* Richard Goldstein: GOLDSTEIN'S GREATEST HITS (1970) -- Goldstein was (along with Paul Williams -- no, not that short songwriter with the blonde hair and glasses) one of the very first rock critics -- he had a regular pop-music column in THE VILLAGE VOICE starting back in 1966.
The review that brought him the most attention was a slam of SGT. PEPPER that was published in the NEW YORK TIMES. He got tons of hate mail. And 50 years later, Goldstein's still right about that album -- it's totally artificial and way obsessed with production and detail, with one absolute killer song at the very end. Of course most of the other songs on there have long since become classics as well.
That SGT. PEPPER piece is by far the best thing in Goldstein's GREATEST HITS. I expected the book to be dated, but I also thought I'd enjoy the dated effect. Most of it just reads as thin and naïve. There's a nice interview with The Shangri-La's that I wish had been done in more depth. There's a decent review of Dylan's JOHN WESLEY HARDING. There's a brief look at art-rock that has a slam or two for my old heroes The Moody Blues. There's a long piece on the history and hype behind San Francisco bands of the late '60s. There's an interesting write-up on how singles were manipulated into hits back in those days.
Too bad the SGT. PEPPER review is also in the DA CAPO BOOK OF ROCK AND ROLL WRITING, which I already have, surrounded by lots of other good stuff. This was not worth my $9.99. But as a snapshot of the naivete of the times, you could maybe dig it, if you were there back in the day.
* THE SOUND AND THE FURY: 40 YEARS OF CLASSIC ROCK JOURNALISM, edited by Barney Hoskyns (2003) -- There is some good stuff in here. David Toop's piece on Charles Manson's connection to The Beach Boys is interesting, and it's good to have it all laid out finally. David Dalton's eyewitness account of Altamont is pretty chilling. But both these pieces end too abruptly. Nick Hornby is as amusing as always in his look at the Collected Works of Abba.
But that's about all, really. The rest of these selections are usually interesting, but not gripping. Good B-level material. Can't believe editor Hoskyns really thinks these are classic examples of what rock writers wrote about.
For that, check out the DA CAPO BOOK OF ROCK AND ROLL WRITING, or those annual YEAR'S BEST MUSIC WRITING collections that I'm still finding buried gems in.
Coming soon: More Nostalgia -- "A Night at the Opera."