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on 1 July 2017
.. this'll do.. until I shuffle off This Mortal Coil...
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on 1 September 2017
It's good.
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on 4 May 2014
I have to admit I was a 50-50 about 4AD records some I loved some just got on my nerves but for 5 years I was on the bands mailing list when I was a record reviewer on a local paper. The one thing I always did know was that I was always excited when a new parcel came from the label as I knew love it or hate it that the music was going to be highly original and high quality with wonderful artwork. I often spoke for ages on the phone to the ever wonderful Deborah Edgely the best press officer I ever had dealing with. I don't think any company had such loyal staff I know I found almost impossible to say I disliked a record because you could hear the genuine sadness in Deborah's voice. Never before or since has a label had such committed staff or work ethic. Then quite suddenly you could sense it was all starting to unravel one or two releases did not seem quite right. Then Deborah left for a few months , came back for a day, I was informed the legendary label figurehead Ivo was going through some sort of Bad patch.
It all seemed so sad but I had no idea what was happening Deborah was the soul of discretion as were her successors. This book is an in depth history of the greatest indie label ever known and it explains all the mysteries It mentions every release and brief band histories of every act on the label. It also gives brief descriptions of everyone who worked in the office or for the Art Department headed by Vaughan Oliver.
The real beauty of the book is that despite its exhaustive insight it is a fantastic read that doesn't get bogged down in the fine detail and tries to give balanced views of all the arguments. I never knew Ivo's crisis was caused by severe depression and I feel so sad for the poor guy in his wilderness years, I myself got hit by depression so badly I did not want to listen to music anymore, like Ivo I am better now but its a horrible feeling.
I can thoroughyl recommend this book to anyone and I have to hope all the people who were involved at 4AD are happy
in their lives. Being involved with the label was a labour of love and has affected all of them in a way that does not happen in most offices. I imagine the writer also suffered severe withdrawal symptoms after his work was finished. If you are a fan of the label or its bands or not but just are interested in music read this book one of the best around.
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on 2 November 2013
I loved 4AD, and this book is perfect for devotees of the label. It's a long book, and covers the years up until Ivo sells the label in great detail, with interviews etc with all the artists, from the major ones like Cocteau Twins and Pixies to less known artist such as Swallow and Spirea X. Suitably the detail stops when Ivo sells the label, and the last couple of chapters cover the post Ivo years briefly, but it's no longer really 4AD by that point. Ivo was a genius, and it's sad how things ended up, but listening to the music along side this book was just perfect.
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on 9 October 2013
Just received this on Monday & already halfway through, can't put it down. Had forgotten how many 4AD releases I have collected over the years and its really good learning the backgrounds and what has since happened to the key players in each.

Been playing Cocteaus & This Mortal Coil on repeat since starting the book.

Highly recommended
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on 20 February 2014
As a massive early 4AD fan (the Cocteau Twins are one of my favourite bands) I'd totally forgotten many of the other acts the label signed. As a result of this excellent book I fear that my wallet may take a bashing as I search out the titles I missed.
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on 29 April 2014
Martin Aston book is an in depth look at one of the greatest record labels of all time.
All key players are interviewed and no stone left unturned.
The book works on a number of levels.
As it intention the study of 4AD and it's influence on music and culture.
Also a fascinating look at the business side of the music world and the impact of running an independent label.
Finally,the personal side of being in a band and how the business can change people.
I found myself running to pull out albums by bands I'd half forgotten and ordering some that had passed me by.
An excellent read.
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on 11 September 2016
4AD was a complex and idiosyncratic record label back in the 80s. Also revered for the artwork adorning its releases, the company produced a slew of innovative albums which defied trends and pushed boundaries. Martin Aston's remarkable book lifts the lid on the tensions and machinations behind this fertile cottage industry. Although the label still boasts a talented roster, 4AD will always be linked, for many, with the likes of Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Pixies, This Mortal Coil and Ultra Vivid Scene. A winning combo of art-rock and intriguing graphics gave the label a devoted following. Vinyl records still ruled the roost, allowing designer Vaughan Oliver a broad scale of options which he fully profited from. 4AD's director/musician, Ivo Watts-Russell, remained a shy elusive figure who Aston makes vividly lucid to us. These two men shared a vision which entranced the thousands who bought into it, but as Aston makes clear the experience would leave its scars on them both. As much a book about art and life as it is about the rock industry, Facing The Other Way might just be the best of its kind you'll read.
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on 3 January 2015
Having arrived at just over a third of the way through the Hardback addition, I already feel like I've received back more than the price of admission!
In term's of all the music biz histories I've read, including those on Factory, Creation, Rough Trade et.al this is up there with all the greats, it manages to be comprehensive without ever being boring. I previously thought of myself as Cocteau Twin's completest, however this has helped even an indie saddo like me dig out some 'hitherto' unknown tracks and collaborations. It has also put into context and given some much needed perspective some of the lesser known acts such In Camera and Rema Rema.

Even if you just happen to like just one band from this label (however unlikely that might be?) there's something here for all the family, from Pixies for Dad to Grimes for the kids. Unless of course your a goth, you might get depressed hearing one revered icon after another trying to distance themselves from a scene considered over by 1980 i.e. Bauhaus, Birthdayparty, Dead Can Dance, Cocteaus', Xmal etc etc...
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on 22 October 2016
I was a 4AD fan around the tail end of the first phase, which you might say concluded with the 1987 "Lonely Is an Eyesore" compilation. I continued following the label, but my interest waned gradually after This Mortal Coil wrapped up, and the Cocteau Twins were dropped.

This is a fantastic and joyous book for that first half of the label's history, and then an agonising read for the second.

As a reader who sometimes gets frustrated when a biography heavily covers 'the good bits' of someone's career and then skims the 'boring later bits', I'll be careful what I wish for in future: the decline of 4AD through the late 90s and 2000s is brutally covered in every detail. It's very hard going, though I take my hat off to the author for his thoroughness.

It's a brilliant book, just a tough one.
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