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Saturday, 25 June 2011

Shelf Portraits - Life by Keith Richardson

I read a lot of  biographies/autobiographies - and I can't remember the last time I found one as fascinating as this. Keef tells a good story and comes across as remarkably truthful, particularly when dealing with his own drug addictions and the effect this had on himself and those around him.

There's a lot of black in this story, but Keef's sense of humour comes across on the page and makes for a captivating read. I'm not really a Stones fan as such - I love their 60's output, but haven't really had any time for their later output. Although I did very much enjoy their most recent studio album, A Bigger Bang. Hey, I'm one of those rare people who doesn't really like Exile on Main Street, which is the critic's choice for best Stones album. If I had to vote for the best Stones album I think my choice would be, Aftermath or maybe Out of Our Heads, but then my vote wouldn't be worth much as I've not really listened to most of their albums from the mid 70's onwards. Hey I'm a early Stones man and I feel that when Brian Jones went the band changed.

Their early sound was raw and bluesy which is pretty much the type of stuff I prefer, but reading this book has given me the urge to try some of the later stuff that I may have overlooked.

But back to the book - there is some swiping at Jagger (including claims that he has a tiny penis)  but not as much as other reviews of this book would have you believe, there's a lot about drugs, a theory on the death of Brian Jones ( Keef doesn't believe it was murder, but thinks it may have been manslaughter), and above all an extraordinary love for blues music.

Ghost writer, James Fox has done a great job in keeping Richard's voice in the prose, so much so that the book reads like one big monologue from a man who truly has some tall tales to tell.



Chap O'Keefe said...

I'm with you on preference for the early Stones stuff with the heavier R&B influence. Aftermath (the UK, longer version) is also my favourite among the LPs. But some of the slightly later albums appeal, too: Some Girls and Tattoo You stand out. And don't forget the "live" albums. Love You Live and Still Life have plenty of atmosphere.

Davieboy said...

As a life-long Beatles fan, it's funny how these days I more-often choose to listen to the Stones. Love 'em both of course.
Have got the book (Kindle v.), and I agree it's a fine read, particularly for those of us who remember the late '50s/early '60s, when the world was still in black and white.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

I listen to the Stones first five albums quite often - for many years I only knew the band from their best known hits, and then when the remastered CD's were issues a few years ago I started getting the original albums. I was amazed how bluesey the band were in the early days.