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Facing the Other Way: The Story of 4AD [Kindle Edition]

Martin Aston

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'4AD get the lavish label history they deserve' - MOJO 'Aston has impressive access to some of rock's most reclusive figures' - Q 'The book is an exquisite reflection of 4AD itself-extravagant, atmospheric, and rich in texture and timbre.' - PITCHFORK 'Facing The Other Way represents one of the greatest stories to emerge from rock and roll's modern history' - DROWNED IN SOUND 'The conviction of Aston's storytelling blows dust off the needle so that those records and their often magical beauties are dragged out to be admired once again... Compelling stuff' - MOUTH MAGAZINE 'Martin Aston's 600-page chronicle is a suitable extravagant enterprise' - GUARDIAN "A fanatically scholarly account of the definitive art-pop label of the 1980s." - THE TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT


The first official account of the iconic record label.

An NME Book of the Year 2013

A Rough Trade Book of the Year 2013

A Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year 2013

This Mortal Coil, Birthday Party, Bauhaus, Cocteau Twins, Pixies, Throwing Muses, Breeders, Dead Can Dance, Lisa Germano, Kristin Hersh, Belly, Red House Painters.

Just a handful of the bands and artists who started out recording for 4AD, a record label founded by Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent in 1979, a label which went on to be one of the most influential of the modern era.

Combining the unique tastes of Watts-Russell and the striking design aesthetic of Vaughan Oliver, 4AD records were recognisable by their look as much their sound. In this comprehensive account concentrating on the label’s first two decades (up to the point that Watts-Russell left), music journalist Martin Aston explores the fascinating story with unique access to all the key players and pretty much every artist who released a record on 4AD during that time, and to its notoriously reclusive founder.

With a cover designed by Vaughan Oliver this is an essential book for all 4AD fans and anyone who loved the music of that time.



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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.3 von 5 Sternen  16 Rezensionen
11 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Very interesting, but could have used a good copy editor 25. November 2013
Von too_old_to_be_so_indie - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
In the 80's, my musical tastes ranged from top-40 to the poppier side of new wave, and as the 90's started, I veered in the direction of folk-rock. But then in 1992 a friend told me I should listen to Cocteau Twins. So I went to a good local record shop and found the Cocteau section, but I had no idea which release to choose as my entry point. A shop employee suggested "Blue Bell Knoll". I took it home, and from the first listen I was captivated, and from there I went on to explore the rest of the label's offerings. The artists on 4AD changed the way I thought about music, and many of the 90'S 4AD releases are still among my all-time favorites.

With that background, I have very much been looking forward to the release of this book. I just got the book yesterday, and I'm a little over 200 pages into it at this point. So far it has been a thoroughly enjoyable in-depth look at the label, highlighting each band and giving the story of each release in more-or-less chronological order.

The one thing that surprises me -- particularly given the label's reputation for attention to detail -- is the somewhat slipshod editing of the book. I really wasn't expecting glaring typos... for example, in the first photo section, Pixies are listed as "Piixies", while an early reference to The Normal's song "Warm Leatherette" is misspelled as "Warn Leatherette". And there are others. It gives the impression that no one at the publisher took the time to give the book a full read once it was finished.

That said, the author has done an amazing job of tracking down every possible source for information and quotes, and the book has encouraged me to seek out some of the obscure and early 4AD releases that aren't already in my collection.
9 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Facing the dirty laundry, but also capturing what made 4AD such a magical label 15. März 2014
Von Christopher Culver - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Among independent record labels, 4AD was able to draw an unusually loyal following between its founding in 1980 and the late 1990s. With the music personally chosen by founder Ivo Watts-Russell and released in packaging by acclaimed designers Vaughan Oliver and Nigel Grierson, everything that came out on the label was granted a consistency that sort of guaranteed quality. Eventually, however, Ivo would sell the label and retire to the New Mexico desert, and while the name "4AD" continues to be used to this day, the common vision was lost. Martin Ashton's FACING THE OTHER WAY is a history of 4AD during its golden age in the Eighties and Nineties, describing the strengths that brought out so much timeless music, but also the weaknesses that ultimately tore it apart.

Because it is based on fresh interviews with Ivo, Vaughan and nearly every band signed to 4AD, this is *the* history of the label, not mere speculation based on whatever the author found in old press coverage. Ashton sat down with Brendan Perry (Dead Can Dance), Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins), Miki Berenyi (Lush), Warren Defever (His Name Is Alive), Rudy Tambala (A.R. Kane), Charles Thompson (Pixies), Kim Deal (Pixies, Breeders), Kristin Hersh (Throwing Muses), Martyn Young (Colourbox), and many others. These musicians often have extremely fond memories of their days on the label, but sometimes they express discontent with how things turned out. The biggest revelation of the book is Ivo Watts-Russell's descent into depression. While many fans had heard that he had become a little burnt out with running 4AD by 1999, Aston charts how Ivo had entered a dark period in his life years before, and bands were finding him distant and unreachable even in the early Nineties.

To a degree, this book is an airing of dirty laundry. There is plenty of anger here, with Robin Guthrie repeatedly expressing his feeling that he was being ripped off and exploited as early as the mid-1980s, other artists describing how tensions boiled over in their collaborations with other 4AD-signed musicians, and label staff bemoaning sales pressures. However, Aston's journey through all this isn't merely a voyeuristic drama, it also explains the musical changes that the label went through. If you followed 4AD and were uncertain how much input Ivo had on bringing controversial signings like Scheer or Thievery Corporation on board, you'll find out here.

If your life has been touched by a number of bands and you came to notice that they were all on the same mysterious British record label, then FACING THE OTHER WAY is a must-read. As an enormous fan of 4AD (you'll find my reviews on the most of the label's releases across Amazon) I read the 650 pages in three sittings, it is so readable. It feels like a remarkably well fact-checked book, with Aston dodging common pitfalls of journalists covering 4AD such as Warren Defever's infamous tendency to falsify his biography. Whatever one artist has to say was put to others involved so they could respond, producing a seemingly reliable history of these years.

I read the Kindle edition of this book. The formatting is the way things should be and it contains the same set of photographs as the handcover, placed at the end of the e-book.
6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Essential for any 4AD fan. 29. Januar 2014
Von Trond Berger - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Being a loyal Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance and Pixies fan since my teens this book is like a dream come true. It gives you the whole story of the label in great detail - down to every release - and it made me discover a lot of new stuff that I had not heard before, since just about every record mentioned here is available on Spotify, at least from where I live anyway (Norway). The author does a fantastic job at getting under the skin of the key characters of the 4AD family, especially the enigmatic label boss Ivo Watts-Russell. The book is an enjoyably light read and if you're a fan you'll find yourself flying through the pages. Recommended!
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen I liked the book — but at the same time it ... 11. September 2014
Von Ultan - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
A very thorough treatment of 4AD's "Ivo years". I liked the book — but at the same time it was a struggle to get through in the sense of being (for this dedicated but simple alternative music fan!) overly academic, overloaded with facts and lightweight in terms of human insight. When I read pop music books I generally look for a spark, a bit of fun, some gossip, scandal, a bit of pop psychology, sociology, social history, an insight into character. For example, the book told me very little about Red House Painter, Mark Kozelek's background or that of Tanya Donnelly — and I'm a junkie for that kind of stuff! In general Facing The Other Way had too little of the personal and too much of the abstract.
Of course it's very thorough on how/when/where bands were signed, who the personnel were, who produced this, mixed that, engineered the other thing, how a single was distributed, what Ivo thought of various releases, what number they got to in the charts, but the style is always slightly lumpen and humourless. Plodding even. I think this book is really for the army of 4AD nerds that inhabit cyberspace (rather than plain old Cocteau Twins, Belly or Mojave 3 fans like myself) and I get the feeling it was written with the intention of not leaving any tiny detail out or getting any little factoid wrong in order to avoid the author being inundated with indignant mails from bedroom-bound, long-raincoat-wearing Dif Jus and Xmal Deutschland obsessives.
Were I the book's editor, I would have recommended the cutting of maybe 10% of the content and tried to make it more snappy. Nonetheless, there is a great story in there: the music business eats artists and aesthetes like Ivo and Vaughan Oliver for breakfast and that 99.99% of the people who start a band, all bright-eyed and idealistic, end up broke, bitter and washed up. Ivo (4AD's founder and, until the mid '90s, its heart and soul) is the star of the book. His pursuit of beauty in music and his unearthing of shining talents like the Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance and Red House Painters is, along with the growth of 4AD and Vaughan Oliver's groundbreaking artwork, the book's narrative thread. When, as 4AD grows, running a record business rather than a record label becomes the reality, Ivo's slow breakdown is documented, with him eventually moving to the States, distancing himself from the label's day-to-day running and, finally, selling his shares. The bitching, fallings-out, band break-ups and sackings are fascinating. For me, though, there was serious detail lacking on what exactly went on between the Cocteau Twins and 4AD (and inside the Cocteaus!). There's a whole book to be written just on that, maybe. Similarly the Pixies story is too rushed through for my liking.
Final verdict: well worth the read, but brace yourself for an avalanche of facts and figures. It feels like the author tried to fit too much in, and, therefore it's a slow and sometimes laborious read.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The Mystique Unveiled 13. Februar 2014
Von David d. - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
My first exposure to 4AD was dancing to Stranger by Clan of Xymox in 1985. I then bought the album and became enthralled by the enigmatic sleeve design-many a puffs were taken to try and figure that one out. Soon afterwards I heard Elizabeth's voice sing "Lorelei" and I was hooked. Nonetheless, I'm not a creative-type person-just an average Joe-so there is so much I didn't "get" or fully appreciate about the world of 4AD. Reading Facing the Other Way not only took me on a complete journey through the story but also opened my mind's eye to the other otherness of it all. I am now able to enjoy my 4AD collection at a whole new level and have massively expanded it. Thanks Martin for the wonderful journey!
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