Virago, £16.99 Order at a discount from the Independent Online Shop

Bedsit Disco Queen, By Tracey Thorn

The singer's memoir is not quite as assured as her lyrics – but still fascinates

Considering the confessional nature of her songwriting, both with Everything But The Girl and solo, you expect Tracey Thorn to excel as a memoirist. Her brilliantly-titled autobiography arrives more than 15 years after Patient, the book her musical and life-partner Ben Watt wrote about his struggles with Churg-Strauss syndrome, the auto-immune disease which nearly did for him. It certainly slowed down the duo in the early Nineties, before their remix renaissance and the ubiquity of their worldwide hit "Missing".

Thorn neatly intersperses complete song lyrics between each chapter, and dips into her diaries to recollect her discovery of punk, as a 14-year-old, halfway through 1977. Two years later, she joined her first group, the Stern Bops, but quickly moved on to the all-female Marine Girls, infused by the DIY ethos and influenced by the folk punk Patrik Fitzgerald and the minimalist Welsh trio Young Marble Giants.

Thorn and Watt enrolled at Hull University in 1981, where they met after he asked for her over the Tannoy. They named themselves after a local shop, began drafting a non-rockist manifesto, "a little bit indie, a little bit boss nova", invented Quiet Is The New Loud two decades before the Norwegian duo Kings of Convenience, and charted with "Each and Every One" the week they sat their finals in 1984. Even if she uses old press cuttings a tad too much, Thorn is good at describing the joy she felt receiving a call from Paul Weller in a Hull phone-box, or meeting Morrissey, whose androgyny fuelled her own outlook.

When EBGT scored a Top Three hit in 1988, it was with a cover, "I Don't Want To Talk About It", their tenth single. They made a few too many compromises until Watt's illness put everything in sharp focus. Thorn teamed up with Massive Attack and EBTG devised a "modern retro hybrid" on their landmark albums Amplified Heart and Walking Wounded. Thorn, always a reluctant performer, stopped to become the mother she yearns to be.

Writing this book has helped Thorn return to music, with two more albums completed since 2007, but her prose is not as assured as her unique voice. However, reading Bedsit Disco Queen sent me back to EBTG's rich, understated canon. It felt like catching up with a long-lost friend.

Tracey Thorn will be appearing at the 'Independent' Bath Literature Festival on 5 March

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935