Book Reviews

Tenement Kid – Bobby Gillespie – Book Review

Tenement Kid – Bobby Gillespie – Book Review
by Killian Laher

In a way, it’s a little surprising that Primal Scream singer Bobby Gillespie hasn’t written an autobiography until now.  As the 80s turned into the 90s, Gillespie went from washed-up, not even has-been but more never-was, to become a key cultural figure, without ever having been a classic songwriter or great singer.  This account covers his upbringing and the early part of his musical career to the point where Primal Scream’s breakthrough album, Screamadelica was released.

The book begins as equal parts Alan McGee and Shuggie Bain.  Lots of grim anecdotes about growing up in Glasgow, punctuated with football or music-related reflections.  Meeting the Reid brothers was a key fork in the road for Gillespie and the parts documenting his time as the drummer in the Jesus and Mary Chain are fascinating, Gillespie acting as a student and participant in the band.

Like his friend Alan McGee, Bobby Gillespie never lets the truth get in the way of a good story, but the storytelling is compulsive and hugely enjoyable.  There are some really caustic passages including a wonderful takedown of Live Aid and the bands taking part.  He is very forthcoming in some areas but surprisingly reticent in others, especially the departure of Jim Beattie from Primal Scream which is dealt with swiftly and light on detail.  The section dealing with the writing and recording of Screamadelica is fascinating.

The book will be of interest to anyone with even a passing interest in Primal Scream.  Fans of his music will lap it up and eagerly await the next volume.

Categories: Book Reviews, Books, Header, Music

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