Reelin' In The Years, By Mark Radcliffe - Reviews - Books - The Independent

Simon & Schuster, £12.99, 352pp. £11.69 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030

Reelin' In The Years, By Mark Radcliffe

Named after a single by Steely Dan, Reelin' In The Years is a pleasant ramble through five decades of pop culture seen through the eyes of a music-loving northerner and told through a series of singles that each represents a year of his life. Alongside snapshots from his childhood in Bolton, his student days in Manchester and his broadcasting career, most notably at Radios 1, 2 and 6Music, Mark Radcliffe guides us through his most significant records, an impressively diverse collection that takes in prog-rock (Genesis), krautrock (Kraftwerk), manufactured pop (The Monkees), country (Johnny Cash) and contemporary folk (Fleet Foxes).

Radcliffe writes in much the same way that he talks – warmly and wryly. Like any radio presenter who lives in daily fear of dead air, he frequently veers off the point. Along with passing meditations on football and television, the book also finds him pondering the merits of serving hatches, storage heaters, Rupert Bear, root beer and old blokes with ponytails. If his non-musical observations are somewhat hackneyed, he brings greater authority to his reflections on pop.

It's refreshing that Radcliffe's favourite singles aren't always fashionable and, with a few exceptions, steer clear of the rock canon as approved by readers of Mojo. For a long time he preferred the Monkees to the Beatles, mainly because it was his father who first bought Sgt Pepper, so stripping it of edginess and cool.

The first album that Radcliffe bought was Master of Reality (1971) by Black Sabbath, though looking back he realises it was Slade who made a more lasting impression singing "Coz I love You" on Top of the Pops - largely due to the eye-watering tightness of their trousers. With a healthy self-awareness, he reveals the logic behind his choices, which aren't always related to musical quality. His enthusiasm for Sandie Shaw's Eurovision song "Puppet on a String" was "because I thought she was beautiful. I still do".

If he is embarrassed by the inclusion of Shaw, he is mortified at highlighting Dire Straits, and presents the 1985 chapter as a written apology to the clearly more deserving Kate Bush. Though Hounds of Love was obviously the better record, Dire Straits's Brothers in Arms happened to be the first CD he ever bought.

Despite the inclusion of Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, the first record he can recall seeing in his house as a child, jazz gets amusingly short shrift, with Radcliffe observing: "Just as a group of downhill slalom Olympic skiers utilise all their dexterity at high speed to avoid any obstacle, so a group of jazzers often utilise all their dexterity at high speed to avoid any tune." Elsewhere, there are assorted encounters with pop stars, including an interview with Marianne Faithfull that culminates in the pair watching the 1982 World Cup lying on her hotel bed. Here, as in his many other anecdotes, Radcliffe portrays himself as a wide-eyed and somewhat clueless bystander in his own life, a man who can't quite believe his fortune at making a living out of the music he loves.

Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Strictly Come Dancing 2014 contestants and their professional dance partners open the twelfth run of the celebrity ballroom contest

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week