SINGER Tim Burgess’s rock memoir TELLING STORIES restores the missing "g" from Tellin’ Stories – The Charlatans’ album title.
In the book he recalled making that album: "We were going through an unexplained phase of dropping ‘g’s – which I suppose made a change from dropping Es."
That’s this book all over.
Plenty of Tim’s playful humour and the often black comedy of the band’s adventures (drugs and otherwise).
Throughout, Tim also reveals a magpie’s talent for collecting treasures, in his case the fearsomely-clear memories – particularly of music – that go all the way back to childhood.
He’s also got that other magic ingredient, the ability to be honest about the self he was and is.
That can include revealing that in his druggiest phase he had a kleptomaniac’s random instinct for things not his. Then, the magpie’s eye was literally for pinching shiny things – like the odd pedal bin.
But just as good as the tales of his life is when he talks about the music and musicians that make him tick.
The extra chapter added at the end was originally planned but not included in the book’s first edition.
And it would have been a loss. Here, Tim reveals "where I came from musically" and there are plenty of surprises. From The Clash’s Sandinista (maybe not such a surprise) with Bob Dylan, his favourite band New Order plus The Doors along the way.
"I doubt too many people would have The Wu-Tang Clan high up on a list of who I’d listen to, but in some ways they had the biggest effect," he writes.
The Clan’s Method Man brought out an album.
Tim reveals: "... the second single All I Need even featured multiplatinum unit-shifter and Grammy hoover Mary J Blige and was produced by Sean Puffy Combs. Believe it or not, I got the style for the chorus for North Country Boy from that. Yeah, I thought you wouldn’t believe it."
He writes about his fascination with The Fall’s Mark E Smith and going to his home in Prestwich near Manchestr and his local for a drink: "With trepidation we walked up his path past discarded foreign coins, broken biros and spent batteries. We were greeted by the man himself, who instantly told a tale of a recently removed exploding piano... Mark got the round in, one Diet Coke and three pints of Diamond and handed us a record each. Grouchy? No? Genius? Yes!... That was one of my favourite afternoons in a long time. He gave us the potted history of the area and quoted long-forgotten Teutonic generals – all done in a style you could only describe as being the exact midway point between Rigsby and Gollum."
Then there’s10 reasons why his life would have been less rich without Paul Weller which includes one of the funniest dancefloor potential-disaster moments you’ve read in a while.
It would be simple to just keep listing favourite moments from the book – everything from an aside on the smell of vinyl records to the unexpected revelations about what it’s like from the inside to be in a successful band, such as: "We’d made three No 1 albums and Mark Collins was still sleeping on a blow-up bed in a shared flat in Chorlton."
Ten pages devoted to an interview Tim did in 1985 with journalist Christina Patterson for Sky magazine paint a technicolor picture of his crazy years before he went through a DIY rehab and discovered trascendental meditation.
By contrast, the description Tim adds from the late drummer Jon Brookes himself of what it felt like in 2010 to have a brain haemorrhage, is all the more stark and poignant since Jon’s death earlier this year. It’s a reminder that the band has had its share of life’s darker moments to absorb.
Tim writes of his hopes for the book: "I wanted it to be like a chat in the pub rather than a document of every move I’d ever made."
His ease as a storyteller and what Christina Patterson called his nature as "a life enthusiast" ensures that his mission to entertain and surprise succeeds.
The truth is the band and Tim are getting on for having less of a back story, more of a legend.
In a way, that’s a gift.
But it’s Tim’s telling that giftwraps it.
Telling Stories by Tim Burgess (Penguin, £9.99)
Quick review: A rock odyssey that shares juicy details, funny stories and a lifetime of passionate music nerdery before dodging the darkness and docking in a surprisingly good place.
Best quote: Oh, where to start ...
"I had always fantasized that one day I would entice and seduce a beautiful girl with my record collection. As a teenager I kept my records next to my bed, the most impressive ones to the front ie the most obscure ones or the ones with the best sleeves. In my dreams I imagined a girl coming to my room, seeing my records, flicking through them, falling in love with my record collection and then of course falling in love with me."
With an encore of..: "Sorry if youu bought this book thinking it would be loaded with sex. Instead I filled my time with drugs and rock n roll."