‘The Sensational Alex Harvey’ by John Neil Munro.

Alex Harvey / The Sensational Alex Harvey Band ranked (and still do) as one of my favourite bands back in the early – mid 70s. I was lucky enough to see them play ‘live’ on few occasions, including the infamous 1975 Christmas shows at Glasgow’s Apollo theatre.

I regularly play the various SAHB albums I own, but like so many things in our busy lives these days, it was very much a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ when it came to reading about the band. So, when I saw this on sale in a discount book shop, it was too good a bargain to miss.

And I’m glad I picked it up.

Initially I was disappointed to read within the first ten pages, the revelations by the author that he’d never seen the band play, and that guitarist Zal Cleminson (amongst others) would not talk to him about Alex. There were no reasons given, but it was obviously their prerogative.

I did think this would detract significantly from the impact a book like this could make.
But despite these early confessions, and even though there is very little real contribution from either drummer Ted McKenna or indeed, any as I recall, from bass player Chris Glen, the book still serves a purpose.

Using music paper / newspaper quotes as well as significant contributions from Alex’s second wife, Trudy and his friends / management, author John Neil Munro has managed to paint a sympathetic, yet ‘warts and all’ account of Alex Harvey’s quest to change the face of what he saw as a sterile and boring scene that had dropped down between Glam and Punk.

Indeed, Alex’s well worn path through the music industry started well before that period, and in many ways, the reader (even if unfamiliar with Alex and his work) is rooting for the wee Glasgow lad trying to make good against a backdrop of early social deprivation and a musical landscape so set in its ways.

But that some bloke about fifteen years older than the rest of his band can achieve such success, at least in a ‘live’ environment, lends hope to all us who have dreams to follow. They take some cultivating and an incredible amount of belief, but this book shows that dreams do come true.

I guess, though, the real trick is learning when to wake up.

I’ll not say any more for fear of spoiling the read. For it IS a good read. And one that will now lead me to read more about the band and the other members as well.)

‘Tall Tales and Wee Stories’ by Billy Connolly.

It’s not possible to say anything bad about Billy Connolly. He’s a national treasure.

This book recounts many of the tales he has used in his stage shows over the years. So as a fan from his first double album ‘Solo Concert’ recorded in 1974, many of the stories were familiar to me. And for that reason only, did I not give this book the full 5 star rating.

But there are still some priceless tales in here that will make you laugh out loud – especially if as Billy suggests at the start, you read the book in his accent. (Actually – try NOT to … it’s impossible!) 😀

The short tale of the Wildebeast is a case in point. Hilarious!

Even though much of this is not new material, it is still an great read, and in fact, I love the idea of having the source of so much mirth being committed to written form.

The words and humour will never leave.