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Lost in Music

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'If you have ever watched a band play or bought a pop record you should read this book' John Peel


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'If you have ever watched a band play or bought a pop record you should read this book' John Peel

30 review for Lost in Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    the modisher

    3.5 ☆

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Andros

    A quirky, indestructibly vulnerable and engaging piece of work. Not quirky as if ladling it on. The guy's almost self-consciously, apologetically normal in fact, but all this quirky stuff happens and he's obliged to report it, right? Having taken the advance for the memoir. A rock journo, apparently, Giles Smith's decided to serve up his life to us in seven-inch and twelve-inch single slices, plus whatever inches albums used to be when they were LPs. It's an autobiography of his record collectio A quirky, indestructibly vulnerable and engaging piece of work. Not quirky as if ladling it on. The guy's almost self-consciously, apologetically normal in fact, but all this quirky stuff happens and he's obliged to report it, right? Having taken the advance for the memoir. A rock journo, apparently, Giles Smith's decided to serve up his life to us in seven-inch and twelve-inch single slices, plus whatever inches albums used to be when they were LPs. It's an autobiography of his record collection, basically - chronicling his love of pop music, his obsession with acquiring and cataloging records (oh, the obsession! oh, the cataloging), and his efforts to carve out some life, any life for himself within those empyrean realms as a songwriter, member of small-time bands, and prospectively eventually, the next Sting. Spoiler, it never happens. It rarely does. Along the way, we are treated to chapters on Marc Bolan, Stevie Wonder, Nik Kershaw and many others, mostly as framing devices to discuss what was going on in his budding young life at that time. It's an effective conceit, made so by the breathlessly confessional tone with which he shares what made these artists' works so compelling at the time, and (in many cases), so distinctly embarrassing in hindsight. Rarely has the course of one man's blinding, slightly vague ambition been rendered with so little concern for ego after-the-fact. As an aspiring popstar and later, as a contented settler for a music press credential and a daydream job chronicling the livers of his erstwhile dream (and losing his spleen in the process), he has his brushes with fame, industry shenanigans, a West German album deal and consequent German tour, a band falling apart, and having it all crash down around him rather clamorlessly, plus the not terribly unexpected disillusionment of interviewing Phil Collins and some others. It ends on a happy note, but I shan't dream of spoiling it for you. He never meets Sting. Or if he does, he plays coy. That's not the happy note. Smith is a fast, slippery, quippy, effortlessly entertaining writer. You feel as if the quips and slips just happen to him, and he's reporting them. Every few sentences it seems, a sentence will turn in its course and bite the previous one on the tail, to deeply wry humorous effect. Yet they all march on innocently, as if completely unaware of these pawky tricks and stingers laying in wait, and the reader is taken in as well. The punchlines land often with a cringe and a wince, but it's of sympathetic pain and vicarious shame. There's considerable zing here, and precious little snark. Very good read. A book for anyone who's ever hopelessly loved music, and especially human beings.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nigeyb

    Enjoyable, if dated, memoir by a music obsessive This is the second book I have read by a member of The Cleaners From Venus in the space of a few weeks. Following on from the excellent "This Little Ziggy" by Martin Newell, I was keen to read this book (which covers completely different territory). It's a very enjoyable read. A combination of personal memoir, the confessions of a pop music obsessive, and the diary of a failed pop star. I suspect it was inspired by Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch and adop Enjoyable, if dated, memoir by a music obsessive This is the second book I have read by a member of The Cleaners From Venus in the space of a few weeks. Following on from the excellent "This Little Ziggy" by Martin Newell, I was keen to read this book (which covers completely different territory). It's a very enjoyable read. A combination of personal memoir, the confessions of a pop music obsessive, and the diary of a failed pop star. I suspect it was inspired by Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch and adopts a similar style. As such Lost In Music would probably have had greater resonance when it was first published in 1995. The self-depracating confessional style which embraces various nerdy aspects of the obsessive's world (e.g. the need to carefully define and catalogue) is now an over familiar and somewhat tired trope. I was most interested in The Cleaners From Venus reminiscences. I suspect Giles Smith would have been amazed to learn that in 2014 there have recently been three lavish CD collections of the majority of the Cleaners' back catalogue. It is a strange and surprising world indeed. I have read some wonderful books about music in the last few months and, whilst this is enjoyable enough, it pales somewhat in comparison to, and to name just a few, Yeah Yeah Yeah by Bob Stanley, This Little Ziggy by Martin Newell, The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band Who Burned a Million Pounds by John Higgs, Glam! by Barney Hoskyns, and The Haçienda: How Not to Run a Club by Peter Hook. 3/5

  4. 4 out of 5

    Picueta

    Este libro se me ha hecho bastante pesado y me ha costado bastante terminarlo porque, sinceramente, la mayoría de los temas que trata no son santo de mi devoción. Todo iba bien hasta que dejó de hablar de Marc Bolan y perdí por completo el interés cuando dice que no le interesaba la obra de Bowie y que no la conocía, ya en los 90 que fue la fecha de la primera publicación del libro. Admito que tiene capítulos interesantes, como esos en los que cuenta sus desventuras con Pete "el Cabrón" y como s Este libro se me ha hecho bastante pesado y me ha costado bastante terminarlo porque, sinceramente, la mayoría de los temas que trata no son santo de mi devoción. Todo iba bien hasta que dejó de hablar de Marc Bolan y perdí por completo el interés cuando dice que no le interesaba la obra de Bowie y que no la conocía, ya en los 90 que fue la fecha de la primera publicación del libro. Admito que tiene capítulos interesantes, como esos en los que cuenta sus desventuras con Pete "el Cabrón" y como se las tuvieron que ver cuando no consiguieron triunfar en la música. Y, oye, agradecida y emocionada porque le dedique dos páginas a explicar cómo se abre una caja de CD y luego otra más a explicar cómo sacar el libreto del estuche. Tan innecesario como tres cuartas partes del libro.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alex Sarll

    Thrust on me by a friend when he heard I was getting into the Cleaners from Venus, of whom Smith was a member during their closest approach to fame (which is to say, the dizzy heights of an abortive deal with RCA Germany). I was amused to see Cleaner in chief Martin Newell described as recalling Fagin circa 1985, it being a reference point for which I had independently reached after seeing a couple of recent shows. Generally, the sections about Smith's own time in bands were the ones which grabb Thrust on me by a friend when he heard I was getting into the Cleaners from Venus, of whom Smith was a member during their closest approach to fame (which is to say, the dizzy heights of an abortive deal with RCA Germany). I was amused to see Cleaner in chief Martin Newell described as recalling Fagin circa 1985, it being a reference point for which I had independently reached after seeing a couple of recent shows. Generally, the sections about Smith's own time in bands were the ones which grabbed me, and not just because I know and enjoy the Cleaners' music; I'm entirely unfamiliar with the output of covers band Pony and art-prank the Orphans of Babylon, as I suspect is everyone outside late seventies and early eighties Colchester, but their stories still amused me in a way the memories of pop fandom didn't. Possibly these latter were fresher when the book was first released, in 1995; two decades on, much of it has been assimilated into truism (the records you love are seldom loved solely for the music), other bits are hilariously historical (the Walkman! CDs versus vinyl!)*, and some of the remainder is a bit, well, Nick Hornby (he provides a jacket quote). In particular, Lost in Music shares with High Fidelity that stupid line about no pop music being adequate to the situation of a loved one's death. To which I can only ever say - you must have a really shit record collection, mate. Still, in Smith's defence, at least he's not too much of a rockist; there's the odd lazy dig at eg Bryan Ferry, but it's pleasantly surprising when an alumnus of Q and Mojo confesses complete ignorance of Bob Dylan and Neil Young. *There is one attempt at prognostication, starting with that most nineties of formats, the CD-ROM (when do they get their revival?), in which Smith sees a more interactive future coming, even as he fails to guess the shape it would take. But then, even a John Brunner would have struggled to call that one. Also, only as I write this does it click; Smith lived through the Second Summer of Love, yet doesn't once mention dance music - an unwitting parallel bto his father's complete failure to get the point of pop?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Any book whose back cover soundbite reviews exhort me to "laugh out loud" tends to strenthen my resolve not to, but I did exhale a few chuckles here. Despite it being very different, in emphasis and structure, to Nick Hornby's '31 Songs', I can't help but compare them. And there were a few moments that felt a bit, er, familiar, which doesn't reflect well on Hornby, his musical memoir being written nearly a decade after Smith's. But I put this down to their being of a similar age and thus the same Any book whose back cover soundbite reviews exhort me to "laugh out loud" tends to strenthen my resolve not to, but I did exhale a few chuckles here. Despite it being very different, in emphasis and structure, to Nick Hornby's '31 Songs', I can't help but compare them. And there were a few moments that felt a bit, er, familiar, which doesn't reflect well on Hornby, his musical memoir being written nearly a decade after Smith's. But I put this down to their being of a similar age and thus the same seminal artists being around them, and the universality of how everyone experiences music. Besides, the balance was soon tipping back in Hornby's favour. Giles' account, whilst undeniably more comprehensive, lacks the warmth and intimacy of the later book, so that the more vulnerable passages (e.g. the Hodgkin's disease chapter) were slightly jarring. And there was a foundation of bitterness underpinning the whole book, which spread like dry rot as it began to be mostly about hisown failed pop career. Whereas Hornby, who cheerfully offers up his complete lack of musical talent as mere fact, has no such baggage and is able to focus more on the joy of music.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I found myself really wanting to enjoy this book, but skimming a lot of pages instead. It was just too much like Smith'd written down his inner chats for his own enjoyment without consideration for the enjoyment of the reader. His book read like the stories i create in my head to fill in slow moments; you know the ones when we re-live our past like we're telling it to an interviewer. But i don't need to turn this inner story telling into a book to know they are mainly only of interest to me and I found myself really wanting to enjoy this book, but skimming a lot of pages instead. It was just too much like Smith'd written down his inner chats for his own enjoyment without consideration for the enjoyment of the reader. His book read like the stories i create in my head to fill in slow moments; you know the ones when we re-live our past like we're telling it to an interviewer. But i don't need to turn this inner story telling into a book to know they are mainly only of interest to me and maybe, just maybe, the people they also include, but not to the general public. So sadly i liked this book less than i'd hoped. He could've summed it up in one his final stories a paraphrasing of which is: i'm more of a music fan then i am a musician; the end.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Guy Winter

    This is a hilarious, unfailingly candid account of a lifelong obsession with pop music with a tragicomic conclusion- Giles is above all a pop fan, not a real pop star. But he's a wonderfully gifted, insightful writer whose chequered pop career got him into some extraordinarily funny situations! By the end you may even want to track down some Cleaners from Venus albums...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julio Reyes

    Fan o músico. El espejismo más cruel del rock es hacer(nos) creer que todos podemos ser músicos. Smith aprende que ambos son incompatibles, pero que lo más divertido es seguir soñando.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tracey Sinclair

    Enjoyable, very much in the Nick Hornby vein.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Liedzeit

    Cleaners of Venus. Das Leben mit Musik, der Autor schildert wie er vom frühen T.Rex-Fan die nächsten Jahre lebt, sehr anschaulich, besonders anschaulich macht er, wie sehr es vom Zufall abhängt welche Gruppen man mag. Ein Mitschüler, den er nicht leiden kann, mag Bowie, also wird der Widerwillen auf Bowie übertragen, sehr lustig, wie er verhinderte, Pink Floyd Fan zu werden usw. 10cc liebte er, aber irgendwann machten die eben nur noch Schrott. Wie wahr. Komischerweise scheint er Stevie Wonder s Cleaners of Venus. Das Leben mit Musik, der Autor schildert wie er vom frühen T.Rex-Fan die nächsten Jahre lebt, sehr anschaulich, besonders anschaulich macht er, wie sehr es vom Zufall abhängt welche Gruppen man mag. Ein Mitschüler, den er nicht leiden kann, mag Bowie, also wird der Widerwillen auf Bowie übertragen, sehr lustig, wie er verhinderte, Pink Floyd Fan zu werden usw. 10cc liebte er, aber irgendwann machten die eben nur noch Schrott. Wie wahr. Komischerweise scheint er Stevie Wonder selbst Birthday zu vergeben. Daneben die hübsche Geschichte seiner eigenen Musik-Karriere. Cleaners of Venus, gar nicht so schlecht, sogar mit deutschem Plattenvertrag. Sehr gute Schlusspointe, wo sein Exkollege ihn nach vielen Jahren auffordert auf Tour durch Japan zu gehen. Da kommen alle vernünftigen Gegenargumente, und beinahe glaubt man ihm, aber natürlich fragt er: Wann beginnen die Proben?

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marinho Aguilar

    Tenía mucho tiempo que no me reía tanto. La biografía de Giles Smith en función de su relación con la música puede ser la de cualquiera que ha disfrutado un álbum, una canción. Cualquiera que ha sentido el cosquilleo de abrir un disco nuevo. Cualquiera que se ha emocionado en ir a buscar o encontrar nueva música en vinil, casette o CD. Como dice el mismo Giles "Cuando el pop no era la banda sonora de tu vida, era tu vida".

  13. 5 out of 5

    Esteban Galarza

    Un modo muy personal de describir una fascinación que nos acompaña a todos los que decidimos dar un paso más en la música e internarnos a comprar, coleccionar e inclusive intentar ser músicos. En completa consonancia con Nick Hornby, creo que éste es uno de esos libros de y sobre la música que hay que leer y tener, junto con High fidelity, But Beautiful de Dyer y la autobiografía de Miles Davis

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eddie

    4 stars if you are a fan of Martin Newell and the Cleaners from Venus...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    This was a charming book, and I would gladly recommend it to any of the following: serious pop/rock music fans with big record collections, big fans of English pop music, and fans of any of the following artists: Stevie Wonder, XTC, Nik Kershaw, 10cc, and especially The Cleaners From Venus. Smith was, for a couple of years, an actual member of the Cleaners, and eventually moved on from the chaotic life of the struggling pop musician to the presumably more comfortable days of a music journalist. This was a charming book, and I would gladly recommend it to any of the following: serious pop/rock music fans with big record collections, big fans of English pop music, and fans of any of the following artists: Stevie Wonder, XTC, Nik Kershaw, 10cc, and especially The Cleaners From Venus. Smith was, for a couple of years, an actual member of the Cleaners, and eventually moved on from the chaotic life of the struggling pop musician to the presumably more comfortable days of a music journalist. This is the story of the author's obsessive love affair with pop, from the early days of Marc Bolan worship to the perspective of a man in his mid-30s who continues to purchase any release whatsoever that XTC puts out. My obsessions were different, but I can certainly relate to Smith's constant record collecting, concert going, and care and upkeep of his collection (something that he actually devotes a few too many pages to). Smith's stories of teenage musical adventures brings back memories and provides many laughs. What Smith does get serious about is his (former) desire to be a big pop star himself. This desire of his underlies the long section on one of his favorites, Martin Newell and his band The Cleaners From Venus. Smith spends a couple of years hanging around with Martin and making music with him, but ultimately sees him as an exasperating and self-defeating figure, someone with much talent but a personality that runs counter to becoming a star. Smith also points out that stardom is not always what it is cranked up to be. A chapter on 80s star Nik Kershaw is as funny and revealing as anything I've read about pop music. There is much laughter throughout this breezy book; the author does not forget that as serious as it gets sometimes, pop music is ultimately fun.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ronald

    "This book is a one man's journey into the world of rock and then back to his mum's." Giles Smith, een Britse journalist, vertelt over het opgroeien met popmuziek in de 70ies en 80ies. Over hoe pop zijn leven binnenkwam, hoe pop zijn leven ging beheersen en hoe hij, ten slotte, het plan opvatte om Sting te worden. (Dat plan ging niet door). Ik denk niet dat ik al een grappiger boek over muziek heb gelezen. Vaak luid gelachen! Smith bewondert en bespot artiesten, altijd als een gentleman, en hij "This book is a one man's journey into the world of rock and then back to his mum's." Giles Smith, een Britse journalist, vertelt over het opgroeien met popmuziek in de 70ies en 80ies. Over hoe pop zijn leven binnenkwam, hoe pop zijn leven ging beheersen en hoe hij, ten slotte, het plan opvatte om Sting te worden. (Dat plan ging niet door). Ik denk niet dat ik al een grappiger boek over muziek heb gelezen. Vaak luid gelachen! Smith bewondert en bespot artiesten, altijd als een gentleman, en hij bespot zichzelf. Flegmatiek, stiekem trots op zijn avonturen. Op een bepaald moment starten hij en zijn broers een bandje. Ze zoeken een naam en hun moeder suggereert The Smiths (dit speelt zich eind jaren 70 af). Dat lachen ze weg, veel te flauw. En te banaal ook. Wie noemt zich nu zo? Ze gaan voor Pony. Het is onmogelijk om je - als je ooit naar muziek op de radio bent beginnen luisteren, een platenverzameling bent gestart of ooit in een bandje speelde - niet te herkennen in wat Giles Smith beschrijft. Ik riep de hele tijd: "Jaaaa dat had ik ook!" (Behalve dat van het bandje, dat heb ik nooit gedurfd). Tussen al het geestige commentaar vertelt hij ook heel treffende dingen over het fenomeen pop. Slim boek. Grappig boek!

  17. 4 out of 5

    David Manns

    Giles Smith is a fan of pop music, who, like many self-respecting fans had dreams of pop stardom. This book details his obsession with pop music and his brief flirtation with the music industry as a member of the Cleaners From Venus. The Cleaners operated at the arse-end of the music biz in the late 80's, managed by two young Scots chancers and briefly signed to RCA. In Germany. Smith recounts his trials and tribulations with the band, interspersed with anecdotes about his love of pop and the st Giles Smith is a fan of pop music, who, like many self-respecting fans had dreams of pop stardom. This book details his obsession with pop music and his brief flirtation with the music industry as a member of the Cleaners From Venus. The Cleaners operated at the arse-end of the music biz in the late 80's, managed by two young Scots chancers and briefly signed to RCA. In Germany. Smith recounts his trials and tribulations with the band, interspersed with anecdotes about his love of pop and the strange things it makes fans do. Smith is a good writer, indeed it's the career he chose after the Cleaners failed to make it, and the book is broken down into bite size chapters but somehow, for me the book is less than the sum of its parts. It's amusing in places but not laugh out loud funny. The best bits are the Cleaners' story and you wish he'd gone into more detail, made the book more about that. As it is the book falls into two camps: a story about a failed pop band, and a story about one man's relationship to pop music. So, an amusing, undemanding read. One to dip into now and again.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pulp

    Enamorarse del pop hasta las últimas consecuencias. De esto va este libro, de perderse entre miles de canciones, intérpretes y biografías hasta conformar una obsesión que moldea para siempre tu personalidad. Las andanzas de Giles Smith resultan gratas para cualquiera que haya añadido kilometraje a su vida por medio de horas pasadas en tiendas de discos y armado de compilaciones desde una grabadora en soledad para personas que están allá afuera en centros nocturnos donde transcurren ruidos sin al Enamorarse del pop hasta las últimas consecuencias. De esto va este libro, de perderse entre miles de canciones, intérpretes y biografías hasta conformar una obsesión que moldea para siempre tu personalidad. Las andanzas de Giles Smith resultan gratas para cualquiera que haya añadido kilometraje a su vida por medio de horas pasadas en tiendas de discos y armado de compilaciones desde una grabadora en soledad para personas que están allá afuera en centros nocturnos donde transcurren ruidos sin alma. Aunque "Lost in Music" trata de los días del vinilo, cassette y esas revolución llamada el cd, las reflexiones permanecen vigentes para cualquier melómano (palabra odiosa como pocas). Los formatos cambian, pero las manías quedan ahí.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bookhuw

    A pleasing enough little book about pop music and the obsessive tendencies it inspires. It captures well that period in adolescence where every few weeks you seem to come across an album the likes of which you've never heard before, how "every time you bought a single, the world seemed to change shape", reminding me of my first listens to the likes of In Bloom, Misty Mountain Hop or Da Funk. Other memories of lifts in cars listening to tapes through treble heavy speakers, with any bass long havi A pleasing enough little book about pop music and the obsessive tendencies it inspires. It captures well that period in adolescence where every few weeks you seem to come across an album the likes of which you've never heard before, how "every time you bought a single, the world seemed to change shape", reminding me of my first listens to the likes of In Bloom, Misty Mountain Hop or Da Funk. Other memories of lifts in cars listening to tapes through treble heavy speakers, with any bass long having given up the ghost, also ring true. A bit obvious perhaps, but not a bad companion piece to High Fidelity.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Well written and the chapters are on average four pages long, so it's easy reading. Worth noting it was published 1995 contemporary to High Fidelity. I have to compare this to Mark Steel's [Book: Reasons To Be Cheerful] because I bought them second-hand at the same time (at Amazon's recommendation). Both are charming autobiographies of youth set against greater events (politics and pop) and naive but unfaltering determination to influence them, ultimately debriefed by an older cynical self.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Matti Karjalainen

    Giles Smithin humoristinen muistelmateos "Lost in Music" käsittelee kirjailijan musiikkiriippuvuutta, joka ilmenee muun muassa pakkomielteisenä suhtautumisena XTC-yhtyeeseen sekä vilpittömänä uskona siihen, että oma bändi tulee vielä jonakin päivänä breikkaamaan kunnolla. Suositellaan niille, jotka pitvät Nick Hornbyn kulttiromaanista Uskollinen äänentoisto.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ipswichblade

    Giles Smith is a superb sportswriter and I have read both his books of sports articles and his current writing in the Times. This is slightly different as its his life story in music. Giles clearly was on the cusp of stardom with his group but it just didn't quite happen. He claims in the book that he gets around 32p twice a year from royalties. This book also covers his joy of record buying and the whole area of vinyl and CD. All in all a nice easy read

  23. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    The funniest music book I've read. Captures the absurd, geeky joy of rock fandom with an intimate precision that can only come from deep personal experience. If you enjoyed "High Fidelity" (the book, not the movie), you'll adore this.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Super funny, especially the chapter on Pink Floyd. Couldn't resist reading sections aloud to the hubby. The sheer love of music comes through in every chapter, and as for Nik (or is it Nick)Kershaw...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Godzilla

    I did enjoy this book - the musical references resonated so deeply with me But I was left feeling that I'd not had the full story. It was very readable, but left me wanting more. Sometimes a good thing, but not in this instance, for me personally

  26. 4 out of 5

    Juan Luis

    Gracias Giles Smith por Lost in Music. Gracias.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Úbeda

    Un repaso a la vida del aficionado al pop cargado de ironía y con el que es difícil no sentirse identificado. Poco ambicioso y muy disfrutable.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Helena

    Read it and laugh out loud! Essential reading for those whose pop muic addiction spanned the 70s and 80s.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Pjtibbetts

    If you liked High Fidelity, you'll dig this as well.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Frangipani

    This book reminded me of a lot of my friends and their university days. A nice fun read. The author has a great sense of humour.

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