Author:Dave Thompson, Andrew Wild, Lisa Torem, Emma Stott, Philip Ward
The 1970s covers the bulk of Roxy Music’s career, with only the Flesh and Blood and Avalon albums falling outside that decade. They were certainly one of my favourite bands, and this book gives a good idea of what to expect from each album, although the author appears not as fond of some of them as I am, thinking them a little formulaic and repetitive at times – I must disagree as I think each has its unique strong points! Nevertheless, this is a good synopsis of the band’s career in those crucial years, and is well worth reading if you’re a fan of the band or are a relative newcomer wanting a potted history of them and their music, which by the way still sounds as fresh today as when it was recorded.
Phil Collins was, it’s fair to say, pretty ubiquitous in the 80s, which eventually worked to his detriment as it seemed you couldn’t turn on the radio or tv without him appearing! He was certainly a busy fellow, and this book looks not only at his solo albums but also the Genesis records that appeared in that decade. For me his first solo effort was the best by far, the others being increasingly MOR, and the Genesis output too was something of a mixed bag, Duke being the pick of the bunch for me, as the band steered a course away from prog into the mainstream, becoming absolutely huge in the process. The book also looks at his session work, which included Clapton and Plant (who he somehow found time to tour with too!), Peter Gabriel, John Martyn and numerous others – he really was the Duracell bunny in those years! Really enjoyed this well written and informative book.
Billy Joel is an artist I really enjoy listening to, not so much the pop or ballad type songs but the ones with a more serious edge such as Goodnight Saigon, The Downeaster Alexa and Allentown. The book looks at all his albums, and listening again to some of these for the first time in years they have actually aged quite well on the whole. There’s been no new rock album since River of Dreams in 1993 and Joel has said he no longer has the inspiration to come up with new material of any lasting merit. He’s still a huge live draw though where he trots out the old classics and plays us a memory from his heyday, and there’s certainly a lot more to him than Uptown Girl.
I’m only a casual Hendrix fan – I know the famous songs, but aren’t that familiar with the albums as a whole, which I always found a bit hit and miss. Dipping in and out of them in conjunction with reading this song by song look at his work, lots of it still works but other pieces are a bit of their time shall I say. The author is particularly good at guiding the reader through the numerous posthumous releases and sorting the wheat from the chaff in respect of what has been done with the unreleased songs found in various stages of completion. A good read but best accompanied by the music as you leaf through the book.
I confess I know little of Laura Nyro, who I always thought of in the same vein as Carole King and Joni Mitchell. She passed away in 1997, but her songs were covered by the likes of Streisand and Peter, Paul and Mary, and she left behind a very creditable back catalogue of studio and live albums. Her unique vocal style provided a fitting showcase for her teasing poetic lyrics, and although her music is not really up my street I can easily see the appeal to fans of the school of sixties/seventies singers/songwriters.
Length of Read:Short
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
The careers of the featured artists.
One thing you’ve learned
It’s amazing when you listen back, the sheer amount of music you’ve simply forgotten over the years, and it’s great to rediscover some of it in the course of reading these books.