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West, Richard: Maybe I’m A Writer - My Life In Threshold (Book)

I don’t think that there can be much argument about whether Threshold are the UK’s premier progressive metal act - put quite simply, they are. Keyboard player and song-writer Richard West wasn’t quite there from the start, only guitarist Karl Groom can lay claim to that achievement, but alongside Karl, the keyboard whizz is one of only two members to appear on every single one of the twelve studio albums the band have released since their debut arrived some 30 years ago.

The title of this book, while having a double meaning - Richard is a song writer and now, of course, a book writer - is as accurate as they come. Yes, we discover, reasonably briefly, about Richard’s childhood, education and early dalliances with music - and a brush with Simon Cowell and Sinitta along the way - but in essence, while interspersing the tale with some key personal events, what Richard has put together here is indeed his life in Threshold.

Maybe more poignantly, what this book is also about is how rewarding and challenging life in a successful, but hardly rich and famous progressive metal band, can be. Maybe I’m A Writer - My Life In Thresholddoesn’t sugar coat anything, there have been times where the realities of events nearly overwhelmed the author and there was one brief moment where he did actually quit Threshold in the belief that the dream had lost its lustre. As such, running alongside tales of albums, tours and bandmates, the difficulties of balancing all of that against paying bills, buying a house (and a decrepit old building in a foreign land at one stage too!), maintaining relationships and, of course, unrewarding day jobs, isn’t shied away from.

Where this book really comes into its own though is that it is a book about Threshold and as a long-time fan of that band, reading how certain songs came together, how the albums were recorded and how certain line-ups of the outfit came to be and how they ended, is fascinating. Richard doesn’t throw any of his ex-band mates under the bus, but then neither does he pretend everything was rosy in the garden at the points when it clearly wasn’t. Thankfully, however, it would also appear that no long lasting damage came of any of those break ups and everyone, in my opinion, is treated fairly and honestly here.

Keyboard and recording geeks will also enjoy Richard detailing the instruments and equipment he’s used over the years and revealing the evolution of his set up as the band have progressed, but it’s an area covered briefly. Hence as a non-muso in that way, I didn’t feel left behind by these passages, with Richard’s ability to explain how these changes affected the relevant albums or tours, actually making them very relatable and relevant.

Also taking in his other side projects over the years and, in some detail, his main extracurricular musical venture, League of Lights with his wife Farrah, what comes across most strongly is Richard’s passion for music, belief in his songs and the connection and gratitude he has for the musicians he’s worked with along the way.

Maybe I’m A Writer - My Life In Threshold is a rare music book, in that it is a non-egotistical, true story that actually lets you inside the daily machinations of a modestly successful but thoroughly excellent and hard working band. For fans of Threshold it simply is a must have, but for anyone interested in discovering how acts at this level operate, it’s an eye opening read and one that comes very highly recommended.

Added: January 27th 2023
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Richard West Music @ Instagram
Hits: 320
Language: english

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