The Big Wheel, new edition.

Pretty self-explanatory
martinfoyle
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The Big Wheel, new edition.

Postby martinfoyle » Tue Jun 03, 2003 5:29 pm

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/ ... 69-9465421

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASI ... 68-0135810

This new edition of the first volume of Bruce Thomas's memoirs is well worth tracking down. Fascinating new intro, really whets the appetite for the next volume, due out later on this year.

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Postby King of Confidence » Tue Jun 03, 2003 7:51 pm

I passed this book up on a remainder table 15 years ago, before I was the EC fan I am now. I'm pretty ambivalent about reading it.

The new one -- as I noted on the old site last night -- features a picture of the band, from ATUB, on the cover. It surprises me that Elvis would allow an image of himself, from his record, to be used here.

A next volume -- that covers the reunion years?

johnfoyle

Postby johnfoyle » Wed Jun 04, 2003 12:57 am

see
http://www.helterskelterbooks.com/produ ... t&x=19&y=7

Just got my copy of the new edition of The
Big Wheel by Bruce Thomas ( see above for ordering
details). He tells all about the Hall of Fame ceremony
in the three page introduction , worth the price of
the book alone. He concludes by saying that his
`sequel` book `On The Road Again` is due `later this
year`.

The cover has been changed from what was
first posted on the Helter Skelter site back in
January. That image clearly featured one of Tim Kent`s
photos of Elvis and The Attractions , done in Paris
for use on the All This Useless Beauty sleeve . The
new cover has a stock image of a ferris wheel ,
similar to the first editions of the book. This change
, besides the new content , probably explains the
delay in this new edition.

As a taster for Bruce`s witty intoduction
I can`t resist quoting his description of Elvis and
The Imposters on the HOF stage - Elvis And The
Subtractions. Childish I know , but I just love it!

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Postby shabbydoll » Wed Jun 04, 2003 1:28 am

Sounds like all this is getting very personal indeed! :shock:

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Postby LessThanZero » Thu Jun 05, 2003 2:47 pm

"the funniest f@($er in the world"
Loving this board since before When I Was Cruel.

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Postby PlaythingOrPet » Thu Jun 05, 2003 5:30 pm

Do you think he's bitter?

Just a thought :roll: .
Image

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Postby johnfoyle » Sat Jun 14, 2003 4:25 am

Review of Bruce Thomas` The Big Wheel


http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/stor ... 26,00.html


The Big Wheel, by Bruce Thomas (Helter Skelter,
£10.99)
Thomas was the bass player in the Attractions, but
Elvis Costello fired him in 1990 after this touring
memoir was first published. You can see why: "the
Singer", as Costello is coyly dubbed, is portrayed as
the epitome of the moody egotist. Probably the most
colourful person in the narrative is the Drummer, who
valiantly attempts at every step to live up to what is
expected of drummers. "Would you gentlemen like to eat
anything?" asks an air hostess. "Yes," replies the
Drummer. "Pussy." Thomas himself, it appears, is the
band's sensitive thinker: he attempts to prove this by
telling us some of his dreams and clutching awkwardly
at quasi-poetic imagery every now and again. His
collapsing relationship with Costello is grandly
compared to fighting partnerships such as Lennon and
McCartney or Simon and Garfunkel. Despite his
indubitable excellence at bass-playing, this may be
rather an optimistic appraisal of his importance to
Costello's art. SP

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

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Postby johnfoyle » Sat Jun 14, 2003 11:10 am

Bruce Thomas interview in July MOJO



In the "Hello, Goodbye" column right inside the back cover of the
magazine
is a short interview with Bruce about his relationship with Elvis.

I'm far too lazy to type out the entire thing, but he does say:

"It's often said I was sacked for the things I'd written in my book The
Big
Wheel, but the real wedge between us was when Cait from The Pogues came
on
the scene. We used to call her Beryl because she looked like Beryl The
Peril in the Beano, long and gawky....

"The defining moment was a gig in Spain in 1996. He was doing I Can't
Stand
Up For Falling Down and, in the middle, I played a little blues lick.
Next
day he said, "I don't want you camping it up on-stage any more." He
said
the classic line, "There's only room for one star on that stage."

The piece finishes with these words:

"The Hall of Fame induction was the first time we'd seen each other for
nearly seven years. When he launched into "one day you'll have to face
the
deep dark truthful mirror" I thought, Yeah, but when are you going to
do
that? He's not in a position to say those things to anybody, I don't
think
he's done it himself."

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Postby whtesde » Sat Jun 14, 2003 4:40 pm

johnfoyle wrote:"It's often said I was sacked for the things I'd written in my book The
Big
Wheel, but the real wedge between us was when Cait from The Pogues came
on
the scene. We used to call her Beryl because she looked like Beryl The
Peril in the Beano, long and gawky....


Aha! I knew it had something to do with Cait! Thanks John.

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Postby Copenhagen Fan » Mon Jun 16, 2003 8:24 am

doooh so Cait played a Yoko Ono role! wow... :lol: :lol:

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Bruce and the past

Postby IStandAccused » Mon Jun 16, 2003 1:44 pm

shabbydoll wrote:Sounds like all this is getting very personal indeed! :shock:


~~Well, it can't all be sweetness and light. Bruce has a point. The deep dark truthful mirror quote is very honest and I have to say I agree with that observation. It is such an old fued. It really is time for EC to let it go. Maybe it is good for El to have someone who isn't afraid to confront him about certain things. You can't have your arse kissed all the time. Not everyone is going to paint the perfect picture. And not everyone should. E-Man is far from perfect. Human is probably an accurate description, HA! 8)
*"Common sense is not so common."*Voltaire
For those who speak French, "Le sens common n'est pas si commun."

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Postby DrJ » Mon Jun 16, 2003 6:26 pm

I'm sure Elvis looks in that mirror like the rest of us however there's always people who just rub us up the wrong way. I'm pretty affable but I've worked with people who I wished I could drown in a sack with some puppies. Well, actually, it was just the one guy...

I'm sure Elvis prefers getting critisized by Paul McCartney or Burt Bacharach...

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Postby tokyo vogue » Mon Jun 16, 2003 9:32 pm

it all sounds a bit...




...subtext-y.
if we can rock together, why can't we walk together?

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Postby bambooneedle » Mon Jun 16, 2003 9:42 pm

Who cares about this stupid book!?

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Postby noiseradio » Mon Jun 16, 2003 10:26 pm

At the end of the day, Bruce Thomas is a great bass player who was lucky as hell to have been discovered and hired by a brilliant songwriter. There are a lot of great bass players (and brilliant songwriters, for that matter) working crap jobs and going undiscovered. Bruce's contribution tot he world of music, while important, was hinged to the greater contribution of Elvis. Elvis could have found another guy to take care of the bottom end just as well. But without Elvis, Bruce would just have been a guy who played bass like a motherfucker when he wasn't stocking groceries or driving a cab.
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
--William Shakespeare

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Postby spooky girlfriend » Mon Jun 16, 2003 10:34 pm

I'm not going to pretend to be 100% knowledgeable about the whole Elvis-Bruce thing, but I will say this. The book seems silly and written for the purpose of making a buck. I won't pretend Elvis is perfect, but he did say at the Hall of Fame Induction that he thought it was no time to air petty grievances. I think he tried to give Bruce the acknowledgement he deserved for his part in the band's award that evening and though it may have only been EC being nice for that one night, something tells me he wouldn't mind it all being over. For good.

I did hear him say in an interview once that he respected Bruce for the time he gave to the band when he concentrated and cooperated. But that he didn't seem to be able to do that anymore and he wouldn't be reuniting with him for the purpose of recording. Come on, we all have people we want to "put in a box." This whole thing is almost as bad as the Bebe book. I'm only interested in Elvis' music and what it means to my life. The other stuff I just don't really care about. :)
Last edited by spooky girlfriend on Tue Jun 17, 2003 6:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby LessThanZero » Mon Jun 16, 2003 10:54 pm

Plus, I think that line in How To Be Dumb about the funniest fucker in the world is about David Letterman.
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Postby spooky girlfriend » Mon Jun 16, 2003 10:58 pm

I've been listening to that song a lot lately. Is that who it's about? I don't know. :?

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Postby Copenhagen Fan » Tue Jun 17, 2003 3:22 am

hmmm the crux of the matter is: Bruce is a HOT bass player....but Elvis writes the songs and there's nothing without the songs...so Bruce got the boot and got replaced...end of story.....that's what happens if you overestimate your value.

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Postby SoLikeCandy » Tue Jun 17, 2003 9:54 am

Geez, LTZ--you really don't like people from Indiana, do you? :)

I'm not as up as I'd like to be on the whole Costello vs. Thomas thing, but several things seem clear to me: first, EC was the one writing the songs. He was the one singing the songs. He was the one leading the band. Costello and the Attractions wasn't like the Beatles, you know what I mean? There weren't four equally contributing members of a group. It was COSTELLO and the Attractions. So, since our man was out front, Thomas was, by default, relegated to being a side man. A kick ass, very important side man, but a side man nonetheless.

Second, I haven't seen a lot of press about EC bashing Bruce Thomas. Aside from the hilariously bilious "How to Be Dumb" and the more subtle "You Bowed Down,", as well as a few very recent comments, Costello has concentrated on his career. Old BT has concentrated on writing books about how much of a cock Costello is. Why trade in your ax for a pen? Especially when you're a hell of a bass player?

Lastly, it seems like Costello genuinely wanted to play 'bygones', and let the thing lie. Yet, after the HOF gig, Thomas digs more dirt and re-releases a book with new material in it. He can't even come up with something original (oh, right--that's coming later)--he has to do a remix to his first, and only, real solo claim to fame.

Of course I'm biased. I love my elfin Irishman as much as the rest of you do (look at my avatar--doesn't he look like a little elf? How adorable!). But, Bruce Thomas isn't coming off looking like anything but a washed-up musician, an immature jerk-off who wants to make his former bandmate (and claim to fame, incidentally) look like a tyrant. Costello, enjoying a new wave of commercial success, appearing in public with a new blonde on his arm, working on new material, is the bigger man here. Bottom line.

Still, I'm dying to read the book--just to see what the jerk-off has to say...
If there's one thing you can say about mankind--there's nothing kind about man

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Postby mood swung » Tue Jun 17, 2003 10:44 am

yeah, what she said!!

SoLikeCandy, I saw an old picture of Dave Edmunds in the Creem archives--the caption read something like. 'Dave's job is to make Elvis Costello look tall.' :lol:
Like me, the "g" is silent.

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Postby noiseradio » Tue Jun 17, 2003 1:40 pm

I'd like to go on record here and say that I agree with Copenhagen Fan. Completely.

I suggest everyone mark their calendar and that we celebrate with a lot of booze in a year.

If EC hadn't written MAIT completely without knowing Bruce was alive, I might feel differently. And while I maintain that MAIT would have been a KILLER record with the attractions playing backup, and that I would like it much better that way, it's still a collection of fantastic songs. Bruce contributed to the recording and the performance. That's a s far as it goes. He deserves about as much credit as Tony Levin does for Peter Gabriel's work. Actually less, since Tony Levin plays bass like no other. But still, I saw Peter the other night with Tony, and it was great. But I came to see Peter Gabriel. And if Davey Faragher had been playing bass with him, I would still have been happy.
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

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Postby johnfoyle » Sat Mar 18, 2006 8:59 am

Since presumably anyone who wants this book will have , in the three years since it's re-issue , got it , I guess, at this point there's no harm in scanning and posting the interesting stuff from the 2003 preface -

Bruce Thomas wrote -


On 10 March, 2003, Elvis Costello and the Attractions were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, in a ceremony held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. In the opulence of the Grand Ballroom, around 500 guests were seated.

Apparently tickets had been changing hands for up to $5,000. Our fellow inductees that night included the Clash and the Police.


Although I’d remained friendly with Pete (the Drummer) and Steve (the Keyboard Player) - and had spoken to them a couple of times over the years - I hadn’t seen or spoken to Elvis for over six years. But in the spirit of that famous Christmas Day in the First World War (when the English and the German troops stopped shooting at each other to share a pudding and to play football) Elvis and I had now come to a similar arrangement for the duration of this evening. This truce had been brought about, initially, by a letter from me to his personal assistant. But even now, a few minutes before we were about to go on stage to collect our gongs from Elton, we still hadn’t seen each other, or spoken.


The stories of an on-going feud between the Singer’ and myself were well known. But before the days of separate rooms - and then separate suites. And before the days of turning left when we got on a plane. And before that awful day when you caught yourself standing, frothing at some check-in clerk saying, ‘But don’t you realize who I am?’ And before our stage shows went on and on into extra time and interminable penalty shoot-outs. Before all of the anger and the sadness... Before all of those days came, ‘the Singer’ and I had actually been roommates. During our first two years on the road, we spent far more nights in a same room than we ever did with our respective spouses ! And then we went out and had lunch together, because there was no reason for us to avoid each other. We actually preferred each other’s company.

But all bands had members that ended up fighting, didn’t they? Lennon and McCartney. Jagger and Jones. Townshend and Moon. Waters and Gilmour. Davies and Davies. Gallagher and Gallagher. Tufnel and St. Hubbins. Even two-piece groups, like Simon and Garfunkel, fought and split up. Or like Sam and Dave, who fought, split up - and then probably continued arguing about which one of them had the rights to the name Salmon Dave’.

And while the Police had patched up their own differences long enough to play three songs at the induction, there were pointed comments at the afternoon’s rehearsal. My daughter can play drums better than that !’


Although I hadn’t actually been checked into Room 101, ever since I’d arrived there the previous day, I’d been ' stage managed' , and kept very much at arm’s length. It was obvious that there would be no last minute reconciliation that would see Elvis and the Attractions reunite to perform one last time. And now as I stood at the side of the stage, the other three, along with my replacement, were playing one of my old riffs. ‘The Imposters’, they now called themselves - but with maybe not as much irony as had been intended. To my ears they now sounded like their own tribute band - the Subtractions !

But, you see, it was remarks exactly like this that had got me into this position in the first place! These were the same kind of comments that peppered the pages of The Big Wheel. And the same kind of acid drops that can sometimes taste like sour grapes.


On its original publication (in 1990) The Big Wheel was well received. But in my case, it led to me getting fired from the Attractions - which then led to the split up of the entire band for a while. One by one, over the years, we returned to the fold, and I was eventually reinstated (from 1993 to 1996) for a couple of albums and tours.

But, eventually, I was sacked again - with The Big Wheel again being cited as one of the causes. This put me in the unique position of being fired from the same job for the same reason - twice!

So why exactly was I here, tonight, in New York - apart from the fact that I was entitled to be? The question had to be left hanging in the air, because now, as Elvis approached, I simply held out my hand to shake the one that had been offered to me.

‘Congratulations,’ I said.

‘You’re looking well.’

‘Don’t worry, I’m not going to do anything contentious,’ I added.

‘I’ll introduce you. I’ll make a joke of it.’

In his preamble, and perhaps understandably, Elton elected not to speak about the Attractions, and limited his remarks to ‘the Songwriter’.

In Elvis’ own speech, he thanked all of the bands that he’d played with, over the years.

But that didn’t matter. Although awards of any kind have to be taken with several very large pinches of salt, there were only four names going to be etched on the panel, next to those of Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker, and B. B. King. Elvis and the Attractions had once been the kind of band worthy of a place alongside them. And there were maybe a few people here this evening that might remember how good, how great, it had sometimes been.

As he continued to speak, an image from the past came to me. I was sitting there in my flat in Shepherd’s Bush in 1977 - with Elvis lying asleep on my floor, after a bust up with the missus. We’d only known each other a few weeks. So how could we ever have imagined, then, that one day we would see members of the Clash wearing expensive suits, addressing a black tie dinner in one of the world’s grandest venues, and speaking of honour and privilege? And how could we have possibly known that, one day, we would have become unbearable to each other?


When it came to it, my own speech was the shortest of the evening. ‘Thanks for the memories,’ I said. ‘And that’s it.’

And so it was. Yet even then, when I later examined the statuette that had been given to me, I discovered that I’d been given the one with Elvis’ name on it. And he’d mistakenly taken mine. The situation was speedily resolved, through a third party, naturally - and without us having to meet again. Though, in the process, my award had somehow got broken.

Would it ever be mended?

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Postby Poor Deportee » Sat Mar 18, 2006 11:18 pm

The interesting thing about that preface is its sadly wistful tone - he seems genuinely to miss his old roomate, or at least their old friendship. Which is a very human way to feel...one gets the sense, meanwhile, that EC has simply moved on.

I have no interest in the book, but this was intriguing.
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Postby oldhamer » Sat Mar 18, 2006 11:46 pm

A few thoughts:

I'm glad Bruce Thomas DID play with Elvis, as with a couple of other blokes, they created some of the best music in history.

I'm also glad, in a different way, that the relationship broke down. Not just so that songs like How to be Dumb could be written. Albums like KoA and Spike couldn't have been made with the Attractions.

Noiseradio, I'm glad that MAIT was not made with the attractions. It would have been astonishing. But the album would have been too similar to TYM. At least with Clover backing EC, no two EC albums have ever been EXACTLY the same, which makes him so unique.

The book is OK and mildly amusing at times.
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