Just read the new Bowie book by Paul Trynka. Starman reminded me of the Gillmans’ Alias, but with an innate understanding of the music of the man as a counterweight to the salacious stuff (and there’s certainly plenty of riveting and often hilarious anecdotes either way).
I think Paul’s one of the very few authors to really ‘get’ Bowie as a person, despite not having met him. Countless times throughout the book I kept thinking to myself, That’s exactly how I think of him! – the deeply flawed chancer, the megalomaniacal trier who took so many years to finally force himself into making some excellent records.
His judgement of the Dame’s motivations is spot on. And the title of the best straightforward Bowie biography just got a new owner.
First published: Trynka.net
This review was actually excerpted from my Facebook post and follow up chat with Trynka in March 2011, which reads as follows:
Just read new Bowie book by my old MOJO boss Paul Trynka. Reminded me a lot of the Gillman’s Alias, but with an innate understanding of the music of the man as a counterweight to the salacious stuff. And it’s the latter where he’s come up trumps: Kevin Armstrong scored a bag of coke for our Dave… that had come from Angie Bowie! Absolutely genius!
In fact, Bowie’s response when he realised the source of his snifter was comedy gold: “No, not that fucking witch! I hope she doesn’t know who it’s for?” – probably the funniest story I’ve ever read in a Bowie book! I don’t think I’m ever gonna be able to hear that song again without a hearty chuckle. Poor Angie!
I have to say, I think Paul’s one of the very few authors to really ‘get’ Bowie as a person, despite not having met him. Countless times throughout the book I kept thinking to myself, ‘That’s *exactly* how I think of him!’ – the deeply flawed chancer, the megalomaniacal trier who took so many years to finally force himself into making some excellent records, with the considerable help of a cast of thousands, obviously…
I had to have another chuckle when I read you slagging Across The Universe, Paul. It instantly transported me back to the time I was project managing MOJO Lennon and played that and his live Imagine in the office, and you were scathing about both covers, with some justification. But at Mappin House I never had the sense that you’d been much of a Bowie admirer at all. And that’s where Starman trumps Alias, as, although the Gillmans were spot on with a lot of their character analysis, you had the sense they didn’t give a damn about the man’s music in the slightest.
So I’m guessing you’ve never seen Bowie live then, Paul? Not that that means anything, of course. In fact I simultaneously chuckled and cringed at David Buckley’s recent comments regarding the Alias book authors – “I wonder if they were to be found queuing up for Tin Machine tickets overnight in 1989?” -because how much of a dedicated follower of Bowie you’ve been is not how you measure a book’s success at all.
Strange Fascination is a decent read, but both Starman and Alias are both much better written, with a much wider pool of exclusive interview sources to draw from (particularly on the early years), which are what really make both books I think. Just a shame you forgot both the Laughing Gnome and Silly Boy Blue weren’t on his debut LP