Wednesday, 22 July, 2020 in Book Reviews, Books, Culture, Music

Into Books Review: Just A Shot Away – 1969 Revisited Part Two

Book: Just A Shot Away: 1969 Revisited Part Two
Author: Kris Needs
Publisher: New Haven

Just A Shot Away is a teenage memoir written by renowned music journalist Kris Needs and covers the year 1969, split into two separate books, covering January to June and July to December.

Into Creative reviewed Part One here and we followed this up with an in depth and exclusive interview with the author here where Kris talked about both books, his inspirations and all things music.

Part Two has just been released and starts off with the whammy of Brian Jones’ death on the same day Needs turns 15. As a huge fan of The Rolling Stones this is a pivotal moment in the young life of the author. Sun Ra pops up with some outlandish and futuristic off-the-cuff skronking jazz which leaves an indelible mark and we hear endearing tales of the likes of The Doors, Can, Love, Moondog and Van Der Graaf Generator.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is just a year in numbers, music charts or wider world events. It’s not. That would simply be lazy. The beauty of this book (and indeed Part One) is the ability of Needs to put his personal touch on what is going on around him in 1969 and linking that, in some cases to what happens over the next 50-odd years. The book also explores some artists in detail, looking back on what they’ve done, who with and what they’ve subsequently done after the year in question. This all adds up to an extremely well-written and, ultimately, engaging book that fascinates and pulls you in from the very first page.

At times, the books careers along like a juggernaut, a runaway train with priceless and evocative vignettes on Bowie, Albert Ayler, Syd Barrett, The Last Poets, Hendrix, Guy Stevens and, of course, Mott The Hoople, the band Needs describes as “providing my road map through adolescence and entry into rock’n’roll’s madness, at close quarters“. Read the book and you’ll find out why, it’s Just A Shot Away and it’s glorious.

Just A Shot Away can be purchased in all good bookshops, online retailers and here.

John Welsh


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