With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

‘Into the Never – Nine Inch Nails And The Creation Of The Downward Spiral’ by Adam Steiner March 2, 2022

I don’t get the opportunity to review books here on With Just A Hint Of Mayhem, but I am pleased to say that following hot on the heels (ok more than three months) of my review of John Illsley’s autobiography I have just read another, obviously music-related tome. This one is for ‘Into the Never – Nine Inch Nails And The Creation Of The Downward Spiral’ By Adam Steiner, which was originally published in 2020 by Backbeat Books. This is Adam’s first non-fiction book following his first novel ‘Politics of The Asylum’ from 2018. Adam also publishes poetry and is a journalist. Among other things, presumably in his spare time, he has also lectured on Creative Writing and Publishing at Coventry University.

If you are a fan of Trent Reznor’s music then you may well have already read this book, if you’re not then I would recommend that you do, maybe using the album that it covers in great detail as your soundtrack. There is a similarity between Steiner’s book and the ’33 1/3′ Series that has published some great pocket-sized books which explore the creation of classic albums, (including book 78 in the series covering Nine Inch Nails ‘Pretty Hate Machine’) although ‘Into The Never’ goes to a far greater depth to study how ‘The Downward Spiral‘ came about. In fact, one of the huge collection of Steiner’s references is Daphne Carr’s 33 1/3 book.

‘Into The Never’ not only deals with the actual music and how it was constructed and recorded but also analyses the whole creation of the album. Including Trent Reznor’s probable state of mind at the time and that he initially worked on the album at a home recording set up in a rented property on Cielo Drive in Los Angeles. Not just some random property though, this was the house where the infamous Manson Murders took place. Although there is no suggestion that Reznor rented the place because of that. The book has caused me to completely re-examine ‘The Downward Spiral‘ which I always considered a good album. But after playing it quite a few times while reading the book I have come to appreciate it as a great album a truly seminal release and possibly Trent Reznor’s finest recorded moment. Adam Steiner writes with a great intellectual gravity while ordering his words in a beautiful flow that kept me interested from start to finish. Questions about whether ‘The Downward Spiral’ is autobiographical or simply a concept album akin to Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ are considered. As well as Reznor’s fraught addiction issues and his path on a rocky road to self-destruction (which thankfully he survived) the book also deals with relevant aspects of US social history from the aforementioned Manson Murders to the Columbine School shootings via the Vietnam War.

There are some really sharp references to what most definitely did influence the album or in some cases may have influenced. Including, my list is not exhaustive,

Authors; George Orwell, Greil Marcus, Chuck Palahniuk, Albert Camus

Philosophers and Thinkers; Michel Foucault, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche

Musicians; David Bowie, Marilyn Manson, Richey Edwards, Kurt Cobain, Ian Curtis, Johnny Cash

Artists; Mark Rothko, Francis Bacon

The book also discusses the theological impact alongside the major world events that probably played a part. Additionally, there are plenty of references to films (‘Natural Born Killers’) and music (“Helter Skelter” by the Beatles). This is perhaps the most in-depth publication about an album that I have ever read and frankly, my musical knowledge and appreciation of ‘The Downward Spiral‘ is so much richer because of it. Fans of Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails will devour this book and those who appreciate great music and classic albums will love it too. Click here to find it on Amazon, or better still pay a visit to your local independent book store or your public library!

Adam Steiner

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‘My Life In Dire Straits’ – John Illsley – Book review November 14, 2021

Filed under: Book,Review — justwilliam1959 @ 1:02 am
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I don’t often get the chance to review books, but when this one was sent to me a few weeks ago I thought it was worth giving it a spin. I read a lot of books, including many rock autobiographies and biographies. This is a compelling autobiography from Dire Straits’ ace bass player John Illsley. Along with Mark Knopfler, Illsley was one of the founding members of Dire Straits, who became one of the most successful British bands ever. Apparently, Geldof had asked them to headline Live Aid as in 1984/ 85 they were probably the biggest band on the planet. However, as they were booked to play Wembley Arena that night they went on a little earlier. Illsley sums that day up superbly in saying that he is glad they didn’t have to follow Queen. John describes his early years and how he came to find a career in music, which like many of his peers and successors was frowned upon by his parents, at least initially. The band came together in Deptford, South London and were so broke in the early days that they were living hand to mouth and picking up any gigs they could. They were finally able to record a demo tape which they managed to get to DJ Charlie Gillett who played “Sultans Of Swing” incessantly on his show, the rest, as they say, is history. Aside from his time in Dire Straits Illsley speaks in a brutally honest way about how that level of fame, success and the intensive recording and touring cycles destroyed some of his relationships. I really enjoyed this book and it definitely ranks among the best rock autobiographies that I have ever read. It is well written, open, honest, uplifting and incredibly interesting. It will be a great read for any music fans and not just fans of Dire Straits. It is out now, published by Diversion Books.

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‘How To Be A Thousandaire’ – Catherine Adamson November 20, 2019

I am so very proud of my very talented wife Catherine, her book ‘How To Be A Thousandaire’ was published on 20th September this year and she is leading a book launch event for it tomorrow in York. It is the perfect book for you if you are a micro-business owner, are planning to become a micro-business owner or if you know a micro-business owner. The book details Catherine’s business journey and how she overcame adversity to build an incredibly resilient business. The book is available now from Amazon across the world. At only £14.99 in the UK, it is a great investment. Click here and order your copy now, and feel free to share this!

Yes this is a music blog so please enjoy a few book-related tunes while you place your order for ‘How To Be A Thousandaire’

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‘To Throw Away Unopened’ – Viv Albertine September 13, 2019

In February this year I posted a list of my top ten rock/ music-related books biographies and autobiographies as a part of this blog’s tenth birthday celebrations. Click here to check it out. ‘Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. : A Memoir’ by Viv Albertine was included in that list. It is easily among the best music-related autobiographies ever written. Well, I finally got around to reading the second autobiographical publication from Viv, ‘To Throw Away Unopened’ and it as least as good as the first, if not better. For me, an autobiography that combines brutal honesty, self-deprecation, love, rivalry and a really interesting life is likely to be good. This second volume of Viv’s life focusses on her relationships with family; her parents, her sister, and her daughter. It gives an insight into her struggles with cancer, relationships, and life in general. I get the impression that while Viv may not sometimes believe it she is a very strong woman who really knows who she is and what she is here for. She is a talented writer and performer and like all the best humans she has flaws alongside her strengths. We should take inspiration from the way she describes those flaws and how she deals with them or overcomes them.

Like many people, I loved the Slits, but Viv’s two books have opened up so much more about one of the people who was such an influence on feminism in rock music. Many of today’s female artists; the Tuts, Lily Allen, and Lauren Tate to name just a few owe a debt to Viv Albertine, even if they are unaware of it. Viv has an abundance of passion, compassion, exuberance and a love of life and she is a true original. She does not hide behind any kind of facade, she is who she is and proud of it. I love the way she deals with the death of her mother in the book, at times I was moved to tears and then a couple of pages later to laughter. ‘To Throw away Unopened’ along with ‘Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. : A Memoir’ are without doubt two of the finest autobiographical works that I have ever read and not just in the music genre. Viv if you are ever in York I would love to sit down for a coffee with you, my treat, I believe that you are a truly great human being, and there aren’t too many of those these days. Thank you for the music and the writing, your talent has enriched this sad world.

All the photos were found online The videos were all found on YouTube, if one of them is yours and you would like a credit or for me to remove it please let me know.

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“Stop your messing with me” April 17, 2019

Filed under: Book,Trivia — justwilliam1959 @ 5:45 pm
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Francis Rossi off of Status Quo has a new memoir out called ‘I Talk Too Much’. I haven’t read it yet but I am definitely tempted after a ’10 Things We’ve Learned About Status Quo’ in a recent article in Planet Rock magazine. I won’t list all ten, I will leave you to discover most of them yourselves. But one particular point really appealed to me and my warped sense of humour. Before they chose Status Quo as the name of their band the boys considered calling themselves The Muhammad Ali’s, simply so that they could use the slogan; “They’re The Greatest!”

I hate to say it, but I do think Status Quo was a better choice. What do you think?


Lily Allen – ‘My Thoughts Exactly’ January 10, 2019

Filed under: Book,Review — justwilliam1959 @ 11:36 pm
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I have read many music related biographies and autobiographies and I believe that a lot of them never live up to expectations. However Lilly Allen’s is easily up there with the best. It is incredibly honest, brutally so at times. She is not afraid of exposing her own demons and insecurities in any form and this is most certainly not a salaciously delivered tell all gossip style work.

Lily comes across as a very strong feminist with a barbed sharpness for exposing the manipulative, cynical and misogynistic behaviour of a lot of men in the music industry. Some of these men clearly and blatantly abuse their position and prey on women, particularly younger women. She talks of her battles with drugs and mental health. The stories of the paparazzi and tabloid treatment of Lily’s private life sickens me. But it is no less than any genuine person would expect from the scum that work in the vile, gutter press.

Ms. Allen describes her family at great length. The strange and often strained relationship she has with her parents, particularly her father. There are some lighter moments, notably the tale of Lily and her brother Alfie meeting Princess Diana when they were kids. That was laugh out loud until you choke kind of funny.  This book is for me one of the best music related autobiographies that I have ever read and easily fits into my top five. In case you were interested the other four, in no particular order, are;

  • Diary Of A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star – Ian Hunter
  • Rod – Rod Stewart
  • Life – Keith Richards
  • Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. : A Memoir – Viv Albertine

Public Service Announcement: Photos and videos were all found via Google and YouTube. If any of them are yours and you would like a credit or for me to take them down please let me know.


“We’ll build a glass asylum, with just a hint of mayhem” January 8, 2018

Regular readers of this blog know that I am a big David Bowie fan. This began in July 1972 when I witnessed that now-iconic performance of “Starman” on BBC’s Top Of The Pops. I was lucky enough to see him play live ten times from 1976 to 2004 and I still buy every release, and to be fair there have been many since his death nearly two years ago. I recently received the latest in the seven-inch vinyl picture disc series, the 40th-anniversary release of the “Beauty And The Beast” single. It has a terrific version of “Blackout” on the B Side. Today would have been the Dame’s 71st birthday, I know to many of you that probably sounds old, but it is only 12 years older than me! Obviously like many fans, I was saddened by his passing, but I am still somewhat freaked out by the amount of on-line Bowie fans that still speak of their despair at his loss, how they still wake up crying.

But enough of that morbidity, I do still celebrate the birthday of the late David Robert Jones. On a work day that means that I wear my David Bowie cuff links as I did today. I also received a few more David Bowie related books at Christmas, I think I now own around 70 in total. One of those Christmas presents was ‘David Bowie – A Life’ by Dylan Jones. Jones met and interviewed Bowie on many occasions and he uses that material along with old and new interviews with many people who were a part of the world of David Bowie. This includes the Spiders From Mars, Dana Gillespie, Bob Harris, Earl Slick, Mike Garson, Carlos Alomar, Peter Frampton, Nina Simone, Mick Rock, Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray, Bebe Buell and Coco Schwab to name just a few. The book is organised chronologically and is incredibly well put together. In my opinion it is beyond doubt the best Bowie biography for many years and easily the best to be published since his demise. It is tasteful and manages to unearth a few things that personally I had never read before; How he had tried to reform the Spiders From Mars in 1978 and how in the US in the early 1970s someone turned up at his hotel suite and offered him a still warm, dead body to have sex with. In respect of the latter he was apparently visibly shocked and upset and turned the offer down. When he lived in Mustique at a property he used to own there he often referred to one drink from the cocktail menu in Basil’s Bar as a Penis Colada.

This evening I have also dug out the magnificent Alan Yentob documentary ‘Cracked Actor’ from the mid-70s. It is a fascinating portrait of a talented man in a spiral of cocaine addiction and ensuing paranoia. In many ways it is a magnificent insider view of the transition from the Halloween Jack character of the post-apocalyptic tales on ‘Diamond Dogs’ into the white soul boy of ‘Young Americans’. If you have never seen it, whether you are a fan or not you should check it out. From just the social history perspective it is truly fascinating. This is a bit of a Bowie ramble I know, but I haven’t done a Bowie post for a while, well apart from the specific one about the song “Andy Warhol” back in December. I don’t really need an excuse to play some Bowie tunes, but a 71st birthday and the impending second anniversary of his death works for me. Let’s celebrate the Dame’s wonderful recordings together, what is your favourite David Bowie song? My top three favourites are currently; “Quicksand”, “Young Americans” and “Lady Grinning Soul“.

As a footnote the eagle-eyed readers and bat-eared listeners may have sussed out where I took the title of my blog from, go on take a guess!


2023 a trilogy by The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu October 4, 2017

Ever since the hey days of those magnificent art terrorists Jim Cauty and Bill Drummond when they went under the various guises of the KLF, the Jamms, the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu and the Timelords to name but a few I have been a fan. When they made the statement that the KLF had left the building in the early 90s they pretty much stood by it. Apart from the odd release “Fuck the Millennium” was one we never really heard from them. I can’t say that I loved everything Cauty and Drummond did, with the exception of everything released by the KLF of course. But burning a million quid? Seriously what did that achieve?

Anyway the boys are back with a novel which was launched with a three day ‘happening’ in Liverpool back in August. The book is ‘2023 – A Trilogy by the Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu’. The blurb on the back cover describes the tale as “a utopian costume drama , set in the near future, written in the recent past”. It is clearly fiction and includes appearances from many people that you know, although not necessarily in the way they are portrayed in the story; John and Yoko, Banksy, Jonathan King, Extreme Noise Terror, Vladimir Putin, Michelle Obama, David Hockney, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Alan Moore, Aloysius Parker (off of Thunderbirds), Lady Gaga (or M’Lady Gaga), Azealia Banks, Will Gompertz, George Orwell, Lord Saatchi, Sam & Dave and of course Jim Cauty and Bill Drummond.

It is probably one of the weirdest books that I have ever read and I have read some weird stuff! There are some thought provoking moments and some proper laugh out loud elements. But it works and for me it works bloody well. Is it set in a parallel universe, an alternative future? Well yes and possibly. Was it worth the wait? Damned right it was. If I say much more about this book I will probably have to add some massive spoiler alerts. Is it the last we will here of Cauty and Drummond for another 23 years? I bloody hope not. Now go out and buy the book and listen to some classic KLF tracks.


“Bless my cotton socks I’m in the news” October 17, 2010

Earlier this week I finished reading the two volumes of Julian Cope‘s autobiography; ‘Head-On‘ and ‘Reposessed’ and I enjoyed them both immensely. I was no more than a casual fan of the Teardrop Explodes, although the fact that their name originated from a Marvel comic certainly sparked some interest in me. I always felt they were far better than some of the over-produced cack that the early 80s pumped out (Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran etc)


Julian cope struggles to find his guitar which opted for the hide in plain sight option


I got into Julian’s solo output in the early 90s, which is after the period that the two books cover. ‘Head-On’ runs up to 1982 and ‘Repossessed’ from 1983 to 1989. Both books are incredibly open and honest and Julian bares both his soul and his feelings regularly. I think he comes across as a great bloke, who stays loyal to his friends, know’s his enemies and is very, very much in love with his wife Dorian. Incidentally a friend of mine (thank you Mr Hayhurst) once met Dorian at a Black Crowes gig, he said she was lovely.


Clearly too much acid can leave your eyes fried!


I got a real sense from his writing that he really knows who he is, although perhaps he didn’t in the early days, and where he wants to go. I was also very pleasantly surprised to read about his interest in toy collecting, in particular toy cars. They say that all of us men revert to childhood as we get older and perhaps that’s why my comic collection appears to be growing at the same rate as Julian’s toy collection did!

The book includes some great pieces on many of the people involved in the Liverpool scene of the late 70s/ early 80s; Echo and the Bunnymen‘s Ian McCulloch and Pete DeFrietas, Pete Burns (eventually off of Dead Or Alive), Holly Johnson and Paul Rutherford (eventually off of Frankie Goes To Hollywood), Pete Wylie (off of various incarnations of Wah) and Bill Drummond (eventually off of one of my favourite 90s acts; the KLF)


When times were hard Julian would play anywhere with anyone!


The stories of touring America are on a par with Ian Hunter’s fabulous ‘Diary Of A Rock N Roll Star’ which is probably my favourite biographical rock book ever! As for the stories of Mr Cope’s solo tours in Japan, well they are just bloody hilarious. So if you like a good rock music book check these out! I am an even bigger fan after reading these books and finally in the words of Julian himself ‘Awlright!’

So before you take a look at the videos and sounds below check out Julian’s excellent Head Heritage site.


” When I am king, you will be first against the wall” October 10, 2010

Today dear readers it is 10th October 2010. On the surface quite an insignificant date, however if you represent it as 101010 it becomes the binary number that equates to the number 42. If you have read Douglas Adams‘ excellent ‘The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy‘ you will understand the meaning and importance of this number, if you haven’t read it, well why not? But fear not you still have time to read it before the day is out!

It is a day to celebrate all that is 42; ride the number 42 bus, buy the song that is number 42 in the chart, eat 42 biscuits, kiss your loved ones 42 times, drink 42 gin & tonics, run 42 yards, undertake 42 random acts of kindness, (I should thank Danny Wallace for that one), herd 42 cats and basically any other 42 related activity you can think of. Perhaps at 10 minutes and 10 seconds past 10 o’clock in our respective time zones we should all shout 42. To learn more of this wondrous day and become enlightened as to the answer to the ultimate question as to what is the meaning of life, the universe and everything visit the 42Day website. For those of you with a cynical or nervous disposition I should point out that this is not a cult nor is it Scientology (personally I think Scientology is a cult, but Tom Cruise and John Travolta say it’s not, so who am I to argue?)

Obviously as I’ve said 42 times now, this is a music blog so let’s get on with that bit now. Douglas Adams was a music fan and there is a fictional band called Disaster Area included in the Hitchhikers Guide, he describes them as “not only the loudest rock band in the galaxy, but in fact the loudest noise of any kind”. The finale of their act involved sending a spaceship into the sun, which may have taken it’s influence from Pink Floyd‘s “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” Adams actually appeared on stage with the Floyd on his 42nd birthday!

To finish here are a couple of Hitchikers related things;

Something About You” – Level 42 – An obvious one this as the band were named directly after the importance of 42 in the book.

Paranoid Android” – Radiohead – Marvin The Paranoid Android was one of the main characters in the book.


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