Good books about music/pop stars etc

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Reading Harry Sword’s ‘Monolithic Undertow’ at the moment, a book about the drone in music through history. Really hits a button for me, as a thread that ties together a lot of the music I love in all genres. Also though it covers everything through early music, jazz, garage, minimalism etc it’s clear the writer’s from a metal background which I’m enjoying as his writing when it comes to Sabbath, Neurosis, Sunn O))) etc is really making me want to revisit things I haven’t particularly spent time listening to for years.

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I guess this thread was before Mark Lanegans sing backwards and weep came out. Best rock book I’ve read in years, although it’s put me right off taking loads of Heroin and forming a band with people I don’t like.

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Slightly different from the other books in this thread, but I’ve just really enjoyed reading David Mitchell (not that one)’s novel Utopia Avenue, which is just out in paperback.

It’s a story of an imaginary band in late 60s London from penniless beginnings to brief, glorious success. There are a few aspects of it that are a little clunky but it’s definitely one of the best fictional accounts of popular music that I’ve ever read - compellingly readable and with a depth of characterisation which reveals itself gradually over its length.

Anyone familiar with Mitchell’s work will find this one of his ‘straighter’ books but there are some undercurrents of his normal genre-bending and general weirdness. There is some moving writing about mental illness, grief, and self-acceptance as well. I really recommend it.

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Found out today that Roger Waters is writing a memoir. He has promoted this by sharing a short sample - an incredibly petty retort to an interview David Gilmour gave around 15 years ago, in which Waters feels Gilmour took too much credit for the cash register tape loop at the beginning of Money (which was recorded over 35 years ago now). From the way it is presented in the weird little blog post, Roger seems to think this anecdote represents some sort of hilarious highlight of the book.

Now, as a huge Pink Floyd fan I will obviously fund Roger Water’s raging ego-drama and read the entire thing, but it certainly looks like Peter Hook and Morrisey may soon have a fight on their hands for the most excessively bitter autobiography ever printed.

To quote said blog post directly…

So here’s a short extract from my memoir:

“As chance would have it I was doing a bit of delving in a book of press clippings and came across an interview David Fricke of Rolling Stone Magazine did with DG in a hotel room in NY in 1982, DG’s talking about the Cash register tape for the defining 7/8 rhythm on Money. The interview was published in Musician Magazine, so even back then DG was sowing the seeds of the false narrative. I quote this bit of the article verbatim:

David Fricke: “You recorded the sounds for ‘Money’ on a loop of tape.” Gilmour explains: ”You’re trying to get the impact from the cash register, ‘the snap, crack, crsssh,” You’d mark that one and then measure how long you wanted that beat to go, and that’s the piece you’d use. And you’d chop it together. It was trial and error. You just chop the tapes together, and if it sounds good, you use it. If it doesn’t, you take one section out and put a different one in. Sometimes we’d put one in and it’d be backwards, because the diagonal cut on the tape, if you turn it around is exactly the same. We’d stick that in and instead it would go ‘chung, dum, whoosh.’ And sound great so we’d use that.”
Well! The reason everything DG is saying here to David Fricke sounds like gobbledygook is because it is fucking gobbledygook. He has no fucking idea what he’s talking about. Why? Because unless he was hiding under the fucking chair, DG wasn’t there when I made that SFX tape loop for Money in the studio I shared with my wife Judy at the bottom of our garden at 187, New North Road, Islington, next door to the North Pole Pub where I used to play darts!

Just read Will Carruthers’ Playing The Bass With Three Left Hands for the second time. Highly recommended for anyone with even a tangential interest in Spacemen 3 and early Spiritualized. A funny, erudite, bleak yet often sanguine memoir of Will’s fucked up years spent orbiting the Spacemen whilst negotiating substance abuse and hopeless poverty in a Thatcherite post-industrial “Just Say No” wasteland.

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