I'm with the bandTitle: I’m Not With the Band (A Writer’s Life Lost in Music)

Author: Sylvia Patterson

Pages: 448 Pages

Publisher: Little Brown Book Group

The Blurb

This is a three-decade survivor’s tale … a scenic search for elusive human happiness through music, magazines, silly jokes, stupid shoes, useless blokes, hopeless homes, booze, drugs, love, loss, A&E, death, disillusion and hope – while trying to make Prince laugh, startle Beyoncé, cheer Eminem up, annoy Madonna, drink with Shaun Ryder and finish off Westlife forever (with varying degrees of success).

In 1986, Sylvia Patterson boarded a train to London armed with a tea-chest full of vinyl records, a peroxide quiff and a dream: to write about music, forever. She got her wish.

Escaping a troubled home, Sylvia embarks on a lifelong quest to discover The Meaning of It All. The problem is she’s mostly hanging out with flaky pop stars, rock ‘n’ roll heroes and unreliable hip-hop legends. As she encounters music’s biggest names, she is confronted by glamour and tragedy; wisdom and lunacy; drink, drugs and disaster. And Bros.

Here is Madonna in her Earth Mother phase, flinging her hands up in horror at one of Sylv’s Very Stupid Questions. Prince compliments her shoes while Eminem threatens to kill her. She shares fruit with Johnny Cash, make-up with Amy Winehouse and several pints with the Manics’ lost soul-man Richey Edwards. She finds the Beckhams fragrant in LA, a Gallagher madferrit in her living room and Shaun Ryder and Bez as you’d expect, in Jamaica.

From the 80s to the present day, I’m Not with the Band is a funny, barmy, utterly gripping chronicle of the last thirty years in music and beyond. It is also the story of one woman’s wayward search for love, peace and a wonderful life. And whether, or not, she found them.

The Review

As a one-time music reviewer, I was keen to read Sylvia Patterson’s book I’m Not With the Band – A Writer’s Life Lost in Music because if I’m truly honest it was all I’ve ever wanted; travelling around with bands, being there for the important things, the big events, the epic concerts. Sadly that wasn’t the life that I got. It is a shame but I had some good times with music. So I opted to live vicariously through Sylvia Patterson.

What an interesting ride.

Sylvia talks about these truly amazing events that she has seen, moments that she has been privy to with all the humility and humbleness of someone who just accepts this as the norm. For Patterson, it was. For this wide eyed reader I read each page with excitement…and admittedly, a little envy.

I’m Not With the Band – A Writer’s Life Lost in Music is a brilliant memoir of not just a person but a history of music that each and every one of us can relate to in some way or another. There are moments when some of the writing feels a little self indulgent – especially with the insider lingo – but it doesn’t take away from the truly amazing experiences that are fascinating to read about.

I’m Not With the Band – A Writer’s Life Lost in Music by Sylvia Patterson is available now.

For more information regarding Sylvia Patterson (@SylvPatterson) please visit www.sylviapatterson.tumblr.com.

For more information regarding Little Brown Book Group (@LittleBrownUK) please visit www.littlebrown.co.uk.

4 Stars

on-bowieTitle: On Bowie

Author: Rob Sheffield

Pages: 208 Pages

Publisher: Headline

The Blurb

On Bowie is a thoughtful and loving meditation on the life of the late David Bowie that explores his creative legacy and the enduring and mutual connection he enjoyed with his fans

Innovative. Pioneering. Brave. Until his death in January 2016, David Bowie created art that not only pushed boundaries, but helped fans understand themselves and view the world from fantastic new perspectives.

When the shocking news of his death on January 10, 2016 broke, the outpouring of grief and adulation was immediate and ongoing. Fans around the world and across generations paid homage to this brilliant, innovate, ever-evolving artist who both shaped and embodied our times

In this concise and penetrating book, highly-regarded Rolling Stone critic, bestselling author, and lifelong Bowie fan Rob Sheffield shares his own feelings about the passing of this icon and explains why Bowie’s death has elicited such an unprecedented emotional outpouring from so many.

The Review

Let’s face it folks, 2016 has not been kind to out celebrities. Out of all of the celebrity deaths that have happened so far David Bowie was one of the harshest for me. I loved Bowie. I couldn’t tell you exactly when I discovered my love for David Bowie but being a child of the 80s my introduction to him must have come from the movie Labyrinth. From then on my love grew.

My love and indeed obsession with music came (like most) in my teen years and it was then that I discovered Bowie the musician not Jareth the Goblin King. Bowie wasn’t and still isn’t someone that you can listen to passively. His music dictates that you give him your full attention. Likewise this is what I gave to Rob Sheffield when I read his book On Bowie. The book was written in light of Bowie’s death in January and released a few months after and what I loved about it is that the biography (I feel weird calling it this) mixes moments from David Bowie’s life and shows the resonance that Bowie had on his audience. How what he did and how he did it impacted people. That is what, in my humble opinion, makes Rob Sheffield’s writing really exciting. You see it in his previous books and you definitely see it in On Bowie. It is the book that makes you shout “Yes! You get it. That is exactly how I feel.”

If you love Bowie then read On Bowie. If you love music then read On Bowie. And if you love it when an author just gets it then read On Bowie.

On Bowie by Rob Sheffield is available now.

For more information regarding Rob Sheffield (@robsheff) please visit www.robsheffield.com.

For more information regarding Headline (@headlinepg) please visit www.headline.co.uk.

4-stars

27 Amy WinehouseTitle: 27 Amy Winehouse (The 27 Club Series Book 1)

Author: Chris Salewicz

Pages: 38 Pages

The Blurb

In 27: Amy Winehouse, the first in a series of exclusive ebooks, acclaimed music writer Chris Salewicz celebrates the life of one of the most talented performers of recent times. In an intimate mini-biography, he explores Amy’s artistic influences and inspirations, her ability to capture the imagination and her appetite for self-destruction. Salewicz provides a startling portrayal of the perils of genius and the true cost of fame. Must the ferociously good die young?

The Review

Chris Salewicz 27 series examines the lives of the talented musicians who all tragically ended up as members of the “27 Club” – a club so named because all of the members died when they were 27. Amy Winehouse is one such member.

Salewicz examines the highlights and pitfalls of Amy Winehouse’s life and all the eventualities that led to her death. He started his book talking about her death and poses the thought that admittedly I had thought at the time. Weren’t we all expecting this death to happen much sooner? Winehouse lived her life on a Molotov cocktail of drink, drugs and dodgy decisions. Yet one thing no one can deny is that she did things of her own volition. As much as we would all love to blame other people – her dad for being controlling, Blake for introducing her to drugs, the paparazzi for hounding her – essentially, like us all, Winehouse had free will and she chose the things that led to her demise.

I was – no, I still am – a fan of Amy Winehouse. Her albums – few that they were – drip with raw emotion, her pain and her truth; they are the verisimilitude of her life. Seeing her live was something else; you never knew which Amy you were going to get. I was lucky enough to see her three times. On one of those occasions she was majestic. The other two are best not spoken of.

27: Amy Winehouse is a fascinating read. It is not judgemental, it tells you what happened, it gives you dates and facts and figures. I think my one criticism is that it can come across as a bit cold. Others have written about this same topic and have managed to be a bit warmer. Other than this personal preference, I thoroughly recommend this book as a quick read.

27 Amy Winehouse (The 27 Club Series Book 1) by Chris Salewicz is available now as are the other five books in the series.

35 Stars

27 Amy WinehouseTitle: 27 Amy Winehouse (The 27 Club Series Book 1)

Author: Chris Salewicz

Pages: 38 Pages

The Blurb

In 27: Amy Winehouse, the first in a series of exclusive ebooks, acclaimed music writer Chris Salewicz celebrates the life of one of the most talented performers of recent times. In an intimate mini-biography, he explores Amy’s artistic influences and inspirations, her ability to capture the imagination and her appetite for self-destruction. Salewicz provides a startling portrayal of the perils of genius and the true cost of fame. Must the ferociously good die young?

The Review

Chris Salewicz 27 series examines the lives of the talented musicians who all tragically ended up as members of the “27 Club” – a club so named because all of the members died when they were 27. Amy Winehouse is one such member.

Salewicz examines the highlights and pitfalls of Amy Winehouse’s life and all the eventualities that led to her death. He started his book talking about her death and poses the thought that admittedly I had thought at the time. Weren’t we all expecting this death to happen much sooner? Winehouse lived her life on a Molotov cocktail of drink, drugs and dodgy decisions. Yet one thing no one can deny is that she did things of her own volition. As much as we would all love to blame other people – her dad for being controlling, Blake for introducing her to drugs, the paparazzi for hounding her – essentially, like us all, Winehouse had free will and she chose the things that led to her demise.

I was – no, I still am – a fan of Amy Winehouse. Her albums – few that they were – drip with raw emotion, her pain and her truth; they are the verisimilitude of her life. Seeing her live was something else; you never knew which Amy you were going to get. I was lucky enough to see her three times. On one of those occasions she was majestic. The other two are best not spoken of.

27: Amy Winehouse is a fascinating read. It is not judgemental, it tells you what happened, it gives you dates and facts and figures. I think my one criticism is that it can come across as a bit cold. Others have written about this same topic and have managed to be a bit warmer. Other than this personal preference, I thoroughly recommend this book as a quick read.

27 Amy Winehouse (The 27 Club Series Book 1) by Chris Salewicz is available now as are the other five books in the series.

35 Stars

Hook Line and SingerThe Blurb

From Cerys Matthews, radio 6 DJ, ex-singer of Brit Pop band Catatonia and one of Britain’s best known music devotees, comes Hook, Line and Singer, a sing-a-long book for all the family, for any occasion

After more than thirty years of singing, travelling and collecting songs, Cerys Matthews still finds there’s no better way to spend time than singing along in good company.

In Hook, Line and Singer she invites you to join her in a grand old singalong. From songs for young families through tunes for vintage-lovers, trips away, American favourites and songs for times of optimism, ending with celebration songs for Christmas and New Year, this is a book filled with Cerys’s own memories and musical arrangements. A mix of the traditional and contemporary, Hook, Line and Singer presents music and lyrics clearly so the book can be sung as well as read, offering you the stories behind the songs, their ages and origins, and the reason for their inclusion.

This is a life-affirming book of the most memorable, melancholy, silliest and easiest-to-sing songs that Cerys knows, designed to keep handy at home for those moments when only a song will do.

The Review

The raspy Welsh voice of Cerys Matthews is synonymous with such hits as Road Rage and The Ballad of Tom Jones, however, of late the singer has been more known for her music show on Radio 6 or her bit part reporting for The One Show. What some people might not know is that Matthews has also turned her hand to writing. This has come in the form of her sing-a-long book Hook, Line and Singer (Penguin, 2013).

Now this treasure was found in the music section of my lovely library but it could equally have been placed in the history section and also the biography section. This is because the book examines traditional folk songs and to some extent popular songs throughout history. So far, so normal, however, the biographical element comes with the rich warmth that Matthews discusses the songs. You can’t help but hear her lilting Welsh tone tell you the stories of how the songs came about or about why they are so important to her. It is a ridiculously endearing read.

The book is set out for musicians to be able to play the songs (all in the key of C to help out budding musicians) and is ornately decorated with illustrations. It is just one of those books that feel good to read.

The one slight bug bear comes with the description of how to perform the actions of thee songs. However, it is understandable as to why they are there. After the first chapter though (which to be fair is a section on nursery rhymes) the call for actions are few and far between. Please don’t let that deter you from reading the rest of the book because the wealth of knowledge n these pages is phenomenal and you can tell that each song has been included because Matthews has such a love for it and indeed for its story. This is a charming book and deserves to be read.

Hook, Line and Singer by Cerys Matthews is available now.

3 Stars