Words in your ears


A most convivial evening in Islington last night in the company not only of my former MOJO boss Mark Ellen and David “1971” Hepworth but of Tony Fletcher (in the middle, top pic), who talked so infectiously about wicked Wilson Pickett, subject of his great new biography. Both “chat shows” will be available soon in the Word In Your Ear podcast series. Thanks, fellas.

The Testimony of Robbie Robertson


MOJO gave me a mere 150 words on this, but here’s my tuppenceworth on “an unengaging and soulless read”…

THE BAND’S STORY continues to beguile: how did a group so rich in talent and promise implode so hopelessly, only to pull the rabbit out of the hat with such a spectacular leaving do?

Almost a quarter century after the late Levon Helm published his own autobiography, de facto Band leader/guitarist/songwriter Robertson finally has his own say in the solemnly-titled Testimony. (Did he, one wonders, wait for Levon to go before committing pen to paper?)

The sad truth is that Testimony makes for an unengaging and soulless read. While there’s much to learn and many gaps filled in for the curious, the book is written in a clichéd style of numbing if self-regarding banality. However much sympathy one has with Robertson’s desperate attempts to herd The Band’s cats, there’s rarely the sense here of a flesh-and-blood human being behind the rote recollections.

Helm’s book may have been written by Stephen Davis, but the drummer’s irresistible voice was audible in its every phrase.

Robbie and Levon

Robbie Robertson comes in for a bit of a pasting in a Harper’s review of his autobiography Testimony (or at least on page 1 of it, the only one available to non-subscribers)… and I get a namecheck too. I’m about halfway thru’ the aforementioned tome and finding it fairly soulless, frankly.

Meanwhile here’s the (slightly sad) flipside of the Band story:


End of the Road gallery

In the Wiltshire drizzle for End of the Road: small-town-talking with Julian Mash; in the big top with Dumbo; listening to Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker with a seated Geoff Travis, book-signing with Travis Elborough; getting (two-toed) slothful with my darling wife Natalie… and harping on about the always exceptional Joanna Newsom.

It’s the End of the Road as we know it

Having survived the middle-class bacchanalia of Port Eliot, I’ll hope to see some of you at the dependably charming END OF THE ROAD festival in Dorset on the first weekend of September. I’ll be small-town-talking about Woodstock/Bearsville with Julian Mash in the Literature “space” and it’s a lovely way to wind down the summer…7-Tame-NME1-1200x500