Bunch Of Fives – Early Maze | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Hexham singer-songwriter Jamie Harwood drops his latest single Waste Of You under the musical alias Early Maze, This latest offering comes complete with chugging rhythms, swooping riffs and delicate melodies and, at times, has an air of indie outfits such as The Wonderstuff, Suede and The Lightning Seeds.

Here, Jamie gives us his top five music-related books…

Songs They Won’t Play On The Radio – Nico, The Last Bohemian – James Young
A fantastically well-written book that concentrates mainly on the original Femme Fatale, Nico, while she was living in Manchester during the mid to late 1980s. James Young, her keyboard player at the time, portrays with honesty the struggles she had with heroin addiction while trying to hold a four-piece band together. Anecdotes include weird live performances, wild parties with crazy characters, as well as encounters with old VU bandmate John Cale, and Manchester’s own Punk Poet, John Cooper Clarke. Young doesn’t hold back with tales of in-band fighting (mainly over money being spent on drugs rather than being divided fairly) or Nico’s increasingly stubborn, erratic behaviour. He documents, rather than glamorises an interesting period towards the end of Nico’s short, but highly adventurous and interesting life. I highly recommend it. 

Black Postcards – Dean Wareham
A brutally honest account of being in critically acclaimed, semi-successful Indie bands in the late 1980s through to the 90s. Wareham was chief singer/songwriter in both Galaxie 500 and Luna, respectively. He does at times seem bitter over not being as successful as he feels he deserves, but writes with such honesty it is highly compelling. The book takes you on a ride where bandmates are both amazing fun and annoying  – in equal measures. Tours are booked and any financial gain is determined by how well your merch stand does on any given night, regardless of tickets sold. There are also personal and relationship issues to deal with along the way, which complicate the life of this professional musician who hasn’t quite reached the heights of his ambition.   

Bad Vibes – Britpop, My Part in It’s Downfall  – Luke Haines
Just like his songwriting, Bad Vibes is clever, funny, but at times nasty and full of vitriolic jabs, mostly hitting right at the heart of his then musical peers, and even his own band members. I love how he doesn’t ever refer to a certain bandmate by name, but simply by ‘The Cellist’ . You can enjoy the sometimes refreshing cynicism aimed at musical genres, bands and cliquey scenes, without being completely convinced he is right. Perhaps Haines’ dark sense of humour or evil muse forbids him from giving compliments, encouraging him to find his targets’ weak spots, yet I can’t help feeling there is a heart and some hidden affection lurking somewhere… 

Playing The Bass With 3 Left Hands – Will Carruthers
Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized bass player tells kaleidoscopic tales of outsider, drug-fuelled rock ‘n’ roll, as well as first-hand accounts of the now legendary early live performances and recording sessions. The strange title of the book is hilariously explained within its pages. Another very funny anecdote described the misleading heading of an early gig poster: An Evening of Contemporary Sitar Music. The band played to a bewildered wine-sipping art gallery audience, while the gig was actually recorded and released as a bootleg called ‘Dreamweapon’.  

Freaky Dancing – Bez
This is one of the funniest and most entertaining auto biogs I’ve ever read, as Bez lets us in on his crazy life and times with The Happy Mondays. The stories are as outrageous and hedonistic as you’d expect from the freaky, psychotic, maraca-wielding dancer.  Tales include chaotic recording sessions; robbing golf shops for casual wear; crashing cars in Barbados; and hiding from ‘The Dibble’ (as in Officer Dibble…hello, older readers!) it’s certainly never boring!

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