Friday, October 26, 2012

#600: Good book/Bad proofreading

If you're a Todd Rundgren fan, or a fan of any of the dozens of albums he's produced 4 a variety of artists over the years, you should check out Paul Myers's A WIZARD/A TRUE STAR: TODD RUNDGREN IN THE STUDIO (2010), an in-depth recap of Todd's lengthy career as recording artist, engineer & producer.
While Todd's hadda handful of hits (he shoulda had MORE) & done some solid albums (SOMETHING/ANYTHING?, ADVENTURES IN UTOPIA), he's almost better known 4 the artists & albums he's produced and/or engineered: Meat Loaf's BAT OUT OF HELL, Hall and Oates, Grand Funk (twice), Cheap Trick, The Band, Patti Smith, New York Dolls (twice), Badfinger, XTC, Sparks, Tubes (twice), Fanny, Steve Hillage, Shaun Cassidy -- plus a dozen albums 4 his band Utopia.
Tho Todd's comments R featured all thru this book, the best thing about it R the Xtensive interviews with the people he's worked with -- the many members of Utopia, Meat Loaf & Jim Steinman, Rick Nielsen & Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick, the Grand Funkers, Patti Smith & Group, David Johansen & Sylvain Sylvain of the Dolls, lotsa Tubes, & XTC.
Not all these people were thrilled with Todd's sometimes-trebly radio-ready hitbound productions of their work. Badfinger was disappointed at the time with Todd's mop-up work on STRAIGHT UP, tho it got them a coupla hits. Patti Smith's WAVE was perceived as a disappointment & a sell-out (I thot the 1st side was pretty great). XTC member Andy Partridge was frustrated by the Xperience recording SKYLARKING, but former member Dave Gregory sez Todd saved their career.
My only real disappointment with the content is there's only 1 paragraph about Todd's production of trailblazing all-girl rock band Fanny's MOTHER'S PRIDE (1973) -- not their best album, but.... & there's barely a namecheck 4 the updating Todd did on Shaun Cassidy's WASP (1980), which Shaun fans at the time called diffrent & Xciting & brave -- & it sank without a trace.
Myers did his homework. It is really neat 2 see folks quoted that you'd normally never hear from -- the backing musicians & engineers & folks behind the scenes who helped make this music happen. Each chapter that focuses on a specific album is like a little documentary -- The Psychedelic Furs come to visit Todd at Utopia Sound, & when he's delayed 4 a couple days they party down & rip-up Woodstock & Bearsville, N.Y., until Todd gets them 2 calm down & start working.
Todd also seems drawn 2 challenges -- both Cheap Trick & XTC were facing pressure from their record labels during their work with Rundgren. Ditto 4 the Tubes' swan-song, LOVE BOMB. Speaking of pressure & uncertainty, turns out Todd basically bankrolled BAT OUT OF HELL & got it finished while Meat Loaf & Jim Steinman worked 2 find a label that would actually RELEASE it....
Along with all this, Myers tracks Todd's ongoing solo career & the various incarnations of Utopia -- all covered in detail. I was happy 2 see so much space given 2 Utopia, who never quite broke thru despite the quality of their more pop-oriented later stuff.
Well worth your time, overall. But....
Nobody who mangles the English language like I do here should complain about this, but....
The folks at Jawbone Press have previously done some really Xcellent music books -- Bill Bruford's AUTOBIOGRAPHY, Jeanette Leech's SEASONS THEY CHANGE, Richie Unterberger's WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN. They were a pleasure 2 read, & were mostly immaculate in terms of typesetting.
Not sure why, but WIZARD has problems in this area. They're minor at 1st -- little misspellings or words dropped out, quotes opened & never closed, minor stuff like that. But they get worse & more numerous as the book goes along.
Don't know why, but the book bottoms out in Chapter 19 -- which deals with the breakup of Utopia, recording Todd's A CAPELLA, & recording the Tubes' LOVE BOMB. Here words R dropped, sentences R mangled, words R transposed & repeated, quotes Rn't finished -- it reads like the composer or proofreader fell asleep, or was hungover -- or only had 2 days 2 get the whole proofreading job done. & when that chapter's done, the rest of the book is back 2 basically pretty-much OK.
Now, if you're writing a book, you use Real English. The inability 2 use Real English in a book format casts doubts on whether the writer knows what he's doing in other areas. Each time a sentence gets mangled or words get dropped out, it jolts the reader out of the Xperience & makes him wonder what's going on behind the scenes.
Clearly, Paul Myers knows what he's doing -- he couldn't have done dozens of interviews & made this 300-page story fit 2gether if he didn't. But the composing or proofreading coulda used more work, 1 more pass B4 the book went 2 press.
Other than that, no major complaints. As with other Jawbone Books, there's a discography & nice period photos. It's a good-looking package, & the info is worth the minor problems you might bump in2. & I'll B looking 4 more Jawbone Books -- there's 1 out there about Arthur Lee & Love that I've bn wanting 2 get ahold of....

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