Book Review: It’s the Truth

As someone who enjoys a deep dive into the making of creative works, I’m predisposed toward a new book like Simon Wright’s It’s the Truth: Making The Only Ones. Books that dig into the backstory of significant albums are right up my alley. That said, until reading Wright’s book, my awareness of The Only Ones was limited to knowing and liking the band’s most popular song, “Another Girl, Another Planet,” full stop.

And I suspect I’m not the only one (heh) for whom that’s the case. In its initial run, the London-based group existed from 1976-82, releasing three albums during that time. None of those records charted spectacularly in the UK; Stateside, they were all but unknown. The Only Ones’ profile – such as it is – is thanks to the inclusion of “Another Girl, Another Planet” on several influential compilations, perhaps most notably Rhino’s D.I.Y.: Teenage Kicks: UK Pop (1976-79), released three decades ago. The song has been featured on other comps, and features in the soundtracks of several films. But that’s pretty much it.

My point here being that the demand for such a book as this is somewhat limited in size and scope. Few know the band, and fewer still know their best-known song. Of course there’s the argument that both band and song deserve better, and with that I would wholly agree. No less an outlet than describes “Another Girl” as “arguably, the greatest rock single ever recorded.” Hyperbole to be sure, and unsurprisingly the press for Wright’s book quotes that praise.

Against that backdrop, and even for readers who don’t know anything about The Only Ones, It’s the Truth remains a worthwhile read. Wright draws extensively upon firsthand interviews with the former members (one of whom having since passed). His writing style does tend to make use of extended quote excerpts, giving the book something of an oral history flavor, but there’s no doubting the work Wright put into collecting the quotes.

It’s the Truth would be notable if only for the section describing the making of “Another Girl, Another Planet.” Not only because it’s the only song most people know by the group, but because of the manner in which the recording was created. That part of the book is easily its most fascinating and engrossing, and it alone justifies picking up a copy and reading it. The black-and-white photos scattered generously throughout the 140 pages of the book are an added bonus.

It’s the Truth is absolutely recommended to anyone with more than a passing familiarity with The only Ones. But it’s well worth checking out for anyone who appreciates late ‘70s and early ‘80s new wave, power pop and related styles. Wright’s book will likely send readers to track down The Only Ones’ music – he makes a good case for the merit of their entire first album and (because of the way their records came into being) the two that follow it as well – and one suspects that will please him nearly as much.