It was almost a year ago that our reviewer Glen Christie gave a 10/10 review of the published autobiography of Aussie rocker Jimmy Barnes. All these months later, Barnes now narrates his own story in the newly-released audiobook of his early life through to the start of his career.
Covering his childhood years in Scotland through to his family’s migration to Australia when Barnes was just a boy, this first installment of his life takes us up to the start of his burgeoning career as one of this country’s great rock icons.
You can read the earlier review for a detailed summary of the book; there’s no point repeating Christie’s excellent coverage here, suffice to say that the candid exposé that Barnes gives of his life is both surprising and commendable. He holds nothing back, from violence and drug abuse to pedophilia and more. It’s not all doom and gloom, of course, but his story of growing up is more harrowing than expected. His brave decision to reveal such skeletons is a sign of healing and hope.
Barnes is a good reader. His fluctuating accent dances between his Scottish heritage and his Australian upbringing. It can be a bit distracting until you get used to it, particularly given that fluctuating accents are not something commonly heard in our entertainment unless it’s accompanied by a bad review!
Barnes is personable and down to earth. He makes no apologies when his story gets tough but neither does he let it get the better of himself or the reader. There’s always context and always a message of faith or hope that comes from it. He has a good style, is articulate (which isn’t something I often say about the Scottish accent!), well-paced and quite enjoyable to listen to.
I grew up with Jimmy Barnes and his band Cold Chisel. They were never high on my personal radar but popular enough to get plenty of airplay. His biggest hit, in my mind, was the song Working Class Man, also the title of his upcoming second autobiography which is being released this month. There always seemed to be a lot of anger in his music which is why only some songs ever really appealed to me. Having his life in focus now puts a new spin on the passion and meaning behind his songwriting and style, and my newfound respect for his talent is leading me to re-evaluate his work as an artist.
Whether you’re a fan of Barnsy or not, the audiobook of Working Class Boy is a compelling listening experience that shines light where there appears to be none, and gives hope to the dark days we live though.
I’m now a fan.
The audiobook of Working Class Boy was released in September 2017 by Bolinda Audio. It runs for just over eight and a half hours and is available as a regular CD or MP3 CD for $49.95.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 9