Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Book Learning #33

Perfect from Now on. By John Sellers.

It's strange that I was waiting for a book to rescue me from the perma-fatigue of new dadness/reading deprivation. I knew that such a book would not be found by browsing a bookstore or Amazon. This one came to me via my indie obsessed boss, dropped on my desk one day while I was out watching the kids at yard.

I'm still not sure I enjoyed this. I mean, I read it through and found parts of it fascinating, parts of it highly amusing and parts of it intensely annoying.
Sellers has a habit of completely overdoing footnotes. Half the book is footnotes and it derails your rhythm, at least it derailed mine. Having said that, many of the footnotes were great, amusing and interesting. The whole Joy Division/Ian Curtis footnote (which ran to something like 10 pages)woulda,coulda,shoulda been a chapter in it's own right (as promised by the author earlier in the book).

I understood his outlook, the pop kid who becomes an indie kid as those mildly tortuous teenage/college years progress. I guess I had the benefit of an older brother who was able to drag me to gigs, as well as said gigs being played in the safe(ish) environment of the local University. This put my Indie experiences at an earlier age than Sellers. Also, my brother was pretty hardcore in his tastes when I was 14, If he wanted to go and see That Petrol Emotion then I went too. The best kind of babysitting. If I recall correctly Sellers didn't go to his first indie gig until he was 18?

And he writes about falling out of love with U2 after the album 'The Joshua tree'. By my indie reckoning U2 were never anything indie whatsoever. It's by virtue of timing but by the time I was going to gigs U2 were already pretty global super rock. Even their better albums (achtung baby?) were enjoyed but enjoyed on the understanding that they were never going to be anything other than stadium fillers.

Then there is Guided by Voices.

It has been pointed out to me that I should have heard GBV. But I havent, not until this morning.
So I'm not obsessed with them. John Sellers clearly is. That's great, he should write a book about them. Oh, look, he did already.
The second half of this book is almost entirely devoted to GBV. Which, as I have said is fine. It's just that his devotion to this band then overruns all other consideration of the rest of indie music and the rest of the book is a homage to his #1 all time fave band. This would have mattered more to me if he'd written about one of my #1 all time fave bands rather than some blokes I'd not heard until 8.15 this morning.

Sure, it's an amusing read but I know that Nick Hornby did this better in High Fidelity.

In many respects this book got to me the way a heated conversation about music should get to you. Sellers has his taste and for the most part it's not mine, or at least what he has chosen to write about is not wholly compatible with my ideas about indie music. I like the fact that he provoked me to listen to some old stuff, ask friends to borrow some new stuff and, in short gave me a bit of a kick up the arse.

But no mention of The Wedding Present?


Bill Norris said...

I know John--we used to play softball together--and I'm shocked there's no Wedding Present in the book. It's not like him.

Bill Norris said...

And, in Seller's defence, Until The Joshua Tree, or maybe Live Aid, U2 was pretty indie on these shores. The first single of theirs that really broke out of college radio was "Pride (In The Name of Love)."

weasel said...

Nor is there any mention of "The Family Cat" I imagine.

Mondale said...

Bill, I understand the U2 thing, they were pretty indie in the UK as well (and he explains all this in the book).It's just that I came to them as they went global. I'm just shooting off my review with a cold addled head and a passionate heart. The book was passionate and it made me passionate. good art in that respect.

Weasel, you're damn right! No family cat? No Spinning jennies?

msdee said...

Why do people make mainstream sound so horrible? I think some people (seriously no one who is on my blog list) but some people try too hard to be cool with the whole indie thing.

I love mainstream stuff and I first heard of U2 when The Joshua Tree came out.