Sunday 8 January 2017

Dear Mr. Pop Star by Derek & Dave Philpott

Today is a day for something completely different - a review, or should I say preview, of a book that hasn't been published yet. What's different about that, I hear you cry? You are always reviewing books before their publication date.

This may well be true, but I don't think I've ever yet blogged about a book that is currently being crowdfunded.... but as a true music and lyric lover this book is very close to my heart.

Take two very ordinary members of the public, Mr Derek and Dave Philpott to be precise. Add some genius letters to pop stars, concerning their use of lyrics, and our understanding (or deliberate misunderstanding) of these, some cracking replies and you have the recipe for a brilliantly funny book.

But don't take my word for it, here's the proper blurb:

For nearly 10 years, ‘Team Philpott’, as their followers fondly refer to them, have been on a quite bonkers crusade, writing good old-fashioned letters to pop and rock stars (sometimes even sent to their home addresses with prior consent!), either picking up on genuine ambiguities within their lyrics or often deliberately misunderstanding them for comedic effect.

The letters are eminently publishable in their own right, mixing sharp wit, confusion, and mundane daily chores with trips to the shops, daytime telly, Derek’s legs playing up, and unarguable logic in relation to questioning the offending chart hits under scrutiny.

What makes this project especially deserving of attention, however, is that it has achieved a feat never before attempted or probably even thought of. With the missives online for all to see on what was becoming a hugely popular website, the artists quite unexpectedly started to reply, writing back in just as witty and articulate a fashion, politely pointing out exactly where the original letter went wrong...or right.

Also, crucially, nearly all of the responses were procured via ''the back door of the industry'', via roadies, mutual fans, cousins of bass players, and even other famous participants telling the artists directly of the Philpotts’ written pressing inquiries. This marvellous online community, which stretched as far afield as Europe, Canada, Japan, the U.S.A, Australia and Stoke, even cultivated and organically evolved the whole surreal venture by offering up willing stars that the authors would probably not have thought of corresponding with themselves, establishing contact through personal connections.

‘‘Dear Mr. Popstar’’ will feature up to 100 of the best letters and responses from famous and legendary names spanning the whole pop and rock spectrum, all relishing their involvement and revealing their own, in many cases, hitherto unknown humorous sides within what could well be the most interactive dialogue compiled between music stars and their audience ever undertaken. Of course, it is not always possible to reach certain targets, hence many unanswered observations are also included, as they were considered too amusing not to be.

Amongst those to be saluted for their great sportsmanship so far are Dr. from Dr. and The Medics, Neil Innes from The Bonzo Dog Band, Melanie, Alannah Myles, Ian Gillan, Cutting Crew, It Bites, Mott The Hoople, Fuzzbox, China Crisis, Mental As Anything, The Rezillos, Saxon, John Otway, Steve Hackett, Tenpole Tudor, Katrina and the Waves, Heaven 17, The Christians, Paper Lace, Dodgy, The Housemartins, Johnny Hates Jazz, The Wurzels, Peter Noone, Suzi Quatro, Danny Wilson, Racey, Electric Prunes, The Waitresses, Climax Blues Band, Country Joe and The Fish, The Jags, EMF, T’Pau, Daevid Allen, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Nu Shooz, Owen Paul, Steve Ellis of Love Affair, Hazell Dean, The Knack, The Maisonettes, Del Amitri, The Skids, Jesus Jones, The Soup Dragons, City Boy, The Kursaal Flyers, Bruce Thomas of The Attractions, Scarlet Fantastic, Junior, Spear of Destiny, Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine, plus many more promised.

Ultimately, this book explores how when a song is released into ‘the wild’ the artist loses all control over it, especially pertaining to its interpretation. It is also testimony to the community spirit capable of being created over social media and how positive and fun it can be.

Dear Mr. Popstar is currently 34% funded - if you would like to contribute you can do so here. There's a variety of donation options and I promise it will be worth it!!

The first installment, Dear Mr. Kershaw, a pensioner writes -  is available here.

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