Time dulls the memory, sometimes for the best. Bad meals, bad holidays, lost love, time has a way of neutralising those memories. Sadly, it also dulls the memory of bad rock critics. I had forgotten what a pompous, self-important, narcissist Paul Morley was until I started to read his book on himself, on Bowie. Bombastically the dust cover carries a quote that Morley is the Bowie of Rock writing. Wrong.
I am a similar age to Morley, and have been a fan for a similar period of time. If I had wanted to read a book about Morley, I would have a choice, instead, he inflicts his own turgid, mangled, personal stream of consciousness, occasionally bringing Bowie into the process under the pretext of writing a book “about” Bowie. At 480 odd pages it is long, yet it is short of anything new or insightful, instead it is regurgitated, reheated, pap.
There are errors. “Alabama Song” was not performed on the Isolar/ Station to Station tour, “Jean Genie” was inspired by a John Lee Hooker riff, not a Muddy waters one. But for a book so long, there is so little new. A first person interview with Peter Frampton’s Dad, Bowie’s Art Teacher offers a glimpse into what might have been. Otherwise there is nothing. The list of those who could contribute insight is long, Duncan his son, Imam his wife, Angie his ex -wife, Tony De Fries his ex -manager, numerous band mates, particularly Woody Woodmansey, Tony Visconti, Carlos Alomar Earl Slick, Peter Fripp , Iggy Pop, and Adrian Belew and long time friend George Underwood amongst them. That would take time, effort, persuasion, money, and be about others, instead Morley rattles this off in ten weeks.
Ignore the puff piece quotes on the dust cover, do not waste your time by buying, or reading, this book- unless you are Paul Morley’s mother.