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The Olivetti Chronicles
Three Decades of Life and Music

by John Peel

      If you have spent time in the UK in the last forty or so years, you are sure to have heard of John Peel.† One time DJ, he also wrote copiously for newspapers and magazines, clattering away on his old Olivetti typewriter.† This is a selection of these writings, showing his encyclopedic knowledge of the music business as well as musings on such diverse subjects as socks, shaving, shopping and sickness.

This is one of those books which will be very useful to anybody interested in social history in the future.† These diverse topics give a fascinating glimpse into what made the people of the 1960s up to the 2000s tick, and of course some of this is already history.† From his hippy days in the 60s writing for Gandalfís Garden onwards, Peelís witty turn of phrase and willingness to give just about any type of music a fair hearing makes for some informative (and amusing) reading.† Take a band called Nile for example, whose thrash metal songs are sung in Sumerian (2001), or New Age music, which does not appeal to Peel and which he says makes any instrument sound like a sofa (1988).† Then there are his views on the music of top performers such as Madonna, Roy Orbison, The Smiths, The Sex Pistols and Rod Stewart as well as incidents from their careers, most interesting when they are mentioned more than once with some years between.† His musings on various diverse topics are rather fun, giving us his take on the arcane world of Childrenís TV, babies, Eastern Europe, road shows and road rage.

This is a good coffee table book in fact, even containing a section of color photos, but particularly good for just dipping into at odd moments when you want to be entertained.† His knowledge of the music industry was amazing, and if you are at all interested in this then you are sure to find much that you donít know anything about at all.

The Book

Bantam Press (Transworld UK)
23 October 2008
059306061X / 9780593060612
Nonfiction / essays / memoir
More at US || UK

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008