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book review: The Beck Studio Story

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The Beck Studio Story

C-Come An ‘Ave A Listen! Derek Tompkins – The Beck Studio Story
Dave Clemo, Mavis Tompkins, Roger Kinsey
Beck Books, 2021, ISBN: 9781914408328, 406 pages 

Following hot on the heels of Back Street Genius comes part two of the Derek Tompkins story; Come An ‘Ave A Listen! Bringing things bang up to date this book, as the title suggests, covers the second half of Derek’s chequered and illustrious career, and charts the history of the country’s premier recording facility: Beck Studio

Like those two double albums released on the same day by Guns N’ Roses [Use Your Illusion I & II] I can’t help thinking that these two books dedicated to Derek would have, with some judicial pruning, benefited from being condensed into a single volume. However, both are very readable, and while Back Street Genius pulled a plethora of extraneous events into its orbit C-Come An ‘Ave A Listen! is more focused and turns its attention further towards the music. 

Reading like a who’s who of the Northampton music scene, Beck Studio – by way of its high technical capacity and Derek’s effervescent personality – acted as a magnet and drew some of the biggest names to Wellingborough. Running chronologically this book plots the development of Beck from its humble beginnings in 1970 until Derek Tompkins handed over the reins in 1984. The technological advances are explained throughout in layman’s terms and are easily understandable, even for those of us born deep in the analogue age. From the early ‘70s [Axe Music] via the chart bothering Barron Knights, Derek used his studio like an instrument and was able to get the best out of a band, whatever genre they played. Even when flummoxed by punk Derek was open-minded enough to guide local lads The Shoplifters and the Isaws through the recording process, and document an important piece of history. 

While reading C-Come An ‘Ave A Listen! you might get a strange case of déjà vu: whole reams of text from various publications have been lifted and transferred to this book, and in verbatim. That’s a shame because it breaks up the author’s voice somewhat. Written by three who really knew Derek – Dave Clemo, Mavis Tompkins and Roger Kinsley – C-Come An ‘Ave A Listen! is told in a unified, conversational tone but the external and elongated quotes act as a kind of literary road block and halt the flowing prose somewhat. 

Meticulously researched and with barely a stone left unturned this book is a comprehensive look at Beck Studio that will appeal equally to music obsessives and local historians. C-Come An ‘Ave A Listen! Derek Tompkins – The Beck Studio Story is a fitting tribute. 

Sargent ‘D’

Buy C-Come An ‘Ave A Listen! Derek Tompkins – The Beck Studio Story by messaging Dave Clemo here, via the Spiral Archive shop, or a Kindle version can be obtained here

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