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The Big Wheel

3.31  ·  Rating Details ·  61 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
Thomas was bassist with Elvis Costello and The Attractions at the height of the band’s success with hits like "Oliver’s Army" and "Accidents Will Happen." Though names are never mentioned, The Big Wheel paints a vivid and hilarious picture of exactly what it is like touring the US and the rest of the world with Costello and Company, sharing your life 24 hours a day with a ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by Helter Skelter Publishing (first published 1991)
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Jul 17, 2014 Tim rated it it was amazing
I see the publisher's blurb focuses on the standard rock-memoir ideas of humour, excess and wackiness. Fair doobries, but that wasn't what I got from The Big Wheel. It's true there is some humorous writing and some of it works - though some is corny and those lines are among the least successful in the book.

The book seemed to me to be mainly about Thomas' dissatisfaction, disdain, unfulfilledness, with the life of a busy working musician living a disconnected life on and off the road. There are
Aug 16, 2008 Susan rated it it was ok
I was actually horribly disappointed by this book. Thomas is one of my bass playing heroes, and I was hoping to get a little more insight on his background and approach to music. Also, of course, this is the book that got him kicked out of the Attractions, earning Costello's ire to this day apparently, so I figured I was in for some mudslinging. Which was ok since, let's face it, every once in a while you have to indulge yourself in a little low-class entertainment and bring your heroes (i.e., E ...more
Aug 31, 2013 Ken rated it liked it
The book is written by the former bass player with Elvis Costello and The Attractions, and if you are looking for a behind the scenes 'tell all' of what it was like to be a member of one of the best and most influential rock'n'roll bands of any era, you will be disappointed. The band members names are never used ('the drummer', 'the singer', etc), and Thomas crafts a kind of fictionalized and highly personalized view of the music biz and his part in it. On the plus side, the book is very cleverl ...more
Pat Fitzgerald
Feb 10, 2013 Pat Fitzgerald rated it really liked it
If you've ever been on the road for more than a week with a rock band, you'll recognize many of the "types" in this book. Hilarious, at times Bruce Thomas really is the "funniest fucker in the world," even if that EC lyric was a reference to Letterman and not Thomas. I think the only one who dislikes Elvis Costello more than Bruce Thomas is a couple musicians I've been on the road with. For EC "fans," the book's merit is probably inversely proportional to their love of their hero. For anyone els ...more
Mister Mank
Mar 16, 2015 Mister Mank rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this, but couldn't. Bruce Thomas is an excellent bassist, and maybe he's also a nice guy, but as a character in a book, he comes across as smug, judgmental and indulgent. I actively disliked him by the end of the book, which was disappointing. On the other hand, I didn't think there was anything in this book that warranted his getting kicked out of the Attractions.
Jan 20, 2010 Mike rated it liked it
Kind of a tell all book about Bruce Thomas time as bass player for Elvis Costello and the Attractions. This book eventually led to his firing of the band. He dosen't name people by there actual names and refers to them as the keyboard player, the drummer, singer etc. He dosen't really shed to much light on anything in particular but I could see why Elvis Costello was pissed off at him.
Jan 14, 2014 Davidg rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It is not a warts and all record of life on the road with a breaking rock band as I expected .This is more a witty meditation on life and the human condition written by a man searching for some meaning in what he sees around him .It is very well written and at times very obscure and poetic .It is quite short ,intense at times ,but overall quite beautiful
Oct 16, 2013 Seth rated it did not like it

Bruce Thomas is not an author. Writing is technically fine but not at all compelling, and the rock & roll story-telling doesn't live up to reflecting the interesting experiences one would think someone in his position would have had (which is true of other R&R-artist-authored books too)
Feb 05, 2008 Andy rated it really liked it
Sharp and funny account of Elvis Costello's early career and touring adventures by the former bass player of his band The Attractions. I'm not sure if they stopped talking before this book was written or because of it, but they haven't spoken in years!
Steven Perry
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