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Bringing It All Back Home

March 13, 2012

First published February 2008

Ian Clayton

Once upon a time record companies tried to make it easier for shops by printing ‘File Under…’ on the back sleeve ( my favourite was ‘File Under… Powertrash’ on the Replacements first LP). What would you write on the back of this charming but genre-straddling volume? It is variously a memoir, a critique of a bewildering variety of music, an appreciation of what it means to be a collector and, in the final chapter, a sad lament. The power of the book is the deft way in which Ian Clayton blends these ingredients together so that they co-exist in harmony rather than glaring crossly at each other. No wonder the Foreword is written by Robert Wyatt.

What I took from the book are the themes that underpin the many and varied anecdotes. There is a very strong sense of Ian’s native Featherstone at all times, and his sense of strong geographical and cultural roots. This informs a second strong theme, travelling and coming home (physically and emotionally). But the most prominent theme here is Ian’s love for his fellow man – not in a hippy-dippy watch-out-for-the-brown-acid sense but based on a true sense of being decent to ones fellow man and treating them with all due respect (except for US marines who lob ice cubes at you in BB Kings bar, and even this turns out OK).

I bought this book for the musical content only to discover that our tastes don’t really coincide, with the exception of the Stones doing Love In Vain on Get Yer Ya-Yas Out.  However this didn’t inhibit my enjoyment of the book one little bit. Reading Ian’s account of seeing Roy Herrington playing his seminal nine minute guitar virtuoso piece ‘Born In West Yorkshire’ works even without knowing the music. However a companion soundtrack CD featuring the breadth of music featured here would make for an entertaining listen – how about it Route?

 

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