Archive for memoir

‘So Here It Is’ by Dave Hill

Posted in Authors, Books, Classic albums, Classic rock, rock n roll with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake



Unbound Books [Published date 16.11.17]

Noddy Holder has written a couple of books and drummer Don Powell has published his memoir, now it is the turn of guitarist Dave Hill.

Dave Hill was born in a castle in Devon, the son of a mechanic, and moved back with his parents to Wolverhampton when he was a year old. Much of the book involves his family and the facts he uncovered including that his parents weren’t married for their early years and how his mum’s depression impacted on the family. He touches upon this throughout the book, including how he didn’t cry when his mum died, and is very open and honest about how his mum affected and shaped his life. His wife Jan, who he married in 1973, remained his rock throughout the trails of life, be it with Slade or more personal aspects of his life.

Slade fans will be interested to read about the band’s origins as Dave Hill originally played with drummer Don Powell in a band called The Vendors, which became the The N’ Betweens. When Jim Lea and singer Noddy Holder later joined, the band renamed itself Slade, after an album came out under the Ambrose Slade name. In the 1970s, Slade were the biggest band in the UK, racking up 23 Top 20 hits, including six number one singles. That is some achievement and of course their Christmas single ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’, still makes the singles charts every Christmas season.

There isn’t much in the way of rock ‘n’ roll tales about other band members as they didn’t seem to socialise much on the road. The Reading comeback is covered, along with their failed attempt to break the US market – something that nearly broke the band. The mid-80’s to early 90’s period doesn’t get covered much, mainly as the band had stopped touring and when Noddy Holder left the band in 1992, Jim Lea also retired from the band. Hill and Powell formed Slade II in 1992, which again isn’t touched upon much in the book, and that band’s current line-up has bene together and touring since 2005. Slade II have released one studio album to date (much of the album was written by Hill and former Wizzard member Bill Hunt).

Recommended read for the band’s many fans as you get to see behind the showmanship, and at times outrageous costumes, of Dave Hill. Frank and honest about his own personal life, plus he still keeps the band’s music alive by still touring today as Slade II with fellow founder member Don Powell.

Diary Of A Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , , on August 3, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake


Published by Profile Books [Publication date 28.09.17]

First off, I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest unedited feedback. In fact I found this wonderful site Netgalley where you can review books that are just out or due to be published in the coming months. A real find for a book lover like me! Anyway, onto the review…

Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving. This is his diary of a year running his bookshop, ably assisted by a series of characters, both staff and customers. It is very funny and Shaun has a knack of penning descriptions of the customers who frequent his shop, form Mr Deacon who orders his books in person, rather than online through to the inane questions asked by customers who think they are funny, with such gems as ‘I can’t find anything to read in here’ and ‘It is cheaper online’.

You also get an insight into how hard it is to keep a second hand bookshop going with the mighty Amazon and eBooks/Kindle changing the book market place dramatically over the past few years. When he bought the bookshop in 2001 we had the Net Book Agreement (NBA) and chain retailers like Dillons, Ottakers and Borders, who have all gone now, plus eBooks were just starting to make an impact (there is a YouTube clip of him taking a shotgun to a Kindle and mounted in the shop – ironic for me as I read the book on my Kindle!).

He is ably assisted/hindered by his one full time member of staff Nicky, who leads a novel way of life that includes raiding the local Morrisons bins for ‘Foodie Friday’. You get an insight into the world of assessing and buying book collections, usually after the death of a family member and can read the passion he has when he discovers a rare book or one beautifully bound and/or illustrated. The bookshop itself is used for events, including an annual literary festival and even has a bed in it, which makes a change from the usual coffee outlet found in a chain bookshop.

Having worked in a bookshop (okay it was WHSmith’s but I was the Book Department Manager), I can relate to his perceived rudeness to some of his customers. As he says in the book he can get away with it as he owns the shop, sadly others in retail have to accept the insults and sarcastic comments some customers can send your way. He is never overly rude though, just to those that deserve it.

There is the Random Book Club, where each month you get a book chosen at random from the shop’s extensive stock. Great idea, like a Secret Santa but just every month and involving books.

Reading this book wants you a) to read many of the books he recommends and b) visit his bookshop, if only to meet some of the customers like Mr Deacon and the owner himself. If you have any interest at all in books, do read this as it will reinforce your love of books and bookshops.