Hungarian Praise

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A feature in the Hungarian music magazine, Recorder, lists ‘Ten books to make you fall in love with music again’. Bringing It All Back Home is in good company, as you can see from the book shelf image above. But better than that, here is what they say about it:

‘The last one is the best one, if it’s possible to raise the bar more. Ian Clayton is a cultural news writer and radio presenter and he wrote the most existing book about popular music. It doesn’t matter who he writes about in it(for example Billie Holiday, who he writes about a lot) but the point is how he writes. Music appears in the book as the memory evoker, enabling him to bring to life his own life’s soundtrack. From love to loss and friendship to family, he encloses all the big themes, in a way that we can’t help but think about our own music memories that link place to culture, but how we wish that we wrote all this down so beautifully.’

Well, Köszönöm szépen!

Read the feature here

Click here for more on Ian Clayton

Belfast Book Festival Carpet Burns Review

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Carpet Burns | My Life with the Inspiral Carpets – Tom Hingley

Belfast Book Festival | The Black Box 08 June ’15

Tom Hingley was the lead singer with the Inspiral Carpets through their halcyon days in the Madchester Era. Tom read from Carpet Burns: My Life with Inspiral Carpets, a book chronicling his career as a musician, and played an acoustic set of Inspiral Carpet classics, along with material from his solo albums.

He left Oxford for Manchester thinking he had a better chance of joining a Band. He and some friends formed a band called Too Much Texas, supporting New Order at the Hacienda. They also supported the Inspiral Carpets at the time Steve Holt left the band; Tom later auditioned for the singer’s role and got the part.

Tom son of an Oxford Don, didn’t quite fit in with the working class ethos of the Madchester Scene, and this detachment is evident throughout the book. It is written as if viewed from the outside, as opposed to an internal account of the bands dynamic, though this may also reflect Tom’s respect for his estranged friends.

The book is not a Mark E Smith style castigation of band members; it attempts to demystify the rock and roll myth, taking a look under the bonnet and candidly exploring the mechanics of what went wrong. Tom speaks warmly of the happiest days of his life with the band, and in some ways the book is a celebration of this. The Hacienda period included a number of bands that defined the British Indie scene, including The Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays, the Inspiral Carpets and The Charlatans. He also finds it strange that current reflections upon the Hacienda music scene neglect the club’s gay origins.

Tom misses the band’s camaraderie and friendship rather than the gigs and adulation. When the Inspiral Carpets headlined Reading festival, his dad compared the audience reaction to a Mussolini speech in Rome. Tom feels this captures the ludicrous side of being on the fame bandwagon.

It clearly hurt Tom when he was sacked from the band, even more so when the band said he left of his own volition. He finds it hard to listen to Steve Holt singing his songs – songs he sang as opposed to penned- feeling Steve’s vocals are better suited to the band’s earlier garage sound. Tom is also aggrieved that the band forged his signature on Inspiral Carpets T-shirts.

A pre-Oasis Noel Gallagher was a roadie for the Inspiral Carpets, and inevitably crept into the conversation. Tom acknowledged his talent as a singer songwriter, but feels the Inspiral Carpets nurtured his talent with the bands open dynamic and the creative buzz they had at the time. He feels Noel wouldn’t have made it The Stone Roses due to the talented ego-centric nature of the band, and probably wouldn’t have made it in the Happy Mondays without engaging with heroin at some level. Tom recounted a story of Noel completing a written interview on behalf of the band, and when asked what the band’s favourite Happy Mondays song was, he quipped Gods Cop, the Smack-head remix, setting the gentile Sean Ryder on the warpath for Clint Boon.

Tom’s creative spell as an artist did not finish with his departure from the Inspiral Carpets, his solo set which included a number of inventive acoustic classics from the band’s huge back catalogue, as well as songs from his solo albums. His solo material is a mix of blues, punk, soul and ballsy rock and roll. The most striking feature of Tom’s performance, aside from his passionate driving vocals, is his percussive rhythms on acoustic guitar, giving the songs a bouncing funky feel.

Spending an evening with Tom Hingley is hugely enjoyable; clearly a talented musician who remains true to his art. He performed a phenomenal live set to an appreciative crowd in the Black Box, you wouldn’t imagine Tom would have given more to a packed Glastonbury. His book reflects back on a golden period that defined British music, providing insight into a band that may have been in the shade of the Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays, but who clearly had their own unique sound, and a special place in the nation’s heart.

D. Twain

Click here to see the review on Culture Hub Magazine

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Touched by Hayley Nash

Rube, Janbo and Mark

Rube, Janbo and Mark

Woke up this December morning to read this wonderful message from Hayley Nash. Lovely that she’d enjoyed Nothing Ever Happens in Wentbridge so much, and just as lovely that she’d tracked down the Facebook page and posted this wonderful message. Thanks Hayley. – Janet Watson

Hi, I just wanted to say that at 2 in the morning just now I finished the book. It made me sob! I was so touched by it. And to find this page on Facebook and see the photos made me cry again! Everyone has come to life. And they are just as I imagined you all.

I’m at the age now where I’ve finished uni, got a full time job and feel like a bit of an adult. That age where I’m starting to loose contact with my Marks and Sians and Nicks and so reading this has helped me realise that I’ll always have my memories of school and college. Although I’m mourning those times a little I’m ready for my next stage to life knowing I’ll carry my friends in my heart with me whilst knowing I’ll see them at our important life events again. Your book is beautifully written and well worth a second read, I’ll be definitely badgering my friends with it as Christmas presents! Thank you so much for sharing your memories of your friends and your parents and making them so vivid and human.

Best wishes
Love Hayley

Click here for more on Nothing Ever Happens in Wentbridge.

The Power of Nouns

Ian Clayton Outtake

Review of Ian Clayton’s Bringing It All Back Home by Mark Barry of Reckless Records, London

Here in England, as I cycle into work from the Hawaiian splendiferousness of Walthamstow in East London to the glamour-fest of wee-wee in doorways that is Berwick Street in Central London, I’m constantly reminiscing – and I mean almost all of the time. In September 2008 I turned 50 – so it’s probably the age.

Moments just keep coming back to me – and bits of music too. Like ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ by John Barry, a film I mitched school 5 times to see. Walking proudly across the schoolyard with a copy of Rory Gallagher’s Live In Europe under my arms knowing it to be an object of unbridled lust for other kids in my class. Meeting August Darnell of Kid Creole & The Coconuts at Dublin Airport the day after their National Stadium gig where the crowd went absolutely bananas and invaded the stage in a salsa train (‘You guys can party!’). The Celtic folk-rock of Horslips on the back of a truck at a Sunday Fair in 1971, Phil Lynott busking at the bottom of Grafton Street again in 1971 with his fantastically wild hair and other-worldly exoticness, The Specials supporting the John ‘Gypie’ Mayo line-up of Dr. Feelgood in 1978 (one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen), the Bon Scott line-up of AC/DC on a cold Monday night in the Camden Ballroom in Dublin on the Highway To Hell tour – all of it mind-blowing…

Why mention all of these precious memories – because this book is full of that – moments in time – and most of them related to music. Ian Clayton is from Yorkshire in England – and while many of the stories and anecdotes are British-based, their reach is very American – even Universal. Bringing It All Back Home isn’t a story proper as such – it’s chapter after chapter of great musical remembrances that will tickle pink anyone of my generation (it’s been a huge success in the UK in both Hardback and Paperback). It follows the floor cushions and lava lamps of the Sixties into the cheesecloth shirts and Oxford bags of the Seventies. It quickly moves on up to the blue Mohican haircuts of Punk, into hissing purists in the audiences of Eighties and Nineties Left-Wing operas and on to today with the new Portishead offering lodged in a CD player for weeks on end. And it’s bloody funny too. There’s flashbacks to Sergeant Tommy Chapman of the West Riding Constabulary who arrested Jimi Hendrix in the small town of Ilkley for being ‘too loud’ – onwards to in-depth discussions about ‘harnessing aggression’ with the drummer in The Gang of Four in the multi award-winning toilets of the Pontefract Town Hall. It lovingly recalls Hamish Imlach’s room-clearing farts and a best friend’s mother passing judgement on the Beatles who were decamped in her hotel, ‘Their shoes were perfect – every mother looks at shoes…’ As you can already magine – it’s wonderful stuff – and there’s lots of it.

And I also love Clayton’s use of nouns as a powerful evoker. Paul Simon won a Grammy for a song called ‘Rene & Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War’ on his hugely underrated Hearts & Bones LP in 1983. The beautifully crafted chorus talks of an immigrant couple that find a keepsake in a drawer that reminds them of ‘…The Moonglows, The Orioles and The Five Satins’. Simon doesn’t say `Vocal Groups’ or `Doo Wop Music` like a lazy writer would – he uses their names – he uses the power of nouns. Clayton does this in almost every line. Names of bars, streets, relations, friends, places he’s been too, nick names given to candy and food – album titles, label colours on 45s, gigs, characters at those gigs – the effect is to make you remember stuff and places and people you’d long forgotten – and love every second of it. His tastes are varied and eclectic too – waxing lyrical about the ethereal beauty of singers like Kate Rusby and Dwight Yoakham, Iris deMent and John Lydon, Buddy Holly and Bessie Smith, Chris Farlowe and Mary Coughlan, John Martyn and Elmore James, Louis Jordon and Buffy Sainte-Marie. This is a book about a man who holds up the different picture sleeves of ‘Anarchy In The UK’ and literally trembles at the sight of them. This is my kind of guy. I sat down to read a chapter a night and came to it like a conversation with a good friend about a subject you both love.

But then towards the end comes an unexpected hammering – he and his long-time partner suffer a crushing personal blow – and you then realise why the remembrances that preceded this are so full of warmth and humanity – they’ve been written by a man who has suffered horrible personal loss and it has imbibed his writing with a quiet thankfulness for moments that seemed almost inconsequential then but are huge now. Details matter – and music that moved and shaped you – does too.

Which brings us to music in general… what is it about men and their music? Be it Soul, Reggae, Rock, Jazz, Folk, Blues, Punk, Rock `n’ Roll, Dance, Hip-Hop – or all of it combined? I think it’s that it keeps us young – a buzz you never get over – its forever discovering something new and brill. You see I’m the kind of soppy git who works in a record shop all day and goes out at lunchtime and goes into another record shop. My better half says it’s a disease – she pats me on the head like a child and hands me Sticky Fingers to placate the poor eejet.
‘There you go dear… I’ll be back in forty-five minutes with Who’s Next…”
‘Yum! Yum!’ comes the response.

If you’re the kind of person who gets moist in the trouser area about the bits revealed under the die-cut holes as you turn the cardboard wheel on the sleeve of Led Zeppelin III, if you’re the kind of moo who tingles as you open out the rare poster in the Dead Kennedys Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables or smiles wildly at any photograph of the wonderful and sorely missed British DJ John Peel (beloved champion of Indie and Punk) – then this homage to music and its wondrous effect on the very soul of a person is the bedside buddy for you.

I loved this book – a life well remembered and a lovely read. Rave On John Dunne… you seeker of truth and inner peace…

Click here for more on Bringing It All Back Home and to order

Bringing It All Back Home

The Review of Contemporary Fiction

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A review of Red Army Faction Blues featured in Vol XXXII of The Review of Contemporary Fiction.

‘A coalition government. A widely mistrusted ruling elite. Riots in the streets and heavy-handed police tactics. Welcome to West Berlin, 1967.’ From the jacket copy onward, Ada Wilson’s Red Army Faction Blues makes its contemporary relevance known. The novel follows a former West German undercover police officer tracking down blues guitarist Peter Green, seeking a resolution to his infiltration and proceeding defection into the radical Berlin underground of the late 1960s. The narrative moves between memories of Berlin and 1989 Thatcherite Britain, where the main character watches the fall of the Berlin Wall; these events making palpable a set of ideological traumas not unrecognizable to the reader of 2012. As a work of historical fiction, Wilson’s prose is artfully light of touch where exposition is concerned. Concise summaries of ideas—from Situationism to the writings of Marcuse—fit naturally into the dialogue of his young revolutionary characters, informing the novitiate reader whilst remaining perfectly unobtrusive to the informed. By utilizing the spy genre, the novel captures a polyphony of voices, offering a compelling picture of a postwar generational divide awash with the specters of the past; the ‘old Nazis’ in charge, the US and British ‘victors’ imposing their culture, and behind the Wall all the poverty and violence of the East. Central to the novel’s impact is the fate of the ‘May ’68’ generation—their most commercially acceptable ideas recuperated into late capitalism, their revolutionary ideals severed by postmodern critical distance. This distance ironically extends to the narrative itself, as the furtive narrator threatens to strip its historically relevant content of the capacity to produce political insight. However, as a novel that is willing to both engage with radical politics and explore postmodern literary form, Red Army Faction Blues is a highly commendable work, audaciously conceived and well executed.

Red Army Faction Blues Website