It’s the time for ‘Books Of The Year’ lists and we like to think that Scots Whay Hae!’s selection for 2016, while small, is beautifully formed and well worthy of your attention.
These are the books which stood out against a lot of stiff and perhaps better known competition. The list could have been longer but we like to stick to a traditional Top Ten. Consisting mostly of novels, with one remarkable collection of short stories, and one unforgettable musical (auto)biography, these are the books which have left their mark. Here’s what we thought at the time:
Young Soul Rebels – Stuart Cosgrove
Stuart Cosgrove writes as he broadcasts – eloquently, forcefully and at pace, and as such he makes persuasive and forceful arguments. If you have a music fan in your life, then I would suggest this book is the perfect gift. If they are a soul fan, then it is a must. Anyone who has ever pored over liner notes, obsessed over b-sides, searched out limited editions and rarities, or cued hours for tickets or entry will recognise themselves at least in part on the page, no matter what their musical tastes. Stuart Cosgrove is here to remind you that while music may not be a matter of life and death (and there are poignant reminders of that in Young Soul Rebels) it certainly makes the former worth living. Continue reading
Last year, we recorded a podcast with Stuart Cosgrove about his book Detroit ’67 and during a fascinating discussion he mentioned his next musical biography would be a history of his beloved Northern Soul.
Now it’s here, it’s called Young Soul Rebels, and as we suspected all along it’s so much more than that simple description would suggest. What you want from a music biography is passion, encyclopaedic knowledge and a fresh perspective. Young Soul Rebels delivers on all fronts as Cosgrove relates an often autobiographical and at times shockingly personal tale of how this music and the people who he shared it with changed his life, made it better, and offered comfort at those times when little could be found elsewhere.
This may suggest a book which is self-indulgent, but you couldn’t be further from the truth. Cosgrove is brutally honest about his life, all aspects of it, and that includes how he feels about music, people and politics. Starting with a Maya Angelou quote about Independence to open Chapter One, he rightly never separates the three. While the music is the memorable and evocative soundtrack to the book, it is the story of people and places which bring it alive. This is so much more than ‘ A Guide To Northern Soul’, and, although there is music criticism in evidence, and a chapter on ‘Why Northern Soul Records Are Rare’, for the collectors, it is as much social history as musical retrospective. Continue reading