Colourful, self-deprecating memoir ... In-depth analysis ... Music journalists tend to be square pegs of one shape or another, and Kessler’s is a rip-snorting account of a misspent youth well spent; a background full of secrets and lies, French skinheads and sticky fingers. You’ll feel for him ... Rich in musicianly colour ... This is recounted with self-deprecation and dry humour, listing wrong turns and cringes as well as detailing the absurd, joyful surreality of being behind the curtain, seeing the pop levers move.
While there is no shortage of books that celebrate the glory of music journalism, Kessler’s book is arguably one of the first to offer a post-mortem of sorts ... In a smooth blend of the personal and polemical, he maps out the co-ordinates using moments from his own music career ... The book’s sense of place is admirable ... The reader spends a beat too long in the Parisian banlieues with Kessler ... Ultimately, Paper Cuts reads as a Valentine to an industry and magazine that, far from burning out spectacularly, faded away at the hands of British publisher bigwigs.
After reading Ted Kessler’s account of living through the last hurrah and the slow decline of the music press, you would have to conclude that what starts out as a dream job is apt to dissolve into a nightmare ... It adds up to a funny, colourful, occasionally tragic trawl through the challenges of making a living from writing about music ... I would take issue with Kessler claiming he destroyed the music press, given that it is still alive. Really, he’s talking about the death of a mid-Nineties to early-2000s golden age when music journalists and the bands they wrote about were essentially in the same club.