BOOK REVIEW | CHAPTER AND VERSE: NEW ORDER, JOY DIVISION AND ME BY BERNARD SUMNER [GOODREADS]

Chapter and Verse: New Order, Joy Division and MeChapter and Verse: New Order, Joy Division and Me by Bernard Sumner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A frank memoir from the musician who was an integral part of two of the most influential bands ever viz. Joy Division and New Order. Sumner comes across as down-to-earth and amiable and tries to be as candid as possible about difficult issues – like the suicide of Ian Curtis and the break up with Peter Hook. Easy to read and an essential book for fans of these legendary bands.

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BOOK REVIEW | FIRE AND FURY : INSIDE THE TRUMP WHITE HOUSE [GOODREADS]

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White HouseFire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Fire and Fury” so named as a reference to Trump’s rant against North Korea, is a White House tell-all that is somewhat spoiled by the fact that most nobody reading it would be surprised by its revelations. Though it does confirm the fact that White House is a mess, populated by predatory ego-maniacs out to outdo each other in manner recalling Game of Thrones-like scenarios. Strangely enough, the main character of “Fire and Fury” does not seem to be Trump but Steve Bannon – with the book ending with an ominous characterisation of Bannon’s own Presidential ambitions.
But considering how events seem to have overtaken Bannon with his quick decline in fortunes since the book was written, Wolff seems less prescient and relevant. Still, a rollicking read that does nothing to dispel the common negative connotations about politics.

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BOOK REVIEW | PoP LEGENDS : BILLY JOEL BY FRED SCHRUERS [GOODREADS]

Billy JoelBilly Joel by Fred Schruers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The biggest question when thinking of Billy Joel is – why hasn’t he released a new album in 20 over years? This biography does not seem to answer that question satisfactorily. This makes the final third rather difficult to get through as it covers the period where Joel becomes an oldies act basically – living off the glories of his past. But before that the book is riveting – providing details during Joel’s successful time as a singer-songwriter/recording artist. For fans only, though.

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PoP20 | PoP LEGENDS : BOWIE – A BIOGRAPHY BY MARC SPITZ [REVIEW]

BOWIE: A BIOGRAPHY by Marc Spitz

An assertion that David Bowie (nee Jones) has been the biggest influence on new bands and new music of the last four decades, would not draw much objections from rock scholars. But is that enough to fill a voluminous biography of the great man? The simple answer is “yes”, but writer Marc Spitz goes a little more deeper, inserting the impact that Bowie has had on his personal life as well.

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BOOK REVIEW : TIFFANY HADDISH – THE LAST BLACK UNICORN [GOODREADS]

The Last Black UnicornThe Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Quite an easy read. Tiffany’s personality shines through crystal clear, she never shies away from darker side of her life. So she presents herself warts and all. Her positive attitude of making the best of every situation is inspiring, to say the least. That said, she rather paints Jada Pinkett-Smith in an unfavourable light, even with the best intentions. Loads of crazy scenarios and plenty of laughs along the way. Recommended.

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ROCK HISTORY | 1971 – NEVER A DULL MOMENT BY DAVID HEPWORTH

1971 - Never a Dull Moment: Rock's Golden Year1971 – Never a Dull Moment: Rock’s Golden Year by David Hepworth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The story of the ascent of rock music is lovingly told by the author, who turned 21 that year. The context behind many of the classic rock artists and albums is vividly described. Well researched with detailed accounts, the reading enjoyment is enhanced by a Spotify playlist of course!

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BOOK REVIEW: UNITED STATES OF JAPAN (BY PETER TIERYAS)

USJ

Synopsis
Decades ago, Japan won the Second World War. Americans worship their infallible Emperor, and nobody believes that Japan’s conduct in the war was anything but exemplary. Nobody, that is, except the George Washingtons – a shadowy group of rebels fighting for freedom. Their latest subversive tactic is to distribute an illegal video game that asks players to imagine what the world might be like if the United States had won the war instead.

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BOOK REVIEW: IF THEN (BY MATTHEW DE ABAITUA)

IfThen-144dpi

Superficially, If Then, English author Matthew De Abaitua’s 2nd novel, appears to be about the singularity. In scifi lore, that subject revolves around the hypothetical future creation of superintelligent machines. Examples of which have been found in stories like Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream and movies like Terminator and Matrix.

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GEEK OUT! PHILIP K DICK’S THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH REMAINS RELEVANT 50 YEARS AFTER PUBLICATION

Stigmata

2015 is the 50th anniversary of many critical events – as we are often reminded. However, as a fan of mind-bending science fiction, I would also like to point out that 1965 was the year Philip K Dick’s novel, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch was published. Along with other Dick classics like Ubik & Time Out of Joint, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch questions the very nature of reality itself with the story revolving around the use & experience of simulated reality by its key characters.

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THE WORD: MINISTRY OF MORAL PANIC – SINGAPORE STORIES FOR THE MILLENIALS

MinMoralPanic

I must confess that the only prose I read nowadays are rock bios. Even back when I did read fiction, it was science-fiction that I preferred (and still do). What to do? I am a serial escapist after all (as this webzine aptly proves).

Of late, I have been lecturing on the Art of Story – breaking down the elements of story-telling to 17 and 18 year olds who mostly do not read books, and whose main exposure to stories is via computer games, film/TV and even comic books.

Well, in the course of this module, I’ve had had to read short stories by several Singaporean writers (like Alfian Sa’at and Daren Shiau) and whilst the writing is good, I found sometimes the focus and range to be too narrow (although that is probably the intent) and the emphasis on nostalgia at times claustrophobic.

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PLAY ON: POWER POP HEROES BY KEN SHARP

Writer Ken Sharp’s new book Play On!: Power Pop Heroes Volume One is available for pre-orders for 1 month with a cut off sale date of October 28th.

In the first installment of a three-volume series, Ken Sharp honors the musical innovators who built the genre’s foundation. Featuring a foreword by Eric Carmen of Raspberries, the 480-page book culls exclusive extended interviews with 20 artists that defined the genre, including members of the Beatles, the Who, the Kinks, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Hollies, the Dave Clark Five, the Zombies, Bee Gees, the Turtles, the Left Banke, Small Faces, the Move, Jeff Lynne and others. Also covered in this volume are representatives of the first generation of dedicated acolytes who followed the progenitors’ trail: Badfinger, Raspberries, Big Star and Emitt Rhodes.

 

Available exclusively from http://www.ken-sharp.com/power_pop/index.html

A BRIEF HISTORY OF JAZZ ROCK BY MIKE BARON

Screen shot 2014-07-03 at PM 11.34.33

Writer Mike Baron makes an interesting point about how marginalized the Jazz Rock ‘genre’ has become since its heyday in the 70s in his introduction to this book.

“The number of classic bands who have inspired youngsters continues to grow. Beatles imitators are legion. The Beach Boys have a growing and powerful following spearheaded by Explorers Club. Grateful Dead jam-type bands cover the hills. The Quarter After worship the Byrds. But one group is conspicuously missing. Where are the new jazz rock bands?”

Baron doesn’t really answer this pertinent question so much as to suggest that perhaps Jazz Rock as a ‘genre’ lost ground once the post-punk / new wave of the 80s arrived to drive many of these original Jazz Rockers to seek greater commercial attention by moving their music to the Middle of the Road (like Chicago).

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