Over the Top and Back: The Tom Jones Autobiography

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

I trust you have been enjoying your own reading adventures. This week I will be reviewing the one and only autobiography of the one and only Tom Jones. I received this book as a gift from my husband- we’re both big Tom Jones fans. We saw him perform live and he was fantastic, an incredible voice, and a warm and energetic entertainer that obviously loves what he does…

But what’s his book like?

This book ticks all the essential boxes for an autobiography- it gives a detailed account of his family and childhood life, and all the steps that lead to his successful career. It details the places he played, how he signed his first record deal, and the television and recording opportunities that put him at the top. The book goes into detail about his love of different music styles and the musicians that inspired him, as well as the diverse array of famous faces he’s rubbed shoulders with- including some special stories about his interactions with such people as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and even the Queen. These stories are great and make you appreciate the hard work and determination that goes into building a career with no guarantees, and give you an insight into the glitz and glamour of being top of the charts.

Where this book differs is that Tom Jones also goes into a lot of detail about the downsides of his career. He talks a lot about some of the bad decisions he’s made, the regrets that he has about who he’s worked with, the places he stayed at too long, and the songs or performances he didn’t like. It’s hard to read these parts sometimes- he seems a bit too hard on himself. It reads  like he’s being defensive- particularly when he’s justifying to the reader why he chose to play Vegas for so many years rather than work hard on his recordings. He contradicts himself sometimes- on the one hand saying that Vegas was a great time and a steady paycheck, but at the same time lamenting that it gave him the label of a “Vegas Performer”, which he states he never thought fit what he did. It seems a bit condescending to try and distance yourself from a venue that has given you so much success, money and, well, employment, but then resent it and try and distance yourself from it at the same time. Tom spends a fair bit of time in this book trying to convince the reader he is a legitimate musician.

Tom, you don’t need to do that!

You don’t have a succesful career that spans sixty years without being a legitimate, dedicated, talented musician. And that’s the most frustrating bit in reading this book- he justifies where there is no need. You wouldn’t be reading this book unless you already know that Tom Jones is awesome!

 

All in all, this book is great for any Tom Jones (of course) or music fan. It will add value to your collection.

 

Thank you for joining us this week- please let us know if you’ve read any great autobiographies lately in the comments section.

 

Happy Reading Bosses!

 

Soul Music

Hello everyone and welcome back to The Boss Book Club!

This week we are back to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, this time focusing on the third book of the ‘Death’ section of the series, titled Soul Music.

This book focuses around the main character of Susan, a 16 year old girl who unexpectedly gets thrown into the family business, and reluctantly takes on the role of the grim reaper, dealing out death to those whose life timers have run out. The rest of the story revolves around a Troll named Cliff, a dwarf named Glod and a human named Buddy, three struggling musicians who inadvertently create Discworld’s first ever rock band. As the creatures of Discworld listen to rock music for the first time, there are bizarre, hilarious and even dangerous consequences.

As with all the Pratchett novels I’ve read so far of the series, they are a must for fantasy fans. This book however, will greatly appeal to fans of rock and roll and all things music. The whole book reads as an ode to the joy of music and the importance of live bands. If you’ve ever picked up a guitar, been in the mosh pit of a concert or struggled to find yourself the perfect leather jacket you will appreciate this book.

Pratchett has a wonderful way of taking a subject that is familiar and creating a fantasy/ alternate history as to how it came into being. In Soul Music Pratchett masterfully takes rock music and creates a whole new origin story as to how it was created. The ensuing adventure is imaginative, humorous and has elements that are familiar, as well as completely different. There are many moments of satire, as Pratchett gently mocks the ‘wannabe’ rock stars compared to serious musicians, the financial side of a musicians life, and the establishment that cannot deal with such unfamiliar and dangerous music. Also, there are more rock band references and puns than you could point a drum stick at!

In terms of characters, the wizards from the previous book Reaper Man make a reappearance as they struggle to understand what the sound is all about. They are a particularly endearing bunch of very wise men who have absolutely no clue about life in general. I greatly enjoyed the adventure of the trio of musicians as they strive to reach the top and the various obstacles that get in their way.

Susan’s character was complex and interesting, as she juggles her immortal responsibilities of dealing out death, with her humanity and compassion. I have to be honest and admit that for the most part I did not enjoy her sections as much as I did the trio of musicians, or the wizards. I think the reason for this is because she is written to be a very logical, somewhat abrupt person (which is part of what she has inherited and why she would do well as Death!) but this coldness made her appear rude and distant and she was therefore a little unlikeable for me. Towards the ending I warmed towards her more, but still appreciated the other story elements better.

This book has nice ties with Mort and Reaper Man which precede it in the series. I would recommend reading the other two first as you will appreciate the characters more, however it is not necessary to understand the story.

Overall, this book is excellent, and if you’re yet to take a look at the Discworld series I thoroughly recommend you do, I’m having a wonderful time!

 

Happy Reading folks,

 

See you next week on The Boss Book Club!