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OK, but not as great as he would have you believe
on 3 September 2013
This is an enjoyable read most of the time, but also it reminded me of some of the dreariness of rock pre 1977. The music stuff is like the best and the worst of what the Old Grey Whistle test presented, a homage to big name rock and prog rock. You wouldn't know, reading this, while Kershaw was ents-sec at Leeds Uni promoting the Who et al, the best of punk and soul were on at the Poly and the Warehouse, and Leeds was producing its own bands, like Soft Cell. Even Billy Bragg who Kershaw attached himself to gigged at Leeds Poly not the Uni. But then I was at the Poly and a prog-to-punk convert so you pays your money.
The account of the BBC is surprisingly anodyne, considering what we know now - but then Kershaw was part of the old grey whistle test rockist old guard. His stuff on being an international reporter is very interesting there, and here his 1975 NME rock-minutiae style really comes good, the apparent micro trivia (not having a change of clothes in Rwanda, for example) coming together to present a richer, and much more human and humane set of insights than I have seen before.
Also moving is his account of his troubles living in the Isle of Man, but you know, there is some throwaway stuff, eg about drinking, that one makes one wonder; and he lets himself off with 'I'm an idiot me, the way I treat women' a bit too often.
But the irritating thing is, for all this, it is a good read, even if you find yourself arguing with the guy more than half the time.