6th June 2024

OK, they might not be new but if you do stumble over this trio, here’s my thoughts on: ELO, David Bowie and respected journalist Barney Hoskins

Title: God is in the Radio, Unbridled Enthusiasms 1980-2020

Authors: Barney Hoskins
Publisher: Omnibus
Price: £18.99
Pages: 287

Title: Wembley or Bust 

Author: Jeff Lynne
Publisher: Genesis
Price: £35
Pages: 212

Title: Bowie Odyssey 71

Editor: Simon Goddard
Publisher: Omnibus
Price: £14.99
Pages: 163

Note: Prices listed follow the launch figure. You may be able to obtain these books at a cheaper price now.


Wembley or Bust

What confused me was the ‘50th’ appellation on the front cover. I thought this was a band biography or at least the story of the 1978 Out of the Blue Wembley show using archival images and interviews. It isn’t (which is a shame because that book needs to be written). This book chronicles the 24 June 2017 Wembley concert (So ‘4th’, then not ’50th’). Essentially, that was a Jeff Lynne solo show.

This tome is mainly a picture book with extended captions. That means many concert images but also technical stage plans artist photographs, set lists, audience shots and the like. 

Lynne does provide some text on each song sung which is frankly the best part of the book – there’s just not enough of it, though. At least this feature provides some insight, at last. So you get details of his vocoder use on Sweet Talkin’ Woman and the arrangement to 10538 Overture. 

Some captions are a couple of hundred words, others barely 60. You get the feeling that Lynne hurriedly threw this part together in the company of a Genesis staffer with a voice recorder in a couple of hours, in between appointments. In a hotel lobby. 

This is a coffee-table picture book, full of fluff and not enough meat. Fans may like it but really, it’s non essential. 


Bowie Odyssey 71

Next in Goddard’s apparent 10-year ‘history’ project from a largely cultural and highly interpretive perspective this book follows the release of Bowie Odyssey 70. Taking the slightly disengaged, rather contrived, novelistic approach to music history (as also seen in Goddard’s earlier book, Ziggyology), we wander though events of the year like an audience might wander through scenes in a play: scene by dazed scene.

The style of the book verges on the poetic, the romantic, as opposed to a blow by blow account backed up by the witness and the source. 

This is less a history and more an analysis. Bowie on the couch. Bowie from a dream.

Switch a spotlight on this book though and, in short, this is Goddard wondering how to make yet another history of this iconic musical artist palatable to the casual and hard core Bowie fan as well as his publisher.  

I wonder if this series might make a better graphic novel. A comic character as a comic character?


God is in the Radio, Unbridled Enthusiasms 1980-2020

God is in The Radio? In the context of this month’s reviews, I thank Hoskins and the almighty for a book with direction, content, focus, clarity and real substance.

This author of multiple books and contributor to both the NME music paper and Mojo magazine (among others) provides an archive of his work for our perusal. As we have Bowie on our minds, take Hoskins’ review of the 1975 album, Station to Station in which Hoskins manages to whip up mentions of fascism, cocaine, Aretha Franklin and Joni Mitchell and explains why Station… might look into the dark but its not a drug album.

For a longer 1984 NME piece (11 plus pages) on Bobby Womack there’s certainly power and emotion. Womack sounds incredibly tired. His outlook on the music he loves and the scene he emerged from verges on the bleak. He talks about his loneliness. The essential falsity of the people orbiting him, “Its a funny thing, man. I know a lotta people, but I don’t have no friends.”

The insight continues: Lee Hazelwood, Laura Nyro, Dr John and the author’s own his love/hate relationship with The Rolling Stones. 

A fine book of old times. Old heroes. Old memories. Now recaptured.