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Hell Is Round the Corner: The Unique No-Holds Barred Autobiography

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Tricky is one of the most original music artists to emerge from the UK in the past 30 years. His signature sound, coupled with deep, questioning lyrics, took the UK by storm in the early 1990s and was part of the soundtrack that defined the post-rave generation. This unique, no-holds barred autobiography is not only a portrait of an incredible artist - it is also a gripping Tricky is one of the most original music artists to emerge from the UK in the past 30 years. His signature sound, coupled with deep, questioning lyrics, took the UK by storm in the early 1990s and was part of the soundtrack that defined the post-rave generation. This unique, no-holds barred autobiography is not only a portrait of an incredible artist - it is also a gripping slice of social history packed with extraordinary anecdotes and voices from the margins of society. Tricky examines how his creativity has helped him find a different path to that of his relatives, some of whom were bare-knuckle fighters and gangsters, and how his mother's suicide has had a lifelong effect on him, both creatively and psychologically. With his unique heritage and experience, his story will be one of the most talked-about music autobiographies of the decade.


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Tricky is one of the most original music artists to emerge from the UK in the past 30 years. His signature sound, coupled with deep, questioning lyrics, took the UK by storm in the early 1990s and was part of the soundtrack that defined the post-rave generation. This unique, no-holds barred autobiography is not only a portrait of an incredible artist - it is also a gripping Tricky is one of the most original music artists to emerge from the UK in the past 30 years. His signature sound, coupled with deep, questioning lyrics, took the UK by storm in the early 1990s and was part of the soundtrack that defined the post-rave generation. This unique, no-holds barred autobiography is not only a portrait of an incredible artist - it is also a gripping slice of social history packed with extraordinary anecdotes and voices from the margins of society. Tricky examines how his creativity has helped him find a different path to that of his relatives, some of whom were bare-knuckle fighters and gangsters, and how his mother's suicide has had a lifelong effect on him, both creatively and psychologically. With his unique heritage and experience, his story will be one of the most talked-about music autobiographies of the decade.

30 review for Hell Is Round the Corner: The Unique No-Holds Barred Autobiography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Niklas Pivic

    I believe that Tricky thinks he's experimental and as such, he's giving himself a lot of leeways, partly good, partly bad. If something doesn't work, well, on to the next thing. If it does work, it can really shine. As such, with that on the plate, I often felt 'hell, this could have been so much better if it'd been edited properly!' when reading this book. I'm not talking about the contradictions—e.g. 'money doesn't matter to me!' vs the multitudes of times when Tricky counts how much money he's I believe that Tricky thinks he's experimental and as such, he's giving himself a lot of leeways, partly good, partly bad. If something doesn't work, well, on to the next thing. If it does work, it can really shine. As such, with that on the plate, I often felt 'hell, this could have been so much better if it'd been edited properly!' when reading this book. I'm not talking about the contradictions—e.g. 'money doesn't matter to me!' vs the multitudes of times when Tricky counts how much money he's made—but of how the entire book is filled with little anecdotes that, in the end, left me feeling this book is a more a mosaic that forms a weird pattern as a whole, instead of becoming a lovely brocade. Tricky should have had a look at Bret Anderson's two autobiographical books for inspiration: those are intricate and, at the same time, filled with air and form a cohesive base that brings out the content much better than Tricky's book has. Having said all that, there are good things going for this book. The fact that Tricky has let others take part in this book is great: in the middle of chapters, somebody comes in and provides their perspective on things. It's refreshing, even though I can't help but wonder how much has been omitted from the final book. My first memory is seeing my mum in a coffin, when I was four years old. In those days, when somebody died, you had the coffin at home for a week or two, so all the family could come and say their goodbyes before they buried the person. When you’re that young, you don’t really understand what’s going on. Obviously I could see a lot of people were sad – family members coming into the house crying and stuff – so I knew it wasn’t good. She’d committed suicide, and I didn’t understand that, either. He's had quite the hard life growing up: The person who first sent me to boxing training was my auntie Maureen. One day, Maureen stabbed my uncle Martin, which I saw happen. I don’t think Martin liked Maureen’s husband very much, and he might have been trying to get money off him, so he used to go around and smash the house up sometimes. One day he went around there, and my auntie Maureen opened the door, threw pepper in his eyes and stabbed him in the stomach. When music entered your life in the sense that it does when you're young and discover a band that's yours: The Specials changed everything. Their first album was like my life on a record. Just called The Specials, it came out in 1979, and I was only eleven then, so I can’t quite remember how old I was when I first actually heard it, but I knew right away that they were the ones for me. Seeing them on TV was the first time kids like me had a band representing us – someone like myself on television! He went into Massive Attack and I think there's something really telling about this paragraph on how and when he decided to leave the band or/and Wild Bunch: I only went to London with them once, while they were mixing. No disrespect to those guys, but we came from different worlds. We drove up there to work on a song, and I was a kid – I had no money. On the way back, we were at the services, and everybody got off the bus to go and eat – we had a tour bus for some reason but we were just on a studio trip. We walked into the service station, and it was £2.50 for sausage and chips, and I was starving. I said to G, ‘Here, lend me two quid!’ I was just a kid, but he wouldn’t lend me the money. That affected me a lot. That day was when I realised I would end up leaving Massive Attack, although it was way before I truly knew it or actually thought about leaving. When he wouldn’t lend me two pounds to eat, that was the end of our relationship on a certain level. Like, you know, these people come from a different place to you. Where I grew up, they would steal that money so I could eat. That’s when I knew that it was about business, about a band and a music career – and Massive wasn’t even big at that point. There are some lovely words on people who should be recognised more, like, say, Rakim: I felt like these artists deserved to be opened out to a wider audience. You can’t just call Rakim a rapper. That guy is a genius. Some of his words are the most amazing poetry. It frustrated me when people said, ‘Rakim, the rapper’. He isn’t really, he’s a poet who doesn’t sing; instead he uses the avenue that is available to him. People called me a rapper, too – why? I find it weird; it puts you in a box – ‘rapper’! I might have started off thinking I was a rapper, but even from when I first started, I have never been one really. About 'the Bristol scene': I was being written about as part of ‘the Bristol scene’, which made no sense to me. There was a lot of music being made in Bristol, but everybody kept to their own little corner. People saw each other in clubs, because it’s a small city, but there weren’t no scene. It ain’t like Manchester, where you had all these different rock bands doing their thing – the Stone Roses are hanging out with the Happy Mondays, but the Stone Roses are one thing, and Happy Mondays are another. Portishead made music like they did because of Massive Attack. Geoff Barrow would never have been doing music like their Dummy album if he hadn’t met us guys. He didn’t come through hip-hop like we did. Some people even thought that Portishead came before me. How can that ever happen? Come on! I’m a hip-hop head! People fell for this ‘Bristol scene’ shit. Here’s another thing: Portishead are not even from Bristol. They’re from Portishead. And when people started talking about the ‘Bristol Sound’, what they didn’t realise was, I had recorded some stuff there, like my stuff on Blue Lines, but Maxinquaye was made in Harlesden. It came from being isolated up there, not knowing anyone. On PJ Harvey: Most of the first touring I did was with Polly Harvey, who is a West Country girl, too. We went through England, Europe and America. Polly is lovely, and very chilled out. She ain’t got none of that popstar bullshit about her. Just as real as they come. I was lucky to tour with her at the beginning, because she’s one of the best live artists you could ever see. Normally when I’m watching a live show, I get bored, not because the show is bad necessarily, or the person is bad, it’s just that from this point on performing onstage became part of what I do for a living. It’s not that I’m not impressed, or I don’t like the songs, it’s that thing of not eating chocolate if you work in a chocolate factory. Watching Polly, though, it’s always been, ‘Fucking hell, that is some power!’ There is some lovely reminiscences in this book, but it lacks editing; if you can handle that, and love pop-culture and entertainment tidbits, read up.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chris Gardom

    Mirroring his music, Tricky the writer is no illusionist, he’s a master magician. Honest, funny, tragic and scary, Tricky is the world’s coolest Adrian, apart from that girl in Rocky, maybe. The Knowle West boy freestyles his tale with welcome interruptions from family, friends and collaborators, leads the reader away from his personal tragedy then walks around the block of stardom in a loop that ends with a chapter no man deserves to write. A proper gert lush blowback of a book!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Frank Privette

    You know why this is a five-star book? Because it’s fun. And entertaining. And well-written. And it’s interesting. Yes, it’s obviously egocentric (it’s a memoir, penned by Tricky, after all). But Adrian Thaws has had an interesting life, he’s a talented writer as well as musician, and he knows how to grab an audience by the.... well..... Even if you’ve never heard of Tricky or Massive Attack, this book is well worth your time if you’re into music history, migrant history in the UK, the nineties, You know why this is a five-star book? Because it’s fun. And entertaining. And well-written. And it’s interesting. Yes, it’s obviously egocentric (it’s a memoir, penned by Tricky, after all). But Adrian Thaws has had an interesting life, he’s a talented writer as well as musician, and he knows how to grab an audience by the.... well..... Even if you’ve never heard of Tricky or Massive Attack, this book is well worth your time if you’re into music history, migrant history in the UK, the nineties, pop, ska, reggae, hip hop, or the “Bristol Scene”, even if only from a distance. I honestly haven’t had this much fun reading a book in a while. Two examples: He was offered to mix and finish “Pop” by Bono but said no. Why? Because the demo the singer gave him was too good and he couldn’t improve it. But U2 wanted to make it sound “new”. And when they relase it, well, it sucked. The other was his allegedly first experience with racism. It wasn’t until he was already “rich and famous” and boarding a British Airways flight. He took a left, towards First Class. And the stewardess politely directed him right, to Coach. She was wrong, of course. And prejudiced. Pehaps what makes this book so compelling, though, are two of Tricky’s choices. One is to have a a wide range of supporting “characters” contribute. So it becomes, in large part, an oral history of Tricky. From friends, family, music producers and industry insiders, to artists like Terry Hall, Perry Farrell, and Maynard James Keenan. It is, very much like Massive Attack’s genesis, and what is at their core, a collaboration. And it works. The other interesting choice is how he paces himself. Almost a third of the book comes and goes before any mention to The Wild Bunch or Massive Attack ks made. He takes his sweet time. And it’s a book about him, not just his music. And it works. The last three or four paragraphs are surprising. And possibly more heart-wrenching than most of the book if you’re not quite up to speed with certain events (which I wasn’t). It’s a huge change of pace. And, sadly, it also works. One, not sad at all, quote to remember him by: “I was never interested in being famous or successful. Like everyone, I have bills to pay. So I have to make money. But I’ve never been interested in being the richest guy on the planet. Driving around in a Rolls Royce or Bentley sports car does nothing for me whatsoever. Making Maxinquaye, my attitude was ‘I’m gonna turn music upside down.’ That was a bit of a competitive hip hop thing like ‘no one can fuck with me, I’m gonna make music that no one has ever heard before.’ There was always a bit of that. But being the biggest artist, it doesn’t bother me. The only thing that came out of the nineties that was new was my album. I’m not saying it was the best. I’m just saying it was the only new music. When Maxinquaye came out there was nothing that came out before it or sounded like it. Things have come after it and tried to sound like it but when Maxinquaye came out, there had been nothing like it. And it wasn’t because I’m a genius. It was because I don’t know what I’m doing.” EDIT: It has been brought to my attention by a good source (a very serious journalist who spoke with him) that Tricky not only didn’t write this book but didn’t even proof read it. He told it to a journalist, who transcribed and -one supposes-edited it. This takes away nothing from my review, I think. Precisely because it felt like such a lively, oral history kind of conversation. [maybe it takes away from the Tricky-is-a-great-writer-bit])

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jak Krumholtz

    I've never read anything that ended with more of a gut punch. I've listened to a ton of Tricky over the years but really knew little about him. Wild life and told in a cool way it just needs better editing to prevent stories repeating so many times and keep things interesting. That ending though. Brutal. Thankful for him sharing his life.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Luke

    Interesting format where the book comes over as Tricky talking in a room of people from his life who then join in at the relevant parts. (That'll make more sense if you read the book!) He's had an unusual life and career and was fascinating to read about.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Koen

    Lang dacht ik dat ik op één of twee sterren zou uitkomen voor dit boek. Tricky is best wel saai. De schrijfstijl is weinig inspirerend. Ik las ergens dat Tricky het boek niet zelf zou hebben geschreven maar dat hij een ghost-writer zijn levensverhaal heeft verteld en dat dat min of meer verbatim is opgeschreven. Zo leest het in ieder geval wel. Veel herhalingen ook. Tricky praat een met de zelfverzekerdheid van een tiener of twintiger en is behoorlijk vol van zichzelf. Hij geeft niks om dit of Lang dacht ik dat ik op één of twee sterren zou uitkomen voor dit boek. Tricky is best wel saai. De schrijfstijl is weinig inspirerend. Ik las ergens dat Tricky het boek niet zelf zou hebben geschreven maar dat hij een ghost-writer zijn levensverhaal heeft verteld en dat dat min of meer verbatim is opgeschreven. Zo leest het in ieder geval wel. Veel herhalingen ook. Tricky praat een met de zelfverzekerdheid van een tiener of twintiger en is behoorlijk vol van zichzelf. Hij geeft niks om dit of dat, was de eerste of de beste en heeft geen boodschap aan een heleboel dingen. Daar is op zich niks mis mee maar ik vond het wat vermoeiend om dat te lezen. Ik betrapte Tricky niet op veel wijsheid noch vind ik hem inspirerend, hij lijkt nog altijd het straatjochie van vroeger te zijn. Björk, waar hij een korte relatie mee had, karakteriseerde Tricky destijds als 'emotionally numb'. Op een bepaalde manier is dat inderdaad hoe Tricky hier in het boek overkomt. Begrijpelijk misschien, zijn eerste herinnering is zijn opgebaarde moeder die zelfmoord pleegde, dat werkt ongetwijfeld door in de rest van je leven en legde wellicht de basis voor een pantser wat hij nooit heeft kunnen afschudden. Als lezer had ik dan ook niet het gevoel dat ik dicht bij hem kwam. Er bleef een afstand die slechts sporadisch wat kleiner werd. Die korte momenten maakten uiteindelijk toch dat ik een puntje extra geef. Het is misschien niet zo'n heel goed boek maar toch heb ik een bepaald respect gekregen voor de man. Zijn leven is niet makkelijk geweest maar hij heeft het misschien ook zelf moeilijker gemaakt dan nodig was. Het laatste hoofdstukje, slechts een paar regels lang, kwamen hard aan. (view spoiler)["This book starts with my mother's suicide. If i had known that it would end with my daughter's suicide , you wouldn't be reading this now." Misschien wel de enige persoon in zijn leven waarvoor in dit boek onvoorwaardelijke liefde te voelen is. My baby died. My world is over. The person I was, he's gone. Everything looks different, sounds different. Like I'm in a world that doesn't exist. (hide spoiler)]

  7. 4 out of 5

    Barry

    No! You can't end a book like that! And that's the end of my reading challenge target too. An autobiography with contributions is a strange thing, but this really works in parts. He's not afraid to hand over parts of his own self-account to people who are hardly uncritical. The last word is back to Adrian Thaws on his own though, and is devastating.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    A fair proportion of the book is spent describing Tricky’s life before becoming famous, and themes discussed here continues throughout the book. There is very little name-dropping, and the direct input from other people in the book provides interesting additions to the story.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Absolutely excellent

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    Absolutely amazing book on Tricky's journey and great input from various friends and family members through the book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    William

  12. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lee Montague

  14. 5 out of 5

    Erine

  15. 4 out of 5

    Milantropio

  16. 4 out of 5

    Duan Greally

  17. 5 out of 5

    louise balkin

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael Kamleitner

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ingmar

  20. 5 out of 5

    R

  21. 4 out of 5

    David Murphy

  22. 5 out of 5

    Julian Harcourt

  23. 5 out of 5

    Iradman

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rimma Apple

  25. 5 out of 5

    Isabelle

  26. 4 out of 5

    Garrie Fletcher

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jay Corbetto

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gary

  29. 4 out of 5

    John MacLeod

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jason Sutter

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