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Tenement Kid

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Fizzing with an infectious passion for the magic of rock music, Gillespie’s vivid and evocative memoir traces the Primal Scream frontman’s path from Glasgow tenement to the release of Screamadelica, the psychedelic masterpiece that ushered in the 90s. Tenement Kid is Bobby Gillespie's story up to the recording and release of the album that has been credited with 'starting t Fizzing with an infectious passion for the magic of rock music, Gillespie’s vivid and evocative memoir traces the Primal Scream frontman’s path from Glasgow tenement to the release of Screamadelica, the psychedelic masterpiece that ushered in the 90s. Tenement Kid is Bobby Gillespie's story up to the recording and release of the album that has been credited with 'starting the 90's', Screamadelica. Born into a working class Glaswegian family in the summer of 1961, Bobby's memoirs begin in the district of Springburn, soon to be evacuated in Edward Heath's brutal slum clearances. Leaving school at 16 and going to work as a printers' apprentice, Bobby's rock n roll epiphany arrives like a bolt of lightning shining from Phil Lynott's mirrored pickguard at his first gig at the Apollo in Glasgow. Filled with 'the holy spirit of rock n roll' his destiny is sealed with the arrival of the Sex Pistols and punk rock which to Bobby, represents an iconoclastic vision of class rebellion and would ultimately lead to him becoming an artist initially in the Jesus and Mary Chain then in Primal Scream. Structured in four parts, Tenement Kid builds like a breakbeat crescendo to the final quarter of the book, the Summer of Love, Boys Own parties, and the fateful meeting with Andrew Weatherall in an East Sussex field. As the '80s bleed into the '90s and a new kind of electronic soul music starts to pulse through the nation's consciousness, Primal Scream become the most innovative British band of the new decade, representing a new psychedelic vanguard taking shape at Creation Records. Ending with the release of Screamadelica and the tour that followed in the autumn, Tenement Kid is a book filled with the joy and wonder of a rock n roll apostle who would radically reshape the future sounds of fin de siecle British pop. Published thirty years after the release of their masterpiece, Bobby Gillespie's memoir cuts a righteous path through a decade lost to Thatcherism and saved by acid house.


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Fizzing with an infectious passion for the magic of rock music, Gillespie’s vivid and evocative memoir traces the Primal Scream frontman’s path from Glasgow tenement to the release of Screamadelica, the psychedelic masterpiece that ushered in the 90s. Tenement Kid is Bobby Gillespie's story up to the recording and release of the album that has been credited with 'starting t Fizzing with an infectious passion for the magic of rock music, Gillespie’s vivid and evocative memoir traces the Primal Scream frontman’s path from Glasgow tenement to the release of Screamadelica, the psychedelic masterpiece that ushered in the 90s. Tenement Kid is Bobby Gillespie's story up to the recording and release of the album that has been credited with 'starting the 90's', Screamadelica. Born into a working class Glaswegian family in the summer of 1961, Bobby's memoirs begin in the district of Springburn, soon to be evacuated in Edward Heath's brutal slum clearances. Leaving school at 16 and going to work as a printers' apprentice, Bobby's rock n roll epiphany arrives like a bolt of lightning shining from Phil Lynott's mirrored pickguard at his first gig at the Apollo in Glasgow. Filled with 'the holy spirit of rock n roll' his destiny is sealed with the arrival of the Sex Pistols and punk rock which to Bobby, represents an iconoclastic vision of class rebellion and would ultimately lead to him becoming an artist initially in the Jesus and Mary Chain then in Primal Scream. Structured in four parts, Tenement Kid builds like a breakbeat crescendo to the final quarter of the book, the Summer of Love, Boys Own parties, and the fateful meeting with Andrew Weatherall in an East Sussex field. As the '80s bleed into the '90s and a new kind of electronic soul music starts to pulse through the nation's consciousness, Primal Scream become the most innovative British band of the new decade, representing a new psychedelic vanguard taking shape at Creation Records. Ending with the release of Screamadelica and the tour that followed in the autumn, Tenement Kid is a book filled with the joy and wonder of a rock n roll apostle who would radically reshape the future sounds of fin de siecle British pop. Published thirty years after the release of their masterpiece, Bobby Gillespie's memoir cuts a righteous path through a decade lost to Thatcherism and saved by acid house.

30 review for Tenement Kid

  1. 5 out of 5

    David

    This was an excellent read. Bobby Gillespie has a career in the music biz stretching back 40 years and explains his influences and experiences with an infectious enthusiasm. His memories of his days as a music fan from the mid-70s onwards are fascinating and his description of the magnanimous support offered by people such as Siouxsie Sioux, Steve Severin and Peter Hook are heart-warming. And if you ever needed a reminder of the inate decency of Joe Strummer towards his fan base, Gillespie offer This was an excellent read. Bobby Gillespie has a career in the music biz stretching back 40 years and explains his influences and experiences with an infectious enthusiasm. His memories of his days as a music fan from the mid-70s onwards are fascinating and his description of the magnanimous support offered by people such as Siouxsie Sioux, Steve Severin and Peter Hook are heart-warming. And if you ever needed a reminder of the inate decency of Joe Strummer towards his fan base, Gillespie offers an excellent example. As someone who has been a member of several iconic bands (JAMC, Primal Scream, Altered Images...who knew!?), Gillespie generously gives credit to pivotal personalities such as Alan McGee, the Reid brothers, Andrew Weatherall etc. One of my favourite aspects of the book is the detailed description of his early years in the Glasgow tenements and how that shaped his strong socialist belief. His obvious pride in his father's role as a union organiser is fascinating and helps to make this a valuable social history of Scotland in the post-war era. Overall, a really engrossing book and well recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dave Ross

    Get your rocks off! This is simply the best rock biography I've read in a long time. Learned a lot. I wished I'd spoken to Bobby about music at school, I thought the only thing we had in common was a love of Glasgow Celtic. Initially the book describes the Glasgow of my youth, a beautifully detailed trip. Part two is a musical journey and provides a guide to the 80s music scene. Nice mention for my old DJ mate Tam Coyle. A cracking read strap on the acid goggles enjoy. I look forward to the sequel Get your rocks off! This is simply the best rock biography I've read in a long time. Learned a lot. I wished I'd spoken to Bobby about music at school, I thought the only thing we had in common was a love of Glasgow Celtic. Initially the book describes the Glasgow of my youth, a beautifully detailed trip. Part two is a musical journey and provides a guide to the 80s music scene. Nice mention for my old DJ mate Tam Coyle. A cracking read strap on the acid goggles enjoy. I look forward to the sequel.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Crichton

    Just a touch laboured in points with politics. We get it, you’re a socialist! Despite this, an interesting read for those interested in Scottish culture and British music- everything from working class life in 70’s Glasgow, to the Stones, Beatles, Pistols, Roses, Mondays, the Chain, McGee and Noel Gallagher.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ilya Miller

    Take it from the man. Bobby G is at his best when writing about his musical and chemical influences. Kudos to him to make out alive out of Glasgow in 70’s - it was pretty grim up there it seems.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth De Sola

    I miss the 90s!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tom Ferguson

    Glasgow, Music, Politics, Football/ Celtic - what’s not to like! Primal Scream are brilliant and this book captures Gillespie’s adventures in the music scene of the late 80s / early 90s! A great social history, would have been 5* but the drug chat dragged a bit & bored me - wasn’t enough to spoil it though. A great read!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Started out with a wee bit of repetition of phrases and ideas (plus some and odd stylings) but soon found a speedy and excitable pace. Much like the Brett Anderson split autobiographies, this ends where things are about to really take off but it doesn't feel anticlimactic. Gillespie feels like an honest narrator, plainly describing the lows and highs without dishing dirt. Really looking forward to the next one but am PRAYING that this doesn't wrap up the later period of his life after the mainst Started out with a wee bit of repetition of phrases and ideas (plus some and odd stylings) but soon found a speedy and excitable pace. Much like the Brett Anderson split autobiographies, this ends where things are about to really take off but it doesn't feel anticlimactic. Gillespie feels like an honest narrator, plainly describing the lows and highs without dishing dirt. Really looking forward to the next one but am PRAYING that this doesn't wrap up the later period of his life after the mainstream success in a handful of pages like so many other artist's life stories.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jim Levi

    Bobby Gillespie is just under a month older than me - and I once saw him having a Father's Day lunch in the Delauney in London while doing the same - I also learnt from this book that I probably saw him drumming for Altered Images in Edinburgh many years ago - although like the rest of the audience can only remember Claire Grogan. I struggled with the beginning of this autobiography (although it's only partial - it ends with the release of Screamadelica over 30 years ago) - Gillespie is a magnifi Bobby Gillespie is just under a month older than me - and I once saw him having a Father's Day lunch in the Delauney in London while doing the same - I also learnt from this book that I probably saw him drumming for Altered Images in Edinburgh many years ago - although like the rest of the audience can only remember Claire Grogan. I struggled with the beginning of this autobiography (although it's only partial - it ends with the release of Screamadelica over 30 years ago) - Gillespie is a magnificent musician, but not much of a writer - and the editing is also poor. Once it gets going though, this is a great read for any fan of Primal Scream - or even those with a passing interest - and it added to my knowledge (I had no idea he was ever in Altered Images or the rightly forgotten Factory band, the Wake for example). Unlike a lot of musician's autobiographies, the parts about music - the creation, the inspiration, the process - are fascinating and revealing. In fact it is some of the better musician writing about music writing that I have read. Where it is less enjoyable is the occasional burst of politics (which is like having someone rant at you in a pub, stop and then glare at you daring you to contradict them) and some of the other commentary. When it's on music though, this is a great read. The book ends with the release of Screamadelica, which I never realised had been released on the same day as Nevermind. What makes Gillespie interesting is that Screamadelica still sounds amazing today - even contemporary in some ways - while Nevermind and Nirvana sound like some relic of a bygone age. This is how he got there.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Julian Stewart

    Gillespie’s vivid articulation was a big surprise to me… I found his celebration of drug culture rather unpalatable (small wonder he had depression for a good part of his life), but his passion for music was inspiring. Describing what one likes about a piece of music or film is a difficult skill or talent to master or develop, but Gillespie seems have done so.. I found myself deeply impressed by his ability to tell us what the motivation behind Movin On Up was and numerous other songs. I reminde Gillespie’s vivid articulation was a big surprise to me… I found his celebration of drug culture rather unpalatable (small wonder he had depression for a good part of his life), but his passion for music was inspiring. Describing what one likes about a piece of music or film is a difficult skill or talent to master or develop, but Gillespie seems have done so.. I found myself deeply impressed by his ability to tell us what the motivation behind Movin On Up was and numerous other songs. I reminded myself, while reading this book, what a marvellous band Primal Scream are, playing the tracks in parallel to reading about them. And in the meantime I discovered what a thoughtful, compassionate and passionate band front man Gillespie is. Essential reading for Indie and electronic music fans - my favourite read of the year.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    The mask rarely slips over 400 pages, telling of Bobby Gillespie's life from childhood in Springburn until the release of Screamadelica. As a Glaswegian myself so much of this is familiar to me, from school aggro, to city centre clubs, and a thoroughly enjoyable read. The childhood tales and early political thoughts are the most interesting part. The early Jesus and Mary Chain gigs also sound mental. Funnily enough its the Primal Scream rock and roll stuff near the end that fades away, but a fas The mask rarely slips over 400 pages, telling of Bobby Gillespie's life from childhood in Springburn until the release of Screamadelica. As a Glaswegian myself so much of this is familiar to me, from school aggro, to city centre clubs, and a thoroughly enjoyable read. The childhood tales and early political thoughts are the most interesting part. The early Jesus and Mary Chain gigs also sound mental. Funnily enough its the Primal Scream rock and roll stuff near the end that fades away, but a fascinating read from one of Glasgow's most archetypally dour exports.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mancman

    I’ve recently read a Jesus and Mary Chain biography, so there was a certain crossover in this. This is written much more warmly, and with real thoughtfulness. It was full of honesty, revelations and confessions. If you’re even vaguely interested in music then there’s a world of discovery in here.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jessie Hogg

    absolutely loved this! bobby gillespie writes with such appreciation, passion and detail; a real music fan. i really hope he carries this on and writes a second book on the latter career of the scream!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Killian

    A must-read for anyone with even a passing interest in Primal Scream

  14. 4 out of 5

    Paul Marshall

    Meh I really wanted to like this book, unfortunately I just found Bobby Gillespie annoying, repetitive and smug and the writing poor. Shame, I’ll stick to loving the music instead.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brett Oaten

    Really good in parts. Ultimately the drug taking - while not unexpected - gets pretty tedious. Overall a good read, but I would have been fine with 100 less pages

  16. 4 out of 5

    Garth

    Bobby's politics are right on, but jesus, his prose is turgid. A+ content, C- execution. Bobby's politics are right on, but jesus, his prose is turgid. A+ content, C- execution.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sam Coates

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shane

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ciaran Battle

  20. 5 out of 5

    Marian Craig

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael Chambers

  22. 4 out of 5

    Catharine Braithwaite

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bronte

  24. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Bird

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alex Cornetto

  27. 4 out of 5

    1049 Gotho

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rhys Gundry

  29. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Excell

  30. 4 out of 5

    Paul

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