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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Back to main page

Paradoxical Undressing Paradoxical Undressing
Kristin Hersh (Atlantic)

If history is written by the victors, then it’s a pretty fair bet that autobiographies are written by people who want you to know their version of history, and in many a case that history is based almost entirely on memory (not the most reliable of a musicians senses). Kristin Hersh bypasses that particular problem by basing her memoirs on a year’s worth of diary entries made when her band, Throwing Muses, were on the cusp of a breakthrough. So far so straightforward, however this being Kristin Hersh Paradoxical Undressing also deals with the disturbing onset of her bipolar disorder and includes a huge and entertaining cast of artists, musos, nutters, friends, family and university study mate Betty Hutton (star of Annie Get Your Gun amongst other classic old films). This really is a cut above the usual ‘and then I did this’ guff with Hersh giving over swathes of the narrative to peripheral characters ensuring that the reader get’s a real sense of place and time. Brutally honest, funny, thought provoking and hugely entertaining, Kristin Hersh has written one of the great musician autobiographies and as if that wasn’t enough readers get access to four sets of Throwing Muses downloads.
The Oracle

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Stevie Ray VaughanStevie Ray Vaughan: Day by Day, Night After Night
Craig Hopkins (Backbeat)

Firstly let me say, as something of a book fetishist, this really is a very lovely item indeed, coffee table tomes are nothing new of course however, like supermodels, they are often beautiful but dull (and let’s face it if you’re not going to be able to read it propped up with one arm in bed then a book needs to be something to be pored over). Stevie Ray Vaughan: Day by Day, Night After Night is not only beautiful to look at but also fascinating to flip through, set out like a diary with quotations, photos (many previously unpublished), posters, tickets and various other items of memorabilia. The detail here (both pictorial and written) is superb and the research exceptional – even the most ardent SRV anorak will struggle to pick holes in Hopkins work. Of course you need an artist of Vaughan’s stature to justify such in depth poking around, but whether you admire his talent as a guitarist, despair at the missed career opportunities or are just fascinated by his struggles with addiction this book will satisfy your needs, the only downside is this is just the first part of the story which means you’ll also have to get the second volume due in 2011.
The Oracle

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Peter HookThe Haçienda: How Not to Run a Club
Peter Hook (Simon & Schuster)

A warts and all account is what was promised, and former New Order bassist Peter Hook has delivered - to the extent that by the time you have finished reading this compelling sortie into the heart of British clubland, you may wonder whether the subtitle should have been ‘For the Love of God, Never Try to Run a Club, It’s a Bleedin’ Nightmare’. Driven by the vision of New Order manager Rob Gretton and largely financed by the band, The Haçienda aimed to provide Manchester with a dynamic alternative to the drab uniformity of many clubs of the day. In this regard, and in its subsequent influence on a generation of nightclub developers, it was undoubtedly successful; alas, the same could not be said of the owners’ financial, emotional and physical well-being. The club began haemorrhaging money early on but, ironically, it was at The Haç’s greatest peak of popularity in the early ‘90s that the heavens really opened: caught betwixt warring gangs, it fell victim to an alarming sequence of violent incidents. Hook tells the tale with wit, style and an admirable lack of bitterness, whetting the appetite nicely for his projected follow-ups on Joy Division and New Order.
David Davies

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****************************************************************** Bad Vibes: Britpop and My Part in its DownfallBad Vibes: Britpop and My Part in its Downfall
Luke Haines (William Heinemann)

Britpop has already been the subject of numerous books – of which the most comprehensive remains The Last Party by John Harris – and you would be forgiven for thinking that a further tome raking through this short-lived and patchy period was about as essential as another half-baked statement on the economic crisis from ‘Call me Dave’ Cameron. Thankfully, The Auteurs/Black Box Recorder prime mover Luke Haines has written a vivid and frequently vitriolic account that makes Bad Vibes more than worthy of investigation. A man for whom the term ‘cult status’ could have been invented, Haines offers ‘in the moment’-style reflections unburdened by hindsight, meaning that his observations of band members, record companies and musical peers incline towards the amusingly blunt. Bad Vibes is certainly not lacking in flaws – as Haines admits, his generously-sized ego was fuelled by booze and drugs throughout much of the Britpop era, and this can render him an unsympathetic narrator. The explanation of the controversial concept informing solo project Baader Meinhof also fails to convince… Still, if you can overlook these drawbacks, there is much to savour in Bad Vibes’ blend of electric prose and barbed wit.
David Davies

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