Robert Forster and The Go-Betweens: a beautiful story. Live @ Rough Trade East on 6th September and review of his book “Grant & I”

Image result for robert forster grant and i

The story of The Go-Betweens is a very moving and beautiful one. They were a band from Brisbane, Australia that appeared in the late 70’s and that are probably associated with the London 80’s indie scene. They first published 6 albums from 1981 to 1988 before disbanding in 1989. They then reformed and published 3 records from 2000 to 2005. The core nucleus of the band was its two singer-songwriters Grant McLennan and Robert Forster who both released beautiful solo albums as well. The band actually ended in 2006 with the sad and sudden death of Grant McLennan in 2006 at the young age of 48. Here it is for the cold-blooded facts…and now let’s hear what was really behind it all.

On a personal side, The Go-Betweens are a very important band for me as they were there when I started to develop a real passion for music. The first record I bought was the fantastic “Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express” (1986) LP which I listened to umpteenth of times and whose songs are part of those I cherished the most, in particular those blessed by the great voice of Everything But The Girl‘s Tracey Thorn. We were in the middle of the 80’s and what strikes and annoys me the most now is the short cut done by most, associating the 80’s with Kaja Googoo, Rick Springfield, Phil Collins or one of those synthetic bass sounding artists. But the 80’s were also the moment when bands such as The Smiths, R.E.M., Primal Scream, The Weather Prophets or Easterhouse to name but a few brought their Velvet Underground influences and produced records which sound today out of time. Beware of clichés my friends…

P1150861

The Go-Betweens were amongst these bands and although I did saw them only once on stage (opening for R.E.M.), I have always considered them as a precious band. They also probably are one of the few bands whose post-reforming records are as good or sometimes even better than those done during mark I. So here I was again catching the tall Robert Forster a few months after the Bush Hall gig, talking about his new book and playing a few songs on his acoustic guitar in the warm and friendly atmosphere of the Rough Trade East store.

What struck me once again by reading the book and also listening to Robert Forster talk about it is the gap that existed between what fans like me were thinking at the time (“These guys are amazing and should be on a pedestal”) and the cruel material reality faced by the band: a different record company every year not helping in terms of promotion, excellent review but poor sales, miserable living conditions, and so on. Reading that Robert went back living in the late 80’s at his parents’ place in Australia, starting from scratch was really funny and depressing at the same time…

P1150863

Of course, the most moving and beautiful pages of the book are about his relationship with his music partner and how Grant McLennan’s leaving the earth was perceived at the same time as a shock but also as a kind of natural consequence on the way the latter lived his life. The style of the book is very concise and precise and without any pathos. I felt I could literally hear Robert Forster’s very singular voice whilst reading the book. Great definition as well of their bound, explaining that writing with a partner in a band is probably the most romantic notion that could exist between two heterosexual males.

The acoustic show and the songs he played were amazing. The way he explained how he was finding chords’ sequences for a few of his classic songs was great and I enjoyed in particular when he described how he stole a few ideas from Aztec Camera‘s Roddy Frame. I had a bit of a chat during book signing time and the man was as usual humble and funny. I will probably do a “record by record” post about the Go-Betweens and Grant and Robert’s solo albums in 2018 so stay tuned!

image1

More than grunge – Two great American bands: The Afghan Whigs (Koko, London, 30th May 2017) and Buffalo Tom (Islington Assembly Hall, London, 9th June 2017)

These two bands have many things in common: they were considered part of the grunge movement whereas in reality their roots are more to be found in traditional American music, they have great leaders/singers, they stopped for many years after the 90’s, they recently came back though…and your host had the pleasure in catching them live in a 10-day period. No excuse then not to do a review of these concerts.

  • The Afghan Whigs – London, Koko – 30th May 2017

No need to tell my whole story as not fascinating but I decided to go and try my luck literally one hour before the start of the show after a long and tiring road trip from France. I was rewarded thanks to a nice lady who sold me the ticket of her sick husband…for £10! And this for a band for which I came especially to London when I was not living in London in 2012 (I’ll be your mirror Festival)… On the other side, I lost all my pictures of the concert due to a computer issue so I guess bad and good news were balanced.

0000702035

Although I had seen a great solo concert of their leader Greg Dulli last year, this concert from The Afghan Whigs was at the same place as last time in 2015. Koko (formerly known as the Camden Palace) is one of the most extraordinary theatre I know and seeing this great band again in this same place was really great.

Not sure what I can add on this band which to me is one of the best ever. Their new record “In Spades” has recently been this blog’s album of the month. The way the setlist was built was particularly remarkable as the new songs from the two latest LP’s were totally integrated with older classics, such as “Gentlemen” for instance. Despite Greg’s fight against one or two members of the audience who were taking picture with flash on, the show was particularly moving, knowing that their guitarist Dave Rosser was absent because of his current fight against cancer. If I could add one thing on top of my previous posts on this great band, it would that Greg Dulli is a hell of a singer. I was also very pleasantly surprised to see the great Ed Harcourt as an opening act and playing many songs with the band as well as a second guitarist.

  • Buffalo Tom – London, Islington Assembly Hall – 9th June 2017

Lead by the excellent Bill Janovitz on guitar and voice, Buffalo Tom is an American power pop rock trio who have made eight brilliant records between 1989 and 2011. I never had the opportunity to see them live and this year was a fantastic one as they were celebrating the 25 years of their best album “Let Me Come Over” released in 1992.

P1150685.JPG

On top of being a brilliant musician, Bill Janovitz has more than one string to his bow and he is in particular an excellent writer. I recently wrote his 33 1/3 series book on The Rolling Stones‘ “Exile on Main Street” and I must say this is one of the best.

Image result for bill janovitz exile on main street

 

Their set was brilliant and the least one can say is that the band are as dynamic and punchy in their current early 50’s incarnation than they were twenty-five years ago. The songs were played with a real density but also with a great pop sensitivity. The way the set was structured was really good: the band were their own opening act, playing first eleven songs covering all Buffalo Tom periods. After a short break, they came back to play the gorgeous “Let Me Come Over” in its entirety, before playing two encores…for a total of twenty-six songs!

As usual in this kind of celebration, the audience was looking like the former French Parliament (mainly men in the fifties) and it would be good to see more female and youngsters as in the current French political trend. However, if this is the price to pay to see such a great band, so be it!

Image result for buffalo tom let me come over

 

Rising ambition!: how I recently read “Byrds – Requiem For The Timeless Volume 1” by Johnny Rogan and “Here, There, and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles” by Geoff Emerick

Those closed to the shareholders of this blog know that the editorial team got a bit more time recently to focus on the musical side of things, hence the reason of this post. I had these two books in my library for quite a long time but I did not dare starting them before. I knew these two books would be fascinating but because they are very long to read I was afraid in not succeeding in enjoying them as much as I should have. So here you go now for your pleasure a review of these two music bibles.

  • Johnny Rogan – “Byrds – Requiem For The Timeless – Volume 1”

8ddee8c33fddcafd3b764eb413e4d9e7[1]

The author of this book is one of the best music writers and has worked on other bands such as Roxy Music or The Smiths for example. However, his main obsession by far has always been The Byrds, one of the best bands from the 60’s and the 70’s. On my side, they did not make the cut when I had to choose my top 100 of best artists of all times but they were just behind and they always have been one of my key bands.

To make it short, The Byrds were a Beatles-influenced US band, beknown for their sense of melody and use of the famous 12-string Rickenbacker sound. The classic line-up was made out of Gene Clark (voice and guitar), Roger McGuinn (voice and guitar), David Crosby (voice and guitar), Chris Hillman (voice and bass) and Michael Clarke (drums) but did not last long as such and the group were to change musicians throughout their careers. They did a few great records…but maybe not as great as other seminal bands (The Doors, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, etc…) and were as much influenced by psychedelic sounds as by country music. They are actually supposed to be the inventors of country-rock music, thanks to the influence of one-album member and Keith Richards’ buddy Gram Parsons.

the-byrds-my-tambourine-man--735x413[1]

Reading these comments, one may think that the book is an usual 350/400 page biography…but this is a mistake. This book has 1,200 pages…and this is only Volume 1! (Volume 2 should be released in the summer of 2017 and focused on the solo career of former Byrds members). So how to read such a big and heavy book as I read it in its physical format? Easy, I decided to read one chapter a day, come hell or high water, which was really great as I felt like meeting people I knew on a daily basis, reading their story from the 40’s to nowadays. This biography is for me very close to history books that one could read first in the sense of details but also on the fact that rock musicians are probably the last remaining ones to have such an incredible life. David Crosby’s life in particular is completely surreal as the guy should be dead for ages but keeps on surviving..and surprising everyone with new chapters in his life: conflict with fellow Byrds members, girlfriend dying from a road accident, new life with Crosby, Stills and Nash, heavy drug usage which led him to jail, heart attack, discovered paternity, help in making pregnant his lesbian best friends, etc… the list is endless!

If you like The Byrds or music biographies, read this book on holidays. If you do not have the time to read it, listen to a compilation or box set of The Byrds and you will feel you live in a better place than the day before.

  • Geoff Emerick – “Here, There, and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles”

How many books about The Beatles did I already read? Probably too many.. but this one gives a totally different perspective (..and is “only” 485 pages!). This is actually not a book about The Beatles but the memoirs of Geoff Emerick, the sound engineer in many of their recordings at Abbey Road studios.

En-studio-avec-les-Beatles[2]

This is a fascinating reading for all Beatles fans but also for those interested about  what was London in the 60’s as it gives a fantastic historical perspective written and narrated through precise anecdotes and stories. Geoff Emerick looks quite straight to the point and objective on many topics although it would be great to have the point of view of other key people who were there at the same time.

I thought I knew everything about The Beatles but I must admit I discovered new things on almost every page. The most incredible thing is to realise how sounds and specific gimmicks were created on songs or albums I have listened to hundred of times. I thought everything was very much created with a clear plan…but that was very rarely the case, hence the important of a position such as that of the sound engineer. Many of the marvels that the Beatles created in the second phase of their careers were actually experimentations made by sound craftsmen and mastered/arranged with scissors and glue on tapes!

be03[1]

Very interesting to read as well for the subtle analysis on John, Paul, Ringo and George’s respective personalities, behaviours with others and actual music talents. Not a surprise as far as I am concerned but one of them was really above the others in terms of music skills…and gentleness with others. A must-read for all Beatles fans.

 

 

A Charming Man, really… Johnny Marr’s “Set The Boy Free” autobiography

Johnny Marr recently published his long-expected autobiography and the least I could say is that I was eager to read it. More precisely, I really wanted to get his side of the story in regards to the excellent and funny book written by Morrissey, his partner in seminal band The Smiths. So how good is it? Verdict below

Image result for set the boy free

In terms of style, I guess Johnny Marr’s writing is probably the opposite of how Morrissey wrote his book: straight to the point, no bullshit and the story written factually as things occurred, no more, no less. It probably means this is not the kind of book one would read if one does not have any interest at all in British music from the 80’s and 90’s as the real jewel of the book is the story and the anecdotes, rather than the style. For instance, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” would be different as one not interested in music could find great reward in reading that book and its values.

On the other side, for those who grew during this period and would like to know more about what happened behind the scenes, this is a fantastic book. For French guys not necessarily at ease with reading books in English, this is the one for you as I cannot see you getting any difficulties in understanding it all. Not the way I would describe Morrissey’s book for instance…

Johnny Marr, Rock en Seine 2013 (4)

So what do we learn?

  • Confirmation that the Smiths broke up for no real reason apart probably from the fact they did not have any proper manager and that Johnny Marr was fed up to do it all by himself
  • Johnny Marr is really a good guy for whom friendship and solidarity are not concepts. Description of his pact with The The’s Matt Johnson or the way he helped Oasis‘ Noel Gallagher by giving him his own guitars are a must to read. I have read also in detail all the pages where he writes about Morrissey and it is amazing how he keeps on saying nice things about his former partner
  • Johnny Marr is first and foremost a musician, like Bernard Butler for instance. It means that sometimes you lead great bands, that sometimes you are privileged to play with the greats like Keith Richards or Paul McCartney and that sometimes you collaborate on other bands’ projects…and that’s it really
  • Guys who run are great but those you know me already knew that
  • Nothing beats summer holidays in Wales near the beach
  • Oasis’ Liam Gallagher real nickname is Mr. Fish!
  • An amazing event occurred in September 2008
  • Quote of the book when Johnny Marr was interviewed after Michael Jackon’s death about what were “Thriller”‘s favourite songs of his: ” I didn’t like “Thriller”, I was in The Smiths

Brian Wilson: “I am Brian Wilson” biography and Brian Wilson presents Pet Sounds live, London Palladium, 20th May 2016

Another post on a music giant who is very much alive despite what one could have guessed thirty or forty years ago. I had already wrote something on the movie “Love and Mercy” released in 2015 and about two phases in the life of the leader of The Beach Boys but 2016 has also been rich in Brian Wilson’s events.

  • Brian Wilson present Pet Sounds, London Palladium, 20th May 2016

Brian Wilson, London Palladium, 20th May 2016, full band

I had fantastic memories of the way Brian Wilson and his great band of (mainly) youngsters played live his doomed SMiLE masterpiece in March 2004 and did not want to miss the same concept for The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds”. There are three categories of people in life: those who have never heard about The Beach Boys (no, they do not live in a cave and I have a few of them in my family), those who know a few tracks and consider this is a minor band singing about surf and nice pop songs… and the others who know that digging into The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson’s records is a never-ending reward, especially the period going from 1965 to 1975. “Pet Sounds” is by no way an obscure or underground record as it is regularly ranked amongst the best records of all times by magazines or websites, the most recent being for instance Uncut 200 best records of all times late 2015. This is for sure very personal but really if you love music, you must buy (buy, not stream) this record and at least give it a try.

Brian Wilson, London Palladium, 20th May 2016, with Al Jardine

Having said that, how was the 74-old man doing on stage when one is aware about his life and the constant fights he had against mental illness. Well, if one were to concentrate solely on Brian Wilson, the show would definitely be weird as he does not sing as beautifully as he used to do and as he stays sat down the whole show pretending to play his keyboard once in a while. However, when one looks at the overall picture and the excellence of the band in playing with beauty and fidelity these immense songs, one can only agree that it was a fantastic show. I must say that this is the feedback I had from our prestigious guests from New York, NY who traveled over the Atlantic to experience this show and were delighted.

Brian Wilson, London Palladium, 20th May 2016, greetings

The band was amazing, first because they played all these traditional but also weird instruments with grace but also because there were two former Beach Boys, namely the legendary Al Jardine but also the amazing South African Blondie Chaplin who played as much in his career with the Beach Boys as with the Rolling Stones…and Brian Wilson was there also with a good presence, introducing his beautiful songs with a mix a humility and naivety (“I was very happy to use a bike bell on that song”). A special reward for Al Jardine’s son Matthew for the way he backed up Brian Wilson and sang the high-pitched voices’ parts. The setlist was tremendous as on top of playing Pet Sounds in its entirety the band also played lots of great other Beach Boys tracks.

  • “I am Brian Wilson” written with Ben Greenman

Interviews of Brian Wilson are often a burden for journalists as he rarely says things out of pure material ones, such as “Paul McCartney really liked “God Only Knows”” or “I have a good band and am very happy to play in London” …but who cares to be honest? Having Brian Wilson alive with us today is quite a miracle when one thinks about all his life and his struggles with mental illness and poor health. This is why I was not expecting anything from this book…and I was wrong.

Image result for i am brian wilson

All credit goes to Ben Greenman who succeeded in having Brian Wilson talk simply and openly about everything with no taboo at all and with method and order. I had already read his collaboration with Questlove of the Roots called “Mo’ Meta Blues” and I must say he did again an excellent job with Brian Wilson. For those who saw the movie, you will learn more about the other periods of Brian’s life but also got directly to the source regarding the main events described in the film. For others not that familiar with him, you will discover the life of a man who managed (with a little help from his friends) to get over the voices in his head and build a career and a family. Of course, the style is a bit childish sometimes (Brian likes to describe his food!) and very far from Bruce Springsteen’s style in his biography “Born to Run” but once again this is not what is essential here. On my side, I finally learnt the real reason behind Brian Wilson being deaf from the right ear and can only thank him for all the joy his “working” left ear brought to people like me.

 

My book of the year 2016: Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to run”.

Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run biography

Last post on the year 2016 before leaving it behind us. I must admit I did not read all new books about music (well, who did?) and that for instance I am eager to read Johnny Marr’s memoirs’ “Set The Boy Free”. However, in all the books I read last year, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” was that which stands heads and shoulders above the rest and the reasons are the following ones:

  • This book had been expected for years as first rumours started a long time ago. The Boss has put his heart and soul in this book which took him close to eight years of hard work between tours, music recording…and family life;
  • The writing is exceptional and many serious book reviewers in the US and the UK have considered it as one of the best books written in 2016, period. In other words, reading it is an on-going pleasure for music fans and specifically those of Bruce Springsteen but basically anyone can read it and find a deep interest on his story and what lies behind;
  • What makes this book a specific one is that it is written with constant humility and humour by a man who agrees on what his strengths and weaknesses are. For instance, Bruce Springsteen is very honest about the relative power of his voice or his will to control everything as he is factual about his determination to succeed in life and his ability in playing 4-hour shows;
  • You will learn a lot about the man in this book: his Irish-Italian origins and the strength and burden associated with it, his relationship with his father, the difficult first music years he had, his complex friendship with Steve Van Zandt, his recurring fight against depression, etc…. All this with no pathos at all and a great proximity. I do not want to spoil anything but I hope you will enjoy as much as I have the story around the night he and his son went to see a gig of the punk band Against Me.
  • ..and last but not least, wise words: “When you’re on tour, you’re king. When you’re home, you’re not.”

Old punks aging gracefully – Public Image Ltd, London Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 2nd October 2015 – Viv Albertine’s book

“No future” ? Well, as recently spotted by the arrow of Picardy, these two people are around 60-years old in 2015 and the lease one can say is that their attitude does not reflect their ages. They were both part of the late-70’s UK punk and post-punk scenes and although they had been famous through the so-called “punk” movement, they reached musical excellence later, mixing punk energy and attitude with dub and reggae influences.

  • Public Image Ltd, London Shepherd’s Bush, 2nd of October
P.I.L., London October 2015

I tried and tried again to catch P.I.L. live in the last years but there was always a reason for me not to be able to attend. So I could not believe my luck when realizing that they were to play so close to home. After a long hiatus, the band went to reform in 2012 and their new 2015 LP “What the world needs now...” is as good as the previous one.

“France just scored a goal !”. For those brave enough to dig into my concerts page, they will spot indeed that until then my only P.I.L. concert had been in Paris in 1986 the day France was playing against the Soviet Union in the Mexican World Cup. As there were no way to be informed about games’ score at that time, I remember John Lyndon kindly informed us that Luis Fernandez had scored a goal to get a 1-1 draw! Anyway, old times…

This time, the band were in their classic new structure with in particular the excellent Lu Edmonds on guitar. They played a lean and straight to the point concert, with not an inch of fat. I would not describe the audience as such as there were a few old and not that thin punks in the attendance but at least this was real England from Shepherd’s Bush, far from the posh and hipster districts…

P.I.L. ; John Lydon ; London October 2015

Really great show I must say, most above my expectations, with the band revisiting magnificently classics such as “This is not a love song” or “Rise” but as well playing very long and repetitive songs from the last LP’s or the “Metal Box” era. John Lydon’s voice is what it is but nobody cannot deny this is not a true original one.

  • Viv Albertine – Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys

Viv Albertine was the guitarist in the post-punk band The Slits and their 2 LP’s before disbanding (“Cut” from 1979 and “Return of the Giant Slits” from 1980) are to me timeless classics. She wrote her memoirs last year in 2014 and I had read so many great reviews of this book that it made me want to read it…and indeed what a shocker.

The name of the book came from a quote her mum used to tell her, like “this is the only thing you are interested in” and indeed Viv talks a lot about this in her book but not only. The first part is great and the more traditional one for those like me who love music biographies : the not so glamorous life of punk rock stars, her long relationship with Mick Jones from The Clash, her sharing her flat with Sid Vicious from the Sex Pistols, the first shows, etc… Her style is really punchy and she describes very well the almost-normal life these musicians had at that time, having no conscience whatsoever in being part of something that literally changed the world. Not that far from how Tracey Thorn was describing her day to day life with Ben Watt when they started Everything But The Girl… but with less crunchy sex details…

But what makes this book really moving is the second part where Viv describes her post-musician years : the loss of purpose, the quest for a normal life, all her health issues,… basically quite normal stuff but wrote from the point of view of a woman of our ages with all her hopes and struggles. Very much recommended.

33 1/3 Book Series : a must for all music fans

This series might be known from a few readers of this blog but as they recently reached their 100th volume, I thought writing a post on it was a way to share my never-ending enthusiasm.

33 1/3 Series

Edited by Bloomsbury in the US, the idea is a simple one : each potential author submits to the editor the name of an album on which he/she would like to write an around 150-page book, hoping he/she will be chosen. What started as a good idea with a bit of hope for success has now turned a must-to-have amongst music lovers. This series is now very successful and there are more and more suggestions coming from all over the world.

I personally bought my first volume in 2009 in Phoenix Arizona @ Stinkweeds store (Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” by Chris Ott – volume #9) and must admit my addiction to these series ever since. What is particularly enjoyable is that all authors have their personal means in telling their album stories and through many different ways : precise and analytical description of the genesis of the album, philosophical dimension around it, how it ties with the author’s personal story, etc…

Please find below a subjective choice of four volumes as really every volume is worth the reading :

  • The Smiths “Meat is Murder” by Joe Pernice – volume #5. In which Joe Pernice (singer of the recommended Scud Mountain Boys / Pernice Brothers) writes a novel about the presence of this LP around a kid/girlfriend storyline

  • Nick Drake “Pink Moon” by Amanda Petrusich – volume #51. In which the author discovers a song through a car adverting. That song happens to be sung by one of the greatest songwriters ever by the way…

  • Slint “Spiderland” by Scott Tennent – volume #75. In which the author tells the whole story of this 2-album band whose 2nd LP is a classic of the so-called slo-core scene. To understand what music really means for those who live it.

  • Serge Gainsbourg “Histoire de Melody Nelson” by Darran Anderson- volume 87. In which the author emphasizes the importance of this album for all music lovers and in particular the non French-speaking ones. I have never read a book that made you want so much to listen to the songs.

 

Morrissey – Autobiography… or how to cope at best with life and death.

It arrived from nowhere but the object is now here and refusing to read it would be a disgrace. That was my humble tentative to write in Morrissey’s style but I promised I will not give another try such his writing is talented and rich (and mine is not…)

No need to present Morrissey I guess as you know this blog has been cherishing The Smiths for years now. Although less legendary, Morrissey’s solo career has been very interesting and I do not have in mind a real weak Morrissey LP although a few of them are bigger than others.

Morrissey has been quite low-profile concerning this book and it was a real surprise for all to have it available. The fact of being published by Penguin Classics (home of prestigious dead writers such as Dickens and Chekhov) is quite a good summary of what the book is : literate, open, dealing with death, friendship, treason…with lots if humour ! Indeed, the reason this book is such a pleasure is that it works on two levels : one can find of course all the typical facts expected from a musician’s autobiography (the first years as a fan of the New York Dolls, Bowie, Roxy, Patti… ; the first meeting with Johnny Marr, the Smiths years, the solo years, the infamous Court suing from former Smiths drummer Mike Joyce, success in the USA within the Mexican-American community, etc…) but this would not make it different from any other such book (although I must admit it would have been fine with me).

What makes this book amazing is the way Morrissey writes English, his use of the full range of the English vocabulary, the formulas he uses and the constant humour and the self-deprecating attitude. Not only self-deprecating by the way as he makes amazingly funny (but tough) comments on people such as The Judge John Weeks, former Rough Trade manager Geoff Travis, Manchester legend Tony Wilson, Mike Joyce, many journalists,… (the list is endless). Oh…and have in mind too as any unsuccessful records done either by the Smiths or Morrissey were only coming from bad Records’ Company decisions or dishonest reviews in magazines!

What is somewhat quite disturbing throughout Morrissey’s life is the way he is surrounded by people full of life who die from one day to another ; from many members of his Irish-English family to fellow music industry partners, the way these facts keep on happening throughout the book is fascinating. The way he writes about the late great singer Kirsty MacColl is particularly moving.

Well, enough said… as the great man would say. Just have in mind that there is no excuse not to read this book for all the reasons I tried to share above. It will allow you to kill time the right way before the last post coming soon about our very Best of 2014 ; stay tuned !

Recent books I read : Part Two – Digital books!

Hugh… ; digital books? The work of the evil or on the opposite a great new way of reading ? Well, on my side, I guess I tend to consider my new Kindle possession as a great tool and I must admit I read much more since I have been the lucky owner of one of these kits. The thing is that when you have read it…well, that’s it ; you take it out from your machine and kind of lose the pleasure in seeing it once in a while in your personal library.

Anyway, let’s stop beating around the bush and let’s talk about these nice books. They have something in common : they have been written by “normal” people whose art career has been amazing.

  • David Byrne – Bicycle Diaries & How Music Works

We are talking about two different books here, both of them written by the former Talking Heads main leading force.

The first one (Bicycle Diaries) has been written a few years ago. David Byrne takes the excuse of putting on paper all good things he likes about discovering new places and cities through bike-riding. He goes far beyond this starting point as his love of biking leads to interesting thoughts about our modern age. You will learn many things about capital cities of the world and for instance that David Byrne was involved in a few NY projects as far as city-architecture is concerned.

His latest 2012 one (How Music Works) is an even greater reading as he manages here to summarize many things about music in general : career, production, money, projects but as well the way music is not perceived everywhere the same in the world. There are pages and pages on Talking Heads’ career as well and I was quite surprised about David Byrne’s honesty as he has sometimes the reputation of being a cold-blooded pure intellectual guy. This book has been voted best 2012 music book by many critics so do not lose time and buy it (…and I must admit the paper version is beautiful with pictures and everything…).

  • Tracey Thorn – Bedsit Disco Queen

You probably know Tracey Thorn’s voice but maybe not her name. She is the singer of married and wife duo Everything But The Girl and has put her fantastic voice on many cherished records from other bands, such as The Style Council or Massive Attack. I have always had a special relationship with this band as they have contributed to me being a music lover (well, more than this actually) with other bands such as The Smiths, The Style Council, Prefab Sprout, Echo & The Bunnymen, etc…

This book has just been published at the start of the year and is a very moving one. What makes it so special is the way Tracey Thorn very well describes her musical and non-musical life, showing us that she is a totally normal person. She does not even consider herself as a singer (you know, as in “singer with A voice”) but as someone who sings sometimes on records and on stage. Her style is full of humility and humour and I personally liked a lot all the parts when she explains so well her relationship with Ben Watt, her husband who is now mainly D-Jing and suffered a very rare illness in the 90’s.

Get this book and you will find moments of real happiness (and listen to the records – the four first ones have been reissued last year, each with a bonus CD).