counter create hit Long Players: Writers on the Albums that Shaped Them - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

Long Players: Writers on the Albums that Shaped Them

Availability: Ready to download

Fifty great writers reflect on the albums that shaped them in this captivating collection curated by the New Statesman's Tom Gatti. Our favorite albums are our most faithful companions: we listen to them hundreds of times over decades, we know them far better than any novel or film. These records don't just soundtrack our lives but work their way deep inside us, shaping our Fifty great writers reflect on the albums that shaped them in this captivating collection curated by the New Statesman's Tom Gatti. Our favorite albums are our most faithful companions: we listen to them hundreds of times over decades, we know them far better than any novel or film. These records don't just soundtrack our lives but work their way deep inside us, shaping our outlook and identity, forging our friendships and charting our love affairs. They become part of our story. In Long Players, fifty of our finest authors write about the albums that changed their lives, from Deborah Levy on Bowie to Daisy Johnson on Lizzo, Ben Okri on Miles Davis to David Mitchell on Joni Mitchell, Sarah Perry on Rachmaninov to Bernardine Evaristo on Sweet Honey in the Rock. Part meditation on the album form and part candid self-portrait, each of these miniature essays reveals music's power to transport the listener to a particular time and place. REM's Automatic for the People sends Olivia Laing back to first love and heartbreak, Bjork's Post resolves a crisis of faith and sexuality for a young Marlon James, while Fragile by Yes instils in George Saunders the confidence to take his own creative path. This collection is an intoxicating mix of memoir and music writing, spanning the golden age of vinyl and the streaming era, and showing how a single LP can shape a writer's mind. Featuring writing from Marlon James, Ali Smith, George Saunders, Bernardine Evaristo, Ian Rankin, Rachel Kushner, Ben Okri, Patricia Lockwood, Sarah Perry, Neil Gaiman, Tracey Thorn, Clive James, Eimear McBride, Neil Tennant, Daisy Johnson, David Mitchell, Esi Edugyan, Deborah Levy, among many others.


Compare

Fifty great writers reflect on the albums that shaped them in this captivating collection curated by the New Statesman's Tom Gatti. Our favorite albums are our most faithful companions: we listen to them hundreds of times over decades, we know them far better than any novel or film. These records don't just soundtrack our lives but work their way deep inside us, shaping our Fifty great writers reflect on the albums that shaped them in this captivating collection curated by the New Statesman's Tom Gatti. Our favorite albums are our most faithful companions: we listen to them hundreds of times over decades, we know them far better than any novel or film. These records don't just soundtrack our lives but work their way deep inside us, shaping our outlook and identity, forging our friendships and charting our love affairs. They become part of our story. In Long Players, fifty of our finest authors write about the albums that changed their lives, from Deborah Levy on Bowie to Daisy Johnson on Lizzo, Ben Okri on Miles Davis to David Mitchell on Joni Mitchell, Sarah Perry on Rachmaninov to Bernardine Evaristo on Sweet Honey in the Rock. Part meditation on the album form and part candid self-portrait, each of these miniature essays reveals music's power to transport the listener to a particular time and place. REM's Automatic for the People sends Olivia Laing back to first love and heartbreak, Bjork's Post resolves a crisis of faith and sexuality for a young Marlon James, while Fragile by Yes instils in George Saunders the confidence to take his own creative path. This collection is an intoxicating mix of memoir and music writing, spanning the golden age of vinyl and the streaming era, and showing how a single LP can shape a writer's mind. Featuring writing from Marlon James, Ali Smith, George Saunders, Bernardine Evaristo, Ian Rankin, Rachel Kushner, Ben Okri, Patricia Lockwood, Sarah Perry, Neil Gaiman, Tracey Thorn, Clive James, Eimear McBride, Neil Tennant, Daisy Johnson, David Mitchell, Esi Edugyan, Deborah Levy, among many others.

50 review for Long Players: Writers on the Albums that Shaped Them

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Curie

    I was born in the mid-90s, which means I'm just about old enough to having witnessed and experienced the rise of the walkman, the joy of buying CDs and their overthrow by streaming services. In the age where everything is available digitally, however, there's magic to be found in the conscious, the analog, the Long Players. This is a love story dedicated to this particular sentiment. So apparently this is the book version of an article published by the New Statesman in 2017, in which writers we I was born in the mid-90s, which means I'm just about old enough to having witnessed and experienced the rise of the walkman, the joy of buying CDs and their overthrow by streaming services. In the age where everything is available digitally, however, there's magic to be found in the conscious, the analog, the Long Players. This is a love story dedicated to this particular sentiment. So apparently this is the book version of an article published by the New Statesman in 2017, in which writers were asked to name their favourite albums. In here, reporter Tom Gatti allows them to expand on their choices, retell their memories of first listens and everything connected to the experiences that were to follow. It's like a love letter to the power of music. Before diving into the guest features, Gatti dedicated about a fifth of the book to the development of music listening and while meant as only an introduction, this was probably my favourite part of this whole thing. He raises some interesting points, too, how the way music is listened to has always affected the product itself, and that it isn't a new phenomenon only emerged after artists had begun to get their songs into Spotify playlists: "Since pop music made its way onto the wireless in the sixties, long noodling introductions have been avoided by bands in search of a radio hit. The jukebox introduced the 'shuffle' in the fifties; the cassette enabled mixtapes (proto-playlists) in the seventies and eighties." The guest features are, as so often with these books, a mixed bag. I appreciate that in the appendix a short one-sentence biography of the writers featured in here was included, as with many, I had no clue who they were. I think the pleasure of this is the greatest if you do, and also know the music they chose to talk about. What they've got to say is sometimes nostalgic and sometimes relatable, occasionally however mundane and boring. Some things are amusingly relatable, like David Mitchell talking about Blue by Joni Mitchell (1971): "For a youth whose most exotic jaunt has been around the youth hostels of North Wales, the song's setting – a lamplit room, a Mediterranean breeze, a holiday fling – made me yearn to be somebody else, anywhere but here." Gatti did a good job of covering a variety of writers and albums. To be honest, though, aren't many surprises in here; as one would expect the picked ones include artists like David Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Radiohead and the Smiths, but you might not have seen Lizzo's Cuz I Love You (2019) coming, necessarily. All in all, this was a quick read, feeling a bit like a coffee table book that one might pick up and read a page or two of before returning to more urgent matters. If I'm completely honest, the New Statesman articles probably suffice, but for those who like to dwell on the nostalgia of an album, this might bring comfort and a sense of their own sentimentality.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dickon Edwards

    A light, journalistic non-fiction book that began as a New Statesman magazine article. It's a shame that this means so much of it reads as half-hearted hackery. There's some worthwhile aspects here, chief among them for me being the contributions by Clive James, Daljit Nagra, Ali Smith, and Daisy Johnson. Ms Johnson nominates Lizzo's 2019 album, as it reminds her of happy times from, well, not that long ago. Still, 2019 was very, very different to 2020 full stop. And it's cheering to know that a A light, journalistic non-fiction book that began as a New Statesman magazine article. It's a shame that this means so much of it reads as half-hearted hackery. There's some worthwhile aspects here, chief among them for me being the contributions by Clive James, Daljit Nagra, Ali Smith, and Daisy Johnson. Ms Johnson nominates Lizzo's 2019 album, as it reminds her of happy times from, well, not that long ago. Still, 2019 was very, very different to 2020 full stop. And it's cheering to know that albums made in 2019 have been listened to AS albums. The editor's introduction is a fascinating history of the album, which stretches from the invention of the vinyl record, to the development of the 'album' as an artistic musical statement rather than a compilation, to Tim Burgess's Twitter-based album listening parties which began in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. But Mr Gatti then frustrates proceedings by including a list of scanty endnotes which cite books yet lack their years of publication or names of the publishers - basic rules for referencing. Why bother providing endnotes at all, if you're not going to do it properly? Most of the pieces in this book are ephemeral and disposable. One exception is Clive James's tribute to Duke Ellington, which is written with passion and a sense of pure voice. James died in 2019 after a long period of serious illness. When did he write this piece? Was it close to the end? I don't know because the editor does not tell us: it's just copyrighted 'the Estate of Clive James, 2021'. But the fact Mr James treated this commission so seriously, when his days were so numbered, while the healthier contributors wrote so forgettably, is a salutary lesson.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cailean McBride

    In his introduction to this pretty fascinating — if frustrating — book, Tom Gatti confesses that the project began life as a newspaper feature article. You can actually see this in the final product and it is at once its greatest strength and weakness. To talk about it as a strength first, Gatti has assembled an interesting and diverse array of writers to discuss an album that particularly influenced them (as opposed to being merely a personal favourite). Some of the choices are prosaically obvio In his introduction to this pretty fascinating — if frustrating — book, Tom Gatti confesses that the project began life as a newspaper feature article. You can actually see this in the final product and it is at once its greatest strength and weakness. To talk about it as a strength first, Gatti has assembled an interesting and diverse array of writers to discuss an album that particularly influenced them (as opposed to being merely a personal favourite). Some of the choices are prosaically obvious (you kind of know that Neil Gaiman will go for a Bowie album but it’s somehow more surprising that Deborah Levy does also) but some are more unusual and the best of these personal reflections are the ones that don’t so much talk about the albums themselves but use them as a springboard for a more intimate and sometimes even confessional piece. Before we even get to these, it’s worth spending some time on the longest sustained piece of writing in the book; that of Gatti’s introduction. This is almost worth the price of admission on its own and it’s a detailed, thoughtful and personal rumination on the former importance of album as an artform in itself and its subsequent decline in the rise of the streaming playlist. I probably take exception with Gatti’s claim that Michael Jackson’s Thriller represents the album’s peak as an artform. It may reign supreme in terms of sales figures but I’m not sure that can ever be the full story. There are surely albums that had more lasting cultural impact than Thriller — The Dark Side of the Moon or Ziggy Stardust, for example — and in terms of sheer chronology, Thriller was the hardly the last album that was also a global cultural landmark. (I’d perhaps reserve that honour for Nirvana’s Nevermind.) But really all this does is demonstrate Gatti’s premise that the album’s power comes from subjectivity and our personal responses to those that speak most directly to us. And Gatti’s wide-ranging discussion on the rise and fall of the album is certainly well-argued and persuasive. (Although again I might dispute the ‘fall’ side of the argument and the extent to which the album has been usurped by the DIY playlist. There are, I feel, a great many excellent albums being produced and listened to today and while streaming might have diluted their impact, I’d argue that the concomitant decline in bricks-and-mortar retailers and of a centralised and influential music press play an equal part in the album’s decline). I mentioned frustrations above and the first of this is one of format. I’m reading an electronic ARC so of course I may not be experiencing the book in its final form but it seems rather text-centric at the moment. In his introduction, Gatti rightly points out that one of the album’s central attractions was its artwork and it seems to me the book is crying out for some sort of coffee-table format that could highlight this crucial aspect. However, it might be that the book merely hasn’t had its artwork or design finalised yet or that there may be prohibitions in getting the permissions to reproduce the artwork. The second frustration is that while the vast majority of the writers’ contributions are fascinating in their own right, most feel way too short. Some are only a few paragraphs long and some give the impression of being dashed out hurriedly. This works for some, which are offer an evocative snapshot of a time and place, but some are rather maddening in setting up a fascinating discussion that uses the album in question as its springboard and which are not allowed to reach their full potential. There’s definite scope for a longer book here, or one that went for quality rather than quantity. That said, one of the real joys of the book is the constant element of surprise it offers. There’s something really rather nice in discovering a new album because it’s been paired with a writer you admire — and vice versa, discovering a new writer because you unexpectedly share their taste in music. There are lots of absolute gems in here — and perhaps just a couple of disappointments. It’s surprising, for example, given the prominence of pop and music culture is in their work at just how lacklustre the contributions of Gaiman and Ian Rankin are. However, this is more than made up elsewhere, with fascinating and insightful pieces of Clive James, Ben Okri, Will Self, Rachel Kushner, Sandeep Parmar, Marlon James and Daljit Nagra in particular. But another joy, if perhaps a subsidiary one, is that the book impels you to reconsider the albums in your own life and settle on the ones that influenced you. This doesn’t necessarily mean in a directly creative sense, although it can do. Nor does it mean ‘favourite’. More the ones that changed you, stayed with you, made you who you are, made you do what you’ve done with your life. Albums can do that (in a way that a playlist never will) and that alone makes this a worthwhile little book and one that you’ll almost certainly dip into time and again.

  4. 4 out of 5

    N S Ford

    This review first appeared on my blog - https://nsfordwriter.com - on 3rd June 2021. I enjoyed this celebration of music albums and how they affect our lives. My favourite part was the introduction by Tom Gatti (deputy editor of the New Statesman), in which he traces the history of albums, the threat from the trend for streaming and shuffling individual tracks, discusses format snobbery and talks about some of the most important albums in his life (including Radiohead’s The Bends, which is also o This review first appeared on my blog - https://nsfordwriter.com - on 3rd June 2021. I enjoyed this celebration of music albums and how they affect our lives. My favourite part was the introduction by Tom Gatti (deputy editor of the New Statesman), in which he traces the history of albums, the threat from the trend for streaming and shuffling individual tracks, discusses format snobbery and talks about some of the most important albums in his life (including Radiohead’s The Bends, which is also one of mine). This is followed by fifty short pieces in which writers – some I already knew of, some I didn’t – talk about albums which mean a lot to them. It’s supposed to be about albums that are, or were, ‘cherished’ but not necessarily favourites. There is a diverse representation of writers, genres and musical eras. David Bowie and Joni Mitchell are each featured twice. I hadn’t heard of some of the albums, while others I knew of but were not to my taste. However, I was quite excited to see four of my very favourites included: The Beatles’ Revolver (thank you, Alan Johnson), Kraftwerk’s The Man-Machine (via Neil Tennant), Radiohead’s OK Computer (from Sarah Hall) and Talk Talk’s The Colour of Spring (Jason Cowley). I do think there is a bias towards the albums or musicians that critics usually cite as the greatest. Everyone will be judged by their music taste in a book like this. No one is going to contribute something that will render them terribly uncool. Unless they did, and it wasn’t included. There are at least two snipes at Genesis (why do ‘musos’ hate them so much?), which reminded me of Paul Morley in A Sound Mind (also published by Bloomsbury) shuddering to think that a Genesis track could be the last song he ever heard. Some of the pieces were very interesting, while others I had to skim. I preferred the writing which focused mainly on memoir, as it was more readable than descriptions of the music. In summary, I liked the book but not enough to want to re-read. Thank you to Bloomsbury for the advance copy via NetGalley.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Fifty writers, including Ali Smith, Ben Okri and Daisy Johnson, were tasked with identifying the album that means the most to them. The contributors range in age from vinyl era, through cassettes and Walkmans, to CDs and on to Spotify. Some first hear the music at raves, at live events, on The Tube (an anarchic Channel 4 live music TV show), or while hanging out in the local record shop, others are introduced to the album by a brother. Some played it to death at a particular point in their life, Fifty writers, including Ali Smith, Ben Okri and Daisy Johnson, were tasked with identifying the album that means the most to them. The contributors range in age from vinyl era, through cassettes and Walkmans, to CDs and on to Spotify. Some first hear the music at raves, at live events, on The Tube (an anarchic Channel 4 live music TV show), or while hanging out in the local record shop, others are introduced to the album by a brother. Some played it to death at a particular point in their life, others still listen to their choice regularly, decades later, and are so familiar with it that they recognise every ‘nylon-string-squeak’. On first hearing their selection, some authors have an instant ka-POW! moment, ‘like a bomb going off in my head’ (Meg Rosoff), while for others, the album is a slow burn. The albums selected include rock/pop classics and lesser-known acts, plus classical recordings and a soundtrack. I went in expecting a track-by-track listing, but few authors do this, giving a more general appreciation of the music in relation to themselves, often at a specific point in their lives. First impressions are that this book is a compilation album bought for just one or two thrillers, with the remaining fillers making up the run time. But, as you go deeper, an overarching narrative takes hold. In writing about an album, the authors write about the impact of music on their lives, and about what music means to the listener. Often, the album speaks at some level to the writer. Marlon James’ selection ‘caught me at a particular time in my life’. Neil Gaiman’s choice ‘made me who I am’. David Mitchell recognises that ‘when writing is good, people pay attention for fear of missing out on the next fresh pleasure’. George Saunders describes listening to his album for the first time as being a moment of clarity in which ‘a window was thrown open in my mind: to make something beautiful might mean to make something even you, the artist, don’t fully understand’, and he quotes director Hiro Murai ‘finding by doing’. Memories prompted by music are specific, with times of day, weather conditions, the smell of a record shop, and whether the listener was standing or sitting. Music can be nostalgic, a reminder of ‘lost innocence…of tragic waste and dreams that will never materialise’ (Lionel Shriver). It can be a mirror on the soul, a directive on how to be, who we could be. It can be an escape ‘I shed skins to that music’ (Preti Taneja), or escapist theatre. Music is a belonging, an ownership, an influencer and informer (Gaiman’s choice sent him ‘to the school library aged thirteen to borrow 1984’). Music is a place (view spoiler)[‘Morrissey’s voice had a grain of pure Englishness. It’s a voice that locates itself as part of the north in social and political decline’ (hide spoiler)] (Daljit Nagra). I didn’t recognise all the contributors, in fact, probably only about half the total by name alone. An appendix in the end papers lists the authors with a one-line micro-biography. I would have preferred the biography at the end of each piece. My thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for the ARC.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alan M

    Everyone has “that” album don’t they. The one that defines that critical point in their life, soundtracks those transformational times. Simon Bates “Our Tune”. But longer. Here Tom Gatti (Deputy Editor of the New Statesman and a former editor of the Saturday Review section of the Times) collects together fifty articles previously published in the NS where a variety of journos / authors / poets tell us about “their” album. What could be more enticing? Top quality wordsmiths setting out what made Everyone has “that” album don’t they. The one that defines that critical point in their life, soundtracks those transformational times. Simon Bates “Our Tune”. But longer. Here Tom Gatti (Deputy Editor of the New Statesman and a former editor of the Saturday Review section of the Times) collects together fifty articles previously published in the NS where a variety of journos / authors / poets tell us about “their” album. What could be more enticing? Top quality wordsmiths setting out what made their ears tingle. We are promised “an intoxicating mix of memoir and music writing, spanning the golden age of vinyl and the streaming era, and showing how a single LP can shape a writer’s mind.” Across the 50 writers contributing mini essays are some names I knew and a lot I didn’t. The Word magazine alumni are well represented via David Hepworth (“Sail Away” – Randy Newman), Mark Ellen (“The B-52’s” – B-52’s) and Kate Mossman (“The Rhythm of the Saints” – Paul Simon). There’s also Will Self, Billy Bragg, David Mitchell, Alan Johnson, Clive James, Iain Rankin, Neil Gaiman, Tracey Thorn and Neil Tennant. Plus a much longer list of writers which mostly made obvious my ignorance of British authors that don’t write crime books. The albums covered are diverse and occasionally familiar– hip hop to mop tops, Mos Def to Miles Davis. You’d expect to find Bowie, Joni Mitchell and REM. Safe bets. I would also have bet on – and lost money on – Hendrix, Cream or CSNY. No doubt my middle of the road taste in reading, and old man’s musical interests. Reading them back to back in one tome, rather than as a shortish article in a magazine like NS proved to be less of a page turner than expected. Why? Well for one thing, there’s the problem of a writer you don’t know eulogising about an album you haven’t heard. And I suppose because not one of the 50 albums spoke to me as it did to the writers (who to be fair, here and there paint some vivid pictures). Also, my familiarity with the ex Word contributors left me nonplussed – Hepworth not choosing Springsteen? Ellen not going for Dylan? Mossman not writing about Queen? The original articles (still to be found on the NS website) came with a bio and pictures. The version I read (Kindle) gave just the author’s name and the album, and my frustration levels had already climbed – having to Google each unknown name before I read their essay – by the time I found the thumbnail summary bios at the back of the book. They really should be ahead of each album, ideally with pictures of the author and the album cover. In fact the bit that worked the best for me was Gatti’s introduction. The only longer form piece, a well crafted description of how the way music is experienced has changed which draws heavily on Gatti’s history, and is all the better for it. Few will agree with his choice of “Thriller” as the ultimate long player, but I enjoyed how he made his case.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jim Parker

    A book I flicked through in an afternoon - some of the short essays, by writers I hadn’t of about albums I had never listened to, I skipped over. Others, like Deborah Levy on Bowie and David Hepworth on Randy Newman I lapped up.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Harry Burnside

    Much as I expected - I didn't know of half the authors and I wasn't familiar with half the albums listed. I found it quite interesting all the same and will now try to track down some of the albums I haven't heard before. Much as I expected - I didn't know of half the authors and I wasn't familiar with half the albums listed. I found it quite interesting all the same and will now try to track down some of the albums I haven't heard before.

  9. 5 out of 5

    jennet wheatstonelllsl

    Kz

  10. 5 out of 5

    Milly Reynolds

    This book was sent to me digitally by Netgalley for review. The title of this book piqued my curiosity. Although not a regular reader of non-fiction, the idea of reading about the albums that had affected the lives of various writers and journalists was an intriguing one. For me, although it did introduce me to albums that I didn't know and some of which I might investigate, I was a little disappointed to find that there were very few that I recognised. But that says more about me and my middle o This book was sent to me digitally by Netgalley for review. The title of this book piqued my curiosity. Although not a regular reader of non-fiction, the idea of reading about the albums that had affected the lives of various writers and journalists was an intriguing one. For me, although it did introduce me to albums that I didn't know and some of which I might investigate, I was a little disappointed to find that there were very few that I recognised. But that says more about me and my middle of the road taste than it does about the book. Artistes featured range from Beethoven through David Bowie to Mos Def with diversions that lead to Miles Davis and The Beatles, and I enjoyed reading about the listening experiences of others, how these albums played such a pivotal role in their lives. It made me quite sad to realise that I have never come across any album in my life that had a similar effect, I feel as if I have missed out. Nevertheless, if you like having a sneaky look into the listening experiences of other people, pick this up. Thank you, Netgalley for allowing me to read this.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Malena

  12. 5 out of 5

    Simon

  13. 4 out of 5

    Duncan McKay

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dr. Malcolm C. Ostermeyer

  15. 5 out of 5

    Paul Howard

  16. 5 out of 5

    Doug

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina Mahfouz

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rob

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kerri

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Sharma

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ray Murdoch

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gavin

  23. 4 out of 5

    Liv

  24. 4 out of 5

    John Dimoia

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tom Brookes

  26. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Temple

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tom Brasher

  28. 5 out of 5

    poppyshake

  29. 4 out of 5

    Leo

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ron S

  31. 5 out of 5

    Robin M

  32. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  33. 4 out of 5

    Joanna

  34. 4 out of 5

    Rashid Baset

  35. 4 out of 5

    Celina

  36. 4 out of 5

    M (RAIN CITY READS)

  37. 5 out of 5

    Jo Smith

  38. 4 out of 5

    Leigh Anne

  39. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

  40. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Church

  41. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Bryers

  42. 4 out of 5

    Rob Casey

  43. 5 out of 5

    Tanner Morton

  44. 4 out of 5

    Amelia

  45. 5 out of 5

    Rose Lang

  46. 5 out of 5

    Roshan

  47. 5 out of 5

    shelby

  48. 4 out of 5

    Ausma

  49. 5 out of 5

    Cathy M.

  50. 4 out of 5

    Zachary

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.