Archive for review

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

cd.png

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

td

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.

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

pats

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.

The Travelling Bag by Susan Hill

Posted in Authors, Books, Netgalley with tags , , , , , , , on August 7, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

shcover

Published by Serpent’s Tail/Profile Books [Publication date 28.09.17]

I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest unedited feedback.

Four short story ghost stories from an author who has a good background in ghostly tales. These are in the classic ghost story style, similar to MR James, rather than more modern ghost stories such as Peter James’s ‘The House On Cold Hill’, which is much more graphic and violent ghost story.

The title story reminded me of a Sherlock Holmes tale in the setting and telling of the tale. The story’s ending you guess early on, although that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the story.

Boy Twenty One and Alice Baker both have you thinking about the endings. Boy Twenty One in particular gets the brain ticking over in possible scenarios before you reach the end of the story.

The Front Room is the most chilling tale in the collection. A wise warning about having your mother-in-law living with you!

Classic ghostly tales, perfect for when the nights are drawing in.

Diary Of A Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

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

doab

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.