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Memoirs of a Geezer: Music, Mayhem, Life

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Written in his own unmistakable voice, this is a frank and fascinating account of a geezer's life in the music business. Jah Wobble begins by offering the most authentic insider's account of the beginning of punk rock yet written, but there's much more to him than that. His is an eventful life, as the celebrated ups - PiL's The Metal Box, 90s hit Visions Of You with Sinead Written in his own unmistakable voice, this is a frank and fascinating account of a geezer's life in the music business. Jah Wobble begins by offering the most authentic insider's account of the beginning of punk rock yet written, but there's much more to him than that. His is an eventful life, as the celebrated ups - PiL's The Metal Box, 90s hit Visions Of You with Sinead O'Connor - are balanced by major downs - chronic alcoholism and marital breakdown. It begins with an East End childhood in a London barely recovered from the War and ends with Wobble finally turning his back on London that no longer feels like home. Through the book Wobble tell it like he sees it: his opinions of the great and good from Malcolm Mclaren to Peter Gabriel to Brian Eno to Iain Sinclair are refreshingly disrespectful. Oh and if you ever wondered how got his name, the answer is here: his teenage pal Sid Vicious gave it to him when he drunkenly slurred Wobble's real name, John Wardle.


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Written in his own unmistakable voice, this is a frank and fascinating account of a geezer's life in the music business. Jah Wobble begins by offering the most authentic insider's account of the beginning of punk rock yet written, but there's much more to him than that. His is an eventful life, as the celebrated ups - PiL's The Metal Box, 90s hit Visions Of You with Sinead Written in his own unmistakable voice, this is a frank and fascinating account of a geezer's life in the music business. Jah Wobble begins by offering the most authentic insider's account of the beginning of punk rock yet written, but there's much more to him than that. His is an eventful life, as the celebrated ups - PiL's The Metal Box, 90s hit Visions Of You with Sinead O'Connor - are balanced by major downs - chronic alcoholism and marital breakdown. It begins with an East End childhood in a London barely recovered from the War and ends with Wobble finally turning his back on London that no longer feels like home. Through the book Wobble tell it like he sees it: his opinions of the great and good from Malcolm Mclaren to Peter Gabriel to Brian Eno to Iain Sinclair are refreshingly disrespectful. Oh and if you ever wondered how got his name, the answer is here: his teenage pal Sid Vicious gave it to him when he drunkenly slurred Wobble's real name, John Wardle.

30 review for Memoirs of a Geezer: Music, Mayhem, Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tosh

    Public Image Ltd has hooked me on Jah Wobble when I first heard “Public Image”. Johnny (Lydon) Rotten’s band right after the Sex Pistols. Punk was moving to another world, and Wobble and his bass was taking me to another part of the neighborhood. Also being aware of the visuals of the bands and artists (which for me is extremely important), Wobble had a great look. A two-day beard, a suit, and strong facial features. He also seemed to have a wild sense of humor. 30 years later he wrote his first Public Image Ltd has hooked me on Jah Wobble when I first heard “Public Image”. Johnny (Lydon) Rotten’s band right after the Sex Pistols. Punk was moving to another world, and Wobble and his bass was taking me to another part of the neighborhood. Also being aware of the visuals of the bands and artists (which for me is extremely important), Wobble had a great look. A two-day beard, a suit, and strong facial features. He also seemed to have a wild sense of humor. 30 years later he wrote his first book, a memoir that is both culturally interesting as well as a personal statement on a life that is well lived. The cultural aspect is the first thing that got my attention in this book. The title says it all “Memoirs of a Geezer.” A geezer I presume is British slang for a man, who is basically a good fellow. Wobble is obsessed with fellow citizens who were raised and went to public schools. Which is a high-class world of privilege. Wobble, by his nature, and being a hardcore East London mentality – hates that world. And this is one of the many things that make him interesting as well as a good document how the British see other English people. Wobble strikes me as a personality, a character and at times a slightly dangerous man. Especially under the spell of alcohol. Jah Wobble hasn’t drink since the 80’s and through out his career he has made a series of great recordings. So what we have here is a musician struggling in 20th Century London. Of course the main interest is in the Public Image years, and they are fascinating. But equally fascinating again, is his take on being British and the class system. A really good read, and I think a must for those who are interested in the music world circ. 1970’s/1980’s.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mark Love

    Jah Wobble is a geezer. It's official. He was there, he did it, he did it some more, and he lived to tell the tale, and it's quite a tale. From his schooldays with Johnny Rotten, through punk, post-punk (with Public Image Limited) and beyond it's a story of booze, drugs, fights, japes, more booze and always the deepest sonic basslines. The writing isn't great, but the scenes he invoke are - especially from the perspective of his sober and spiritual middle-aged self (with wry reflections inserted i Jah Wobble is a geezer. It's official. He was there, he did it, he did it some more, and he lived to tell the tale, and it's quite a tale. From his schooldays with Johnny Rotten, through punk, post-punk (with Public Image Limited) and beyond it's a story of booze, drugs, fights, japes, more booze and always the deepest sonic basslines. The writing isn't great, but the scenes he invoke are - especially from the perspective of his sober and spiritual middle-aged self (with wry reflections inserted in italics). One thing that strikes me is that they were all so young!! He'd lived more by the age of 20 than most achieve in a lifetime (one guy in the book ran off to be photographer with Bob Marley when he was 14 forchristsake) The many highs, and the equally many lows (including time working on the tube "I used to be someone" over the tannoy) are given equal attention, but it's always about the music. He dishes the dirt on everyone he came into contact with, from Brian Eno and Scorcese to Jo Brand and Sean Hughes and (refeshingly for an autobiography) he doesn't always come off well himself. Thanks to Tom for lending it to me. I expect you want it back!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Edmole

    This is a good read, but Jah Wobble is a MASSIVE twat. Throughout the book he comes across as boorish, insecure, selfish, violent, unpleasant and pretentious, while continually accusing other people of being those things. He makes pathetic retractions of his awful behaviour which make it much worse. He has been disowned by his two daughters from his first marriage and you can see why. Reminds me of the sort of awful men who start fights outside pubs on a Friday night under false pretexts and then This is a good read, but Jah Wobble is a MASSIVE twat. Throughout the book he comes across as boorish, insecure, selfish, violent, unpleasant and pretentious, while continually accusing other people of being those things. He makes pathetic retractions of his awful behaviour which make it much worse. He has been disowned by his two daughters from his first marriage and you can see why. Reminds me of the sort of awful men who start fights outside pubs on a Friday night under false pretexts and then put it down, as Jah does in the title, to being a 'geezer'. Prick.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Ok, he could have used an editor to weed out his excessive use of "To be honest" and "I have to admit." However, this doesn't get in the way of fascinating stories about PiL, London, the English class system, the music business, and Jah Wobble's rough an tumble story from wise-ass alcoholic solo performer in the 80's to sober wise-ass prolific creator of an impressive batch of work in the next 20 years. For a non-Brit, a short glossary of English slang would be helpful. Ok, he could have used an editor to weed out his excessive use of "To be honest" and "I have to admit." However, this doesn't get in the way of fascinating stories about PiL, London, the English class system, the music business, and Jah Wobble's rough an tumble story from wise-ass alcoholic solo performer in the 80's to sober wise-ass prolific creator of an impressive batch of work in the next 20 years. For a non-Brit, a short glossary of English slang would be helpful.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kerri

    I think I would have punched him too!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    I really enjoyed this book. Jah Wobble is a legendary bassist and hearing all about the punk scene and pil is wonderful. The book goes off track with Tower hamlets at the end, hence 4 stars

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jodi Bee

    Sweetest guy. Sweet book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Memoirs of a Geezer has everything I look for in an autobiography: honesty, engaging writing, and frankness over well-known (and some personal, lesser known) parts of its author's eventful life so far. London (especially the East End) is central to these events. Wobble has a long family history association with the area and its waterways. His memories of schools, churches, homes, pubs, streets and local characters are richly drawn. He evidently continues to love the city: the pull of its rivers Memoirs of a Geezer has everything I look for in an autobiography: honesty, engaging writing, and frankness over well-known (and some personal, lesser known) parts of its author's eventful life so far. London (especially the East End) is central to these events. Wobble has a long family history association with the area and its waterways. His memories of schools, churches, homes, pubs, streets and local characters are richly drawn. He evidently continues to love the city: the pull of its rivers and canals is beautifully conveyed in his descriptions of his regular walks. Walking and his environment are just two of the many inspirations Wobble uses in his work: we learn that his album, Spinner, for example, was, "meant to be a 'walking record'". His wide-ranging cultural influences stretch from the anthropology of the Roma people to William Blake (I had no idea that Wobble had, "made 'The Tyger' into a mellow reggae number"). Wobble's openness of character is perhaps most evident when discussing his alcoholic past and his recovery, supported by attending Alcoholics Anonymous. His first experience changing him forever: "The profound sense of apartness and loneliness that I had always felt deep in my heart was lifted that evening." Regular meetings led to him feeling, "unconditionally accepted". Wobble does not shy away from his experiences of fame, international travel, and collaborations with celebrated musicians and producers. Despite this, as the title suggests, Wobble remains down to earth (some of the social problems he touches on towards the end of the book, especially regarding drugs and housing, are still present today), and retains a healthy scepticism of the music business and all that entails.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lee Osborne

    I first discovered Jah Wobble's work when I saw him at a festival in 1994, performing material from the stunning "Take Me To God" album. I didn't see him again until a concert in Glasgow last month, and I picked up a copy of this book from the merch stand. It's a very interesting story of his youth, his discovery of music and involvement in the punk scene, leading on to his time with Public Image Ltd. He covers this in quite a lot of detail. He then goes on to his solo career and the ups and down I first discovered Jah Wobble's work when I saw him at a festival in 1994, performing material from the stunning "Take Me To God" album. I didn't see him again until a concert in Glasgow last month, and I picked up a copy of this book from the merch stand. It's a very interesting story of his youth, his discovery of music and involvement in the punk scene, leading on to his time with Public Image Ltd. He covers this in quite a lot of detail. He then goes on to his solo career and the ups and downs of his life since. The material is fascinating and the book is very well written. I was all ready to give this a 4-star review (I save 5 for the truly exceptional) right up until the final couple of chapters, which didn't leave the nicest taste in my mouth. I've read plenty of good books by people I haven't liked, and I try not to let my perceptions of people colour my opinion of their work too much, but I found a few of his opinions a bit hard to stomach, and got the impression he could be a nasty piece of work. That said, I remain a big fan of his very varied material, and his gigs are more fun than you can shake a stick at, so it was a very satisfying read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tuck

    took me awhile to really figure out what a geezer is. this book would be fairly interesting for 70s 80s 90s 00s music fans, fans of east end and london. well written and does a good job of trying to look at the big picture in music biz and not hold too many grudges, but that said, Wooble IS A RIGHT GEEZER so does not hold back calling a cunt a cunt, and mixing it up with the Bangladeshy gangs invading his neighborhood when the need arises. has some good citations to good music and other good boo took me awhile to really figure out what a geezer is. this book would be fairly interesting for 70s 80s 90s 00s music fans, fans of east end and london. well written and does a good job of trying to look at the big picture in music biz and not hold too many grudges, but that said, Wooble IS A RIGHT GEEZER so does not hold back calling a cunt a cunt, and mixing it up with the Bangladeshy gangs invading his neighborhood when the need arises. has some good citations to good music and other good books to read too, but just in the text, no discography or bibliography.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Chris Lilly

    Deeply unpleasant and trivial exercise in name-dropping and being a professional Cockernee geezah. And numerous references to David Jaymes (his ex-manager) highlight the poptastic Modern Romance and ignore the wonderful and very East End Leyton Buzzards. His thoughts on Bangladeshi gang racism taking over his East End are deeply troubling, and unrecognisable to someone who lived in Tower Hamlets at the same time.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Very nicely written, with a lot of humorous anecdotes. Wobble doesn't dwell too much on some of the more gritty moments in regard to drug use, or Sid Vicious' death (which is not mentioned at all). Some of that's been well covered everywhere under the sun. It's interesting to gain perspective on how his career moved along it's path and how certain decisions were made. Very nicely written, with a lot of humorous anecdotes. Wobble doesn't dwell too much on some of the more gritty moments in regard to drug use, or Sid Vicious' death (which is not mentioned at all). Some of that's been well covered everywhere under the sun. It's interesting to gain perspective on how his career moved along it's path and how certain decisions were made.

  13. 5 out of 5

    SL

    Really funny. A good read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Blake Nelson

    Great descriptions of London and the early punk rock scene. Sid and John Lydon and the PiL days....

  15. 4 out of 5

    Devowasright

    everything i want an autobiography to be. extremely well written, flows like a conversation, with all its little asides and branches, and the most random (and thus even funnier) splashes of wit.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Not ghost written. Ought to have been.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Black

    Great book by a great bloke , real Londoners do still exist.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kurt Reighley

    Just as charming as the man and his music.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gary Shindler

    The book didn't keep my interest level up throughout. I found that the most interesting parts were the PIL years. Lydon's memoir is better. The book didn't keep my interest level up throughout. I found that the most interesting parts were the PIL years. Lydon's memoir is better.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tom_w

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mark Davess

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gavin

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dave

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Whitby

  25. 4 out of 5

    A W Main

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alan Goodenough

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lewis Stewart

  28. 5 out of 5

    Raffaele Origone

  29. 4 out of 5

    Better_things

  30. 5 out of 5

    Paul Thorpe

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