Thursday, March 19, 2015

Progress reports

Here's a quick look at some fairly current rock&roll books -- I may have a longer write-up on some of these eventually....
* REMEMBERED FOR A WHILE (2014) -- An authorized companion to the music of Nick Drake, compiled and edited by Cally Collomon and Gabrielle Drake. This is a huge (400 large pages), gorgeously produced book that includes memoirs about Nick by his friends, relatives, and fellow musicians, complete lyrics to all his songs, in-depth discussions about how he recorded each of his albums, a detailed three-year diary by Nick's father Rodney Drake covering the period when Nick's mental illness was at its worst, and MUCH more. Also included is critic Ian MacDonald's long article on Nick, "Exiled from Heaven," which makes the case that Nick's PINK MOON isn't about Depression, it's about coming back from the darkness. Only question I have is a mention about supposed "problems" with the great BRYTER LAYTER album -- the only "problem" I can find mentioned in the text was that Island Records couldn't come up with a good cover photo, and that delayed the album's release by four months. This is a beautiful book, but I still think hearing any of Nick's albums will tell you all you need to know. Warning: It's EXPENSIVE.
* GOING INTO THE CITY (2015) -- A memoir by rock critic Robert Christgau. This gets Really Good around Page 100, when Bob starts talking about going to college, listening to music, and getting laid regularly. Not sure about those first 100 pages -- but Bob is still his usual opinionated, know-it-all self. I'll be making a list of the new big words he uses here. So far, after Page 100, gripping.
* SOUND MAN (2014) -- Memoir by record producer and engineer Glyn Johns. I've skimmed most of this, and I'm sorry to report that Johns doesn't come across as anywhere NEAR as cranky and funny as he did in an '80s interview he did with Bill Flanagan for MUSICIAN magazine. And I think that's too bad. Still, lots of great stories about working with the Stones, Beatles, Who, Clash, Small Faces and Faces, Joan Armatrading, Fairport Convention, etc. Pretty compulsive.
* THE JOHN LENNON LETTERS (2011) -- Well, I said "fairly" current. Some of these are not letters. Some are postcards with six words on the back. Some are shopping lists or laundry lists or barely coherent scribbled notes apparently stolen from Lennon's apartment in the Dakota. That said, the actual LETTERS are mostly pretty great, and Lennon in anger was something else. Beatles biographer Hunter Davies edited and is his usual charming self. Lots of great photos. Worth a look.
I'll be back soon, with MORE....

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