Whether predestined or out of necessity to filling in the time, Mark Kelly decided to write his autobiography during lock down, he's always been described as the shy guy of the band, but then he also had the nickname of Mad Jack, (Hey! it even made the title of the book) A contradiction in terms there perhaps? I'll let the reader make up their own mind on that.
I was certainly interested in seeing the contrasting personalities on paper and in Mark's own words.
Mark's story begins in Dublin, being a native of that fair city myself, I enjoyed and fully connected to his early reminiscences, it was a shockingly poor city at the time, full of unemployment and not much in the line of prospects, so inevitably Mark's family emigrated as did many of mine to the UK. Mark's family settled as we all know in Essex, he vividly describes how hard it was there too, the early chapters dedicated to his school life and how academia wasn't really for him, nut its not a depressing read, its full of funny anecdotes.
How does one condense a lifetime into few chapters? Mark does so with aplomb, filling the pages with previously unheard tales and some we already know, but with his own slant, no story ever overstaying its welcome, the book moves at a pace through his early musical endeavours, his Chemical Alice days, joining Marillion and his relationships both personal and musical. Mark makes it quite clear that there were divisions of sorts much earlier than most fans would suspect. Band politics and troubled recordings sessions are also discussed in depth.
The book is a page turner from the start and even this band historian found lots of new stories and different points of view being given an airing but I've deliberately not given any of the stories away in this review. For those interested only in the music and band history, I would say that Mark delves into every dark corner of the bands history, some of it is quite murky, but he attempts to clear up long contentious issues like band sackings, EMI record deal etc. As we all know, everyone has a slightly different view of the same events, I've interviewed many of the cast of this book, they've all been honest with me, Mark's view is no different, its a fully honest appraisal of his life in music, his ability as a musician and even his personal regrets and failings, they will make you laugh and also shock some readers, I predict the content will be the cause of many an online discussion in the coming months.
A Great Read.
'Marillion Misadventures and Marathons: The Life and Times of Mad Jack' is released on January 20th and is available to pre order from Racket Records and Burning Shed.
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