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4.9 out of 5 stars
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4.9 out of 5 stars


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on 30 May 2013
I started reading this not really sure if I liked Andy Kershaw or not. Half-way through, and I was still none the wiser. This multi-faceted personality has got lots of different sides, and quite a few of them are quite annoying (particularly if you're his girlfriend, apparently). But as Kershaw's charmed life starts to unravel, something odd started happening. First of all I found myself warming to him as he trails the globe unearthing undiscovered musical gems. Then I was rooting for him in his seemingly one-man battle against radio ga-ga, and by the time he'd become a foreign correspondent, I found myself crying with him at some of the world's recent horror stories. And then, when things really went into a tail-spin from Day One of his new life on The Isle of Man, I was metaphorically rolling up my sleeves ready to scrap for him. I realise now how much the real Andy Kershaw had passed me by. Saddled with a perception of him anchored by his in-yer-face brusque, bluff mid-eighties persona, I completely missed his late night radio show years, his rogue-state journalism era and his Radio 3 rehab. Instead, he only popped back on my radar as a tabloid villain in 2007. Well, my perceptions were all wrong. Here's someone who's been harshly treated by life, but is thankfully bouncing back and good luck to him - he's done some amazing things, and his story is compelling, as he pings from trouble-spot to trouble-spot, lashing-out at plenty of sacred cows as he goes (Elvis, Sir Bob Geldof, The Beatles and even John Peel). So, no punches are pulled, and plenty are thrown. Hold my coat someone, Kersh needs a hand.
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on 18 February 2012
`No Off Switch' shakes a bit of a stick at, `accepting the accepted'. It rattles between intimate, seemingly insignificant, tales of childhood to the world stage. It rolls through amusing observations that make you laugh out loud, to the harrowing times Andy Kershaw spent coming to terms with the consequences of his rift between Juliette and their children.
The fact that Andy Kershaw has been in the public eye has undoubtedly given this book what the media (often spuriously) refer to as 'Public Interest' but it goes beyond that. His interview with Bob Dylan is as candid and as self deprecating as it gets. The blunt remarks about certain `iconic' musicians lend more weight to Kershaw's overall sincerity.
This is more than the record of one man's life, it represents the last 50 years for anyone with an ear, a brain, a sense of the joie de vivre that makes us want to travel, experience culture - our culture, the culture of the world... In a sense we've all been there.
For the young it is a big slice of modern history. To his contemporaries it is our tale. To the old it's a scolding - This is how most of us had to make our own sense of the world you handed down to us: through music, through a refusal to accept things without questioning them, through picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves down and getting back on the bike!

[...]
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on 18 February 2013
Andy Kershaw is a thrill seeker with a kid in a sweet shop attitude to, well, the world really, and all that is exciting there in it. Marvel at the audacity of this gobby gentleman as he boldy goes to various un-glamourous and frightening places around the world seeking out the horrror, humanity and good (and bad) music to be found there. Applaud with glee as that gentlemanly gobbiness is put to good use and shakes them up in the potty republic that is Radio 1. Refresh your playlist using Andy as a 'good music' barometer. Oh and get teary eyed, a lot.
You may, reading this book feel, like me, that you've been whisked from heaven to hell and back again feeling exhausted and exhilarated. This book may also, like me, make you demand of your children, "Can you point to Mali on a map?" (they can) or "Do you know who The Beach Boys are?" (they do now).
This book deserves to be taken out of cult status and bought for anybody over 16 that can read.
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on 15 August 2013
To be honest, one of the main reasons for buying this was seeing review after review of how good it is on Andy's Facebook page - nothing can be that good right? I wanted to give it 4 stars!
I was wrong, a compelling story of his exploits over the years with a number of my musical favourites (as well as many I've never heard of..), i cant decide whether he's lead a charmed life, been ridiculously lucky to do so much, or is a product of relentless enthusiasm & curiosity (probably the latter).
I rarely leave any reviews because not much deserves it, but this does.
Refreshingly honest about a number of subjects & unafraid to speak his mind - & after some of the stuff he's seen & experienced you can understand why trivial doesn't concern him - it's a compelling read.
2 complaints: could have done with another 200 pages to get to the end of my holiday......& he really should have lamped Michael Stipe.
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on 17 October 2011
The last time I took a hair-raising ride was on the switchback in Disneyworld. That is, until I read Andy Kershaw's `No Off Switch'. I could almost feel the whip-lash as I raced through the pages.
As a presenter of music programmes with a passion for rooting out talent, he travelled the globe to find it. To say he's an expert in his field sounds dead corny, but he is. As a foreign correspondent, he crossed closed borders and penetrated forbidden territory. His adventures make exhilarating and enlightening reading. Here's a man who stares right into the barrel of life, I thought. At home in BBCville, no nerd was left unmasked, no idiot unmentioned, but those he loved, he loved intensely and with unswerving loyalty. My God, his colleagues knew where they were with him.
The pages of this autobiography are chokka with bizarre and magical characters, painted so vividly, you almost fall in love with them yourself. For example John Walters, Andy's producer at Radio One, an endearing, one-off nutter, a genuine eccentric. Then there was Biggie Tembo of the The Bhundu Boys from Zimbabwe - an adorable ray of sunshine. And Andy's stalwart sister, Our Elizabeth, always there to protect his corner.
On the flipside, there were the grade A idiots (usually in charge where they shouldn't be) the bland brigade and, of course, the crawlers. You found yourself hoping they'd be dumped on from a dizzy height (sadly, they seldom were).
Andy doesn't go too lengthily into the trauma he suffered when his relationship broke up. As an ex-pat, I wasn't aware of what happened, so I was a little lost here and there. It sounded horrendous and must have been very difficult to write about.
From a `literary' (yes, I hate that word too, but sometimes, there ain't no other) standpoint, surprise-surprise, Andy ignores the rule book and gets away with it. Often I had no idea where I was in time - but it didn't matter. I would have liked more dialogue, but maybe that would've slowed things down. There are lots of pics and that's great and, hooray, an index.
So, if you want to read about a man who's crammed more into his life than most, this is definitely a book for you. I loved it.
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VINE VOICEon 27 March 2013
There are many words one could use to describe Andy Kershaw, though the one that mostly sprang to mind as I was reading his book was: "gobs***e". Hurrah! Clearly Kershaw is a man who's not quite sure when to keep his mouth shut, or if he is, he certainly decides to mostly ignore any impulse to do so. While that has made for some hellish difficulty in his own life it's certainly provided me with a hugely entertaining and enlightening read.

He seems to have led at least three different lives: as promoter and roadie, DJ and journalist. Each of these has been packed with special and memorable experiences, shared within these pages. Some are funny, others make you angry, others still are touching and poignant. All are worth the effort of a purchase.

There are too many stories to pick one out as being outstanding in any way, but the thing that strikes me is the tone. Kershaw doesn't do false modesty, nor should he. He is very good at what he does and has every right to be proud of it, but he is also very quick to heap praise and credit on others who he feels deserve it. I like this: it shows a generosity of spirit and decency that some others in the entertainment industry could learn from. I loved his affectionate, and honest, pen pictures of his time in room 318 with Peel and Walters, men he loved and admired, but not to the point of being blind to any faults they may have had. Perhaps my single favourite moment of the entire book comes when he describes introducing Johnny Cash at Glastonbury, after first taking a hefty swing at the arrivistes who he feels have corporatised the whole experience. I sat reading the words he wrote about the audience's outpouring of love for Cash with a tear in my eye. It was beautiful writing. And the rest of the book is chock full of it.

Where things are a little more awkward is towards the end, where he speaks about the particular recent problems in his own later family life. He tries manfully to grapple with these, but, I suspect for a number of very sensible reasons, keeps some of them rather more opaque to the reader than the rest of the book might lead you to expect.

This is a book written in the very image of its author: witty, passionate, interesting and not a little (figuratively) unhinged at times. And that's why you have to read it.
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on 30 August 2012
Following a recommendation by a friend and a need to turn off the TV and engage myself in a good book I went in seek of `No Turn Off Switch' by Andy Kershaw. On my journey I came across an abundance of 5 Star reviews on Amazon which gave me an element of cynicism. Could this just be a bunch of sycophantic Andy Kershaw fans? Where was the critical balance? I had to find out and if what they said was true I knew I was in for a real treat.

`No Off Switch' did not disappoint. In fact it took me by surprise. I was not expecting a book that would have me splitting my sides with laughter one minute and then weeping with sadness the next. Andy's portrayal of his time at Radio 1, especially with his producer John Walters, was so joyously laughable it made me wish that Andy had a tape recorder to record Walters for more. You cannot underestimate Andy's contribution to popular culture and broadcasting. From booking The Clash, The Pretenders and other leading bands at Leeds University, organizing the huge Rolling Stones open air gig at Roundhey Park, to becoming Billy Bragg's Roadie and then presenting the infamous Whistle Test Andy's influence is undeniable.

Not for the faint hearted either Andy's description of his time as a Foreign News Correspondent in Rwanda was so horrific and disturbing that I nearly had to put the book down. He also cuts no corners when talking about his infidelity and the subsequent breakdown of his family, his battle with drink and imprisonment which is now, thankfully, very much behind him.

To round up Andy has that special knack of painting such a picture of all these colorful characters and events in his life, you feel as if you were there. `No Off Switch' ticks all the boxes
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on 31 August 2013
For twenty odd years Andy Kershaw has been shaping my musical life and I've only just realised it. Because of him I spent a couple of magical evenings listening to and chatting with with Ted Hawkins, own a copy of "Palm Wine Songs" by SE Rogie and have fond memories of The Bhundus, Tinariwen and a hundred other bands who would never made it to Britain, never mind the out reaches of Scotland where I lived then. I've never really met Andy - once, backstage in Aberdeen at a Billy Bragg gig, we chatted for five minutes about Ted Hawkins - but I feel after reading this book I know him well. It's a rip snorter of a tale of excess, downright idiocy on some occasions and of an Excitable Boy who is too passionate for his own good.

I hope it also goes some way to rebalancing the scales on his fall from grace and subsequent "rehabilitation". It's too much to hope that a single tabloid editor would seek to set the record slightly straighter, and there will always be several sides to the story. Kershaw is no saint and is honest enough to admit he brought some of his travails upon himself, but read this book if you want an insight into what being knocked off a pedestal by people who make more money the greater your misery is really like.

Funny, heartwarming, informative and humbling by turns, the story of AK needs to be read. It has everything a boy (well, this boy, anyway) would want in a bio: Bruce, Bob, Warren, Willie, bikes, girls, Rock and Roll and travel to places you can't spell, never mind find on a map.
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on 6 August 2013
I must have read this book at least 10 times and I regularly refer to and quote passages from it whilst sharing music with the author himself on Facebook. This book simply has everything - laughter, excitement, adventure, poignancy, sadness, bundles of enthusiasm and in the words of one of Kershaw's musical heroes, Iggy Pop, it and he has a real "Lust for Life!"

This book reads like both a thriller and a ripping yarn. On each reading I've found it unputdownable. The author has had such a varied and eventful life and this is still the only book I can recall reading that mention both Willie Nelson and General Pinnochet on the same page!

Whilst the author is by no means falsely modest about his strengths and achievements, neither does he shy away from facing up to his weaknesses, faults and mistakes in life.

Having met the author earlier this year, I was delighted to discover that he was everything I imagined he'd be and more. He even said to me at one point "Blimey Carl, you know the book better than I do!"

Buy this book and once you start reading it you won't want it to end. Having read it lots of times since it still has that effect on me. A unique memoir by a unique guy!

Carl Aylott
Coventry
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on 15 March 2013
No Off Switch by Andy Kershaw is the account of a time that I just loved. While Kershaw was in Leeds bagging all the great, good and bizarre for the Refec, I was in Birmingham wanting to oust our Ents Officer or at the very least light a fire under his lazy arse! From the off, this book was unputdownable and charged along like the eager and fearless puppy I always imagined Kershaw to be. He is blisteringly honest in some of his tales, sometimes I wonder if he has gone too far this time and exposed just too much of himself. But as the title declares - No Off Switch - not here anyway.
I have long admired this chap, but still I've not really decided if he is brave or foolish! Or both. But thanks to his foolish bravery, by default I also bore witness to much in this world that was over-looked, ignored or quite simply hidden from my cosseted life. His reports from Rawanda, Haiti, North Korea brought and highlighted an extra dimension to the world. He is a gifted broadcaster and a compelling writer. As I neared the end of the book, I found myself rationing the pages. I simply did not want it to end.
He has not told the full story, there is a lot still left unsaid. I urge him to get on with it and give us another one. I await the encore eagerly.
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