A book by a politician about the development of pop music during his lifetime might seem a very strange creature – unless you are familiar with Alan Johnson’s other books.
His three volumes of memoir which precede this are fascinating and respectable in their own right but they also prepare you for his latest read. This is a man whose interest and love of pop music has been a constant passion throughout his life and this forms a backdrop to the personal, social and political history of his other books. This time, music is centre stage rather than the backdrop, and Alan Johnson’s enthusiasm for it is contagious.
For those of us who remember some of the decades covered by this book (1957-1982), it’s impossible not to smile and sometimes laugh out loud at some of the well observed descriptions of the musical heroes of those years.
Alan Johnson is without doubt a good writer; his self-depreciating humour and his sensitive reflections on the personal and national events of those years, make his reminiscences hugely engaging, and his style is accessible and deceptively simple.
I found myself wanting to join in the conversation with him and add some of my own memories (from the later decades, of course!).
As Alan Johnson is unlikely to want to hear my contribution, this book will be a Christmas present for my brother and sister and I’m sure it will set off our own nostalgic recollections. I recommend it to those who are old enough to remember and to those young enough to have missed out.
Reviewed by Rachel Tunnicliffe, Head of Trusts, Wills and Estates at Raworths Solicitors