Modern Music Masters: The Britpop Trilogy by Tom Boniface-Webb – book review


Masters of Modern Music: The Britpop Trilogy – Tom Boniface-Webb

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Modern life is really rubbish right now and the only “Parklife” we’ve had lately is our daily exercise hour. However, it’s all about change with the release of Modern Music Masters: The Britpop Trilogy. New Zealand author Tom Boniface-Webb has published three short books covering Pulp, Oasis and Blur entering news fans really want to know.

Have you ever wondered what was going on in the country and the world as your favorite Britpop band formed and released records? How did this impact their success? And what was one of the main reasons why Oasis’ third album Be here now did not succeed as everyone expected? Well, that’s the kind of information to expect from this trilogy.

Written at the start of the lockdown in March 2020 and released at the end of last year, Boniface-Webb describes them as the series of books he “would want to read if he discovered music for the first time as a teenager, or looking for a new short and accessible angle on bands and artists who [he] beloved. ”The trilogy acts as an extended biography for the beloved Britpop groups, placing their story in the social context of the time.

Here is a small excerpt from “Modern Music Masters: Blur”:

“As is the case with so many British stories, Blur’s narrative is intrinsically linked to the British class system. For some you say the name Blur and an image is conjured of cheeky cockney chappies sporting Adidas Gazelles, flanked by Phil Daniels singing “Parklife.” For others it is the socialists of Middle England Champagne, supporting Tony Blair and supporting the Soho House bar with Keith Allen, trading on fabricated worker roots, undermining music videos directed by Damian Hirst and throwing copies of Balzac at the Gallagher brothers. These two deliberately constructed images are true, and both are false ”

The group’s history is told through a comprehensive roster of the artist’s officially released albums and singles in a digestible way that appeals to fans and newcomers alike. There is no pretension, no arrogance and no snobbery from Boniface-Webb. The books get to the heart of the matter without overwhelming me, which I find can be the case with some music books. We have lists of tracks, producers, where and when the recordings were made and the position in the charts they reached. Each release is also placed in the context of the top 10 on the day it was ranked, so which songs were at numbers 3-10 the week Oasis and Blur fought for the top spots in August 95? Placing each artist in their cultural context of what was popular at the time, this is a trip down memory lane to remind us of what we were listening to (and not listening to!) At the time.

The books are accessible, easy to pick up and put down, so there is simply no room for Boniface-Webb to step into where and when the bassist from Suede was born, where he went to school, and who is his most famous brother is (Answer: Richard Osman, comedian and writer).

There are few [music books] which also focus on graphics ”, says Boniface-Webb. “Every outing is put next to what was in the top 10 that week. In addition to being a historical document of the time, these books are a veritable festival of nostalgia for those who are there for the first time.

Born in Surrey before moving to London and finally New Zealand, Boniface-Webb was also co-author of the book I Was Britpopped: the AZ of Britpop published by Valley Press in November 2017. Additionally, in preparation for 2021 Modern Music Masters are located. : Manic Street Preachers (due 1st March) and Modern Music Masters: The Verve (end of March) and Modern Music Masters: Sweden (April).

There are also plans to cover The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys, Kate Bush, Badly Drawn Boy, Paul Weller and many more.

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Twitter – @iwasbritpopped

All of Jasmine Hodge’s words. More of Jasmine’s writings can be found on her author’s archives. Jasmine is also on Twitter as @ObviouslyItsJaz

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