Archive for the Books Category

Bryant and May – The Wild Chamber by Christopher Fowler

Posted in Authors, Books, Netgalley with tags , , , , , on October 20, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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The latest instalment of the series featuring the elderly detectives Bryant and May and their colleagues in the Peculiar Crimes Unit (PCU). The wild chambers in the title refers to the various parks in London, which feature heavily in the book as Christopher Fowler continues to give potted histories and oddball facts about London and its peoples through the ages. Indeed Arthur Bryant has vivid hallucinations following some lifesaving treatment and meets various characters in these who help him solve the case, including a cameo by a young Queen Elizabeth II.

The PCU are tasked with catching a possible serial killer who makes their kills in the parks of London. In the background the PCU’s arch enemy Leslie Faraday plots to close the PCU down and all the PCU characters are back including Bryant’s suave partner John May, along with constables Colin and Meera with their ongoing ‘will they, wont’ they’ become an item. There is an added character this time as an exchange German policewoman, Steffi Vesta, joins the team hoping to pick up some good policing tips!

Christopher Fowler cleverly uses the characters in his books to make comments on the current social and cultural landscapes in London, a city he loves and that comes across in his writing. If you have never read a Bryant & May novel you are missing out and this is a good a place to start as any. They are a winning mix of ‘cosy crime’ with a supernatural edge and a good dose of humour.

Book review: Overkill The Untold Story of Motörhead by Joel McIver

Posted in Books, Get Ready To Rock!, Netgalley, rock n roll with tags , , , , , , , on October 9, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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Omnibus Press [Publication date 21.08.17]

The original book was published in 2011, however since Lemmy’s death back in December 2015 the book has been re-issued as an enhanced eBook. Basically it adds a newly written chapter covering Motorhead from 2011 to date, plus you can click on links within the book to Spotify playlists of Motorhead classics and band’s influenced by them. A pretty neat idea, although if reading off a Kindle you’d need Wi-Fi access for Spotify.

The book gives a potted history of Motorhead, covering all their albums – although once you hit the mid-90’s onwards not much is said about the recording process, an album’s reception etc. Joel McIver is a big fan of the band and draws on three of his interviews with main man Lemmy for much of the text, along with fellow writer’s interviews with Lemmy and past and former bandmates including Phil Campbell, Mikkey Dee and Eddie Clarke. There is some repetition of themes, particularly Lemmy’s collection of Nazi war memorabilia and his lifelong hate of heroin. The band’s history is only touched upon briefly in many parts and you do want to read more at some stages, although the band’s interviews give a good idea of what they thought about a particular album and the various record labels the band has been on. Like many 70’s bands Motorhead were royally screwed by record labels in their early days and suffered from endless rehashed live and compilation albums  that often detracted from the band’s newer albums and songs.

For a concise overview of Motorhead this book does the job and do make sure you read Lemmy’s ‘White Line Fever’ as well.

The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth by William Boyd

Posted in Authors, Books with tags , , , , , , , on September 28, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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Viking [Published 02.11.17]

Short story collections never seem to sell really well, unless there is a big name author and this will hopefully be the case here as William Boyd collects together some entertaining short stories and a novella as the collection’s centre piece.

Turning first to the novella and the character who gives this collection its name, Bethany Mellmoth is a 24 year old who we follow on a year of her life as she tries various ways to find her career path and the relationships she has along the way. I actually preferred the short stories to this longer piece as I struggled to feel any empathy for her.

Of the other stories the last one is an excellent page turning thriller where the main character calls upon his past roles in a series of failed thriller films to help him in an unusual encounter. The film industry does weave its way into a few of the other stories, showing the less glamorous side of the industry.

William Boyd has a great knack of switching genres, be it how relationships thrive and fail, takes on modern life, ‘must read’ thriller – that is the beauty of this collection in that you never know what to expect next.

Some Fantastic Place by Chris Difford

Posted in Authors, Books, Classic albums, Netgalley, pop, Pop rock with tags , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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W&N [Publication date 31.08.17]

Chris Difford is the lyricist to Glen Tilbrook’s music and arranging in Squeeze, a band who have split up twice and now since reforming again in 2007 seem to be enjoying a purple patch both in terms of touring and making new music.

Chris’s memoir is very much written from the heart as he describes his struggle with alcohol and bouts of depression, and the effect this had on his personal life. However, he comes across as a positive soul and one that is grateful for what he has. There are of course plenty of tales of Squeeze and how they rose to fame in the late 70’s and early 80’s with a string of hit singles.

His musical life outside of Squeeze is given insight including his time as helping coral the lyrics for Bryan Ferry. He also felt like Bryan Ferry’s chauffer at the time! He also worked on lyrics with Elton John and became good friends with him, which helped a band Chris was mentoring the Strypes, who signed to Elton’s Rocket Music Management in their early days. His solo career is covered, although not as extensively as Squeeze.

You do get a little insight into the relationship between him and Glen Tilbrook, something that has remained constant throughout the years since when they first met back in 1973.

Reading about Squeeze it is pretty amazing they are still going, as at one time in the 90’s they seemingly had a revolving door on drummers and keyboard players. Luckily for music fans the Difford and Tilbrook axis on which Squeeze turns remained and the Squeeze story continues as they have a new album ‘The Knowledge’ out in October.

Chris Difford has penned an honest account of his life in and out of Squeeze, where he is very honest about his past mistakes and his struggles with depression and drinking. Highly recommended for both fans of the band and anyone wanting to see how the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle isn’t all glitz and glamour.

Review by Jason Ritchie

 

Smashing it Up: A Decade of Chaos with the Damned by Kieron Tyler

Posted in Books, Pop rock, rock n roll with tags , , , on September 1, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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Omnibus Press [Publication date 12.06.17]

The book focuses on their formation and subsequent first decade, where along with the Clash and the Sex Pistols, were one of the first punk bands. The influence of the band stretches far and wide, be it them taking on support bands who later broke big themselves like Black Flag or having their classic song ‘New Rose’ being covered by Guns ‘N’ Roses. The classic line-up of Dave Vanian (the only ever present throughout the band’s many line-up changes), Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies and Brian James are all interviewed by the author and often tell a varying version of key events ion the band’s history as you’d expect. They have had a fair few musicians through their ranks including Algy Ward (who went on to form Tank), Paul Gray (later seen in UFO), Jon Moss (Culture Club) and Lemmy often appeared on stage with them.

You find out lots of facts including Captain’s love of cricket (his solo career and hit ‘Happy Talk’ are also covered in depth) and interesting insights to the various offshoots including the Phantom Chords and Naz Nomad and the Nightmares. Plus of course the band were very rock ‘n’ roll with Captain often finishing gigs in the nude, and along with Rat Scabies causing mayhem and damage in recording studios and venues. There are plenty of these tales in the book.

The band suffered from a series of label issues and changing management, yet despite setbacks still managed to record some classic songs and Kieron Tyler is a fan, which helps when he assess the songs and impacts of the albums throughout those first ten years. He is honest in his assessment and makes you want to listen to the songs again

Although the book is looking mainly at the band’s first ten years, Tyler goes onto cover the more recent history of the band although not in as much detail. Good news for Damned fans is a new album is due possibly by the end of year and they show no signs of stopping yet.

Well researched and for once a band biography that includes author interviews with the various current and past members, rather than relying solely on archive interviews. Great read for fans of the band and music in general.

Rockin’ Chair forum

Posted in Books, Classic albums, Classic rock, Melodic rock, metal, News, pop, theatre, theatre royal hanley on September 1, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

New faces always welcome over on the Rockin’ Chair forum – a place for music and books, plus a board dedicated to memories of the Theatre Royal, Hanley.

Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty

Posted in Authors, Books with tags , , , , , , on August 27, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

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Serpent’s Tail [Published 06.07.17]

First time I have read anything by Adrian McKinty. Set in the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the late 80’s the plot and characters are top notch.

Belfast 1988: a man has been shot in the back with an arrow. Uncovering exactly who has done it has Detective Inspector Sean Duffy sees three masked gunmen forcing Duffy to dig his own grave at the opening of the story. From this opening it backtracks looks at events that led to this, before the plot returns to the opening scene half way through the book.

The main character Duffy is  a Catholic detective working for the RUC. McKinty gives you potted history of various real life events and history that happened during that time. The writing style with dark humour and fast paced plot reminded me of Colin Bateman and Stuart MacBride.

Highly recommended and deserves to be more well known.

Best thing about finishing this book is knowing that I have all the previous Duffy books to enjoy now.