Ruth and Martin’s Album Club by Martin Fitzgerald @4hundredblows @ramalbumclub @unbound_digital @unbounders

Ruth and Martins Album Club

I bought this book on a bit of a whim after seeing it on one of the book promo emails I subscribe to. Yes yes yes I don’t need to buy any more books, I’ve got more than enough to keep me going probably well in to my retirement (if that ever happens).

But every so often, I read something that isn’t crime, normally it’s chick lit but the concept of this book grabbed me. I knew I’d got a paperback read coming and that’s when I frequently venture out of the world of crime so it was quite timely!

The Blurb

The concept behind the Ruth and Martin’s Album Club blog is simple: Make people listen to a classic album they’ve never heard before. Make them listen to it two more times. Get them to explain why they never bothered with it before. Then ask them to review it.

What began as a simple whim quickly grew in popularity, and now Ruth and Martin’s Album Club has featured some remarkable guests: Ian Rankin on Madonna’s Madonna. Chris Addison on Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. Brian Koppelman on The Smiths’ Meat is Murder. JK Rowling on the Violent Femmes’ Violent Femmes. Bonnie Greer on The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. Martin Carr on Paul McCartney’s Ram. Brian Bilston on Neil Young’s Harvest. Anita Rani on The Strokes’ Is This It. Richard Osman on Roxy Music’s For Your Pleasure. And many, many more.

Each entry features an introduction to each album by blog creator Martin Fitzgerald. What follows are delightful, humorous and insightful contributions from each guest as they have an album forced upon them and – for better or worse – they discover some of the world’s favourite music. 

Ruth and Martin’s Album Club is a compilation of some of the blog’s greatest hits as well as some exclusive material that has never appeared anywhere before. Throughout, we get an insight into why some people opt out of some music, and what happens when you force them to opt in.

What Did I Think?

You know when you see a book, it’s not really your sort of thing but you still click on the thumbnail image for one reason or another? Well Ruth and Martin’s Album Club is one of those books for me and I know there were a couple of reasons why. The cover – mentioned Ian Rankin and JK Rowling is going to pique the interest of this bookworm. The other is a good friend is seriously into his music which even though his taste is in the main extremely different to mine kind of nudged me to read a book about music (not that I think he’s read Ruth and Martin’s Album Club).

There is an eclectic choice of contributors, from authors, TV personalities to politicians and media gurus. Throw in an equally wide array of albums from N.W.A and Public Enemy to Marvin Gaye, The Strokes and Nirvana and you’ve got an interesting read.

I love the concept – give a person an album they’ve never listened to and make them listen at least three times. By that point, they’ve heard enough to make a valid opinion.

Each chapter is set up with the same sections

  • First time listener
  • XXX’s top three albums ever?
  • Before we get to XX, here’s what Martin thinks of [chosen album]
  • So, over to you XXX. Why haven’t you listened to it? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?????
  • You’ve now listened to it at least three times, what do you think?
  • Would you listen to it again?
  • A mark out of 10?

Not everyone loves the album they’re given; Ian Rankin’s evaluation of Madonna’s debut Madonna is rather scathing! Alex Massie’s evaluations of Nevermind is damning and in part I agree with what he says but I have to say I loved the album as a teenager. It was part of my music rebellion for me alongside listening to Guns ‘n’ Roses after being a pop fan from an early age loving the likes of Wham! and Shakin’ Stevens.

I loved Martin’s anecdotal section. For the artists I’m aware of, it gave me an insight into their history. It showed me how much I didn’t know about the music industry and some of the journeys artists have come gone on to get where they are today.

I really enjoyed this book; it’s a total change to my normal read.  Its the sort of book you can pick up and put down, dip in and out of. I personally had to read each chapter in its entirety before putting it down. It’s introduced me to different artists I’d never heard of and once I work out my Amazon music, I’ll be hunting some down to try, at least three times.

I’m kinda gutted that the blog is no more as I’d like to read more of these posts. But I’ve found the website and will be reading the posts not covered in the book.

Who Are Martin Fitzgerald and Ruth Lockwood?

Martin Fitzgerald has spent about 38% of his life daydreaming about music whilst trying to hold down a job. Ruth Lockwood is his friend. She loves Bruce Springsteen, has never been in a bad mood in her life, and comes up with great ideas on dog walks. They both currently live in Nottingham.

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