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Johnny Marr: "The Smiths" and the Art of Gun-Slinging Paperback – 28 Sep 2006

2.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Independent Music Press (28 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0954970489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954970482
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.9 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 149,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Publisher

1) This is the world’s first and only biography of Johnny Marr.
2) This year sees the 20th anniversary of the seminal Smiths album, The Queen Is Dead, which will guarantee a high profile for all Smith-s related books and artists.
3) Similar books on Morrissey are proven strong sellers and The Smiths’ fanbase remains fanatical.
4) This title will also appeal to fans of the artists Marr has collaborated with as well as music fans in general
5) The title sits neatly alongside other I.M.P. titles such as Dave Grohl and Robert Smith, all maverick artists who have made an impact across more than one band

About the Author

Richard Carman is the author of Robert Smith: The Cure & Wishful Thinking (I.M.P.) and has contributed to over a dozen music books on artists including The White Stripes, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Shaun Ryder and Dave Grohl.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Halfway through there's an interesting thought (the interesting thought): we want our great songwriting duo's to conform to a heads/tails, yin/yang duality which does them serious injustice. It was McCartney (the corny populist?) listening to Stockhausen and making those tape loops, while Lennon (arty, edgey, out-there) sat at home watching 'Meet the Wife' on the box. In The Smiths' myth Morrissey vacuums up all the sensitivity, intelligence and compassion and finds his flipside in a streetfightin' Marr. Which is nonsense; by all accounts Marr has no shortage of those Morrisque attributes (could you write that music and not have?) and, well, after the court case I doubt there's many of the great unquiffed who associate the singer with sensitivity or compassion. Carmen would never make this last point and his book suffers terribly for it. His completely uncritical approach resembles Soviet newscasts. Candle-bearing crowds besiege the Kremlin before he admits the fourth Oasis album might have lacked a little something. I'm not sure serial apologists do artists any favours. What's he scared of? Admitting that many of Marr's fans don't get The Healers and examining various angles would tell us more about the fans and The Healers. Filling the critical void are track-by-track assessments of albums you've listened to more times than you've said your own name, and if you've never heard 'You've Got Everything Now' then reading that "it runs at a nervy, bass-led punk pace" with "a perfect beat" isn't going to help. That said, it's the only biography and gathers many existing sources well. I knew a good deal of it before but still found plenty to fascinate. And irritating as it gets, Carmen's positivity at least mirrors that of his subject. Of course a Johnny Marr biography should run: Music, Guitars, Gossip, Haircuts, but Carmen's chronological trawl does succeed in joining the dots between the Marr's varied projects.
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Format: Paperback
The first ever Johnny Marr biography - I'm sure not the last either, but it won't be easily bettered. The writer's got a clear understanding of and affinity for Marr and his music, but manages to avoid the usual hagiography and produce something readable.

I learned loads of stuff I didn't know before about Marr, The Smiths and especially Marr's post-Smiths work, but written in a style that made me not want to put the book down. This is well researched and informative, with some great observations and asides - the "jingle-jangle moaning" description of the Smiths sound combines the endless comparisons to Roger McGuinn, and that Rickenbacker picking electric guitar sound of Mr Tambourine Man by The Byrds, not Dylan, with the old complaint about miserable Morrissey.

The Smiths were easily the best band of the era and probably one of the best ever. If you're a fan, you'll enjoy this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great if you're a Smiths die hard fan, plenty of Smiths stories albeit with some incorrect years of releases, maybe these were typos?
The last 50 pages cover Electronic and The The this is where the book redeems itself.

Good but not great
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Format: Paperback
I was expecting a detailed overview of Marr's career with lots of new stories and interviews, but this was a pretty banal account, over-familiar, with no input from Marr or the other Smiths. There was also nothing new about Marr's pre-Smiths history. In Rogan's The Severed Alliance many people are interviewed from Marr's early life but not here. So it really is a missed opportunity. I think Marr deserves a decent book, although his profile isn't as high as it once was. But this isn't the one. Disappointing.
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Format: Paperback
This book has been well researched, the author is clearly taken with Johnny Marr and has set about the book with the best intentions of educating the reader with Marr's life to date. What really lets the book down is the way that it is written and the poor attention to detail.
As opposed to offering any critique or originality, the book simply describes happenings of Johnny Marr's career, something one could find out about on Wikipedia for example. Similarly, the way that the book is written puts Marr on a pedestal as an untouchable that the author seems to be in complete awe of instead of giving the reader a professional insight. This, in turn, leads to the author losing focus and attention to detail.

The lack of attention to detail is encapsulated brilliantly on page 166 in which the author writes, "In 2004 the pair reconvened as The Tears - proving that there's always hope! Equally influential, the year also saw the release of Pulp's Modern Life Is Rubbish"... if ever there was a sentence that should result in the recall of a book, this is it.
Shame on me you might think, a simple slip of pen on the author's fault, I'm just being a music snob. However, when writing a book about (arguably) one of the most influential musician's of all time, errors such as this one aren't good enough.

As one prior review states, there are no new interviews with any members of The Smiths, The The or Electronic, the book is merely a collection of facts that are already in print in other (better) books. And, although this is supposed to be a book about the man and not the bands, very little ink has been used on exploring the music that Marr has been a part in creating.
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