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Shelley

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Scargill: The Unauthorized Biography
Scargill: The Unauthorized Biography
by Paul Routledge
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm Not Answering The Question You Did Ask, But The Question You Should Have Asked ..., 26 Mar. 2015
Arthur Scargill and Margaret Thatcher were 2 sides of the same loathesome coin. Both sought to remake the world in their own image; neither could brook any questioning of or challenge to their convictions or authority; both were convinced that only themselves were right and both pursued their vision at the great expense of the very people they were supposed to be representing. Both claimed to be fighting for democracy, but neither of them believed in any democracy that disagreed with them.

They deserved each other.

Paul Routledge has written and excoriatingly honest portrait. He tackles complex issues and makes them understandable for the rest of us. He gives us an objective view of some very subjective events. His iconoclasm comes not from on high or from the Tory, free-market, neo-con, neo-lib Right, but from his roots in the very communities that Scargill represented.

As Thatcher & Scargill deserved each other, so Scargill deserves this book.


The Diamond Queen: Elizabeth II and Her People
The Diamond Queen: Elizabeth II and Her People
by Andrew Marr
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.94

3.0 out of 5 stars This leads to a suspicion it's a bit of a hack job commissioned by an organisation that needs to say something nice about the qu, 21 Nov. 2014
I'm no fan of the royal family, but I am a fan of Andrew Marr and his books, which is why I bought this one. Whilst it is, as usual, excellently written, I also detect a Marr-By-Numbers feeling to this publication. This leads to a suspicion it's a bit of a hack job commissioned by an organisation that needs to say something nice about the queen in time for her 60th jubilee and have it said by someone with an excellent rep for rigourous impartiality.

I will finish this book, but unlike his history series, I won't be re-reading it, so one for the charity shop I think.


66: The Inside Story of England's 1966 World Cup Triumph (Mainstream Sport)
66: The Inside Story of England's 1966 World Cup Triumph (Mainstream Sport)
by Roger Hutchinson
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Melancholia., 24 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
What an immensely sad tale. A tale told with humour, wit, insight and perception, but sad nonetheless. Alf Ramsey devised a system to enable England the Jules Rimet trophy by working with what he had available to him ... and the team delivered, but somehow, there was no joy in winning, beyond the immediate moment.

A wonderful book. Recommended.


'Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky: The Life of Jimi Hendrix
'Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky: The Life of Jimi Hendrix
by David Henderson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.50

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Crosstown Traffic, 3 Feb. 2014
Well-researched, informative and heartfelt. The author, however, seems to have a distinct propensity for proving how hip he can write. Problem is, he's not very good at it and it's embarrassing to read.


The Beatles - All These Years: Volume One: Tune In
The Beatles - All These Years: Volume One: Tune In
by Mark Lewisohn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Took Him Years To Write, Will You Take A Look, 6 Jan. 2014
Tune In comes with a lot of expectations and aspirations to live up to. Its author has set out his stall for it to be THE definitive word on The Beatles story. It's there to dispel long perpetrated myths, cut down the false trees of supposition and rumour and pump out the lake of misinformation. It's asking a lot of himself to deliver and of his readership to accept it as such.

That it manages to do so, while at the same time being a thoroughly compelling and decent read is nothing short of astounding.

Whilst I've never doubted the rigour of his approach or the thoroughness of his research, I always used to have a problem with Lewisohn's authorial voice. It was always a little too dry, too fact driven. His books spoke at me rather than to me: they told me lots of really interesting stuff, but they didn't tell any kind of story. Each song, the recording of them and the performing of them is a tale unto itself, but ML always seemed to miss this.

With Tune In, it seems he's had a bit of a rethink over this. Tune In is a story well told. Lewisohn starts out tentatively; as he says himself, he's moved on from short narrative to long form, so it's not surprising, but as he's found his telling voice and his confidence, he's relaxed and opened up the style. He's learnt to write to his readership rather than at it. I'm wondering if he's been reading some Phil Norman and picking up some style hints. Whilst one could take issue with Norman's research, opinions, conclusions etc, his writing style is ALWAYS first class. With a tome the size of Tune In, you need to engage with the reader, to keep them there for the long haul that this book is. Lewisohn has managed that in style.

The only problem I had with this book was that the slim-line version seems to be a plug for the Deluxe Edition. He describes photographs, thus whetting the appetite and then doesn't include them in the pictures section, and you KNOW they'll be there in the larger edition. Never mind, it just meant I had to trawl through the web to find them and in doing so, found some fabulous Fabs sites.

When the price comes down, I'll invest in a Deluxe Edition, but really, that's just my being a complete-ist. There's no real need to do so. Lewisohn has lived up to his billing with Tune In and written the definitive account of the Beatles' early years. On the strength of this, Volumes 2 and 3 promise to be equally excellent.


Without You: Tragic Story of "Badfinger"
Without You: Tragic Story of "Badfinger"
by Dan Matovina
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Matter What, 2 Mar. 2013
Badfinger were a great, great band. They combined the sound of hard rock with melodicism and song structure and in so doing created a rock genre, Power Pop. Two of their number wrote a song called Without You, rendered immortal by Harry Nilsson's deeply emotional reading.

Badfinger also became a by-word for all that is risky in rock once business and money-men enter the picture. In short, they were ripped off, abused, exploited, used, chewed up and spat out by those tasked with protecting and promoting their interests. Result??? Two sensitive and talented artists, Pete Ham and Tom Evans (who wrote Without You together) committed suicide. The remaining members remained estranged until the untimely death of Mike Gibbins in 2005. Only Joey Molland remains with us, much maligned, but keeper of the Badfinger flame.

Dan Matovina's book recounts their odyssey from Swansea, through Golders Green and the Iveys, then Apple and Badfinger and the tragic beyond. He does so with admirable attention to detail, his producer's mind taking care of the beat, the rhythm and message of his narrative. Sadly, his literary style is, to my taste, ploddingly pedestrian. Exclamation marks have no place in a decent narrative, there's too many in this work: an indication he's trying too hard. The story speaks for itself, it just needs the deft, sensitive touch of an experienced writer to bring it to life. He lacks wit and humour: while it's true there is little to laugh about Badfinger's tragic tale, there is plenty of room to write with wit, but Matovina has not taken the opportunity.

He has included a wonderful CD of demo material, seemingly not available elsewhere. This humanises the players ... gives them their voices, their instruments, their sounds. It reminds us that ultimately, the music is what it all should be about.

Matovina is to be congratulated on producing such a comprehensive work, for championing Badfinger, in particular Pete Ham. That his the band's story is out there is largely thanks to Matovina's efforts ... it's just a pity that he couldn't find within him some authorly panache to make this essential work even more readable.


Pete Townshend: Who I Am
Pete Townshend: Who I Am
by Pete Townshend
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stardom In Acton, 7 Feb. 2013
I was looking forward to this. Pete Townshend has always seemed the most intelligent, the most academic and the most intellectual of that wonderful cohort of Sixties Rockers. His application of Pop Art to Pop Music was inspired, his ambition to see popular music as something way more than just a 3 minute single or a collection of unrelated, disparate tracks collected together to form an "album", proved that rock wasn't just the preserve of the boorish, ignorant and drug addled, though it was that too. He was a visiting editor at Faber & Faber in the mid 80's, he's written some wonderful songs, operettas; he's stood for the redemptive and positive force of rock. He's led a wild, obsessive, creative, destructive, fascinating life ... and he's succeeded in writing an extremely boring and amateurish book about it.

Despite all that he's created, all he's seen, lived through, won, lost, done, spent, used & used up ... he cannot, by the evidence of this book, tell its story. And therein lies the problem ... he is just not a raconteur. His written insight doesn't go much beyond "what do you expect from a rock star", his attempts at humour are risible and he says nothing about the creative processes that have defined his work: composition and recording. His intended Magnum Opus, the Lifehouse Project, itself the subject of one half of a book (Won't Get Fooled Again: The Who From Lifehouse to Quadrophenia by Richie Unterberger) is dismissed in a couple of pages. He doesn't seem to have researched his subject deeply enough (except 2 obvious lifts from Dave Marsh's Before I Get Old), which is odd, considering the subject in question is his life. The style is reminiscent of those facile 30p paperback biogs by George Tremlett you used to get in the 1970's.

Pete played The Goldhawk, Monterey, Woodstock, Madison Square, The Rock n Roll Circus ... from this book, you get no sense of his having done so ... he might just as well have written about walking down to the newsagent to pick up a Sunday paper and 20 Rothmans.

Story telling is about making the mundane magical ... not the other way round, but if this book succeeds at anything, it succeeds at that.


The Who:and the Making of Tommy (Vinyl Frontier)
The Who:and the Making of Tommy (Vinyl Frontier)
by Nigel Cawthorne
Edition: Hardcover

1.0 out of 5 stars Pinhead Wizard, 4 Nov. 2012
I was really looking forward to reading this book, but now, sadly, thanks to an unrelenting parade of typos, inaccuracies and misinformation, I wish I hadn't bothered. The story of how Pete Townshend (PT) arrived at the concept of rock opera, how he developed it through the abandoned Quads, via the thrown together A Quick One While He's Away and stopping off at a dress rehearsal in Rael is one that is fascinating and should be required reading for anyone who likes to think about what they listen to, explore it, learn its background and inspirations and find out how it was recorded. This book, most assuredly, is not that read.

I was hoping for some insight into the writing process, how the record was made. I learned that PT wrote some songs and recorded some demo's and then the band recorded some songs in a 2nd rate studio, and didn't use them all. I want to learn why PT's production of Thunderclap Newman's Something In The Air, recorded in a similar time frame as Tommy, sounds so majestic, and Tommy sounds like "amateur hour" as ace producer Glyn Johns once put it. I want to learn how it was recorded, how they got the guitar sound, the vocal sound, the drum sound ... what bass John Entwistle played ... I want to learn about PT's demo's, an integral part of the story of any Who album, indeed, integral to the story of The Who full stop, and how they differed from the final work, I want tolearn how and why the crucial relationship between PT and band manager and erstwhile producer Kit Lambert broke down. In a book marketed as dedicated to the recording of this album, I don't think that's all too much to ask. But the "author" and publishers seem to disagree. The recording is glossed over, the demo's are discussed only in general terms and nothing is devoted to the relationships between the band members other than they all got on.

So what else did I learn? Well, among other things, I learned that PT married Karen Ashley (WRONG, it was ASTLEY); it cost £23 (WRONG ... maybe 23 shillings); and Tommy was released in 1968, in May and also in 1969, in May ... like royalty, having 2 birthdays. I also learned that the "author" has little or no regard for his craft, did precious little research beyond visiting the cuttings library. He has demonstrated a worrying lack of respect for the people who would buy his book: Who fans and experts wanting to learn more about a favourite album, people who would know what they're talking about when it comes to The Who. This book only gets 1 star and that's because I don't have the option to give it zero stars. This is a bad book. AVOID.


Becoming Drusilla: One Life, Two Friends, Three Genders
Becoming Drusilla: One Life, Two Friends, Three Genders
by Richard Beard
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Becoming Drusilla, Being Fabulous, 7 Jan. 2012
I first read this book 3 years ago and gave away my copy. I was glad to do so as I wanted to proselytise about a wonderful book. That left me without until my fabulous partner bought me another copy. I've just re-read it and I got to say, this is easily the best book about gender corrective issues I've ever read. It's witty, warm, informative, tender, loving yet not indulgent. Richard Beard's is the voice of every puzzled friend and hurt loved one ... questioning, doubting, clinging onto a past that's now revealed as not what it seemed. As he moves through the various stages of grief towards acceptance, so he mirrors Drusilla's own movement towards authenticity.


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