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I was the Fool king of Soho and the number one slag in the Groucho Club the second drunkest member of the world's drunkest band This was no disaster though It was a dream coming true'For Alex James music had always been a door to a eventful life But as bass player of Blur one of the most successful British bands of all time his journey was exciting and extreme than he could ever have predicted In Bit of a Blur he chronicles his journey from a slug infested flat in Camberwell to a world of screaming fans and private jets and his eventual search to find meaning and happiness and perhaps most importantly the perfect cheese in an increasingly surreal world


10 thoughts on “Bit of a Blur

  1. says:

    Bit of a bore Alex tells us that he drank a lot took drugs although is of course too coy to mention them in any detail and had lots of sex served up to him on a plate with buttered soldiers So far no surprises and nothing particularly interesting or remarkable about this However end of story Alex doesn't really think about his what happened or analyse it or make any of it at all interesting Apart from the time when he drunkenly urinated on his girlfriend's head from a top floor window Admittedly Alex was always The Shallow One out of Blur so with hindsight I shouldn't expect anything particularly insightful from his autobiography He seems to think that his vintage champagne habit and that he now makes his own cheddar is fascinating enough in itself However what I object to most of all though is that despite this Alex self styled wit flaneur bon viveur and decadent etc etc would clearly love to be viewed as some sort of modern day Oscar Wilde However he lacks the crucial prereuisite for this which is having wit In fact I think Alex has done a pretty good job of making the story of an adult life with no doubt many varied experiences emotions and even anecdotes fairly predicatable and unexciting Which is uite an achievement really Although Alex likes us to think he could have gone to Oxbridge all of his supposedly wise and witty trusims There are few sounds objectionable than a young boy learning to play the fiddle simply sound pretentious and flat Unfortunately in this instance I really did judge a book by its cover and the old adage is right Julian Opie's portrait is the only interesting thing about this book Boo to you Alex James


  2. says:

    SoMuchFunI can't remember when a book last left me with such a sense of undiluted joy Alex James is clearly one of those people who is extroverted optimistic spontaneous and naturally lucky and the tone of the book is infectious He has enthusiasm and curiosity about pretty much everywhere he goes and everything he does whilst seeing his 1990s excesses through older wiser eyes it's lovely to find such positivity combined with self awareness and intelligence It seems that he rarely did stuff or hung out with people because it was supposed to be cool he unwittingly stumbled across them and genuinely really liked them This is friendly funny and often aphoristic writing and it's really nice to see someone uncynically making the most of life whether it's debauchery or geeking out over science Heck I probably don't know enough optimistsI will definitely be looking out for his newspaper and magazine columns in future and I'll bet this isn't the last time I'll read Bit of a Blur As one of the cover uotes says this book is excellent company It can make you feel inspired to go to somewhere new or finally throw yourself into some unusual interest you've pondered But the slightly dazed simplicity of expression and tangential wit probably the effects of years of booze and drugs and the sense of looking back on a younger wilder past meant that the book also felt like it was on the right wavelength when I read the first few chapters earlier this year when uite ill dizzy and without the energy for any projectsOf course one of the other reasons the book seems uite so magical is that Blur were the band of my teens This is life on the other side of the stories in NME and Melody Maker inside the London Britpop scene where we dreamed of hanging out and the middle chapters are chock full with references that sent a shiver down my spine


  3. says:

    Alex James reckons bass players in bands are cool most of the bass players I've ever even noticed on stage have hidden behind everyone else Although Alex James seemingly set out to be the coolest bass player rock roll has ever known he goes on to prove with a brilliant anecdote about the bass player from Coldplay the competition hasn't been that strongFrom the opening lines I was impressed with his ability to write weaving together a series of interesting and entertaining anecdotes with an infectious enthusiasm granted if you can't have enthusiasm for your subject when you're writing about yourself you may as well give up writing altogether but James is erudite and witty and incredibly frank about his occasionally abhorrent behaviour I was enamoured from the start and James and obviously a great editor didn't let me down becoming by uite some margin my favourite autobiographybiography that I've ever picked upBlur came to my attention at that most impressionable time in my life I was eleven and my favourite family member who I thought was infinitely cool was talking about how amazing this band called Blur were and he played me one of their songs As soon as I had saved up enough pocket money I went straight out and bought their album on cassette Yeah it was that long ago I hadn't even heard of CD And for the next twenty years if anybody asked me to name my favourite bands Blur would be in there no matter how my tastes changed over time; Blur Pulp Britpop in general they have a special place in my heart So when I recently got back in to the band revisiting my youth in some ways this book was always going to get read; however it is not one of those biographies that only reward people already familiar with the subject so rarely does it touch on the ins and outs of Blur as a band instead focussing on the human experience of somebody catapulted from reading French at Goldsmith's to international superstardom via the artistic medium of musicAlex James whilst being a drunken rockstar celebrity was and still is in the shadow of his much famous frontman and frontmen in general Albarn Cocker and The Gallagher's could never have written this book they may well write fascinating autobiographies in time but Bit of a Blur is the work of somebody who was allowed to live in the shadow even slightly and it is far interesting because of it At no point are you left with the impression that the author is concerned about their legacy immortality rectifying perceived sleights politics muckraking and scandal it is simply the memories of how he became famous and how he reacted to his dreams coming trueThe infectious and casual nature of the prose leaves you feeling like you're tagging along on one of his many many nights of debauchery with his famous and not so famous friends to the point that you worry when you put the book down that you'll miss some crazy antic whilst you're away Now THAT is impressive storytelling that 99% of fiction authors could do with learning Whilst at the same time he skips ALL of the boring bits that bog down most biographies without getting caught in the trap of going in to explicit detail about EVERY LAST THING that ever happened to him cramming pre record deal Seymour in to two chapters thankfully and spending a mere 200 pages on the following 20 years of his life The title is apt and not just a clever play on the name of his most famous music projectI recently saw the Blur documentary No Distance Left To Run and in it Graham Coxon credited this book as being the major catalyst behind the band putting their differences behind them and getting back together A reward much greater than being named book of the year by NME or being reprinted four times within a year of being published


  4. says:

    The fact is I liked Blur a lot before I read this book The problem isn't so much that it is badly written it's not it is about how it made me feel as a reader We usually read these type of books to gain an insight into the artist not to have our faces rubbed in their wealth Alex James chooses to largely gloss over the Blur stuff I've often suspected the band was driven by Albarn and Coxon anyway and instead continually boasts about the life of luxury that he has led Popular musicians can also become very wealthy I get that and I love a rock and roll excess story as much as the next guy but in this case it is page after page of namedropping of famous friends exclusive clubs for the wealthy luxury hotels even a toe curling section on his love and knowledge of vintage champagne spoiler alert most people reading this book could never afford it the buying of aeroplanes and so on and so on It can become irksome and worse still for the reader boring My hope now is that as my memory of the book fades my love of Blur will gradually return as I put my faith in the other three who haven't written books yet


  5. says:

    Efternin drinkin it does ye in but ye cannae fuckin beat it Francis Begbie in Porno by Irvine WelshEfternin drinkin as it happens is the reason I bought this book see previous review And the principal reason my memory of the first few chapters is a wee bit hazy I have the feeling a young Alex James would have approved thoughI went to university with the express purpose of meeting a boy who looked like Alex James floppy dark fringe cheekbones to slice cheese ooh James would probably approve of that metaphor too obviously my 17 year old crush is still alive and well and a big cushiony pair of lips I don't know where all the Alex James lookalikes were in 1994 Glasgow probably the place I'd escaped from but they certainly weren't in Aberdeen Not even any Jonny Greenwoods like a serious and intense older brother of James Small aside the rare pictures of Greenwood smiling and James not are far attractive than their far familiar brooding stare and imbecilic grin respectively The closest I met was James one of the guys who lived in the university flat downstairs from us who used to play the bassline from 'Girls Boys' ad infinitum Sadly neither his looks nor his bass playing skills came close to those of his famous namesake I used to play the tape of Parklife louder just to drown him outThis book zips along at an entertaining pace and although blatantly self centred is refreshingly free of either the I'm so not worthy false modesty or whiny my incredible talent is sooo overshadowed by my fame extremes commonly found in autobiographies He accepts things for what they are and does his best to wring every last piece of enjoyment out of them just to soak it all up again He does admit that other people suffered because of this attitude but it doesn't seem to trouble his conscience too much Which probably makes him a prize tosser But does make for a fun read


  6. says:

    This book is essentially the non fiction memoir of Alex James the bassist from Blur and so as such it takes us behind the scenes of the Britpop revolution and shows just what it was like to be a part of one of the biggest bands of the turn of the century For someone born right at the end of the 80s all of that delicious 1990s pop culture stuff made me nostalgicBut what I most liked here was the honesty with which he wrote about his life as well as some of the stories about how nuts Graham Coxon is James was studying French at university and has always had a bit of thing for the French and French culture and that was pretty cool as well because I’ve been working on my own French I’ve been practicing my bass guitar skills tooAs rock ‘n’ roll memoirs go it’s perhaps pretty tame but that’s okay I wasn’t too bothered with that side of things and indeed I’m not really the biggest Blur fan and so half the time they were talking about songs that I’d not heard of But despite that it was an engaging enough memoir to carry it through and I learned uite a lot of stuff that I didn’t know before such as that the band was friends with Damien Hurst and that two of the members James included are able to fly aeroplanes That’s pretty coolAll in all I’d probably recommend it especially to Blur fans


  7. says:

    Disappointingly pedestrian unilluminating predictable annoying and just plain disappointingThis is the well trod trajectory of an art school student aspiring then hugely successful musician who looses his way in the usual pit of ultimately miserable bacchanalian excess and guess what? Material wealth possessions celebratory status success and adulation didn't lead to happiness who'd have thought?Whilst clearly that does seem to have been the life of Alex James what is disappointing here is not that he lead that life but that this book tells us nothing new there are no insights and neither is it told in any kind of interesting amusing or even stylish way Sorry Alex probably better stick to bass playing and cheese making?


  8. says:

    I have had this book in my pile for uite some time and decided to pull it out on a recent long flightThough it started cute and insouciant I found Alex soon grew tiresome I guess that is what happens when you are the bon vivant bass player and not the gifted guitarist or lead singerleaderThe book jumped around way too much and I jumped around but then felt like it was missing huge chunksI read a lot of fluffy celebrity bios This one was not fun It was a drudge and a sludge


  9. says:

    something i started reading due to being a fan of blur resulted in surprising and amusing me to no end a very pleasurable read james' voice is light amusing incredibly likeable and informative the author doesn't write only about pop culture and rock'n roll bands but about other subjects that he finds just as interesting and ones he manages to sell to the reader as wellUPDATE heard that blur was first called seymour after my favourite Glass sorry franny and realised I remembered fuck all of the book not surprising given that it is almost five years since I’ve read it hence the vague and empty review see above I enjoyed the book second time round the tone is light and amusing the name checks cheeky and the picture painted of british culture and band life pretty the fit one from blur tells you about all the fun he had the girls he's slept with the drinks he's had he does not touch up on the unsavoury bits as much as i would’ve liked what drugs did you take exactly al? would have liked to see pictures ofwith his Justine and details on the GraDamon business all in all a good fun read lots of interesting musicbook recommendations in it toobit too light to be truly self reflective but really what were you expecting?


  10. says:

    This was actually a lot nicer than expected mainly because I didn't know Alex James is such a good writer I would give it 3 and a half stars if I could It's obviously recommended to those who likeliked Blur but it's a nice book in its own right It gives you insight on Britain in the 90s and since I spent a lot of my 90s there it was clearly interesting for me I have the impression I would have found Alex James a terribly annoying character if I met him a ffew years ago his 20 version of himself as a Cheesemaker and a dad seems a lot friendlier On the whole it's a light entertaining book that you will read in a few days I also agree with some other readers here who write it's a book brimming with optimism wonder for what the world can offer and gratitude and awareness of being a lucky person I actually underlined lots of passages I agree with I think I found these ualities most refreshing especially at a time like now Lovely read oh and now even than before I need to go to a dune desert