Question About The Forthcoming Kinks Book

EDIT – Please read this first, visitors from
For those of you who don’t know me, one of the many things I do is write critical essays, analysing the music of various bands, track-by-track. I post these essays to this blog, and then revise them and turn them into books, both paper and ebooks, which I publish myself. So far I’ve done books on The Beatles, The Monkees, and the first of a three-volume set on The Beach Boys.
If you click on the ‘the kinks’ tag at the bottom of this post, you can read the essays I’ve done so far for the Kinks book. If you click on the relevant tags at the side, or on the “buy my books” links, you can see some of the other ones.
Please only reply to this post if you’ve had a look at some of those and have some interest in the Kinks book — I’m getting a bit swamped with comments that for one reason or another don’t apply to what I’m doing.
Thank you for your interest. If you’re interested in the book, it’ll be out in a couple of months (if I just do the first ten years) or before the end of the year (if I cover the band’s whole career). I post the essays approximately once a week, so please come back and read them if you like what you see.
And incidentally, if any Kinks fans want to volunteer to read the finished draft copy of the book and see if they can spot any factual errors, I’d be very grateful.
And now back to the original post…

Where do you want me to stop?

Currently, I’ve covered the Kinks’ complete 60s output, and it comes to about the length of my Seven Soldiers book (rather coincidentally, as there are seven 60s Kinks studio albums), so I’m starting to think about how I should do the book.

My original intention, and what I’ll still probably go with, is to cover every studio album the band made. The problem with this is that the band’s career is extremely skewed — they spent ten years making records that varied from OK to great, then twenty years making records that varied from OK to horribly racist. None of the albums past the point I’ve got to have any significant bonus tracks, so their entries will be much shorter than the ones I’ve already done, but it could still lead to a lot of entries basically saying “I’ve got nothing to say about this song because the song itself has nothing to say”. It might also skew the book to make it look like I don’t like the Kinks, when in fact they’re one of my favourite bands.

So there are a few different options, and I thought I’d put them to the people who are reading these posts, to see what sounds best to you:

The Kinks’ Music – the original plan, and what I’ll still probably do. Cover all the studio albums.
The Kinks In The 60s – just put out what I’ve got now, reworked with an introduction and something about the Live At Kelvin Hall album.
The Kinks – The Pye Years – everything on their first record label. Covers the next two albums, including the last two big UK hits (Lola and Apeman), but misses out their last really good album, Muswell Hillbillies. Or
The Kinks – The First Ten Years Covers everything up to Preservation Act 2, the first Kinks album that most people argue is actively bad, and the breakdown Ray Davies had which many people argue his songwriting talent never recovered from. This would cover the next six albums.

What would you like to read? I’m genuinely curious here — the question basically boils down to whether people want a comprehensive book or one that just covers the artistically interesting stuff.

(Another factor — and I won’t pretend this doesn’t bother me — is the reaction of American readers. I have had some very poor reviews of some of my music books on Amazon US because people disagree with my assessment of some songs and don’t know the difference between “I disagree with this” and “this is bad” (which is not to say my books are not also bad, just that those reviews don’t make a case for that). The albums I’m likely to be most unkind to are precisely those which were most commercially successful in the US, and I can already see the bad reviews as a result. That said, that’s not enough by itself to stop me writing that stuff — if I let Amazon reviewers put me off I’d never have got as far as my second book.)

FURTHER EDIT I shall not be letting any further comments about the song Black Messiah through — your point has almost certainly been made by someone in the thread already. This is not because I want to shut down debate, or because my mind is closed on the matter, but because I’m currently rather unwell and am finding the discussion quite stressful — I don’t want my death certificate to read “cause of death — popped a blood vessel because of a sidetracked internet discussion”. I’ve not taken offence at anything anyone has said, even those who have disagreed with me, and you’re all welcome to stay around and comment further on any other subject, but the discussion about racism in Black Messiah is over.

Getting Some Discipline Around Here

This blog has been becoming more chaotic recently, and I’ve started more and more projects that I haven’t finished. So I’m going to try to set myself an actual schedule, so I can complete some of these. So for at least the next few weeks this is the plan:
Cerebus Fridays – A book-by-book look at the whole of Cerebus, in the style of my An Incomprehensible Condition. I have tried this a couple of times in the past, but I think I know where I’m going with it.
Saturday MindlessWho – Who posts for the Mindless Ones, on a more sensible schedule. These may not always appear on the site on Saturdays, as there are a large number of other things that have to be posted there, some time-sensitive, but I’ll try to post a link here every Saturday.
Sunday Kinks
Wednesday Peculiar Branch – the continuing Peculiar Branch novel.

Other days will be for linkblogs, rants, etc. I may also post extra chapters of any of the above on any other day if I feel especially inspired to.

Once each of these is finished, I’ll drop in one of the other projects I want to do — How We Know What We Know, Bigger On The Outside, Time Detective and the second volume of the Beach Boys book, to start with.

New Short Story Book: Ideas And Entities

I’ve just published my latest book, Ideas And Entities. This collects ten of the short stories I’ve posted here, some of which have already been made available as separate ebooks. As it’s relatively short (82 pages), the paperback version is cheaper than normal, at £6 (no hardback for this one), and this week the Kindle version will be included in my $2.99 sale, before it goes up to $5 (the Smashwords version is $5 right now, as the price has to propagate through all the resellers they use).

The blurb:
In Ideas And Entities, Andrew Hickey, author of Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!, asks such questions as:

What if the singularity was brought about by social media gaming?
Who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays?
What should you do if you accidentally defame a werewolf?
Are physicists keeping the secret of time travel to themselves?
And is it possible to have people agree with you too much?
These and other questions are answered in the ten science fiction and fantasy stories found inside.

Contains the short stories:
Jeeves And The Singularity
The Shakespeare Code
Occupational Elf
Bubble Universe
Print The Legend
Boltzmann And Boltzwomann
The Singularity
Free Will And Testament
Rite Of Passage

I’d really appreciate if those of you who have enjoyed any of my short stories so far would let people know about this — it doesn’t have a built-in market the way my books on music do, and no-one’s going to find out about it unless you tell them.

It’s available now in paperback, Kindle (UK), Kindle (US) and other ebook formats. (The Kindle links might not work til later tonight).

Me On The Radio (Davy Jones)

I just recorded a rather stuttery interview with Alan Simpson for BBC Radio Ulster, about Davy Jones. I did about five or six minutes, and that will be broadcast, intercut with Monkees music (and hopefully with some of my repe- re- repetition, repetiton, repetition and st-stu-stuttering cut out) some time between three and five today. Those of you who use Flash can hear it on BBC iPlayer. I don’t think I came off particularly well – I’ve got a migraine today – but I hope I did Davy justice.

I may be posting something to the Mindless Ones site about Davy and the Monkees tonight, but then I’ll not be talking about this much more.

More Me At The Mindless ( @ThoughtbubbleUK recollections)

I’ve been quite ill for the last few days, hence the lack of proper updates, but I’ve contributed to another post at the Mindless Ones, this time Illogical Volume, The Beast Must Die and myself discuss what we did on our holidays.

I’m going to be posting there tomorrow as well, about Doctor Who, but I’ll try to get a How We Know What We Know post up here, too, health permitting.

Is this a good idea?

I just had an idea for a way to promote my music books, and hopefully make a little money, but I want to know if it sounds too mercenary. I’m very, very wary of going from someone writing for pleasure to turning into a money-grabbing hack, so I thought I should ask those who get my writing for free…

What I’m thinking of doing is taking some of my individual essays – the ones on Pet Sounds, Revolver, Rubber Soul and Head would probably be the best to start with – and making slightly revised versions available as 99-cent Kindle ebooks in a ‘classic albums’ series. They’d be reworked enough to stand alone, and maybe contain some more factual information (session dates and stuff) but basically just be the sections of the other books.

I think if done properly this could be OK, and a way to drive people to my full-length books, but it could seem tacky. What do you think?