This week’s suggestion is a book. And it’ll lead on to a suggestion of two further books.
One of the many links that I suggest worth exploring under the heading ‘Blogroll of Honour’ is Vivonzeureux!, a wonderfully diverse and entertaining blog under the direction of Pol Dodu.
I didn’t cotton on to the fact, until a few weeks ago, that Pol Dodu is none other than JC Brouchard, a truly legendary figure in the independent music scene not only in his homeland of France, but also here in the UK thanks to his relationship and exploits with the early era of Creation Records, and in particular The Television Personalities. Up until just about now, I had assumed they were friends who collaborated on the contents of Vivonzeruex!.
JC B (as I will refer to him from now on) has contacted me on a few occasions over the years, offering words of encouragement for TVV; he has also left behind the occasional comment after some posts. He got in touch last month:-
I hope you are doing well.
I was trying to count, but I know I’ve been following, reading and downloading from your blog for quite a number of years now.
It’s not just that you are my Scottish namesake, but we have about the same age and a lot of tastes in common…! And I find your posts really interesting.
As a thank you, I’d like to send you the three little books I’ve published in English, about Felt, Television Personalities and Jonathan Richman.
Could you give me your postal address ?
All the best,
The email also said that the books, as well as being available in printed form, were available as free downloads. I followed the links and saw that all three books could also be bought abd posted anywhere in the world, and while I really appreciated the offer of free copies, I really prefer to do my best to support anyone involved in the creative arts, and so before replying to JC B, I put in, and paid for an order for all three of them.
A small exchange of e-mails followed, including JC B thanking me profusely for the purchase, and a promise that he would include a few extras in the package. He was as good as his word, and the CDs he added will likely form a couple of blog postings come 2022. He included a lovely handwritten note and each of the books came with a personal inscription.
His newest book is Our Time Is Now, which was printed and published earlier this year. It is a wonderfully informative and entertaining collection of essays covering 50 songs released by Jonathan Richman, from as far back as 1975 all the way through to 2020. Some choices are obvious, but most are not. JC B has translated his own original words from French into English.
He similarly did the same back in 2011 with Felt : Ballad of The Fan and again in 2017 with Television Personalities : Diary of A Young Fan.
All three books are great reads. They aren’t what you would call epics. The books on Felt and Television Personalities are the shape and dimensions of a travel guide, and each extend to around 120 pages. The Jonathan Richman book is the size of an A5 publication, and runs to 96 pages including its glossy cover. They are all the work not only of a true fan, but someone who was able to become friends and confidantes of all three of the subject matters and many others in and around the various scenes.
It has to be said that there are occasions when the translation doesn’t quite make complete sense, and sometimes the editing efforts have left behind a mix of the English and French languages, but if anything this only adds to their charm, and certainly isn’t too much of a distraction; not does it lessen the impact of JC’s many thoughts, views and observations.
I was particularly taken by the book on Felt, a band that I have long admired without ever getting to know that much about. I don’t have too much of their output on vinyl, with most of what I have on the hard drive coming from their inclusion on compilation albums as well as two compilations released by Cherry Red and Creation Records back in the 90s. I’ve long wanted to do an ICA but never had the confidence as my gaps in knowledge were immense. JC B doesn’t shirk things in the book, making the point that some of the musical decisions throughout were akin to commercial sabotage, deliberately undertaken, and that many of the band’s best and most accessible compositions have been tucked away in obscure places. The book also devotes chapters to Denim and Go Kart Mozart, the later bands fronted by the enigmatic Lawrence.
So, here’s the thing. JC B is quite open to anyone downloading digital copies of all three of his books, and is happy for me to provide these links:-
You’ll see that the option is still there to make a physical purchase of each of them. They cost no more than 14 or 15 Euro, including postage, and will make for a great and unusual gift to yourself or a friend who likes this sort of music:-
mp3: Felt – Ballad of The Band
mp3: The Television Personalities – Part Time Punks
mp3: Jonathan Richman – Morning Of Our Lives (live)
And of course, with the option of the download available, you really can try before you buy.
There’ll be one more Christmas recommendation this time next week, but given by then we will be just about into December, it’s almost too late to make any further suggestions to impact on your wish lists.