In a follow up to his 2012 memoir, Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess has written a book about his love of record collecting. Duncan Seaman reports.
As lead singer with indie rock band mainstays The Charlatans for more than two and a half decades, Tim Burgess has experienced his fair share of highs and lows.
Many were recalled in typically candid style in his memoir Telling Stories, published in 2012.
In its newly published follow-up, Tim Book Two: Vinyl Adventures From Istanbul to San Francisco, the 49-year-old explores his love of record collecting, with the help of a series of recommendations from friends and fellow musicians. He also talks poignantly about the death of The Charlatans’ drummer Jon Brookes – the band’s second tragic loss after keyboard player Rob Collins was killed in a car crash in 1996.
Burgess says he started writing Tim Book Two in the wake of Brookes’ passing – from a brain tumour – and while he and the band were working on The Charlatans’ album Modern Nature. He had also recently become a father. Those three events made him reflect on your own love of music and of record collecting trips over the years
“I finished writing Telling Stories and thought that was that. Jon’s death and my son’s birth meant that my world was a very different place – the success of Modern Nature was a real ray of sunshine and the feedback from Telling Stories was amazing. Faber & Faber asked if I would consider writing another book and it all stemmed from that. There’s a chapter on Jon and the difficulty of writing the obituary for a friend – and at the same time I was surrounded by new life.”
When it came to who to ask for musical recommendations, he says: “It was a case of asking people I liked in the world of music and beyond. People like Stephen Morris from Joy Division came to mind straight away. Then some others were just by pure chance – I was walking along the street when I bumped into Neil Tennant (Pet Shop Boys) – he recommended an album after a chat. I sang with Boy George at a show so we got talking about music and he recommended a Nico LP.”
One musician’s choice caught him off guard. “I think maybe Chris Carter’s was quite a surprise, but makes sense when you think about it. He was in Throbbing Gristle who made uncompromising industrial music – and he chose an album by Abba, the exact opposite of the music he made. The least surprising was Mac from Echo & The Bunnymen – he chose an album by Echo & The Bunnymen. I was hoping he would.”
Burgess still remembers the first record he bought. “I was seven. It was Long Haired Lover From Liverpool by Little Jimmy Osmond.” When it comes to the record that holds the most important memories for him, he opts for one of his own. “Some Friendly by The Charlatans – our first album; it went to number one and took us around the world.” His next musical project is a tour with Peter Gordon. “We made an album together,” says Burgess. “He’s a musical hero of mine.”
Tim Book Two is published by Faber & Faber, £14.99. Tim Burgess and Peter Gordon are at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds on September 4.