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Cider With Roadies

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Cider with Roadies is the story of a boy's obsessive relationship with pop. A life lived through music from Stuart's audience with the Beatles (aged 3); his confessions as a pubescent prog rocker; a youthful gymnastic dalliance with northern soul; the radical effects of punk on his politics, homework and trouser dimensions; playing in crap bands and failing to impress girls; writing for the NME by accident; living the sex, drugs (chiefly lager in a plastic glass) and rock and roll lifestyle; discovering the tawdry truth behind the glamour and knowing when to ditch it all for what really matters. From his four minutes in a leisure centre with MC Hammer to four days in a small van with Napalm Death it's a life-affirming journey through the land where ordinary life and pop come together to make music.


First published February 5, 2004

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About the author

Stuart Maconie

20 books149 followers
Stuart Maconie is a TV and radio presenter, journalist, columnist and author.

He is the UK’s best-selling travel writer of non-TV tie-in books and his Pies and Prejudice was one of 2008’s top selling paperbacks. His work has been compared with Bill Bryson, Alan Bennett and John Peel and described by The Times as a 'National Treasure'.

He co-hosts the Radcliffe and Maconie Show on BBC Radio 2 every Monday – Thursday evening, as well as The Freak Zone on 6Music on Sunday afternoons, and has written and presented dozens of other shows on BBC Radio. His TV work includes presenting the BBC's On Trial shows, Pop on Trial and Style on Trial, as well as Stuart Maconie’s TV Towns, a popular gazeteer of major British cities and their roles in modern cultural life for ITV 4 and The Cinema Show/The DVD Collection on BBC 4.

As well as a popping up in Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights, and on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Stuart was a favourite on hit TV series such as the BBC's I love the 1970s' , I love the 1980s , and is now in variously Grumpy... . His other books include the acclaimed official biographies of both Blur and James. He can name GQ Man of the Year and Sony Awards Radio Broadcaster of the Year amongst his accolades. He has regular columns in The Radio Times and Country Walking and writes for WORD magazine and The Mirror.

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5 stars
367 (26%)
4 stars
635 (46%)
3 stars
309 (22%)
2 stars
45 (3%)
1 star
14 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 98 reviews
Profile Image for James.
427 reviews
February 22, 2021
'Cider With Roadies' is radio presenter and writer Maconie's 2004 autobiography in which he charts his journey as a life long fan of pop music - from Prog Rocker, to Punk Rocker via Northern Soul, Disco and numerous other stops on the way, to aspiring, burgeoning and ultimately accomplished music journalist with the New Musical Express (NME).

'Cider' is a tale well told, which apart from being entertainingly written and very funny, it's also a very astute book in which pertinent points are made. Maconie writes refreshingly in a way which feels very honest, and true and in a somewhat modest and unassuming manner. Whilst not self deprecating per se, neither is Maconie self promoting or aggrandising as is so often the case with others.

'Cider' is a great autobiography and a mustn't miss for any fan of pop music and music writing. Anyone who can survive four days in a van with 'Napalm Death' with their sanity more or less intact (a nadir for Maconie but a definite highlight for the reader) - surely deserves the time to read!
Profile Image for Susan.
2,643 reviews598 followers
April 5, 2014
This is a delightful memoir – the story of Stuart Maconie’s love affair with music. It takes us from his first concert at the age of three (The Beatles, which is unbeatable by any standards), through Northern Soul, progressive Rock, the arrival of Punk Rock, a short lived attempt at playing in a band and his later career as a rock journalist. Maconie is always humorous and slightly self mocking, but his enthusiasm is unfeigned and always honest. This will make you dig out obscure albums as well as listen to old favourites with fresh interest. All music lovers will enjoy this and, as an added bonus, Maconie is charming and excellent company, who will make you laugh out loud. A joy to read – but why it is not available on kindle I have no idea. It is surely deserving of re-release. However, for now, dig out a paperback copy and discover the highs and lows of fandom and working for the NME.
Profile Image for Nuno.
355 reviews6 followers
November 17, 2015
This book came into my hands by recommendation, and I wasn't familiar with Stuart Maconie beforehand. I should say that as I started reading it immediately became very obvious that, having moved to the UK only 2 years ago, I wouldn't understand at least half (most likely 90%) of the national and regional references/jokes/remarks. And the book is loaded with these. So it was seriously frustrating to just read on, thinking "I wonder who that band is..." or "What ever could that mean...?". I suppose this could account for a missing star or two in my rating. But also, being mostly a metal/rock fan myself, I couldn't relate to much to Stuart's musical tastes (as when he dismisses Iron Maiden/NWOBHM and pours scorn on grunge).
All things considered, I think this is a book directed towards a certain target audience that can really appreciate its qualities.
Profile Image for Ian Ellis.
Author 13 books27 followers
February 4, 2012
I like Stuart Maconie. I was always pleased when he would sit in for Johnnie Walker on the Drive Time show. I like him with Mark Radcliffe.

I even liked this book. But the glaring errors meant I could not continue. The three that stood out are:

Apparently the FBI are involved in intelligence and covert operations overseas.
Mexico is in South America
And my favourite one of all: Joseph, the 'step father' of Jesus as Stuart puts it (a description I rather like) was the proud owner of a coat of many colours. It was at this point that I thought 'if you can't get these bits right, how do I know what else you have said is wrong?'

So I gave up.
Profile Image for Ian.
183 reviews3 followers
July 10, 2018
A life in music from a very young age through the NME until he left.. vivid reminiscences and some insightful stuff especially on interviewing people, especially the stories about morrissey and mark e smith ! Go on and read it you will love it !
Profile Image for Brian Clegg.
Author 205 books2,573 followers
August 16, 2015
I am a big fan of Stuart Maconie's writing. Although his travel books are more my usual sort of thing, this musical autobiography (not an autobiography that is a musical, but one that takes in his musical tastes and development) struck a number of chords (sorry). We are relatively similar in age, and both grew up in Lancashire mill town. The difference is that, like a lot of my people, my musical tastes got stuck with what I loved between 15 and 25, while Maconie managed to move on, either caused by or causing his career as a music journalist.

So while I never grew out of prog rock, Maconie takes us through a musical landscape shaped as much by punk and the Manchester scene. It's beautifully done, and one of the effects on me was to go to Spotify and try out various of the bands he eulogies about. Sadly I still don't get the Smiths, but at least I picked up Gentle Giant from his early years.

Whether you are interested in an inside look at the workings of the NME in the 90s, the brief and bright flowering of Northern Soul (where Maconie's home town of Wigan featured strongly) or how someone could hold down a job as a college lecturer in Skelmersdale at the same time as writing for a national music magazine, it is a great read, and like all Maconie's work, brilliant holiday reading.

I would go as far as to say that Maconie is the British Bill Bryson - and I mean that in a (very) good way. (Just noticed Tony Wilson said this on the cover, but that didn't influence me!)
Profile Image for Beorn.
300 reviews55 followers
March 21, 2014
What we essentially have here is an irreverent look at various musical genres fondly recalled by journalist Stuart Maconie, ranging from Northern Soul to a little dabbling in punk, prog and his formative years writing for the NME.

This is an irreverent book about music first and foremost, told through the lens of a biography, but don't be fooled this isn't a biography by any means but a discourse on one man's journey through music.

It is quite funny & laugh out loud in places, and starts out promising enough. Towards the end of the book however, once he becomes established as an NME writer, it does tend to plateau and turn into an endless cavalcade of mundane anecdotes that would never particularly set the world on fire.

This book gets a three out of five mainly based on the first third-to-half rather than the overall feeling I'm left with. If I were to go with my overall gut feeling, I'd say 2/5 but it's a little misrepresentative so I'll give it a 3/5.
Profile Image for Plum-crazy.
2,192 reviews39 followers
October 9, 2017
I loved this book - it took me right back to my teenage years!

GQ's review of this book "The rarest of rock memoirs - hilarious, erudite & endearingly humble...Maconie's reminiscences are rich with both anecdote & insight" says it all really. I would love to quote my favourite bits but there's just too many but this footnote in particular, Maconie's favourite fragment of pub conversation, made me smile...

In the middle of one of those sudden inexplicable silences that sometimes occur in noisy rooms, a lone broadly accented, middle-aged woman's voice rang out
"How's the pork pie situation Jean?"
Sometime later, Geoff Stokes, went on holiday to Israel. His postcard back to us read, in its entirety,
"Pork Pie Situation Not Good"

Profile Image for Harry.
589 reviews36 followers
November 9, 2015
As cultural reference points go this autobiography is about as close to me as it gets. As a music obsessive growing up just a couple of years behind Staurt Maconie In the UK I went through most of these musical phases/genres myself and I'm sure our respective music collections must be very similar. Except that I don't have Bernard Sumners guitar! Probably as a read though you have to be of a certain age to get the most enjoyment out of this book. It is just that I am and I did.
Profile Image for Jon.
363 reviews4 followers
November 29, 2016
As amusing and likeable as Maconie's books always are. I don't much share his musical taste, but he is quite refreshingly honest (for a music journo) about liking and having liked some very uncool stuff. Perhaps most interesting in what is not said: there are several people he worked with on the NME who are mentioned, but not described or dealt with at all. Read into this what you will. Usual crop of badly researched mistakes ... really, is even 5 minutes on Wikipedia too much, Stuart?
Profile Image for Rebecca Mc.
20 reviews7 followers
February 1, 2013
A reread of a book I loved ten years ago, but on 2nd reading Maconie is very self-important towards the end.
Profile Image for Adrian.
25 reviews
March 2, 2021
I enjoyed this as I’m a music obsessive and a fan of Mr Maconie plus I was an NME reader for years during the 70s and 80s. If you love all of those you’ll love this book. I think it was his first book and in the beginning he seemed to be trying a little too hard to be funny hence the 4/5 stars I bought the book at a book signing of his at a local school 10 years ago and I’ve just got round to reading this signed paperback. The Napalm Death trip was very funny. Let’s face it, it’s never going to be worth anything as it wasn’t a 1st ed. and he’s signed a million I’d expect. Looking forward to reading “Pies and Prejudice” (signed!) next.
Profile Image for Sean.
90 reviews17 followers
April 30, 2013
I was already familiar with Maconie via his 6Music show "The Freak Zone" and I have read "Pies And Prejudice", his travelogue through the north of England.

"Cider With Roadies" (a punny take-off on Laurie Lee's "Cider With Rosie") is Maconie's auto-biog, though told through his music fandom prism. He 'saw' The Beatles in Wigan at age 3, though the rest of "The Sixties" seems to have mostly passed him by - lil' Stu was never a hippie. But then, I can't imagine the psychedelic scene was huge in Wigan.

He gets into Bowie and T. Rex in the early 70s, flirts with prog-rock (through Gentle Giant), becomes a Northern Soul boy and (sorta predictably) morphs into a punk rocker in the late 70s. He (also in the spirit of the time) forms a punk band that actually managed to play a few gigs somewhat successfully. There's a funny bit, too, where Maconie and a few of his mates 'stalk' and befriend Elvis Costello's father for a summer, when Costello Sr is appearing in a local jazz/music hall band.

Adventures in the 1980s include being obsessed with the Postcard Records bands, teaching English lit/philosophy in Skelmersdale for a few years, going bonkers over The Smiths and finally, landing a gig at the NME at the end of the decade (after becoming the mag's Northern gig reporter). From there he gives insights into the mag's development (more Lester Bangs, less Robert Christgau, essentially) in the early 90s--where Maconie, David Quantick and a few others supplant the 80s old guard (Burchill, Watson, Kent, etc.).

Madchester gets a chapter, as do The Stone Roses. There's a chapter about Maconie and an NME photog travelling through France with Napalm Death. That one doesn't work out and to give you an idea of how well it goes, Maconie and the photog smash every N.D. CD they had bought for research into splinters, when they return to England. Oh yeah, he also reminds you that he coined the term 'Britpop' (yes, the Bob Holness/"Baker Street" story is in the book as well).

I generally liked "Cider With Roadies". While Maconie's chirpy Northerner schtick can wear a bit thin at times, as can his 'too clever by half' turns of phrase - it's a pretty good memoir of an English muso. He also gets a bit dismissive of some genres, particularly 'grunge' (he does give Nirvana a somewhat halting pass). He describes the majority of early 90s American bands as 'grease-monkeys'. Prog-rock also gets the short-shrift, other than his beloved Gentle Giant. Strangely, he was blown away by a clip of Mahavishnu Orchestra on the Old Grey Whistle Test in the early 70s. Who'd a thunk it? Going by the roster of tunes on most "Freak Zone" broadcasts - it does make sense.
Profile Image for Rob.
Author 5 books25 followers
February 19, 2017
An entertaining memoir that does a good job of charting the transition from Eighties to Nineties (although there are some good early sections about prog rock). The best parts detail Maconie's time at the New Musical Express and the battles for the paper's soul - the likes of Dannies Kelly and Baker, Mary Anne Hobbs and Steve Lamacq were all there at the time amid falling readership and unashamedly highbrow editorial policies. Maconie is a fan of the Smiths, Madchester and Britpop and not Spandau Ballet and Grunge so some might see him as one of the arbiters of 'new laddism' (he even got hired to the NME by future Loaded editor James Brown) but in reality, he's a modest narrator with no qualms about self-deprecation - and, as his long running Freak Zone show on Six Music demonstrates, a real enthusiast for the obscure alleyways of music. All this said, there have been quite a lot of books on these themes and I didn't think this was a patch on the same author's wider study of the north of England, Pies and Prejudice. The best quote recounts one of those moments when a crowded pub goes mysteriously quiet and a single interlocutor is heard to say - 'Mary, how's the pork pie situation?'.
Profile Image for Louise Culmer.
827 reviews42 followers
August 26, 2017
I found this book surprisingly entertaining, considering i have practically no interest in pop music from the 1970s onwards, which is what it is mainly about. Stuart Maconie relates his own obsession with pop starting at the age of three with hearing the Beatles singing 'can't buy Me love' and going on through the various changes in musical fashions, his enthusiasm undimmed, buying records, learning to play the guitar, and attempting to form a band. he was one of Wigan's first punks, bravely estchewing the then ubiquitous flares for straight legged trousers when he went to Manchester to see the Clash. Eventually, while teaching A level English, he began to have articles published in the New Musical express, and then was offered the chance to go to Seattle to interview INXS, unfortunately in term time. His class were all eager for him to go, and offered to cover for him 'if anyone asks we'll say you had to go to the photocopier.' This in turn led to a full time job at NME, where he got to interview many of his musical heroes. Despite most of the book being about people I have never heard of, Stuart Maconie tells his story in such an amusing fashion that it doesn't matter. Probably if you have heard of the people in it it is even more interesting.
262 reviews
July 26, 2011
Another enjoyable read from Stuart Maconie, particularly as, within a year or so, this is exactly my era. However, whilst I enjoy his writing style and many of his observations and anecdotes, I have to diverge from his gushing praise of Morrisey and The Smiths...is it symptomatic of the North - South divide do you suppose? I do, however, seem to have acquired a similarly eclectic musical taste (sic) and have empathy with his love of live music; 70s soul; obscure Northern Soul; and some of the greats of modern music. Could Witchetaw Lineman really be the greatest pop song ever? I even recall a phase at school when I was an avid reader of NME, one which I clearly grew out of as sport began to dominate, whilst Maconie has clearly pursued his musical interests to their natural conclusion. Making a clean breast of things in the closing chapters was obviously a cathartic experience for him - let's hope that the NME don't want the guitar back!
338 reviews4 followers
January 4, 2013
I enjoyed this book easily relating to Stuarts love of music and working class upbringing. Although not quite as old, I could remember the impact of punk, new wave, The Smiths, just as he does. The depiction of the era seemed very authentic and prompted me to check out images of 'The Casion' in Wigan, for the 'Northern Soul' section. I was surprised that Stuart moved through so many different genres of music, abandoning prog rock for punk without a backward glance. The impotance of music as a badge of identity rung a bell with me and me feel nostalgic for my youth. I learned quite a lot too, especially the mechanics of NME and other papers. He wrote very entertainly about it and it's sad that this has all probably come to an end in the digital age. The sections of him going on trips to cover The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays , Morrisey, Bowieetc were insightful and lucid and made me wonder who have we got now to compare? Mumford and Sons...agh
Profile Image for Simon Binning.
162 reviews1 follower
July 6, 2016
This is a memoir of the first thirty years or so of the authors life. The first half takes us from his birth up to the start of his work as a music journalist; the second half covers his time writing for the NME. For me, the first half is the best; being roughly contemporaneous with the author (though from a different background) I found myself laughing out loud to some passages - the descriptions of primary school, for example - and his evocation of teenage travails is very good. The second half has some good stuff in it; the fragility of bands, the workings of the music industry, the intense rivalries between - indeed, within - genres. It's informative, but, for me, less compelling. It is interesting to see how many of his contemporary music journalists now all together on BBC 6 Music!
Overall, it's a good read. Well-written, very funny at times, and for those of us of a certain age, quite poignant.
Profile Image for Jim.
897 reviews2 followers
November 21, 2010
If Maconie was a bigger ego-maniac, such as Piers Morgan, this would have been such a more interesting book. I hate to say it, but there's more than a bit of the (pesudo?) wall-flower in the Maconie outlook as he continually tries to make out that interviewing people like Morrisey in Berlin over a pint is akin to you meeting your boss for a beer in Birmingham. No big deal really. When interviewing Paul McCartney, he chooses to recall the one absolutely stupid and inane question that he asked which proves he's just a daft pillock, really, and not a God of Journalism. But, Stuart, we never thought you were a God of Journalism, mate. Even if you're a wee bit worried that we might think that you might think that you are. Which is why I enjoyed his "Pies and Prejudice" more. When he can say what he thinks.
Profile Image for Bill.
76 reviews34 followers
October 21, 2008
Having been an avid reader of the NME for nearly 40 years I love to read the published works of anyone who has worked on that august journal. Mr Maconie worked there for some time (as did Andrew Collins - check out his books too)

This book also covers a similar period in the UK when I grew up, although Stuart Maconie is slightly younger than me

It is at times incredibly funny and delivers a great insight into the way a music paper operates. There are some great anecdotes about a number of starts too, my favourites of which were Stuart's time with Mick Hucknall, Napalm Death and Mark E Smith, not all at the same time though!

So if you like Maconie, the NME or indeed music I think you'll enjoy this book
Profile Image for Peter Boyle.
489 reviews596 followers
January 7, 2016
I tore through this lively, witty memoir by BBC Radio DJ Stuart Maconie. It traces his musical odyssey from attending a Beatles concert as a three-year-old to becoming a singer in one of Wigan's dodgy punk bands and his time as a rock journalist for the NME. The story is furnished with loads of hilarious anecdotes - my personal favourites include a memorable encounter with the Happy Mondays and a journey from hell with Birmingham metallers Napalm Death. It's also an intriguing insight into what life was like growing up in 70s England. Maconie's enthusiasm for music is infectious and the effusive descriptions of his most treasured songs sent me to Spotify on several occasions. An endearing, funny reminiscence that is a treat for any music fan.
7 reviews1 follower
January 21, 2008
I loved this to pieces. I think you have to be northern to totally get it, because i can hear his voice and if he wasn't a northerner it just wouldn't sound right!
It's essentially about growing up and forging a career - something most of us can relate to - but with a large dollop of celeb thrown in, but down to earth stuff too, such as life teaching at Skem college.
I whooed with joy when I discovered where Maconie went to college himself, it's where I went, a fact my brother-in-law who lent me the book kept from me so he didn't spoil the surprise!
If you like his show, you'll like the book. If you don't I think you won't.
Profile Image for Kendra Levine.
22 reviews5 followers
July 14, 2009
I read this book after Pies and Prejudice. Even in that book, Maconie can't help but talk about how music has shaped his view of England. This book is an open love letter to music, sort of like High Fidelity but more sincere. I definitely identified with Maconie's description of his Beatlemania and I really appreciated how honest he was with the progression of his musical taste.

This is probably because I still work at a college radio station, and grew up collecting vinyl compulsively, but I really liked Maconie's fairy tale ascent into rock journalism. It's totally unbelievable and Maconie seems to recognize this, but entertaining all the same. He is a skilled writer, so I enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Colin Milligan.
12 reviews1 follower
September 6, 2009
I picked this up in FOPP for a few pounds one day when I wanted something to read on the train. I didn't have great expectations for it, a nice light read, should be funny etc.

It was definitely a slow burner, the prose felt a little laboured at first, with a few too many forced jokes.

But the great thing about the book is that with each passing Chapter, you could sense that Maconie is becoming a better writer, until byu the end of the book, some of the later chapters really did merit the praise on the cover.

By the end of the book, I had started to look frward to reading his other book 'Pies and Prejudice'. Not bad for a slow start.
Profile Image for Bob Breckwoldt.
79 reviews3 followers
October 31, 2014
An entertaining light weight read. The beginning isn't that great, feels like other people's memories. But from the moment of forming a prog-rock group it takes off (especially for those of us who actually spent five minutes in a would be prog group in the seventies). It then travels through the 70s, 80s and 90s til he finds enlightenment! As with all music journalists he is pretentious, opinionated, enthusiastic yet funny, sardonic and essentially warm hearted. From Gentle Giant ( will they ever get a more fulsome appreciation) to the Mondays via Wigan Casino. I really enjoyed this trip. Now to get listening to the music, which is what the best books about music should do.
Profile Image for Kane Green.
15 reviews1 follower
February 20, 2016
A great memoir of Maconie's long standing love of music. From his earliest musical experience of seeing The Beatles aged 3 (of which he remembers nothing) to his rise to Assistant Editor of the NME, the whole thing is shot through with Maconie's typical humour.

There is one section describing spending 4 days in a van with (Death Metal band) Napalm Death which is worth the admission fee alone. I have to say this was right up my street having been an avid reader of the NME for years and like Maconie, a (kind of) native of Wigan which features heavily in the opening quarter of the book.

A great read for any fan of music and you may even find yourself a new favourite band!
Profile Image for Karen Eliot.
1,178 reviews21 followers
August 25, 2013
This is great fun, probably more so if you're familiar with the bands etc and of a similar vintage, but even if you're not how can anyone dislike a turn of phrase like "Well-known tramp-rock band The Levellers"? Respect to Maconie also for nailing the likes of Saville and D LTravis some years before the law caught up with them (or didn't, depending on how you look at it). a very easy read, entertaining and amusing all the way, and he even very briefly mentions This Heat who to be blunt, are better than every other band mentioned in the whole book. except possibly The Smiths.
Profile Image for Guy Jones.
102 reviews
July 16, 2015
I have read some other books by Stuart Maconie, notably "pies and prejudice" and "Adventures on the High Teas" I enjoyed them very much and was looking forward to reading what seems to be generally regarded as his best work. Well, I can only agree, this book knocks them into a cocked hat. It is effectively an autobiography of his musical influences and background, but it concentrates more on the music and performers with the author acting as our guide. At times I would have liked further expansion on certain tales and was left hungry for more.
Altogether an easy but entrancing read.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 98 reviews

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