Monday, April 17, 2006

Some things recently read

Haven't been finding the time to read all that much, but have been particularly enjoying music biographies and the like.

The Fall by Mick Middles, Mark E. Smith
A Fall biography which takes a lot of input from the master Mark E Smith, and is actually pretty illuminating as a result. It states that it eschews the normal rock hagiography tricks, but fortunately spends enough time on most parts of the career and has a superb discography, and a full list of band members. Of course there are some things missing, but how could that not be the case with a band as complex as the Fall. Enjoyable, and worth reading.

Nick Drake: The Biography by Patrick Humphries

A decent telling of the sad tale of this slight but important addition to the roster of folk/rock guitarist/singer/songwriter tragedies (cf. Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Tim and Jeff Buckley et al). Unrecognised in life, and over-lauded in death, Drake left a beautiful if far too slender legacy, and whilst supremely talented never seemed to really have the desire or the naivety to grab the music dream by the horns. Alas, rather than retire to a terraced house in Cambridge (cf: Syd Barrett) he let life go. This book was slightly over-long and doesn't really get behind what really motivated Drake - in life, or in death. Disappointing, but probably inevitable given its subject matter.

Belle and Sebastian: Just a Modern Rock Story by Paul Whitelaw

This is a beautiful book, and right from the texture of the cover (with a design by Stuart Murdoch) you know this is going to perfectly capture the sensibility of this most impressive of modern indie-pop bands. From the beginnings in a Glasgow night-school through the rehearsals in the church hall where Murdoch worked and lived, into the prize-winning glory and international tours, countless line-up changes, and some classic songs. Beautifully written, with the full involvement of most of the band, and well worth acquiring.

Like A Rolling Stone by Greil Marcus

This is a great book, If you read it as one man's intelligent take on one of the greatest records of all time, then it is a work of inspired genius. If you want the history and the facts, go read one of the hundreds of Bobographies (although there are facts and tales a plenty here). If you want to be drawn into another world, one you half know already through your intimate relationship with this terrific song, then get this.

Experience: A memoir by Martin Amis

This took me for ever to finish, but I don't really know why because I enjoyed it immensely and that in spite of never having read one of Amis's own novels. I was impressed by his writing style and his sharp intelligence. Of course, if you come looking for an autobiography you will fail to find one here - this is what it says on the box; a memoir, largely one about his father Kingsley Amis, and insightful and surprising for all that. I can't wait for the moment when Amis feels able to open up and let rip with his own autobiography - but then again, perhaps not, as such things only ever seem to come in the dieing breaths of their author, and better not to write at all than to write your own tombstone.


matt said...

Like your blog, buddy!

matt said...

Like your blog, buddy!