In a sodden tent at a '70s festival, the teenage Mark Ellen had a dream. He dreamt that music was a rich meadow of possibility, a liberating leap to a sparkling future, an industry of human happiness - and he wanted to be part of it. Thus began his 50-year love affair with rock and roll.
From his time at the NME and Smash Hits to Radio One, Old Grey Whistle Test, Live Aid, Q, Select, Mojo, and The Word magazines, he's been at the molten core of its evolution, and watched its key figures from a unique perspective. This funny and touching personal memoir maps out his eventful journey. It tells stories and settles scores. It charts the peaks and disappointments. It flags up surprising heroes and barbecues the dull and self-deluded. It puts a chaotic world to rights and pours petrol on the embers of a glorious industry now in spiralling decline.
©2014 Mark Ellen (P)2014 Hodder & Stoughton
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I switched on the the radio and there was Mark Ellen promoting his autobiography; talking to Danny Baker about the N.M.E., LiveAid, the Old Grey Whistle Test and the misery of meeting Van Morrison. Ellen was as charming and funny as ever; I had a surge of nostalgia and immediately bought this download. For anyone who knows Ellen's work it's enough to say that he reads this with his customary charm, It's funny, wistful and informed on his specialist subjects of music and the music press.
For anyone less familiar with him Ellen started his career in music journalism just as punk was getting underway and he stayed with it, unlike many contemporaries up to the present day; interviewing Lady Gaga and enduring Rhiana's comically awful sounding 777 press junket. During that time he rose through the ranks from writer to editor; progressing from being roughed up by Elvis Costello's manager for looking like a hippy and writing for the Record Mirror, to sharing an office with Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant when they both worked for archetypal 80's publication Smash Hits, to being on friendly terms with the likes of Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin when he and David Hepworth set up Word. Throughout; he stayed in love with music and never lost a sense of fandom. Oh yes; and he was in a band with Tony Blair when they were both at University.
We get conversations with musicians like Noel Gallagher, Jimmy Page and Lady Gaga. We get first hand accounts of presenting LiveAid and we get genuinely interesting insights into the way in which the internet has fundamentally changed the music business and the magazine business. His writing is funny, affectionate, insightful and inventive and he has a lovely reading style. It's like being in a pub with your funniest mate. It's possible that all of the above has left you completely cold. I'm conscious that Ellen's writing about something I'm passionate about and he's covering a period from my early teens to the present day so this resonates with me. But if any of that resonates with you too this is a treat..
"Highly entertaining autobiography in music"
Mark Ellen reads, a huge plus, a very entertaining and enjoyable ramble through his life and how music has played its part in it. If you have any interest in rock/ pop music I would highly recommend.
At times very funny, lovely anecdotes throughout the book.
"Mark Ellen was there so you didn't have to be"
Mark Ellen has a joy for life and a rare sense of self awareness. He can tell a great story and fashion some funny phrases. The book is like a good mate telling you his stories.
He said what I would have said if I could have had his experience, skill charm, memory and talent.
He may talk a lot for his living but he is not an actor. He kep the pace high and the enthusiasm wsa full on.
"Great fun musical trip"
I always thought of Mark Ellen as being a sweet cuddly Paul McCartney type, perhaps a little too nice for the rough and cynical world of rock music journalism. However, like Paul McCartney his affable exterior hides a street wise professional, more than capable of holding his own with some difficult and scarey people. I well remember the heady days of the NME and its almost dictatorial stance about what a young teenager was supposed to enjoy in order to fit in with the crowd and retain some semblance of credibility. We lapped it up and Mark Ellen takes us into the world of the journalists who shaped our youth and had the power to make or break aspiring musical acts with a few sharply targetted words. This is a hugely entertaining listen with some great stories about Meatloaf, Lady GaGa, Rod Stewart, Rihanna and many others. He is an excellent reader, radiating enthusiasm and pain effectively and also revealing an unexpected talent for impersonations, some of which are hilarious. I recommend this book, whether or not you lived through this era. If you didn't experience it directly it will give you a great sense of what it was all about.
"the exciting musical trip you'd expect from Ellen"
The great writing you'd expect from Mark Ellen. Only dropped a star because his delivery of the early chapters is as whimsical as the period he's describing. Such casualness is infuriating but soon he ups the commitment and it's hard to 'put down'/ pause.
"A very enjoyable listen"
Always warmed to Mark Ellen . This reinforced my opinion. Entertaining, witty, and infectiously modest.
Mark Ellen is the clog wearing hippy who transforms into city type publicist through his insight into the music biz....funny..factual and often frenetic...well done 9/10...top of the class ellen!
This is a great book, very well written and full of fascinating anecdotes and takes on UK Music business. I have looked forward to it for some time. But the recording is truly awful. Every sixty seconds Mark Ellen takes huge gasps of breathe that shatter the eardrums when listening on headphones, and then seems to talk without breathe until another huge gasp of air rattles around your skull, 60 seconds later. Let's face it, headphones are how most will listen to it, so such a schoolboy error is a tremendous shame It is without doubt the worst audio book recording I have ever heard, and is so ironic given the subject matter and the author. What a shame. Audible you should be refunding readers for this recording.
Yes but only if the recording issues were resolved
Either give Mark Ellen breathing exercises or find a way of minimising the huge noise loud gasps of air make through filters or better use of microphone positions.
I loved The Word and I love Mark Ellen. A fantastic well read roller coaster ride through the rock world with tales aplenty.
"Music memories come flooding back"
Mark Ellen has been part of the music world for many years and has many a tale to tell. He covers music from the 60s right up to the present day. If you have an interest in music then you should find this book entertaining and maybe even informative.
Mark's encounter with Lady GaGa and his trip with the Rhianna posse are notably memorable.
Mark proves to be an engaging and entertaining narrator of his own work.
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