Jake Bugg The Biography

Tuesday 10 June 2014
reading time: min, words
Author David Nolan charts the rise to fame of the boy from the Clifton Delta
Jake Bugg The Biography

Jake Bugg The Biography attempts to chart the singer-songwriter’s rise from football loving tracksuit wearing scamp who hung outside chip shops in Clifton, slogging away on Nottingham’s open mic circuit, flirting with being in a band, through to his breakthrough via BBC Introducing, releasing a million seller debut LP, breaking America with his second, and returning to Nottingham in early 2014 to headline the Arena. Phew - this book makes you realise how much the young lad has achieved in such a short space of time.

The author hasn’t spoken to Jake or anyone involved with his management or music directly, instead David Nolan leaves it to relatives and those who have written about or supported Jake since his early days to tell the story of his rise. This includes Nusic’s Mark Del, Nottingham Post’s Simon Wilson, BBC’s Dean Jackson, George Akins from DHP, LeftLion contributor Mike Atkinson, and Gaz Peacham from The Maze, as well as cribbing additional bits and pieces from various publications including yours truly.

It’s true that Jake has had a spectacular rise to fame. In 2010 he was just another performer with an acoustic guitar going from open mic to open mic, and in a space of less than 24 months his debut album was going in straight at Number One in the charts. It is a remarkable trajectory for any musician and it’s this period of Jake’s career where the book really thrives. Yet it never really examines why it happened, rather the book simply focuses on telling the story of what happened. A bit of analysis wouldn’t have a gone a miss. Although perhaps I’m asking too much from a book that has clearly been published to bag a quick buck on Bugg’s popularity.

There are a few factual inaccuracies scattered throughout too. Jake’s father has already explained that he was never named after Jake LaMotta, Robert De Niro’s character in Raging Bull; and a performance at the Alley Cafe where Jake grumpily snapped a string is referenced in two different sections as if it were separate shows. Although these won’t be noticeable to the majority of readers and do not detract from the overall narrative.

Hindsight can be a wonderful thing, and amongst some contributors one or two of them appear to be re-writing history with a whole ‘yeah, I could always tell he would be massive’ thing going on as if they are oracles with big throbbing brains and the ability to peer in to the future. At one point we read that Jake’s BBC session version of Saffron had everyone who heard it in the local BBC office immediately stop what they were doing and start weeping their eyes out. Hmm.

In fact, despite the author’s boasts (Nottingham could do a ‘Madchester’ - cringe) regarding the city you don’t get a sense of what Nottingham’s music scene is like that at all. The successes of Dog Is Dead and Natalie Duncan are glossed over, although thanks to Mark Del’s input artists such as Saint Raymond, Ronika, Indiana, Ady Suleiman, Baby Godzilla and Kagoule are bigged-up; while the city's musical output of the last thirty years are simply dismissed. But what happened to Jake wasn’t really anything to do with the Nottingham music scene, it was through the links he made via BBC Introducing and the opportunities that arose after meeting his manager. Jake’s success now means the London-centric media and music industry now know where Nottingham is and are willing to check us out. The music scene in Nottingham is amazing, and what has happened to Jake is astounding, but this book is neither an authority on the city’s musical output or Jake’s rise to fame. It’s telling though that people outside of the city are now starting to write about what is going on within it.

When a city starts to produce a lot of talent that breaks out on to the national stage you get a lot of frothy hype in its wake, and this book won’t be the last time someone jumps on the bandwagon to capitalise on Jake’s success or Nottingham’s flourishing music scene.

Jake Bugg The Biography by David Nolan is out now via John Blake Publishing priced RRP £14.99.

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