The 10 albums that most shaped my musical taste

There are millions of these so-called challenges on FB at the moment to post 10 pictures, 1 a day, no comments, etc etc etc. I recently did this, but closet rebel that I am, I declined to not comment – what’s the point if you can’t explain why you picked the item under consideration? However, Read More

Blog Tour: Richard Russell – Liberation Through Hearing

Richard Russell is the producer and owner of XL Recordings, home of some artists I know well such as Radiohead, Adele, The Gotan Project and the White Stripes, but also a lot of fare that isn’t my normal listening such as The Prodigy, MIA, Dizzee Rascal and more. I may not listen to that second Read More

Fitzcarraldo Fortnight

It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track by Ian Penman After Karen reviewed this book last autumn (here) I just had to get hold of a copy – one of Fitzcarraldo’s white for non-fiction titles. I love great music journalism, and this collection of essays about a wide range of musicians is some of the Read More

A Catch-up Interlude – My own private film festival

I love movies and I have shelves of unwatched DVDS. This week I’ve been watching a film or two a day – here’s a few words about what I’ve seen… Arrival 12 alien spaceships arrive on Earth, distributed around the globe. Each host nation races to be the first to discover why they are there. Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: The Arsonist

Hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links in titles will take you to my reviews. So without further ado, our starting book this month is … The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper Sadly, this book isn’t out in the Read More

Shiny linkiness

Graceland by Bethan Roberts It takes courage to fictionalise the life of real people, and to take on someone as famous as Elvis is a challenge. Roberts succeeds in examining the relationship between Elvis and his mother in this fabulous novel, that brings both the man and Gladys to life. Loved it! Read my full Read More

Before it gets recycled…

Sometimes, a book is just falling apart so much, and you have no need to keep it despite it having some sentimental value, that the best thing is to recycle it. This is the case with my Puffin Songbook. First published in 1956, mine is the second reprint from 1963. The cover is by Ronald Read More

Review catch-up

I am still behind on my reviewing, even though I seem to have unlocked my reviewer’s block – so today, I have a trio of short reviews for you… The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick This is a rare case for me of having seen the film before I read the book. I loved Read More

20 Books of Summer #10 & 11 – Levy & Barry

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy This was the book that brought Deborah Levy to wider attention. Her fourth novel, it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012. Last year I read her latest novel, Hot Milk which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker, (reviewed here), so I was prepared for a challenging Read More

20 Books of Summer #4 The Nightfly writes…

Eminent Hipsters by Donald Fagen Steely Dan is one of my favourite bands. It was all the fault of Mick at our Youth Club, whom I adored from afar. This was the mid-1970s and he had a copy of the Dan’s new fourth album Katy Lied (1975). Fagen has a rather distinctive voice which is hard Read More

A Talking Head talks about music

How Music Works by David Byrne This book was the highlight of my splurge of non-fiction reading in December. David Byrne, founder and idiosyncratic front man of Talking Heads – one of the best punky/art-rock bands there has ever been, friend and collaborator with Brian Eno and Robert Fripp amongst others, could never be expected Read More

Weekend Bookishness

Ramble on… Planning my reading year in review I’m starting to think about my end of year posts – they’re going to be fun this year! I think I’ve excelled myself in the amount that I’ve read (135 books and nearly 40000 pages at the last count), and no DNFs either, which I hope, says Read More

A Portrait of Bowie by Brian Hiatt

A tribute to Bowie by his artistic collaborators and contemporaries Rolling Stone senior writer Brian Hiatt has come up with a clever combination of content in this book that will appeal to all kinds of Bowie fans: Those who love art will appreciate the forty fabulous portraits within its pages – by top photographers, wonderful Read More

Doesn’t go up to 11…

Marshall: The Book of Loud by Nick Harper I love books of trivia and infographics – this book which is subtitled ‘An essential miscellany of musical knowledge’, is aimed squarely at the Christmas market. While fun, it doesn’t really have enough of either trivia or infographics, being saddled with too much filler – more on Read More

Shiny issue 12 published today

One of the reasons I’ve been quieter here, despite reading like mad is the number of books I’ve been reading and reviewing for the next issue(s) of Shiny New Books, and Issue 12 is published today! I’ve reviewed an eclectic mix of books for this issue, and would like to highlight the two non-fiction titles Read More

Britten centenary – my memories of Noyes Fludde …

This weekend marks the centenary of the birth of composer Benjamin Britten. Radio 3 is celebrating with ‘Britten 100’, a weekend of programmes. I thought I’d celebrate too with some personal memories from my younger years of listening to and performing some of his works… In 1966, the Canadian conductor Arthur Davison, who had made his Read More

‘November spawned a monster’?

This post was combined from two and republished into it’s original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. Autobiography by Morrissey First thoughts: Is anyone planning to read Autobiography by Morrissey? I’ve got a copy, and am admitting to feeling daunted by it. The opening lines go like this: My childhood is streets upon Read More

On Conducting …

The Great Conductors by Harold C Schonberg I came across this book of my late mother’s this afternoon and thought I’d share it with you. This copy is rather dilapidated, having been liberated (withdrawn and sold) from Cannon Street Library many years ago. She used to go there during her lunchtimes, and brought countless books Read More

“Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way”

A Quiet Life by Beryl Bainbridge Alan sits in a café waiting for his sister Madge, whom he hasn’t seen for fifteen years – there to discuss their late mother’s effects. Both are now in their forties, and they’re still as different as chalk and cheese. Rewind twenty-five years. It’s the 1950s; petrol is still Read More

Vinyl Memories – the 7″ single…

I originally published this post back in 2011. With the resurgence in popularity of records on vinyl, despite having kept just a small box full out of the 100s I sold, I’m acquiring a record deck again! All those pictured below still survive in my ‘If I ever had a juke-box’ pile. Nostalgia of a Read More

How can I be sure?

I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson Rarely in recent times has a book called out to me as much as this one. You see, in common with the teenagers in this novel who are all fanatical David Cassidy fans, I was too. David was Godlike, with his shell necklaces, feathered hair, and whispery voice.  You Read More

Being in a band – a girl’s perspective

Different for Girls: A Girl’s Own True-life Adventures in Pop by Louise Wener While I never followed the band Sleeper, I was aware of them – their singles were fun and tuneful.  However their singer, Louise Wener, did stand out from the crowd with her big brown eyes, pouty lips and great haircut – there were few Read More

The Police are but a small episode in this busy life …

Strange Things Happen by Stewart Copeland The emphasis is on fun in this memoir – for Copeland is a hyperactive sort, a workaholic but easily bored, loving a challenge, never playing anything quite the same way twice, liking to be boss, and he’s also much more than a mere drummer. Jumping about in time with Read More