A double header – a chance to interview one of the band members by phone this coming week, and also (separately) an opportunity to attend one of their UK shows in June. Anyone interested?
David Hepworth channels Bryan Ferry for the title of his new book, coming hot on the heels of last November’s ‘Nothing Is Real’, and dealing with, as its subtitle suggests, how the LP ‘saved our lives’. Indeed, he dedicates the book to anyone who knows how it felt to carry an album down the street, something I suspect we can probably all relate to.
He classifies the era when the album was at its peak as a serious influential art form as beginning in 1967 with the release of Sgt Pepper and ending in 1982 with Michael Jackson’s Thriller, after which the coming of the Walkman, followed by cds, downloading and streaming, would gradually strip away the relevance and importance of the LP as a concept.(I can already hear dissenting voices!) For each of the intervening years, he picks out a couple of releases which he perceives as being particularly significant and influential (including some rather surprising choices it has to be said!), and puts them in the context of both then and now, covering not just the music and the artists, but also the way in which the music was actually listened to by its purchasers.
A couple up for grabs if anyone fancies having a go…..
Stevie Nicks – Stand Back – 3 cd best of (stream)
One for prog fans perhaps – reissue of Patrick Moraz – The Story of I – with bonus tracks (download)
As always, first come…..
The genesis of this book was a lengthy article in The Word way back in 2011, which some on here may well recall reading at the time. It’s now been extensively reworked and expanded to form the basis of this complex, interesting volume about the protracted demise of EMI.
It’s a book with lots of technical details about the intricacies of how big business, and particularly the music industry, works, and how takeovers happen – or don’t!. There’s an awful lot of information about the mechanics of the deal, which makes the book quite dry at times – having worked in law and finance for many years I could follow it, but I’m not sure how intelligible or indeed interesting it would be to a layman.
The gist of the book is how Terra Firma, a private equity firm specialising in leveraged buyouts of underperfoming companies, along with the help of their main backers Citibank, purchased the ailing EMI in a deal that was then unexpectedly hamstrung by the subsequent worldwide financial crash. An initially manageable deal was quickly made intolerable as interest charges, debt repayments and covenants imposed by the lenders soon became nigh on impossible » Continue Reading.
Another book in this excellent series, this time concentrating on the work of Long Island’s finest Blue Oyster Cult, put together by super fan Jacob Holm-Lupo. This is a band I originally encountered, as did many I suspect, in the mid seventies via Don’t Fear The Reaper, and it’s parent album, the excellent Agents of Fortune, together with the subsequent live album Some Enchanted Evening.. From that point I worked backwards to Secret Treaties (containing the epic Astronomy), Tyranny And Mutation and their self titled debut album, calling in along the way on their previous live set On Your Feet Or On Your Knees. I was disappointed though with the next two releases – Spectres and Mirrors — and rather lost track of the band at that point. In the course of reading this book, I have Spotified the subsequent albums, the highlights being 1980’s Cultosaurus Erectus and 1988’s Imaginos, but overall found them quite patchy as though the band had lost their way somewhat, not being able to decide on whether to pursue the heavier themes of their early work or the more commercial vein of ‘The Reaper’ era. It would be interesting to discover how any » Continue Reading.
When I first became aware of this book, I have to confess part of me expected it to be one of those unauthorised efforts you see in The Works a few months after publication at a fraction of the cover price, full of photographs you’ve seen a hundred times before and text lazily cut and pasted from old interviews and articles. I hold my hands up – I couldn’t have been more wrong! This is a first class read, rounding up all The Boss’s studio work from 1973’s Greetings From Asbury Park,NJ through to 2014’s High Hopes. It comes in a large format (roughly A4 size) on top quality paper, and has been authored by Brian Hiatt, a senior writer for Rolling Stone, and a man who has interviewed Springsteen on a number of occasions for that publication. He also spoke extensively with members of the E Street Band, along with other musicians and producers who have worked with Springsteen over the years. He goes through each album, song by song, and also adds to each set songs from the album sessions that didn’t make the final cut, but which were later released on outtakes sets such as » Continue Reading.
Author:Stephen Lambe & others
The concept behind this newly published series of paperback books is to take the works of the chosen artist, and go through each album, song by song, as well as providing some interesting background information on each release. They have been put together by a number of different authors (a couple with connections to the Classic Rock Society), but each one is very obviously a fan of the band involved, and these books seem to be something of a labour of love, written by fans for fans. I don’t see that much here that would particularly interest a casual reader or someone with just a passing interest in the featured music,but there’s plenty on offer for the dedicated devotee.
The Queen book is perhaps the most detailed, especially on the early part of their long career, even analysing a number of key songs on a minute by minute basis! That’s the exception, but all the books are extremely thorough, including information on songs that were recorded but ultimately left off albums. I would particularly single out the Yes one as it gives an in depth coverage to the various and numerous comings and goings in » Continue Reading.
Bit of an odd choice given the riches in his back catalogue?
Blog recounting the recording of their new album…….
What does it sound like?:
I remember buying this set on dvd way back on it’s original release in 2003, when it also appeared on cd – hard to credit that’s a whole fifteen years that have slipped by since then! It now makes a somewhat belated appearance on vinyl for the first time, coming as a magnificently presented four album set on 180 gram vinyl in a gatefold sleeve, and there’s even a download code thrown in for good measure. It comprises the full show of the last night of the band’s Vapour Trails tour in 2002, which marked their return after a long hiatus, and is supplemented by two further pieces recorded slightly earlier on the same tour. The show captures the band at the top of their game, and covers every era of their lengthy career. You want early Rush, there’s Working Man and By-Tor The Snow Dog, later period features among others Distant Early Warning, Red Sector A and Bravado, and from the then current era you get the likes of Ghost Rider and One Little Victory. However, for me, the band would never surpass their classic mid seventies to early eighties work – a » Continue Reading.
Anyone interested in having a go at a review for her upcoming Live in Hollywood, 1980 (stream) ?
What does it sound like?:
This two cd set is effectively the soundtrack to the Netflix film of Springsteen’s long run on Broadway with his one-man show. As I’m sure everyone knows by now, the show was heavily based around his autobiography, and some of the monologues here are pretty much taken word for word from it. Some songs are delivered uninterrupted, while others, such as Growin’ Up and Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, are used as vehicles to support the story he’s telling. The anecdotes are fine to listen to once, but on subsequent plays I found myself skipping them to get to the music – once you’ve heard a tale you’ve heard it! The music itself is great, although for me there’s not enough of it, only sixteen songs in 135 minutes, but I suppose if you were there in person that wasn’t so noticeable. I really enjoy stripped back versions of songs in general, indeed my favourite Thunder Road is the one that opens the Live 1975-85 box set (taken from The Roxy in ’75), so there’s plenty on here to like, and it’s revealing to hear some of these songs stripped of the bombast of the » Continue Reading.
It’s not that unusual to see a novel start with a song lyric, but until now I don’t think I’ve ever come across one that uses a line from an Alvin Stardust song! That’s the case in this new work by Scottish crime writer Alan Parks. This is his second novel, and I guess you’d describe this as tartan noir – a gritty police procedural set in the Glasgow of the seventies, with lots of drinking, drugs, swearing and ultra violence – all the ingredients you might expect in fact. Detective Harry McCoy, a man with a troubled past, is the main protagonist, and the novel is set against a background of rival gangs competing for control of the city as new drugs flood in to the market. With a strong supporting cast of colleagues and underworld characters, some of whom he has dubious connections with, McCoy has to track down a serial killer, whose calling card is to carve grisly messages into the chests of his victims. The policing is definitely of the ‘Life On Mars’ vintage, but the characters are well developed and there are some evocative descriptions of the city of Glasgow itself, which almost » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
A pair of expanded reissues from ex Genesis man Ant Phillips, both coming with extra cds of unreleased material plus a dvd with a 5.1 mix of the album. Field Day marked his return to guitar playing after quite a long lay off, and comprises numerous short instrumental acoustic pieces. All are well played, but none really leap out you – you certainly can’t fault the technique but this is really background music rather than something you’d sit down and listen to intently. The more interesting release is Seventh Heaven, a collaboration with composer and keyboardist Anthony Skeet. Originally a double cd set, it is primarily an orchestral work, and although it veers a bit towards Classic FM territory at times, I think this is one of Phillips’ more interesting efforts. Much of the music has quite a pastoral, dare I say even heavenly, feel to it., some of it being reminiscent of very early Genesis. The stand out piece is the Old Sarum Suite, which, being the longest work here, has the time to evolve through a number of different moods and feels. A bonus cd has a further ten previously unreleased pieces, » Continue Reading.
One thing that never fails to lift my post-Christmas spirits is the annual arrival of a new Gerald Seymour novel. Full disclosure – I absolutely love his writing, and always look forward to a new book. Don’t make the mistake of thinking his novels are always espionage based, because many, including this one, are not. I will say though that as the author has got older (he’s 77 now), his novels seem to have become more dour, grim and unrelenting., and there are usually no happy endings on offer for the main players. This tale revolves around a terrorist plot, in conjunction with the criminal underworld, to bring an automatic rifle into the UK from France, and the undercover police operation to thwart and subvert it. Intertwined with this as a sub-plot is the story of the weapon itself, from its manufacture to the numerous hands it passes through over the years before reaching its present location. I’m not sure this is a totally successful idea as for me it doesn’t add that much to the overall story, and at times actually distracts attention from it. Nevertheless, I found myself immersed in the plot – not many of » Continue Reading.
Anyone interested in reviewing The Blue Years – upcoming box covering 1985 -87…….4 cds worth as a download. As always, first come…..
What’s the best thing you’ve read in 2018, fiction or non-fiction?
Bargepole will plump for the latter, with Ben Macintyre’s The Spy and The Traitor, a superb recounting of the career of KGB officer and MI6 agent Oleg Gordievesky, which reads like a John Le Carre novel played out for real. The excitement and tension really is gripping, and if that sort of subject matter interests you I’d highly recommend it. I got this for Christmas, but spotted it in Tesco this morning for a mere £7.50, an absolute snip for a very recently published hardback! On a side note, it seems barely credible that in the mid-80’s, the best way to communicate with his MI6 handlers in Moscow was to stand outside a shop holding a Safeway carrier bag, while the acknowledgement was someone walking past eating a Mars Bar!
Incidentally, I’d also recommend another of the author’s books from a few years back now, Operation Mincemeat, which dealt with the use of a dead body to spread disinformation to the Nazis about the planned Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943.
Not a book as you might expect about the Rolling Stones, this lengthy work is actually about Rolling Stone magazine – indeed it is subtitled The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine, which about says it all really. I’m not sure there’s ever really been a UK equivalent to this magazine, which covers both music, politics and current affairs, and as such the magazine has accumulated much more cultural importance in the States than it has here, where it’s quite a niche read, concentrating as it does pretty much solely on matters American. The first edition appeared in 1967, and came with a free roach clip. Over the years though it gradually went from being at the forefront of the music and counterculture scene to becoming an established and respectable pillar of the society it once rebelled against. Of course, its prime time was in the late sixties and seventies, when it was the go-to place for big name rock interviews. Those halcyon days, when interviewees were often paid with an envelope of cocaine, are covered in depth, and there are mini-biographies included of its most famous contributors such as Hunter S Thompson, Joe » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
This two cd set presents Jarrett’s concert in Venice from July 2006. It marks a return to the solo piano improvisational format, which for me is his forte. Indeed, one of the best examples of these was also recorded in Italy, at La Scala way back in 1995. However, each of these types of performance exists entirely in its own world, on this occasion taking the form of eight spontaneously created pieces which occupy the bulk of the two discs. These pieces run the whole range from atonality to blues to jazz to folk, with even a bit of opera thrown into the mix at one point, as he interjects part of The Sun Whose Rays, from The Mikado. There are three encores after the main event, the traditional Celtic tune My Wild Irish Rose, a jaunty interpretation of the jazz standard Stella By Starlight and a subdued but strangely satisfying take on his own tune Blossom, taken from his 1974 Belonging set. Is genius too strong a word for this man? Certainly, his brilliance burns as brightly as ever on here.
What does it all *mean*?
Yet again, Jarrett demonstrates his skill and » Continue Reading.
This book tells the story of Pink Floyd, not through the normal route of long narrative passages, but through a curated collection of items – instruments, posters, ticket stubs, inflatables, press cuttings, inflatables, records and lots more. It’s been put together by Glenn Povey, who’s previously written a number of very good books on the band.
The book runs in chronological order, from a 1964 ticket to a Those Without show (the band included Syd Barrett, who appears to have signed the ticket), right through to a Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets poster and set list. Each era, and each entry, is accompanied by a detailed text explaining the significance, and despite the visual nature of the book, it runs to some 50,000 words.
There are some interesting items chosen, such as the Syd’s mirror disc Telecaster, Gilmour’s famous black Strat, the bootleg Winter Tour ’74 album, a poster for the infamous Montreal concert in 1977, the film script for The Wall and the metal Division Bell heads, to pick out just a few at random.
The whole thing has been very well researched, as you’d expect from the author’s previous work, and is presented on top » Continue Reading.
What new releases are you looking forward to, be they music, film, books or even gigs you’ll be attending?
Bargepole awaits the new album by Steve Hackett next month a new Lambchop in March, and Fish’s final album later in the year, plus hopefully deluxe reissues of Stormwatch by the mighty Tull and the next Marillion ones.
Bookwise, sadly the final Bernie Gunther novel by the late Phillip Kerr will be on the shelves in April.
So a performance that made old Bargepole smile….any others that come to mind?
Author:Professor Steve Peters
Professor Steve Peters is probably best known for his previous work, the mind management guide The Chimp Paradox, as well as his work with various high profile sporting figures. This book is a sequel to The Chimp Paradox, and is also accompanied by the publication of a companion volume, My Hidden Chimp, which is targeted specifically at children. In a nutshell, the two interconnected books attempt to explain how we can manage our minds from childhood through to adulthood, along the way simplifying quite complex neurological science into simple, understandable language. The Silent Guides of the title are the coping mechanisms and unconscious beliefs that influence our daily lives, and the book aims to help the reader identify them, remove unhelpful ones and nurture beneficial ones. For those such as myself who have struggled with depression, anxiety, inability to switch off, etc the book attempts to guide you into a better understanding of your behaviour and offers ways to help you navigate through life. If you have children, then a good portion of the book is devoted to managing and helping them, in the process learning about a child’s emotion based logic, all very useful if you » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Resplendent in its Roger Dean artwork, this was Greenslade’s second album and indeed their second release of that proggiest of years 1973. It’s now reissued in remastered form as a cd plus dvd set. The original album is well known to prog lovers of course, the band’s innovative groundbreaking sound being dominated by the double keyboard sound of Dave Greenslade and Dave Lawson, and also being notable for the total absence of a lead guitarist. However, the music here is actually more of a hybrid combination of prog and jazz-fusion. Many would argue that its sequel, Spyglass Guest, is the band’s highpoint, but I always preferred this one, albeit by a short head. The album’s original half dozen pieces are already well known, so the main interest in this release is with the extras. The cd contains a previously unreleased Radio One ‘Sounds Of The Seventies’ session recorded in October 1973 and broadcast later that year, comprising excellent takes on three songs from the album, the title track being the highlight. The dvd meanwhile has a recently unearthed Warners promo film featuring Drowning Man, Temple Song and Melange, while the second section features two » Continue Reading.