Andrew Ford

Chapter 148 of Craig Brown’s engrossing book is speculative fiction. Gerry and the Pacemakers are ‘the most successful pop group of the twentieth century’, their 1963 recording of ‘How Do You Do It?’, which the Beatles turned down, having launched their career. ‘To this day,’ Brown writes, ‘they remain the only artists to have achieved the number one slot with each of their first three singles.’ The last bit is almost true: they held that record for two decades.

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At the end of 1910, Irving Berlin took a winter holiday in Florida. James Kaplan writes, ‘Here we must pause for a moment to consider the miracle of a twenty-two-year-old who in recent memory had sung for pennies in dives and slept in flophouses becoming a prosperous-enough business man to vacation in Palm Beach.’

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In 1973, aged six, I heard the song ‘Rock On’ by David Essex. I was obsessed by its sound. While I couldn’t have put it into words, I half understood that the song was made sonically exciting not just through its inventive arrangement (a song about rock and roll with no guitars!) but also its production techniques, especially the use of reverb and delay to ‘stage’ the vocal and instrumental performances.

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The idea that reviewing books, concerts, theatre, and the visual arts was part of the function of a journal of record has practically gone. Now if you’re reviewed at all, you’re lucky to get a paragraph. The flip side is the blogger, with no constraints on length, who writes thousands of ill-disciplined words. Obviously, magazines such as ABR have taken up some of the slack, but there’s only so much they can do. When it comes to charting and evaluating daily arts practice, our newspapers have abnegated their duty.

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Gillian Wills

 

Try Whistling This: Writings about Music
by Andrew Ford
Black Inc., $32.99 pb, 343 pp, 9781863955713

 

 

‘Rather like a consummate storyteller, Mozart knows how to keep us close to the edge of our seats,’ says Andrew Ford, compos ...

In his opening sentence, Andrew Ford explains that, ‘The seventy-something pieces in this volume were written over fifteen years for a range of publications and occasions’. Indeed, in the sixty-eight titles that constitute Undue Noise, forty-four of which began life in the ABC organ 24 Hours, Ford confronts us as critical theorist, copious reviewer of music, text and film, diarist, sleeve note writer, radio commentator and university lecturer.

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