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Reelin' in the Years: The Soundtrack of a Northern Life

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  297 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Mark Radcliffe takes a record from each year of his life, using the song as a starting point from which to reach out and pull together a wonderfully entertaining catalogue of memories and asides about British culture. And, as one would expect from this unique and popular broadcaster, the tunes he lists are not the usual suspects.
Paperback, 333 pages
Published January 17th 2012 by Simon & Schuster (first published May 12th 2011)
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May 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
He shoots. He scores.

Mr Radcliffe was in front of an open goal with not even the keeper to beat. Needless to say he slotted the ball home with style and aplomb. Then again, how could he miss? 55 year old DJ, all round good guy, and music obsessive writes a book (when he was 52 years of age) about his favourite songs (one for each year of his life), which is read by a 51 year music obsessive. It was already a pretty good "fit".

I don't share Mark's enthusiasm for Pink Floyd or Genesis, though dar
Norman Revill
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
I liked this, but then I liked Mark's 'Thank You For The Days' which I read a few years back. As a fellow Northerner with a similar taste in music (apart from those over-rated Manc bands, but then Mark's from Bolton and grew up with them, so I'll forgive him for that), what's not to like? I even walked Hadrian's Wall recently, which brought me right up to date with Mark's concluding chapters, so I feel as though I almost know him. We'd easily bond over a pint, that's for sure. Hadn't realised he ...more
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Not sure I completely trust his musical taste in every respect (I'm still not won over by Genesis for example) but Radcliffe certainly gives us an engaging, readable and clearly passionate evocation of the records that have come to represent the stages of his life. His tendency to go off at almost post-modern tangents can be disconcerting at first but as the book progresses, the stream-of-consciousness style not only produces some really funny moments but contributes to the atmosphere of surreal ...more
Jul 03, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
At the beginning I was quite happy with the book, since it appeared funny and all, plus it is related to music. The book structure was promising, so I thought it was gonna be a nice, pleasant read. After a while I got really bored. Radcliffe seems to go around without really having a point in every chapter, and also the funny effect fades away after a while. Sure, you get a smile once in a while, but the process to get there is a bit too boring to make you really enjoy it. He builds up the story ...more
Jun 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Part autobiography, part guide to popular culture, Reelin' in the Years has the original approach of taking a pop song for every year of the author's life and using that as the starting point to riff on events of the time.

Radcliffe has a strong voice and is reliably funny. There is the odd overwrought sentence that has you backtracking to get the meaning but that's forgivable. Less so the relentless professional northerner thing where "that there London" is a strange and distant land and Belgium
John Parkinson
May 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Picked this up whilst on a weekend break at a price i couldnt ignore. Having read several "soundtrack to a life" books i pretty much knew what to expect with this: Mark Radcliffe picks a song for each year of his life and writes around it. However, Radcliffe's writing style and mordant wit raise this to the top of the heap . Some of the tracks wouldnt fit into anyones top tunes ever (Puppet on a String anyone?) but the way he presents his selections as emblematic of their wider cultural contexts ...more
Jun 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, non-fiction
I've read Mark Radcliffe's other books, but this was certainly a departure: the premise is simple, for each year of his life he picks a song that means something to him, and then riffs off it.

Clearly given the nature of the book, some chapters work better than others, but overall it gives a great insight into the workings of his mind, if that's a place you wish to venture to?

I'd forgotten some of the timelines of songs, and it may be evidence of my advancing years that I thought some were much m
Jeff Howells
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The second book in a row I've read by a Radio 2 DJ. I've read all of Mark Radcliffe's previous books, and although I rarely get to listen to him broadcast now, he is an incredibly funny writer. This isn't a normal memoir (he's already written a lot about his life) but rather a chapter about each year of his life 'framed' by a song from that year. In reality the conceit is just an excuse to steer off into an extremely funny series of stories/anecdotes/musings. There is literally something funny o ...more
Steve Gillway
Jun 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
It is an enjoyable wander around memory lane. He has some funny anecdotes and a great turn of phrase. If you've heard him before then not all the qupis will be new to you. As he reminds us in his sardonic way, he's been lucky to see and speak to luminaries from the music scene and attend memorable concerts. Most of it paid for by us. I think he has been doing too many of those middle-aged moaning shows as seen in his diatribe aginst t-shirts and his over zealous championing of nice shoes.
I'm gla
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've not actually fully read this book yet because I lost it, however I've read enough to give a quick review and finish it off once I can afford to replace my copy:

A very interesting book for fans of music and Radcliffe, I think I got up to the 70s before I misplaced it so the chapters I was really excited to read haven't really come about yet, however so far the song choices have been good and the autobiographical style is enjoyable.

edit: found it and finished. I was correct really, the chapt
Derek Bridge
Nov 18, 2012 rated it liked it
For each year of Radcliffe's life, a chapter. For each chapter, a pop record - the title of the chapter - and a meditation that starts from that record. The chapters that take the music seriously are among the most successful; the chapters that take a wry look at the events of Radcliffe's life and career are slight but amusing; the other chapters are mostly fatuous. I like Radcliffe a lot - but this is an obvious conceit and somewhat uneven.
Oct 18, 2012 rated it liked it
each year of Radcliffe's life told in light of one song, what that song meant to that version of himself and then whatever he feels like writing about that is funniest, sincerest, most embarrassing etc. Minus the completeness of something like High fidelity, say, it becomes hit an miss but some hits are significant - top ten even...
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Radcliffe attempts to make a virtue of digression. He fails. I've always found his faux Peel manner somewhat distracting anyway. It reaches fever pitch in this slight volume. His use of an old fashion turn of phrase in an "ironic" way is plain annoying. Yes and subtitles in books should strictly stay in the academic domain. Mark, please leave the writing to Maconie...
Jan 01, 2013 rated it liked it
An intermittently amusing ramble through fifty-odd years of popular music told through the device of a record to represent each year of the author's life, starting with Cliff Richard in 1958 and ending up with Elbow, The Unthanks and Fleet Foxes in 2010, by way of The Kinks, Genesis, Bob Marley, Joy Divison and The Smiths.
Jim McGowan
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Very enjoyable read. Mark Radcliffe reminisces both music and British life over the course of his own life, with the same sense of humour and meandering trains of thought that you hear in his radio shows. He is so enthusiastic about the records he picks that I wanted to listen to each one as I read each chapter. This book should come with an accompanying CD!
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: british-isles
I've enjoyed his other books much more than this. I enjoy his radio shows especially his series on northern comics. When he was driving down listenership with Marc Riley was the only time I've regularly listened to the radio one breakfast show. What works when you're driving or preparing supper doesn't always work as well when its got your 100% concentration.
Richard Howard
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-this-year
If the second half of the book had been as entertaining and funny as the first half, I would have given it 4 stars. Whilst reading the first entries I found myself laughing out loud and the author's observations were accurate, witty and often a little wicked. However, anecdote replaces observation in the latter chapters and I found these less interesting.
Daniel Proctor
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful musical journey of a book with plenty of laugh out loud moments as well as interesting insight into music, politics and culture. Every word I read I could hear Radcliffe's voice as if on radio. This is a must read if you love music and Mark Radcliffe. Biggidy biggidy bong!*

*OK that was actually Marc Reilly's trademark jingle.
Jul 28, 2012 rated it liked it
A very enjoyable read- I like this type of factual but anedotal book. Mark Radcliffe using excellent descriptions and laugh out loud absurdities and situations. I could hear his accent and voice in my head as reading. So why only 3 stars - I did find some of chapters a little rambling and had to check where the incident had started. Highly recommended.
Simon Sweetman
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
A great idea for a book and Radcliffe is knowledgeable and entertaining in the writing, so he manages to pull off what others might fail with. Taking a song a year he looks at his life through the idea of how music has shaped it. Some great stories. Some funny bits. Some sad bits. A nice snapshot of life with a built-in soundtrack.
Elizabeth Coldwell
Sep 06, 2011 rated it liked it
DJ and radio personality Radcliffe uses the conceit of picking his favourite record from every year of his life to weave together snippets of autobiography, social commentary and humorous anecdotes. Interesting and deliciously nostalgic for anyone born in the late Fifties/early Sixties, but a bit too random and self-indulgent to warrant a higher rating.
Jun 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
This was ok. Some laugh out loud funny lines in it and some good anecdotes, particularly as I used to listen to Mark and Lard on radio 1 back in the day. Overall though it was a bit rambling and felt a bit like the author was very much phoning it in.
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Mark! Armed with Spotify and a pair of headphones this was a truly wonderful journey through the musical history of my life. Even discovered some musical gems I had never heard before. Sad to finish this one!
Steven Pilling
Nov 26, 2014 rated it it was ok

radcliffe is an entertaining guide but it just doesnt get past the stylistic confines of the book.

the criticism is not strong enough to get past the issues i have with the book but it does have some humour and some enjoyable touches
Salma Craig
Oct 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Thoroughly likeable DJ and all round good chap with no end of musical knowledge and anecdotes. Sometimes the wittering on style of humour which works well on the radio doesn't translate so well to the written word though I thought.
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Another good read (I'm on a roll of good books!!) This is Mark's memoirs based on songs from each year of his life. As usual a funny read and as good as his previous books
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-history, music
disappointed, tends to ramble...
Sep 23, 2016 rated it liked it
An enjoyable and informative romp through the history of music, but did lose the structure required to make a must read. Still, Radcliffe is always engaging and amusing.
Sep 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very funny, as much a biography as a music tome, and I love some of the choices - All the Young Dudes, Slade, Human League, Pulp and Nirvana.
Jun 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Funny educational a wistfull look back on you're life through records. Great idea x
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