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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 14 July 2005
I was quite excited about this book after reading a glowing review in a British weekend newspaper. Overall, I was a little disappointed, but that may in part come from the fact that I'm not familiar with the author's style, and was one of those teenagers who spent most of their formative years of reading music magazines not having a clue what the authors were on about and feeling left out.
Granted, Jones is enthusiastic about the music, and this comes through in his writing, and he's far from a musical snob, which is almost refreshing, (even if you have to question his inclusion of albums like "Twentysomething" on a list of top 100 jazz records). The writing about music and the evolution of his taste contains mildly annoying details from Jones' own biography might come across as too personal and not really that interesting for some readers. If possible, I'd recommend you try to locate an excerpt of this book as a taster or flick through a few pages of the writing on music to see if it's your thing. I also get the feeling that this book will seem dated very quickly, in fact, though it has been published, some of it already reads dated.
However, one great thing about this book are the chapters on the development and evolution of the iPod, iTunes and the whole kit and caboodle and I found these highly enjoyable. As they're spread out amid the other chapters, this is largely what kept me reading the rest of the book. If you're an iPod fanatic, or are interested in learning about what all the fuss over Apple has been over the years, then there is likely to be a lot in here to satisfy. The Sections on Steve Job's story, his obsession with Bob Dylan are amusing and insightful in a Secret-History of entertainment sort of way. The bits on British designer Jonathan Ives and his story at Apple are a good read too, and there is some information in here, anecdotal and otherwise, that you're not likely to have come across before. Overall, I was impressed by the writing about the evolution of the player and the consumer mega trends of recent years.
Parts of the book also explore the changes digital media have presented to the record industry, how music is consumed and marketed and specialisation, the future of the 'Niche' mass market, though there is room for more development here; no mention of the 'Long Tail' and other factors that are surely at play in the success of iTunes and in the reclaiming of content by the consumer revolt, most particurlarly in the area of music pricing and downloading. The recommendations on musical discoveries are useful and will be very interesting to some (perhaps the types walking around with the white earphones who only ever buy top 40 albums and have found that they could do with something a little less bland to fill up their 4 Gigs) - the final third of the book is made up of appendices of lists and recommendations for play lists. These are amusing lists and you have to admit that the selections or grouping are not as entirely 'muso' as they might be, so perhaps that's a plus for a book that could potentially be inaccessible for most. If you're already the type of person for whom a digital media player with a lot of space was actually a godsend that made your life genuinely easier and more enjoyable because you listen to so much music, rather than someone that bought an iPod because they were cool and trendy are the thing to have, then there's this is all likely to be too rudimentary for you.
This book will probably appeal to fans of High Fidelity and can you can definitely sense the trace of that book in here, though I won't put it on level-pegging with anything by Nick Hornby, and the reference to Liar's Poke is a bit of the mark too. I thought I might get away with the book without the dust-jacket, when transporting it about my daily business to read on park benches and in coffee shops, but the title is emblazoned in large lettering across the spine, so perhaps the paperback edition could benefit from more subtle design features; if the title weren't enough, the Rodin thinker-style figure with the white headphones is definitely likely to embarrass some.
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on 4 October 2005
If you like iPods and you like music, buy this book. It's not the greatest, but the anecdotes about Mr. Jones's life are interesting.
He does like to name-drop, but don't we all. Visit my website to see photos of me with Clint Eastwood, Ted Kennedy, and others. LOL ... (but I'm serious.)
I'm not wild about this book, but I enjoyed it enough to recommend it.
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on 21 October 2007
It is, perhaps, testament to the speed at which technology develops, but I could not finish this book. The clincher comes when Jones, dribbling with excitement, announces that there is "a fast-growing band of so-called `pod-casters'... mostly amateur programme-makers...". One could argue that Jones' had his `finger on the pulse', back in 2004 when recording his eulogy to portable music. But, reading it just three years later is like taking a history lesson.

The book is at its best when describing the workings of Apple as a company, and the development of the iPod's design. Before the `clincher', I had begun to skip the self-indulgent chapters which cover his `personal' journey', which were a little too `personal' to be of interest to anyone except his biggest fans.
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VINE VOICEon 14 August 2005
As someone who is into music and technology, I found the idea of a book about music and technology irresistable. One written by an author almost exactly the same age as me should be full of familiar reference points.
Unfortunately, this is really a book about Dylan Jones and all the famous people he has met, and the trendy places he has been. Hardly a page goes by without some blatant name-dropping.
When he does mention iPods and other Apple products it is in terms which deserve a place in Private Eye's 'Pseuds Corner'.
The book is 342 pages long, but 90 pages are taken up with an index and appendices. The appendices are basically just lists of songs from the author's playlists. This includes a whopping 27 pages to list the '100 best songs from the 100 best jazz albums' and another 8 pages to list easy listening songs!
In the remaining 75% of the book can be found an entire chapter about an imaginary Beatles album, extended pieces about Bruce Springsteen and Van Morrison and more about jazz and easy listening.
While there are one or two interesting anecdotes, I found the whole book to be lacking an overall structure or theme. It feels like a number of essays or articles from magazines recycled and padded out with some bits and pieces of Apple history.
Other books where an author talks about their favorite music (Lost In Music by Giles Smith or This Is Uncool by Garry Mulholland) succeed because they are primarily about the music and details of the author's life are incidental and self-deprecating. This book fails because it is about the author and how he met Paul Anka/Yoko Ono/Paul Smith or bumped into Sid Vicious or had Bryan Ferry comment on his trousers and the music concentrates too much on a couple of artists and a couple of genres.
The book is all the more disappointing as my expectations were so high before reading it. The book is sub-titled 'a personal journey through music' but that journey is far too personal to be interesting to most other people.
Most reviews of this book I have seen in the newspapers have been totally positive, so I may be in a small minority by not enjoying this book. Or maybe, as editor of GQ magazine, Dylan Jones has lots of friends in the media who all write book reviews?
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on 12 August 2005
I used to dislike iPods. I used to dislike Macs. I used to dislike anything bearing the little Apple logo that has been the logo of Steve Jobs empire.
Then I read this book.
Given that it isn't directly about Apple, Macs, or anything bearing the little logo, it is surprising that it has changed my philosophy.
What this book showed me, is that while other products look great on paper, there is a great difference between a good spec and a good idea.
I wouldn't have bought this book if I had not read a chapter from it in the newspaper. But I loved the writing style. It flowed, it was funny and it worked.
Turns out the books is a collection of essays written in a similar style covering anything from the iPod, to music, to anything to do with the author himself.
I can thoroughly recommend this to anyone who wants to rediscover how they use their iPods, playlists and nearly any part of their musical lives.
It even got me into listening to The Beatles so there we go!
Great book, Superb Author, Excellent Read. Buy it.
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on 15 July 2005
Maybe I'm biased, because clearly I'm about the same age as Dylan Jones, the author, but this is a wonderfully nostalgic trip through rock and roll history.
Jones' ongoing love affair with recorded music is documented, including the music he was listening to when he was stabbed near Kings Cross. The sort of thing you remember twenty years on. The trigger for this nostalgia is the task of loading his new iPod with sigificant songs. It's during this loading process that Jones not only realises that he has FIVE copies of Bowie's Hunky Dory album, but he also learns that many of the 'classic' albums are actually flawed, and he can selectively delete the 'filler' tracks. He also details 'Everest' the mythical last Beatles album that never was.
This musical journey is in turn interleaved with the Apple(tm) story, and the story of the development of the iPod(tm).
And the bok concludes with an extensive selection of 'important' tracks, in list form.
Surprisingly there are a couple of typo errors in the book, which I found jarring, but otherwise a really enjoyable read.
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VINE VOICEon 13 April 2006
An entertaining and interesting book, especially for someone with what appears to be a similar taste in music as myself, and a similar obsession with collecting music.

The lists at the end are a little unnecesary, particulalrly those which are literally just that, lists; others explain why they are on the list, and I must admit were interesting and also generated sales for some of the tracks that are on there, particularly the jazz list. However, this is a minor quibble, and at least they are at the end as appendicies, and not scattered through the main body of the text.

The book does not solely restrict itself to music however; providing an interseting overview in the development of the Apple company, which may not be to everyones taste, but shows how design has played an important part in the development of all Apple products.

Anyone with an obsession in music should read this (or their partners should!) as it would appear we are not alone; there are others out there whose need to purchase music is compulsive.

Now, which playlist is calling for me?
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VINE VOICEon 31 May 2007
A very readable book, amusing and informative. The perfect book if you like music and iPods (hmm, surely those two go together...?). Helps if you are a 40-something to match Jones' age and memories. I'm old enough to have enjoyed every page.
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on 12 September 2006
If this appeals to you then buy it. It's not a great book, but it is an enjoyable easy read.

It's apparently a series of magazine articles put together so it's good for dipping in and out of. I read it cover to cover. And ever since I've been re-reading whole chapters at random.

I enjoyed his musings on jazz. It's an area that he's demystified a bit for me. Some good funny quotes are used when he tries to explain what jazz is - "When the band's playing with the drummer, it's rock. When the drummer's playing with the band, it's jazz", "Why do some people automatically hate jazz? It saves time later on."

I read an interview in a newspaper with a jazz musician. He said that if you play something that five people like, then you're considered commercial.

He has some interesting observations about the state of the music industry. Such as his observation that modern albums have too much filler on them, especially those by major artists.

Also the stuff on how and why the iPod came to be created was information I hadn't read before. As is the details on Steve Jobs interests in music.

The extensive lists of songs in the appendices is for the most part pointless. There's nothing worse than other peoples taste in music. And his fondness for easy listening is difficult to understand.

I certainly got my moneys worth when I bought this book.
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VINE VOICEon 8 June 2008
Dylan takes you through a musical and technological journey. We his own musical history from when he was a spotty kid in the 70's buying his first records and discovering new artists. Then he introduces Apple computers, iTunes and iPods and how they revolutionised the way many of us listen to music. The final part of the book looks at how iTunes/iPods have redefined his music listening and some of the playlists he has now created.

I think the reason I enjoyed this book so much was because it mirrored my own musical journey. Sure I don't quite get his obsessions with artists such as Springsteen or Morrison but that's not the point. The point is the discovery of new music and how technology has enhanced the way we listen to it.

There are one or two minor complaints. He does name drop a bit too much. And he dismisses certain genres of music (e.g. sixties soul music). However, these are minor quibbles but stop it getting 10/10.

If, like me, you are obsessive about music and Apple technology then this is essential reading.

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