Famous for Fifteen People
The life and songs of singer/songwriter Momus during his time at Creation records and beyond.
The life and songs of singer-songwriter Momus during his time at Creation records and beyond.
Momus - the stage name of musician Nicholas Currie - is one of the most prolific and talented indie songwriters of the last forty years. His work is controversial, influential and highly regarded. From aspiring indie pop star of the 1980s to Japanese chart success in the 1990s through many experimental works to the present day, he has been a constant in the search for intelligent, thinking person's pop. Jarvis Cocker asked him to produce his band Pulp, the NME memorably awarded his album "Hippopotamomus" 0/10, Creation Records dropped him when he proved too dangerous for them, and his more controversial work led to astounding legal tussles. His personal life has involved scandal and heartbreak and he lost an eye following an infection, resulting in his distinctive eye-patch. His songs including "The Hairstyle of the Devil", "The Guitar Lesson" and "I Want You but I Don't Need You" are acclaimed and have been covered by artists including Amanda Palmer and Steven Wilson.
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Rating 5*. Vital! Truly superb writings on the early works of Momus. This is not only insightful and intelligent but it is also occasionally very funny too. Consider this line in the chapter relating to ‘the poison boyfriend’ and specifically the track ’closer to you’: “it’s Barry White, if Barry White had read a lot of french literature and spent time staring at girls on the tube”. Priceless! Momus is more than worthy of such a career analysis. I’m hoping there is a second volume which might promote greater interest in his later work which, being honest, is less accessible but equally deserving. Best music book this year! ~ Stephen Lloyd - Vine Voice, Amazon UK
Rating 5*. The essential guide. An excellent vade mecum. Terrific guide to the incredibly talented Momus and his songs from 1982-95 making you hungry for Volume 2. This book is not hagiography but an honest and personal take on the meanings and references in the lyrics. Highly recommend if you’re a fan, or as an introduction. ~ JDQ, Amazon UK
Everything goes in cycles: during the 2010s I contributed regularly to Chris O'Leary's Bowiesongs blog, and expressed a vague wish that one day somebody might make a similar study of Momus. Well, that's what John Robinson is doing, with an extraordinary vigour and thoroughness, in his blog Fifteen People. So far he's only halfway through the prolific Momus discography, but I'm amazed at the quality of his work: it's teaching me things even I didn't know, or had forgotten! It's also surprisingly funny. 2020 is a bit of a milestone year for Momus: my record about COVID-19, Vivid, is released in July, on the same day as Farrar, Straus & Giroux publish Niche: A Memoir in Pastiche, my autobiography. All this is kindling interest in my work as it's developed through four decades. It would be great to think there was something following, a solid, comprehensive and entertaining account of my songs by someone other than me. Called — oh, I don't know — Famous For Fifteen People: The Songs of Momus, by John Robinson. ~ Nicholas Currie (Momus), Momus (Nicholas Currie) is a singer/songwriter with over 30 studio albums, and author of numerous novels and cultural writings, including his recent memoir Niche (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020)
Momus is a unique and important artist. Fifteen People puts his body of work into context in time and related to the surrounding culture. It is insightful, provokes re-listening and conversation about the work. ~ Duglas T.Stewart, Singer, Songwriter, Producer, Scriptwriter and Leader of the band BMX Bandits
I have spent basically my entire life listening to Momus records and thought I knew everything, but reading John Robinson’s Fifteen People has made me realize just how much more there is to know and how fascinating and delightful it is to learn it. This is a deep dive into a seemingly never-ending series of brilliant works, written about through astonishing research and heartfelt panache. Not only for Momus fans. ~ Jacob Wren, Jacob Wren makes exhibitions, literature, and performances as co-artistic director of Montreal-based interdisciplinary group PME-ART. His books include Polyamorous Love Song (Book*hug, 2014)
Fifteen People is a mandatory guide to the ludic world of Momus. Here be an encyclopaedia of entertaining explications, decodings of manic referentiality, the hard evidence of the Scottish artist’s continued pertinence after more than forty years of creation… ~ John Quin, Author of ‘Dr Quin, Medicine Man’ (Biteback, 2020). Writing about art, books and music for more than twenty years for publications including ArtReview, frieze, The Quietus, Tagesspiegel, The Wire)
Fifteen People puts a microscope to a titanic talent. ~ Anthony Reynolds, Musician, journalist and writer, leader of the bands Jack and Jacques