The Singers Tale

A book. A Documentary Carol Grimes. Photo Kasia Hrybowicz

https://studio.youtube.com/video/O5xuOdK1qV0/edit

Some loverly reviews. CG xx

“……you write incredibly well  ~  most descriptive and a sense of soot and Old London.  The last book I read before yours was “The Black Book” (which is set in South London, for the most part) by Lawrence Durrell~  and you work easily stands with his…”

..”reading your wonderful book on yet another night…more tonight”


M. Kemp

“From depots all over the city came battalions of red buses, trolleys and trams, swaying and clanking, moving like crimson blood through the veins of London.  Transporting the workers to banks, brothels, breweries, bathhouses, shops, offices, churches, cinemas and synagogues.  And to theatres, fire stations, schools and concert halls.  Up to the cemeteries and hospitals, law courts, police stations, prisons and the Houses of Parliament”  

5.0 out of 5 stars

Michael & Sooty xx

Looking Back with her Eyes Wide Open

24 January 2018

Anyone who’s ever witnessed Carol Grimes in concert will testify to the fact she possesses a raw emotional power, tempered with the shading of experience and the passing of time. Those lucky enough to have heard her simple yet devastating renditions of Fran Landesman’s “Scars”, or Eden Ahbez’s “Nature Boy” resonating in packed rooms, or jazz stages, will want to read her back story, to find out more.

And now, not before time, Grimes has finally produced her autobiography. Titled “The Singer’s Tale” (after Chaucer) it is a wild, candid, sometimes unsparing journey. At times wise-after-the-event and other times laugh-out-loud funny (the Kafkaesque trials of reclaiming a pension once you’ve had several surnames) ~ Carol Grimes is a vivid character one instinctively warms to in the intimacy of these pages. 

A childhood adrift amongst ration books and bomb-damaged London ~ a quest for identity when significant family members are but faint sketches, old sepia photographs ~ eventually finding her voice and her way.

The early albums, musical travels to Memphis and Nashville ~ the firm belief that singing for her supper was the only way forward ~ even with its accompanying pitfalls, safety nets and occasional tragedies. The competing voices in her head, all given free rein here ~ constructing a complex persona ~ sometimes vulnerable, sometimes wayward; always human. I warmly recommend “The Singer’s Tale” if you want to eavesdrop on the REAL story of women making music in the sixties and seventies ~ the deals, the dodgy managers (“We can market you as a British Janis Joplin…”) ~ the highs, the lows, the hangers-on, the true friends ~ above all the music, the vital spark of humanity. Buy this book.

Described as a `high-spirited veteran’ by the Evening Standard, Carol joined her first groups, Shades of Grey and The Race, from the mid ’60s, and went on to sing with the bands Babylon, Delivery and Uncle Dog before releasing her solo albums. Carol also performed alongside Cream, Alexis Korner, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The Yardbirds, The Graham Bond Organisation, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy and Freddie King. Carol lived in London amongst a `rag popsicle bag of people’ during the counter culture years. A so-called community of freaks, immigrants, photographers, artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, drug dealers, models, fashionistas, groupies and hangers-on. Described by the press as fuelled by LSD, hashish, grass and sex, it was a time of change.

Not for women though, and Carol witnessed appalling male behaviour in the music business. She became politicised and in 1976, performed at the first Rock Against Racism gig and went on to support Rock Against Sexism. Carol is still performing and is the Musical Director for the Bloomsbury Sing for Joy Choir and The Wildflowers Choir in Folkestone. ‘This is a musical, political and social history spanning the 1940s and the war-torn London of Carol’s birth, through schools, foster homes, teenage sex, cigarettes and listening to music on the jukebox in ’50s seaside Britain. Sleazy studios and nefarious Nashville goings-on in recording studios in the ’60s, from Nashville to Notting Hill, where roots reggae and reefers had become de rigueur against the backdrop of the rising punk era of the ’70s. And all the while we occupy a ringside seat in our singer’s imagined, and real, theatrical circus. It’s a wild and unforgettable show. The Singer’s Tale is a confessional, an irreverent romp, bawdy and boisterous. It is a work of psychological astuteness offering an unflinching look at the terrible hurt, pain and sadness that we, as human beings, are capable of inflicting upon one another, and how we can learn from that. It is a celebration of life. Expect darkness and light, ugliness and beauty, comedy and tragedy’ Cheryl Moskowitz

young mo5.0 out of 5 starsGreat Autobiography20 July 2019

I knew Carol many years ago and always admired her not only for her voice, which is fantastic, but her way of life too. I never realised what a troubled childhood she had so I suspect writing about it in her autobiography was a sort of catharsis for her. She was passed from foster homes to children’s homes and back again because her Mother simply didn’t want her. Even when Carol tried to return to her mother’s home many years later the door was very firmly closed in her face. The descriptions laid out in the book bring the places she led a sort of life – more of an existence really – alive in not the most pleasant of ways. So the reader can visualise what these places were like back in the fifties and try to understand how Carol as well as many other children like her learnt to survive.

Music became Carol’s saviour as she grew into the talented woman she is today so, when she and others around her realised she could sing it brought new meaning to her life. As the tale unfolded it was good to ‘meet’ friends of mine from the old days in London during the late sixties and seventies particularly ‘Beat’ who was firstly my neighbour and then my friend for many years. It was through Beat that I met Carol when we went to her gigs. I always thought she was far too good to be performing in local pubs and clubs so wished I was back in my young journalistic days in Birmingham when I interviewed then wrote about up and coming performers. Sadly, Carol’s singing career was never destined to rise to the giddy heights that were so richly deserved due to deals and bands falling by the wayside with alarming regularity.

This book just reaches the late seventies but I am sure we will hear much more in Carol’s planned sequel as her career is still going strong as I write this in 2019.

HelpfulCommentReport abuseShakespeare5.0 out of 5 starsAn excellent and compulsive read9 January 2018

Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase

A remarkable book – excellent and compulsive read – with the odds heavily stacked against her, Carol’s determination to make it as a singer would make a great film if it could capture the underlying theme of changing times from an era that was almost recognisable as Victorian to the transformation that was rock’n’roll driven by the post-war generation and rise of multicultural Britain. Carol is a brilliant singer and having enjoyed her singing back in the early 70s with Uncle Dog, I would never have imagined the back story of her life at time when her performances oozed such confidence and she was rightly referred to as England’s Janice Joplin. When she sings the blues with such feeling it is because her life sprang from personal hardship, rejection and a gritty determination to overcome, which the blues and The Singer’s Tale richly evoke. Here’s hoping that Carol can share with us the rest of her story from the ‘80s to now.2 people found this helpful

EJane5.0 out of 5 starsA wonderful read, written with vivid detail9 January 2018

A wonderful read, written with vivid detail, straight from the heart. She has had an extraordinary life being born in London at the end of the 2nd. World War and going on, despite all the odds stacked against her, to become a professional singer working across the globe. Her writing engrosses you and is enlightening about the struggles of a girl growing up in post war Britain going on to become a renowned singer and, just as importantly for her, a mother. You feel almost a part of her personal struggles and joys – the different voices showing her insight, tenacity and humanity. She weaves a wonderful tale, and the book shows her talent as both a writer as well as a singer. An amazing journey!2 people found this helpful

M. Kemp5.0 out of 5 starsLooking Back with her Eyes Wide Open24 January 2018

Anyone who’s ever witnessed Carol Grimes in concert will testify to the fact she possesses a raw emotional power, tempered with the shading of experience and the passing of time. Those lucky enough to have heard her simple yet devastating renditions of Fran Landesman’s “Scars”, or Eden Ahbez’s “Nature Boy” resonating in packed rooms, or jazz stages, will want to read her back story, to find out more.

And now, not before time, Grimes has finally produced her autobiography. Titled “The Singer’s Tale” (after Chaucer) it is a wild, candid, sometimes unsparing journey. At times wise-after-the-event and other times laugh-out-loud funny (the Kafkaesque trials of reclaiming a pension once you’ve had several surnames) ~ Carol Grimes is a vivid character one instinctively warms to in the intimacy of these pages. A childhood adrift amongst ration books and bomb-damaged London ~ a quest for identity when significant family members are but faint sketches, old sepia photographs ~ eventually finding her voice and her way.

The early albums, musical travels to Memphis and Nashville ~ the firm belief that singing for her supper was the only way forward ~ even with its accompanying pitfalls, safety nets and occasional tragedies. The competing voices in her head, all given free rein here ~ constructing a complex persona ~ sometimes vulnerable, sometimes wayward; always human. I warmly recommend “The Singer’s Tale” if you want to eavesdrop on the REAL story of women making music in the sixties and seventies ~ the deals, the dodgy managers (“We can market you as a British Janis Joplin…”) ~ the highs, the lows, the hangers-on, the true friends ~ above all the music, the vital spark of humanity. Buy this book. Paul Griffiths5.0 out of 5 stars

A fabulous, heart-felt moving read8 January 2018Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase

This is a fabulous book. I bought it as I love Carol’s singing,but you don’t need to know her music to appreciate this book. This is so much more than your average music biog. It paints a vivid tale of growing up in post-World War Two Britain, then moves through an extraordinary life to becoming the acclaimed singer that she is.One person found this helpful

HelpfulCommentReport abuseMichael Wattam5.0 out of 5 starsIt’s a great piece of commentary on life which many of us …3 March 2018Format: PaperbackVerified PurchaseCarol has written a marvelous book, incomparable to any other musician’s biography, both in style and content. It’s a great piece of commentary in which we will all recognise lots because life is very much a shared experience, but none of us will have experienced it in the unique way in which she has. It’s a hugely enjoyable book which I feel grateful to have read.

charles van waalwijk5.0 out of 5 starsFive Stars17 June 2018Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase

a pity she writes in 3rd person
rest is great and very personal

ePip5.0 out of 5 starsAn extraordinary Singer’s extraordinary Tale.3 March 2018

This is a terrific book. The style is poetic and the phrasing sustained like a singer’s breath. I was completely drawn in and unable to put it down! Carol Grimes has had an extraordinary life and has an amazing tale to tell. I thoroughly recommend it.

5.0 out of 5 starsWonderfully & uniquely written- a must read!14 February 2018Format: PaperbackVerified PurchaseWhat an incredible book!
So cleverly and vividly written, not only about Carol Grimes’ life & career, but also the story of London from the war years in the 40’s through to the hippy & punk years to the 80’s. Could not put this book down. Absolutely fascinating.

Peter G.5.0 out of 5 starsCarol Grimes19 September 2018F eExcellent all good and arrived promptly

6 comments

  1. Hi Carol Nice to see you are a fellow blogger! Mine is about reviewing books but I also put some of my own short stories & poems on. Will look out for your book then I can review it. Mo xx

    1. Hi Carol I’ve finished reading your book so I’m ready to do the review for you. I need a picture to put with it so I’ve downloaded & cropped the black & white one re the films etc; but I can use another if you prefer. Mo x

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