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This book follows the life of Alex James, bass player in Blur, bon viveur and celebrated cheese maker. It follows James from his early life to meeting the other members of the band and their enormous success.
This book is the memories of one of the larger than life stars of Brtipop, James was renowned as a boozer and ladies man and tells quite a few of his stories in this book. At times it is extremely funny, but it does have an air of the whole Britpop situation about it, being slightly more about how things look than the emotions and reality beneath the surface.
We follow James as he grows up and see how Blur came about, however in my view the book concentrates too much on James own life and not enough on what really makes him interesting. The dynamic of the band relationship is briefly touched upon and James does appear to be one of the more calming influences in a band with some talented, spirited musicians.
For me the book is entertaining in a very gentle way, as a Blur fan I would have been more interested in the dynamic of the band relationship and what happened between Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn. While James is a talented Bassist he is better known for his wild life, however in print it sounds at times more sordid and childish than fun.
The book is big on anecdotes and James comes across as a man who enjoyed fame and its trappings and made the most of it, thankfully he now has a family and seems a big family man, but at times he comes across as a greedy, selfish pop star.
Overall it's a very honest, at times amusing book, but it is fairly lightweight and I had expected a lot more from the book if I'm being honest.
Back in the day I was a huge, huge fan of Blur. I still am to a certain extent but you have be in the mood to listen back to some of the albums due to them being sounding a bit dated. For those of you who somehow missed out on what Blur are/were (delete as appropriate) they were one of the top indie bands to come out of Britpop and establish themselves as one of the UK's biggest bands.
Seven studio albums, two number one singles and countless top 40 hits, Blur were sort of on the back burner until recently they did a sort of reunion that involved them headlining numerous festivals including Glastonbury to massive acclaim.
WHO IS ALEX JAMES
Alex James is the bass player in the group. Alex grew up in Bournemouth before meeting future band mate and guitarist Graham Coxon at Goldsmiths college, London. The rest you could say is history, or you could read the book to find out slightly more...
WHAT IS THE BOOK ABOUT
The book is the official autobiography of Alex James, literally discussing the whole of his career from start to finish. From starting off learning Led Zepp songs on his friends guitar in a bedroom to winning four Brit awards and getting absolutely wasted on tour. Alex describes each and every detail, from each and every angle of his career. Alex was not only in Blur did did other side projects that are mentioned in the book, most notably the Fat Les song Vindaloo, which did better than any Blur song did in the singles chart.
WHAT DID I LIKE
I really liked the honesty of the book. Alex talks openly about the guilt of the rock and roll lifestyle whilst his girlfriend was unawares. There are some very funny anecdotes throughout the book such as how his friend at college used to freeze flies and tie string and cellotape around them so that when they decrytalized they would fly in a circle. Just bizarre but often funny stories that make you picture this interesting life.
Having been a big blur fan I was really interested in the stories about each album, how it was made, what the other members of the band were like, his relationship with them etc etc. Like I said the biggest selling point is the honesty of the book, there is nothing worse than reading an autobiography where you feel something is always being held back - you want the full picture.
One of the best things I liked was the price. I picked this up in an independent record shop in Exeter for £2 and it was worth everry penny and would have been if I had paid 3 or 4 times above that amount.
WHAT I DIDNT LIKE
I guess if I was to fault it, it would be that there was sometimes not enough of the bits I really liked. Like I said I was a big fan so found it a bit frustrating that certain albums didnt have that much detail on them. For all the things to happen in his career the book feels quite short although it does have 274 pages so perhaps its a good thing that I could read it reasonably quickly.
Overall, I would definately recommend this. Its a sunday times bestseller for those who care and it really is a true account. You would expect autobiographys from lead singers and this is refreshing to see it from a different perspective. Alex James was a key component musically in Blur and had every right to release this great portrayal of what it was like to be in that band.