NEW TITLE | What’s She Like by Helen O’Hara

Route is delighted to announce the acquisition of Helen O’Hara’s memoir, What’s She Like – the first memoir by a member of Dexys Midnight Runners.

The book recounts O’Hara’s Bristol upbringing, playing a mixture of classical and popular music, before embarking on a music degree at Birmingham Conservatoire where she was headhunted by Kevin Rowland of Dexys Midnight Runners who was looking to add strings to the group’s previously horn-heavy sound. The resulting album Too-Rye-Ay included the global smash hit record ‘Come On Eileen’, and lead to O’Hara turning down a contract with Bilbao Symphony Orchestra in order to join Dexys full time. O’Hara and Rowland started a romantic relationship and were due to be married, but their relationship broke down during the making of what many believe to be Dexys’ masterpiece album, Don’t Stand Me Down, which included Rowland’s song for O’Hara, ‘This is What She’s Like’ from which the memoir draws its name. O’Hara also has a long working relationship with Tanita Tikaram, and the memoir covers her work with Nicky Hopkins, Graham Parker and Tim Burgess amongst others.

Route Editor Ian Daley acquired the rights from agent Daniel Scott.

Daniel Scott said: ‘I was contacted by my friend Kevin Rowland, who told me about an astonishing memoir Helen had written, which, among other things, totally got to the heart of Dexys. Knowing how Kevin often feels underwhelmed by writers trying to convey the spirit and soul of this idiosyncratic band, I suspected Helen’s book might be rather special. It exceeded my expectations and I am thrilled that Route are bringing their customary passion and energy to this wonderful book.’

Ian Daley said: ‘Dexys Midnight Runners have a very special place in the history of British popular music, and we can’t wait to share Helen’s story; not just with the legion of Dexys fans, but with the wider world too. Short of role models of female instrumentalists in pop music growing up, Helen became one herself, inspiring young women to take up the violin and embark on a career in music themselves. We hope this book, and Helen’s beautiful attitude to life, will inspire many more.’

What’s She Like will be officially released on 19th August 2022. However, if you want to be amongst the first to read it, signed and numbered advance copies will be made available in late June exclusively from Route at standard cover price. To secure a copy, click here to pre-order.

In Search of Plainsong

In Search of Plainsong
Ian Clayton

In the autumn of 1972, Plainsong released their beautiful debut album In Search of Amelia Earhart. It was the height of the golden era of English folk rock. The record received universal critical acclaim for its musicianship and sublime singing, but just three months after its release the group disbanded in acrimony. How could a group capable of such exquisite harmonies disguise such disharmony within themselves?

In the fifty years that have followed the album’s release, what we know about the original incarnation of Plainsong has been shrouded in myth and misinformation. In Search of Plainsong tells the true story of the group and their classic album for the first time. It is a cautionary tale told through the voices of the key protagonists and those who were lucky enough to see Plainsong in full flight or bought the album first time round.

In Search of Amelia Earhart remains a folk-rock classic. For those who don’t know it, it might just be the greatest debut album you never heard.

‘A group that doesn’t come up and sock you in the eye, all decibels blaring, but kind of sneaks up and insinuates itself into your psyche almost before you have begun to notice it. By that time you are hooked by its gentle genius.’ – Karl Dallas, Melody Maker

In Search of Amelia Earhart is, and let us not mince words, the finest display of gentle, sometimes liltingly so, English folkiness and rockabilly to surface in a long while.’ Cameron Crowe, San Diego Door

‘A startlingly fine album.’ Charles Shaar Murray, NME

This book will go on general release in Autumn 2022, but we will be releasing advanced copies of special signed and numbered Deluxe Edition in Spring 2022 exclusively from this website. The Deluxe Edition comes with a CD of a previously unheard Plainsong concert, recorded at the Folk Fariport cafe in Amsterdam in April 1972.

This book will go on general release in Autumn 2022, but advanced copies of special signed and numbered Deluxe Edition in Spring 2022 exclusively from Route. The Deluxe Edition comes with a CD of a previously unheard Plainsong concert, recorded at the Folk Fariport cafe in Amsterdam in April 1972.

Click here for more details

Signed Copies

Author signed books make for great gifts. Give the stories behind the music. A selection of first class books that take you closer to the music, critically acclaimed, independently published and great value.


The Big Midweek: Life Inside The Fall
Steve Hanley And Olivia Piekarski
Steve Hanley’s sublime story about his time in Britain’s most enigmatic band.


You Can Drum But You Can’t Hide
Simon Wolstencroft
Of all the iconic musicians and scenes that emanate from Manchester, Simon Wolstencroft is the one who joins up the dots: The Smiths, The Stone Roses, The Fall and everywhere inbetween.

Have A Bleedin Guess: The Story of Hex Enduction Hour
Paul Hanley
The full story of The Fall’s 1982 classic album Hex Enduction Hour by Paul Hanley, one of The Fall’s two drummers when Hex was created.

Leave The Capital: A History of Manchester Music in 13 Recordings
Paul Hanley
A brilliant refashioning of the story of Manchester music, paying proper tribute to the pioneers of the 1960s who not only had worldwide smash hits in their own right, but built the first world-class recording facilities outside of London that later empowered a whole new generation of punk and post-punk bands to take on the world free of intervention from the capital.

When Quiet Was the New Loud: Celebrating the Acoustic Airwaves 1998-2003
Tom Clayton

An affectionate reclaimation of the New Acoustic Movement, a musical era that although happened relatively recently, is already being purposefully forgotten.


Carpet Burns: Life With Inspiral Carpets
Tom Hingley
A magic carpet ride through the heights of Madchester and the bumpy landing on the other side.

Outtakes On Bob Dylan: Selected Writings 1967-2021
Michael Gray

A compendium of over five decades of writing on Dylan for newspapers, magazines and journals by the pioneer of Bob Dylan Studies, plus a new extended essay on Rough And Rowdy Ways.


JUDAS!: From Forest Hills to the Free Trade Hall
Clinton Heylin
In 1966 Bob Dylan and The Hawks found themselves at the epicentre of a storm of controversy. Their response? To unleash a cavalcade of ferocity from Melbourne to Manchester, from Forest Hills to the Free Trade Hall.

Trouble In Mind: Bob Dylan’s Gospel Years – What Really Happened
Clinton Heylin
In 1979 Bob Dylan shocked his fanbase when he weas baptised a Christian and took an evangelical message of armageddon and the second-coming on the road with a full gospel show and a trio gospel-tinged albums. With access to a wealth of new material, Dylan expert Clinton Heylin brings a wholesale reevaluation of this period and reminds us why this may just be the greatest creative period of Dylan’s long and eventful career.

Thro’ My Eyes: A Memoir
Iain Matthews
Iain Matthews’s compelling memoir of a life on the road, in the studio and at home, through the eyes of one of our most enduring singer-songwriters. Choice of Signed Paperback or Signed Hardback Deluxe Edition complete with an accompanying double CDs.

What We Did Instead of Holidays: Fairport Convention and Their Extended Folk-Rock Family

Clinton Heylin
In June 1968, Fairport Convention made their official album. In the next fifteen years, those founding Fairportees would form a veritable dynasty of English folk-rock. Drawing on interviews with all the musicians and key figures. Clinton Heylin has produced the definitive history of a folk-rock family in its golden era.


Anarchy in the Year Zero: The Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Class of 76
Clinton Heylin
Definitive account of Punk’s Year Zero, 1976, a youth cultural movement that changed the country for good.

Bringing It All Back Home

Bringing It All Back Home
Ian Clayton
A breathtaking musical odyssey that reveals the secret that connects music to our heart. New updated edition.

Its the Beer Talking: Adventures in Public Houses
Ian Clayton

Brimming with laughter, tall stories, great memories and endless rounds of wonderful beer.

Song For My Father
Ian Clayton
A lifelong search for a father figure, skipping across the generations to weave a tale of how we relate, what we do with what we’ve got and what happens when some things just don’t work out the way we want them to.

King of Clubs
Maureen PrestThe only insider’s account of what really went on at the world-famous Batley Variety Club, an audacious and outrageous venture by the great James Corrgian and his wife Betty. This is a story full of love, lust, voodoo, glamour and gossip, with the A-Z of the showbiz stars of the day waltzing through the doors of this enormous club in the most unlikley settings.‘What was special about Batley was James

See our website for our full book list


Outtakes On Bob Dylan by Michael Gray Now on General Release

Outtakes On Bob Dylan by Michael Gray is now on general release and is available in all major outlets, with free shipping options.

Here are some order links:

Amazon | Waterstones | Book Depository (Free international shipping) |

Kindle Edition UK | US | CA | FR | DE | NL | ES | IT | AU | JP | MX | IN | BR |

The book was initially published in a collector’s numbered edition, five months ahead of general publication. Here are a selection of early readers’ responses to the book.

‘I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Reading it is like having the world’s largest box of chocolates to dip in to (but without the coffee creme one you dislike)… I read and read and read until I ran out of pages! It has deepened my appreciation of Bob Dylan. It is wonderful to experience that.’

‘An absorbing and characteristically provocative read. Staggering attention to textual and performance detail throughout.’

‘If you buy one book on Bob this year, buy this. It’s wonderful. Follow Michael Gray’s obsession (in the best sense of the word) from his student days to Rough And Rowdy Ways.’

‘Just finished reading Outtakes On Bob Dylan about two hours ago. I’ve enjoyed the book immensely. So many interesting articles and so well written. The writing really is a cut above the others. I particularly loved the article on Christmas In The Heart and the pieces on the 1978 concerts. And the final chapter is monumental: by far the best piece of writing yet on Rough And Rowdy Ways.’

‘A really cracking miscellany – honest, forthright and compelling. I enjoyed this immensely!’

‘I thought it was great. Best fun I’ve had reading a BD book for years. Many great pieces but I loved the Blood on the Tracks, 16 Years and Chelsea Hotel sections especially and the R&R Ways essay was terrific. Lots of acute observations, all of them anchored by MG’s various, sometimes hilarious, always well-described misgivings, distastes and scepticisms as to the whole Bob industry. I didn’t agree with everything (the Xmas album for one) but, in the end, it amounts to the best argued case for our ongoing pleasure, awe and respect. A huge boost to the author’s authority.’

‘Relaxing in the summerhouse with [Michael Gray’s Outtakes] and a few hours of blissful solitude dipping in and out of his great great tome of essays appreciating detail, honesty & knowledge. His love of Dylan’s artistry shines through but it’s real, raw and not sugar-coated.’

‘The book was a great pleasure. The writing was consistently fine and the various articles, in addition to being endlessly interesting and often very funny (the Stockholm account is hilarious), were always illuminating. I especially enjoyed the Isle of Wight, Chelsea Hotel, Minnesota footsteps pieces. The Rough and Rowdy Ways section is excellently done and full of interesting insights and information.’

‘I started with Chapter 1, then about Rough And Rowdy Ways and now reading chronologically. Ah, the bootlegs and what we knew about them – and always searching the real gems. There’s so much I’d like to talk about.’

[Re the R&RW essay: ‘The] measured and tempered enthusiasm is far more valuable than the ecstatic response the album seems to have had more generally. I enjoyed it so much. An astonishing compendium of fact and opinion, all managed with stylish flair, discriminating intelligence, and some wit and good humour. I’m grateful to have had the chance to think about this in response to [the] very fine piece. [Gray is], par excellence, the no bullshit Dylan critic.’

‘It’s so great (and so rare) to read serious writing about Dylan that isn’t academic or pedantic or obscurantist, or vapid and tabloidian, but writing that actually deals with and elucidates Dylan’s art. But that’s always been [Gray’s] m.o. and I have always appreciated [his] approach.’

‘After 11 months of people trying to talk about, write about, make sense of and capture the essence of Rough And Rowdy Ways, it unsurprisingly turns out that we’ve all just been waiting for Michael Gray’s book.’

‘Most critics get lost in the foothills and briars of Bob Dylan studies, entangled in the abrasive personality. Michael Gray is one of the only authors who have ascended the Everest of Dylan and written beautifully about the Shanghai La beyond. Brill to get an early copy of Outtakes.’

‘It’s very nice to be reacquainted with [Gray’s] way of approaching Dylan, particularly with regard to some of the more recent years.’

‘[Gray’s] long and astute appreciation of Rough and Rowdy Ways is worth the price of admission all on its own and is easily the most perceptive reading I’ve yet seen of this flawed yet fascinating album. What a pleasure still to be enjoying [his] ideas on new Dylan records in 2021!’

‘An essential addition to the Bob Dylan bookshelf and Michael Gray collection.’

‘Always a good day when a new Bob Dylan book from Michael Gray arrives. Respected, informed, writing.’

‘Very pleased to have the book. A scan through the contents was enough to move all other books to the back burner.’

‘I’m delighted by it. I immediately read the lovely preface and then jumped straight to the essay about Rough And Rowdy Ways. As always [Gray’s] writing is excellent and a very rich learning experience for me.’

‘I read the RARW chapter first. It’s the definitive word on that album. I look forward to reading it again.’

‘I’ve been snacking away at random bits of the book since it arrived and finding it deliciously interesting and fun.’

‘[I’m] halfway through and am glad to report that it’s a fascinating read, throwing out Dylan connections in all directions.’

‘Not the least of the pleasures that comes from having a substantial new album from Bob for the first time in so long is that it has prompted a wonderfully alert and sympathetic reading from [Gray]: I’m getting so much off of every page in the Rough And Rowdy Ways chapter in Outttakes.’

‘It’s been a while since the book hit my door, but since tonight it has been on my bedside table, facing me and whispering : read me, I’m yours. Never opened it until tonight, for too many reasons, but… I want to share this. I started from the introduction, but then I jumped to the last chapter on Rough And Rowdy Ways. That is really something… You must have this book.’

‘Enjoyed the book very much. The early parts of the book brought back memories of my own Dylan journey… Well worth the price, the postage, the wait and the Swedish VAT. Glad to see a serious in-depth review of the current album. I say current because there’s still so much to discover and digest.’

‘It’s a great book, not only because of Michael’s observations and critical analyses but especially because of being written in a wonderful, meticulous and witty language. (Which sets it apart from too many other books on Bob.)’

‘Well that’s my weekend reading sorted. Always a good day when a new Bob Dyaln book from Michael Gray arrives. Respected, informed writing.’

‘This is worth getting for Michael’s 60-page essay on Rough And Rowdy Ways alone – wonderful piece of writing which made me go back to the album and listen to it all over again. Lots of other gems too – highly recommended.’

‘Just got my copy and it’s a lovely looking book and what makes it intriguing is that these are Michael’s contemporary takes on Bob.’

‘Highly recommended! Even Michael’s asides are very much worth reading.’

Click here for more details on Outtakes On Bob Dylan.

Click here to see Route’s full list of Bob Dylan titles.

When Quiet Was the New Loud On General Release

When Quiet Was the New Loud trailer

Tom Clayton’s book When Quiet Was the New Loud: Celebrating the Acoustic Airwaves 1998-2003 is now on general release.

The New Acoustic Movement, a musical era that although happened relatively recently, is already being purposefully forgotten. Much of the erasing began with Alan McGee’s infamous damning response to Coldplay’s debut album Parachutes, which he described as ‘bedwetters’ music’. In the book, Tom Clayton points out that yes, the era was dominated by the headline, radio-friendly artists such as Coldplay, Travis, Dido and David Gray, but there was a much broader, unifying undercurrent from a range of more low-key, independent-minded artists that reflected, and captured the spirit of the times – the sense of unease at the turn of the millennium when we transitioned from one era to another. Kings of Convenience, Turin Brakes, Kathryn Williams and The Electric Soft Parade were finding their feet, and the great bellwether of English music scenes, Manchester, was in on the movement too, with Doves, Elbow and Badly Drawn Boy emerging there from the ruins of Britpop and Rave with a gentler, inclusive sound and attitude.

Through the prism of the music at the turn of the millennium, this is a book that looks at the birth of a millennial attitude, a transition from the brashness of the late twentieth-century, to a more considered, gentle outlook that emerged at the beginning of the twenty-first that was reflected in the music of the time.

With many of the albums featured in the book approaching their 20th anniversaries, now is a good time to reflect on what this music represented and how it fits into the broad sweep of British music history. And perhaps in our current turbulent climate, where so much of life is loud and cruel, this music may strike a chord again. Humility, compassion and patience aren’t words associated much with our culture or politics anymore, so perhaps the time has come for a bit of quiet.

‘Knocked out by When Quiet Was the New Loud. First book to put late 90s early 00s New Acoustic Movement and related bands in context. A very assured and passionate read that might just be the most quietly important music book of 2021 IMHO’ Patrick Wray

‘A charming and important reveal on the acoustic outsiders of the early noughties and beyond.’ Olly Knights, Turin Brakes

> Buy Direct From Route

By buying direct from Route, you are helping to support independent publishing. If you prefer other options, here’s some links to popular online bookstores.

Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones

Kindle Edition UK | US | CA | FR | DE | NL | ES | IT | AU | JP | MX | IN | BR |

> Spotify playlist and list of featured albums
> Read a feature by Tom Clayton in The Quietus


Outtakes On Bob Dylan: Selected Writings 1967-2021, the first new Michael Gray Bob Dylan book in fifteen years, is imminent and will be shipping from next week. As all Dylan fans know, a Bob Dylan bookshelf is incomplete without them. There is a once-only option of securing a special numbered first edition hardback at standard cover price. The deadline for orders for the numbered edition hardback is FRIDAY 30TH APRIL. Don’t you dare miss it. Click here to secure your copy.

Michael Gray wrote his first article on Bob Dylan for the counterculture magazine OZ in 1967 when its editor asked him to  ‘Do an F.R. Leavis on Bob Dylan’s songs.’ He’s been writing about those songs ever since. Alongside his groundbreaking Song & Dance Man trilogy and the massive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, Gray has been bringing his acuity to Dylan’s career for newspapers, magazines and journals from the 1960s to the present day.

Here we have eye-witness accounts of concerts: from a mercurial 1966 show in Liverpool through to bulletins from glorious, and not so glorious, shows on the Never-Ending Tour. Dylan’s blues roots are explored in train rides through Mississippi. On a trip to Hibbing, Gray gets to play the same piano in the same school hall where Dylan hammered out Little Richard numbers in the 1950s. Throughout, Gray turns his critical attention to Dylan’s work as it appears, from his immediate perceptive take on 1975’s Blood On The Tracks up to a new, extended essay on 2020’s Rough And Rowdy Ways.

Ever since the pioneering Song & Dance Man in 1972, Michael Gray has been the go-to critic for Dylan fans in search of serious analysis of this most elusive artist’s work. In Outtakes On Bob Dylan, we get Gray the man as well as a unique measure of Dylan’s long career as it unfolds, not in retrospect but in real time.

‘Gray’s passionate subjectivity mirrors his subject’s wholly idiosyncratic journey through life, as well as the complexities and contradictions that make Dylan who he is.’ Times Literary Supplement

‘Gray has read everything remotely related to the subject; he has also listened to everything, and with great care… alert to the fluidity of ideas and associations in Dylan’s art and microscopically attentive to his choice and delivery of words.’ The Guardian

‘I have always admired Gray’s reach, tone, and acuity.’ Greil Marcus

Be amongst the first to read Outtakes On Bob Dylan, and secure your numbered edition by ordering before 30th April deadline. Click here to order.

Some other Bob Dylan titles to add to your basket:

The Chameleon Poet: Bob Dylan’s Search For Self by John Bauldie
No One Else Could Play That Tune: The Making and Unmaking of Bob Dylan’s 1974 Masterpiece by Clinton Heylin
Trouble In Mind: Bob Dylan’s Gospel Years – What Really Happened by Clinton Heylin
JUDAS! From Forest Hills To The Free Trade Hall, A Historical View Of The Big Boo by Clinton Heylin