Friday, February 3, 2012

#524: Open letters....

1st, a big shout-out 2 the folks at, who stumbled over that off-the-cuff review of the Kinks' VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY in my last post, latched a link on2 it, & sent me ... nearly 200 visitors over the past few days, making that "Laundry-doin'" post suddenly the 2nd-most-viewed post EVER here at the Back-Up Plan.
I'm not used 2 this kinda response. As of this update (5 Feb 12, 2 am), apparently about 225 folks have looked at that post. That's wonderful, of course -- but it would B great if some1 would comment, if only 2 tell me that VILLAGE GREEN has been a great Lost Classic album since late 1968 & where the hell have I been?
Who can ever predict how this InterWeb thingy works....?

Ever wanted 2 tell your boss what you REALLY think of him? Maybe write a resignation letter he'll NEVER forget?
Keith Altham's THE PR STRIKES BACK (2001) is a series of open letters from renowned press-flack Altham 2 summa the many music superstars he's handled publicity 4 over his 30+ years as a PR & music journalist.
It's pretty funny. Altham uses the letters 2 poke fun, remember old times, & maybe settle some old scores & frustrations. Included R letters 2 & reminiscences about Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend, Rod Stewart (whose last name is mis-spelled on the back of the book), Sting, Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison, Brian Wilson, Ozzy Osbourne, Keith Emerson, Ray Davies, Marc Bolan & a coupla dozen more.
The letter 2 Jagger is pretty brutal. The letter 2 Rod the Mod includes Ronnie Wood's description of The Tartan-Clad One's famous stinginess: "Tighter than two coats of paint."
Altham's directness is often brutally funny. Not all the letters R criticisms -- the letter 2 Sting calls him misunderstood. The letter 2 Brian Wilson sez no1 in rock has suffered more 4 his art. The closing letter 2 Pete Townshend takes a tone of near-adoration -- despite Pete's ugly temper & the fact that Altham was fired 4 times from doing publicity 4 The Who.
Altham calls Manfred Mann "arrogance personified." The letter 2 Joan Armatrading makes it clear that "Me, Myself, I" really was her theme song. The letter 2 Van Morrison is about what you'd Xpect. & Altham nails Squeeze when he sez they had "plenty of talent but absolutely no charisma."
A letter 2 Justin Hayward calls him "the steel spine that glued The Moody Blues together."
Some of the most moving letters R 2 stars who R no longer with us -- Hendrix, Bolan, Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, etc., or 2 those who disappeared when they couldn't cope with fame -- Brian Wilson, Scott Walker, etc.
It's a lite, breezy, fast read, & very enjoyable. If you're a Brit fan, you should eat this book up.
Only a few complaints: The farther you get in2 the book, the more typos there R & the more words R dropped thru bad proofreading.
Also, this is the 1st 300-page book in YEARS that I've bn able 2 read in just a coupla days -- that's cos you only get about 200 pgs of letters. Every artist included gets a full-page photo, & the section-heads (the artists' names) each take up a full pg. There's a lotta wasted pgs here.
All that said, I'd B happy 2 devour another volume-full. Got anymore, KA?

Have also bn trying 2 get thru Don & Jeff Breithaupt's PRECIOUS AND FEW: POP MUSIC IN THE EARLY '70s (1996), a good companion 2 go with Rhino's old HAVE A NICE DAY series of '70s hits repackages.
I should love this book, it's the period I 1st started listening 2 the radio, & I know almost all the music that's discussed. But I'm finding it a tough read.
Not the Breithaupts' fault. They know their stuff, & the book is intended as a lite, breezy, silly read, nothing 2 deep. They look at 100s of pop singles released from 1970-75 in 30 short chapters, & they mention dozens of other almost-hits in passing. & tho they love the period, most of the book's played 4 laffs -- the kinda comedy that comes from looking back with warm-hearted nostalgia.
It's mildly amusing. I wish it was funnier. & it's meant 2 B a quick read, not Deep And Meaningful Rock Criticism. 1 of their points is that the early '70s is kinda hard 2 take seriously. Musically, at least.
No real complaints, but I got farther in 1 afternoon with Altham's book than I did in a week of trying 2 read the Breithaupts'. This might just B my taste; if you agree the early '70s Rn't worth taking 2 seriously, you might like this.
Oh, & the Breithaupts apparently missed Climax's follow-up 2 "Precious and Few" -- a nice little number called "Life and Breath," which failed 2 make the Top 40 in the US. & they missed Edward Bear's follow-up 2 the Top 3 hit "Last Song" -- the much-better "Close Your Eyes."
But Xtra points 2 them 4 mentioning ALL the singles by Five Man Electrical Band....

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