Friday, March 01, 2013

Bedsit Disco Queen by Tracey Thorn

I have just finished reading Tracey Thorn's autobiography, Bedsit Disco Queen. Gina Birch lent it to me yesterday so it shows what a cracking good read it is.
There are all sorts of episodes that chime a chord- the violence in Hatfield, where the skinheads were notorious for wrecking gigs. I remember the Piranhas coming back and telling us about that. People forget just how violent young people could be in the past- and there's something of a pattern in unemployed young people + Conservative governments= violence. And I really enjoyed the description of the obnoxious Eric Heffer dominating the judging process of the doomed 'Song for Labour' competition.
It describes just how weird a life controlled by the music industry can be (and it surely is). It is perceptive, alarming and funny at the same time, and pulls the same sleight-of-hand that Abba-the Movie did; you're putting on the kettle and slicing up the raspberry cake, and then you suddenly realise that you don't really know anything about them at all. No secrets are spilled, no emotions laid bare.
On the other hand, the ambivalence about fame and its trappings feel very familiar to me.
I was hundreds of rungs further down the ladder (and strangely, just as with Martin and The Daintees, in spite of charging up and down the UK at the same time and playing similar venues, never played on the same bill), but felt that same introvert/extrovert thing and understand it.
She describes the feeling of playing at the Albert Hall, and then a few pages later, feelings of crippling shyness.
I enjoyed her performance on Later...with Jools and will check out her latest music. I have the single Night and Day which was given to me by Mike Alway alongside lots of other Cherry Red releases at the time. I played it a lot: it's lovely. But I never really got into their albums back then so maybe it's about time I did.
Why didn't I interview the Marine Girls for the Lost Women of Rock Music? I almost did, but they didn't cross over the noise threshold. I am glad Tracey has written this memoir because it adds to the interesting and perceptive body of work about and by female musicians.

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