Reviews: Books – 20 March
This week, we’re looking at three books covering Chic’s career, the roots behind Roxy Music, and the story of the Pointer Sisters…
Daryl Easlea – Everybody Dance: Chic And The Politics Of Disco
Chic – and particularly its mainstay Nile Rodgers – thoroughly deserved their critical re-evaluation and resurgence experienced throughout the 2000s. Perhaps an instigating factor in that renewed interest was Daryl Easlea’s superb biography, Everybody Dance, originally published in 2004 and now fully revised and updated to include Rodgers’ subsequent appointment as Godfather Of Pop. This new edition takes the original’s meticulous research and revealing interviews and brings the story up to the present day with 2018’s It’s About Time album. As well as new interviews with Rodgers himself – always on hand with an incredulous anecdote or 10 – Everybody Dance includes contributions from the many luminaries to have benefitted from some Chic cheer.
As well as analysis of the making of and cultural impact of Chic’s work, Everybody Dance includes a concise discography of every song to have benefitted from Rodgers’ Midas touch and an afterword reflecting on Nile’s second coming. Exhaustive in detail and dripping with enthusiasm for his subject, Easlea’s lovingly crafted tribute will leave you wanting to get lost in Chic’s music all over again. A worthy tribute to a hugely influential group.
Michael Bracewell – Remake/Remodel: The Art School Roots Of Roxy Music
Republished as part of Faber Greatest Hits, a series in which they’ve chosen their pick of many long-out-of-print top-drawer rock reads, Re-make/Re-model is NOT the definitive story of Roxy Music. Instead, it’s an in-depth trawl through the formative years of Bryan Ferry and his ascent from product of a working class family to fine art milieu at the prestigious Fine Arts Centre in Newcastle in the 60s under the tutelage of pop art pioneer Richard Hamilton.
As well as Ferry’s cultural coming-of-age, Re-make/Re-model examines the trajectories of other key members of the Roxy story – both musically and visually. Featuring band members Brian Eno and Andy Mackay, both of whom receive in-depth analysis, the book examines key influences and collaborators such as the aforementioned Hamilton and Antony Price, creator of the distinctive Roxy Music look and future fashion design icon.
Though the tale of the band’s formation is told in minute detail, Bracewell has a tendency to go off on tangents and follow a train of thought to the point where it becomes distracting from the story he’s trying to tell. As much about the 60s’ art scene as it is Roxy Music (the book ends after their first album), this interesting remodelling of the rock biog is indeed a refreshing idea.
Anita Pointer and Fritz Pointer – Fairytale: The Pointer Sisters’ Family Story
Although The Pointer Sisters are renowned for a string of uplifting 80s party anthems such as Jump (For My Love), Automatic, I’m So Excited and Neutron Dance, Anita and Fritz Pointer’s biography of the group is a multi-layered read which looks at the struggles the girls endured to get to the top only to find a whole new set of challenges awaiting them when they got there, threatening the supposedly unbreakable family bond.
Set against a backdrop of the changing social and political climate in the US, it traces the roots of the family from their religious upbringing to surviving abject poverty to a catalogue of horrific personal experiences.
A reminder of how big The Pointer Sisters were during their mid-80s heyday – touring with Lionel Richie, winning countless Grammys and American Music Awards, singing on USA For Africa’s We Are The World – the book spares no detail in describing how fleeting success can be and how working with family can be a curse as well as a blessing.
Fairytale’s only downfall is that at times it attempts to cover too much, leading to a propensity to skim over incidents which could be fleshed out more. It’s a hugely enjoyable read nonetheless.