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Biographies & Memoirs

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Jim

Jim Twickenham, United Kingdom Member Since 2011
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  • "A Treat"

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    I switched on the the radio and there was Mark Ellen promoting his autobiography; talking to Danny Baker about the N.M.E., LiveAid, the Old Grey Whistle Test and the misery of meeting Van Morrison. Ellen was as charming and funny as ever; I had a surge of nostalgia and immediately bought this download. For anyone who knows Ellen's work it's enough to say that he reads this with his customary charm, It's funny, wistful and informed on his specialist subjects of music and the music press.

    For anyone less familiar with him Ellen started his career in music journalism just as punk was getting underway and he stayed with it, unlike many contemporaries up to the present day; interviewing Lady Gaga and enduring Rhiana's comically awful sounding 777 press junket. During that time he rose through the ranks from writer to editor; progressing from being roughed up by Elvis Costello's manager for looking like a hippy and writing for the Record Mirror, to sharing an office with Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant when they both worked for archetypal 80's publication Smash Hits, to being on friendly terms with the likes of Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin when he and David Hepworth set up Word. Throughout; he stayed in love with music and never lost a sense of fandom. Oh yes; and he was in a band with Tony Blair when they were both at University.

    We get conversations with musicians like Noel Gallagher, Jimmy Page and Lady Gaga. We get first hand accounts of presenting LiveAid and we get genuinely interesting insights into the way in which the internet has fundamentally changed the music business and the magazine business. His writing is funny, affectionate, insightful and inventive and he has a lovely reading style. It's like being in a pub with your funniest mate. It's possible that all of the above has left you completely cold. I'm conscious that Ellen's writing about something I'm passionate about and he's covering a period from my early teens to the present day so this resonates with me. But if any of that resonates with you too this is a treat..

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    Rock Stars Stole My Life!: A Big Bad Love Affair with Music

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Mark Ellen
    • Narrated By Mark Ellen
    Overall
    (22)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (22)

    In a sodden tent at a '70s festival, the teenage Mark Ellen had a dream. He dreamt that music was a rich meadow of possibility, a liberating leap to a sparkling future, an industry of human happiness - and he wanted to be part of it. Thus began his 50-year love affair with rock and roll. From his time at the NME and Smash Hits to Radio One, Old Grey Whistle Test, Live Aid, Q, Select, Mojo, and The Word magazines, he's been at the molten core of its evolution, and watched its key figures from a unique perspective.

    Mark says: "Highly entertaining autobiography in music"
  • "Timely and gripping"

    Overall

    A charismatic populist rises to political power in depression era Louisiana. He has a peerless gift for phrase turning; "more money than you'd need to burn a wet mule" being just one of his finer moments; chutzpah to burn and a supporting cast of characters who are straight of of Southern Gothic central casting. They drink, brawl, bribe, blackmail, embezzle and shoot each other while Huey Long tries to enact an agenda mixing 50% socialist utopianism and 50% cleptocracy. Huey's an obscure figure here in Britain which makes him even more pleasurable discovery as the subject of a biography. At a time when we are once again seeing the rise of political extremism against a backdrop of economic depression this one's thought provoking as well as hugely entertaining

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    Kingfish: The Reign of Huey P. Long

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Richard D. White
    • Narrated By Patrick Cullen
    Overall
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    Outrageous demagogue or charismatic visionary? In this powerful new biography, Richard D. White, Jr., brings Huey Long to life in all his blazing, controversial glory. From the moment he took office as governor in 1928 to the day an assassin's bullet cut him down in1935, Huey Long wielded all but dictatorial control over the state of Louisiana.

    Jim says: "Timely and gripping"
  • "Music and Education Theory - what's..."

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    My interest in this may be a little niche; I'm studying adult learning and I'm an enthusiastic if untalented guitar player. So this book ticks a couple of boxes for me and the fact that the author reads it himself also adds something in terms of conveying a sense of immediacy in how the tale is told. It's possible that for other readers this may be too much of a minority interest but the central messages about how, as adults, we can still master skills that might be considered challenging once we're past childhood are clearly and helpfully spelled out. Marcus also strikes a nice balance between the theory; which he knows well from his day job as an academic; and the practice of sticking his neck out and trying to learn an instrument. The section where he has to audition in front of a bunch of 11 year olds to see if they'll let him into their band at "band camp" is a great example of the latter quality.

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    Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Gary Marcus
    • Narrated By Gary Marcus
    Overall
    (13)
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    (3)
    Story
    (4)

    Just about every human being knows how to listen to music, but what does it take to make music? Is musicality something we are born with? Or a skill that anyone can develop at any time? If you don't start piano at the age of six, is there any hope? Is skill learning best left to children or can anyone reinvent him-or herself at any time?

    Jim says: "Music and Education Theory - what's not to like?"
  1. Rock Stars Stole My Life!...
  2. Kingfish: The Reign of Hu...
  3. Guitar Zero: The New Musi...
  4. .

Meet Harper Lee

From First Lady to Secretary of State

What's Trending in Biographies & Memoirs:

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    John says: "An absolute pleasure from start to finish"
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    • By Miranda Hart
    • Narrated By Miranda Hart
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