MixedLondon Review of Books (UK)Biographies convince us by being authoritative rather than objective. The musician Richard Witts, whose biography of Nico was published in 1993, was asked by her to write her life. She wanted him to make it like a novel and he did ... Otter Bickerdike’s approach is to clear space around her subject, to return to the source where she can, and to lay out the versions and parts. It’s as if someone has turned down the music and switched on the lights and now you can hear what everyone’s saying. The two books complement each other ... This book is a feat of organisation. Even so, I lost track. Nico is in Paris when I thought she was still in New York. Ari is in the studio, the club, the hotel room, when I thought he was in Ibiza or France. People leave and reappear. There are no clear beginnings or endings. When Nico was most artistically sure of herself, heroin took over. From then on, her life wasn’t one thing after another but a circle that got smaller and moved more slowly until it barely moved at all.
PositiveThe London Review of Books (UK)... majestic ... The coolness with which Sullivan nets such detail could dull the poem’s urgency. Most of the time it doesn’t. The airy terza rima of its first section is tossed aside, suggesting that she knows when to respect a poem that announces it has other plans ... has an aerated extravagance that brings to mind Wallace Stevens’s ‘Parfait Martinique: coffee mousse, rum on top, a little cream on top of that’ – though that sounds positively austere beside these cocktails. Sullivan’s balancing acts are more strenuous than those of Stevens but her authority, reach and ambition are exhilarating. Her metaphorical scope is that of the internet, as access-all-areas as it is frictionless ... The long poem has already announced that it’s going to take time, so we may be more than usually willing to stop and solve a series of puzzles on the way. The difficulty comes when the poem does not want to be slowed down. Urgency is at times muted by an overinvestment in observation ... Despite a sense of pacing myself, I became so absorbed in the book that I noticed the repetition of an adverb (‘voluptuously’) used many pages apart and a possible contradiction involving an old blue dressing-gown ... Her drive to perceptual flood is exhilarating. It can overtake the reader, leaving us scrambling to catch up. It can overtake the poem, too. But I enjoy the confidence of this claim on my energy as well as my time.
RaveThe New StatesmanJoy Division are now a global brand. Here, Jon Savage restores them to the local – to the time, place and people who shaped them ... Whether or not the material is familiar, Savage’s thoughtful orchestration of the band’s oral history is illuminating. It muddies the clean lines of their now mythical narrative, chronicling the false starts, the ejected founder members, the different looks and names ... These interviews and anecdotes map what they came out of without forcing an explanation of how or why ... These interviews are a precious archive.
MixedThe Wall Street JournalIn Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Stars, David Hepworth...has many stories to tell of rock stars phasing themselves out, but some of his most interesting stories are of those who were abruptly deleted … The book focuses less on the music and more on the business, which Mr. Hepworth describes as having ‘two forms of demand: nonexistent and impossible to satisfy.’ He relishes the deals, scandal and brawls as well as the nitty-gritty of building a career ...Mr. Hepworth takes the stance of the insider-raconteur but gives no sources for his stories beyond a select bibliography. This leaves the stories uncluttered by footnotes but means that they lack context … He has an underlying tone familiar from the music press of the 1970s and ’80s, a combination of orotund irony and casual misogyny.