl shop and experienced many aspects of the music industry through a long-standing friendship with singer-songwriter Al Stewart.
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There's already an illustrious stable of great books about how the sixties panned out in Britain's premier south coast venue, not least Nick Churchill's definitive Beatles offering `Yeah Yeah Yeah!' However, Jon Kremer's `Bournemouth A Go! Go!' is truly something else - a mesmerising magical mystery tour through one man's relationship with the sixties music culture and club venues of his beloved home town. There's an astonishing sub plot too, about the author's lifelong friendship with the rock star whose most famous record is surely one of my Desert Island Discs. One doesn't have to be a local resident of Bournemouth's Memory Lane to appreciate this book either, as readers who are contemporaries of the author will instantly recognise the universal theme of the time.
I've heard it said by many a grizzled traveler, that wherever one goes in the world, you'll always meet someone who has a story to tell about Bournemouth! This wonderful book goes a long way to explaining why, and how the town irreversibly became (and still is) one of the coolest music venues in Britain. Hearing Kremer's story is akin to rescuing one's dear old Dansette record player from the loft and loading up a stack of favourite 45's. The sheer rawness of the time he revisits makes for a metaphoric backtrack of crackle and hiss, decades away from today's antiseptic perfection of digital production.
A lifetime at the helm of his specialist record shop has blessed Kremer with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things vinyl, and he puts the most ardent sixties anorak to shame. Likewise, his take on Bournemouth's early clubs and dance venues, and their endless loop of incredible bands is lovingly and meticulously detailed. Indeed, many of the minstrels the author rubbed shoulders with, would one day emerge from the Bournemouth chrysalis to become superstars on the international rock stage. But one particular player in the story provides the glue that really sticks this book on the reader's heart and elevates Kremer's tale to much more than a music and club lover's memoir.
The hub of events begins with a life changing chance encounter at the North Bournemouth music shop owned by Kremer's dad. Here on an autumn day in 1962, a local schoolboy happened upon the shop and subsequently came face to face with the author. The rest as they say, is history, as the schoolboy in question was one Al Stewart, the very persona whose work would one day grace the vinyl, CD and MP3 download collections of the entire planet. Sensing an immediate kinship, Stewart would team up with Kremer in a friendship which gave the author a ringside seat in the developing years of one of the nation's most talented performers. Now that we're all so familiar with Stewart's evergreen global blockbuster `Year of the Cat', it's a rare treat to hear how the creation of his unique musical repertoire came about - and the spiritual role Kremer played in its inception.
Although this reviewer's teenage tracks covered the exact time and place in question, I never knew Jon Kremer, or Al Stewart for that matter, though Poole based Stewart must have been on the same bus into town as me on countless occasions in those early years. So reading this fabulous book is rather like reading my own biography, even to the degree of my own best mate being in the line-up of a top Bournemouth band and regular resident at London's legendary Marquee Club.
For me, Bournemouth's dance venues and burgeoning clubland is where this memoir is most deliciously set: The Pavilion Big Beat, Papa's, Samantha's, Le Kilt, and in particular the famous `Le Disque a Go Go' situated at the Lansdowne area of the town. In this dark smokey cellar, sometime sweaty home of Manfred Mann and The Who, fledgling bands, some of whom would become the biggest names in British rock, pounded out their early sets. Kremer is one of the few people around who can bear witness to what that experience was actually like - a visceral pumping cacophony of power that enveloped the onlooker as if were the most potent drug on earth.
But the real passion behind Kremer's literary gig is found in the heartfelt joy he clearly has in having been a player in the most exciting period of popular music. In tandem with sixties Liverpool, the author's journey takes place regionally. But make no mistake, Bournemouth's rock legacy mirrors that of the more famous northern town, and many of the musicians on its stage would go on to achieve the same global recognition.
This is a book that flags the winning virtues of Beatles single `Penny Lane' and landmark movies like `Ipcress File' and `Small World of Sammy Lee', and as such wins my instant approval. But the emotive mention of these classic titles of the time is merely the tip of the iceberg. Jon Kremer has produced something beyond a brilliant memoir - it's an important social document that will live on for Bournemouth, and illustrate for all, that short decade in history when the future was flooded with energy and hope. Don't even think about it - buy this book!
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