Author:Darren Johnson, Georg Purvis, Graeme Scarfe, Richard James
The Sweet seem something of an odd choice for a book of this type, although the seventies was unarguably their prime period, well for a few brief years anyway. Admittedly a number of bands say they were an influence, Def Leppard spring to mind for one, but for me their career can be summed up in half a dozen songs – Blockbuster, Hellraiser, Ballroom Blitz (all in their golden year of 1973), plus, a few years later, Action, Fox on the Run and Love is Like Oxygen, the lyrics to the latter being quite brazenly ripped off from Hall and Oates. I suppose there are worse ways to be remembered than for having recorded that quite memorable run of tunes, but their albums don’t really stand up, and for me they were definitely a singles band that had a fleeting heyday and were gone.
I know lots of Afterworders adore Elvis Costello, but after his first three albums I really rather lost interest in him. This book takes a detailed look at his work up to 1986, and is actually very readable even for someone like me who has just a passing interest in his music. It did inspire me to make a playlist of the prime cuts from each of the albums covered, which surprised me as to just how consistently good it was, and certainly highlights what great craft and talent he has as a songwriter.
Peter Gabriel is an artist I like a lot, especially his first four albums which were so unique and inventive. Sometimes his work can seem a bit ‘precious’, a bit holier than thou I suppose, but I can forgive him for that. Again this book follows the tried and trusted format in this series, looking at each release track by track, including the live sets, soundtracks and the You Scratch My Back album (and the corresponding And I’ll Scratch Yours set, featuring covers of his songs). It’s coming up to twenty years now since his last ‘proper’ album, 2002’s Up, so one wonders if he still has one more in him – stories sporadically surface about new material being in the works, but who knows if it will ever see the light of day. The book did get me listening to his albums again though after a long hiatus, and that can only be a good thing as there really is some excellent music on them.
Tom Petty, another artist who has a lot of fans on here, is another one for me for whom a good and comprehensive ‘best of’ set will happily suffice. I’ve always thought he never bettered Damn The Torpedoes in his back catalogue, and I still love the song Louisiana Rain to this day. Of his other work, Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers stand out head and shoulders above the rest of his oeuvre, which can often become a bit much of a muchness for my taste. Still, this is a very well written look at his career, and I’d certainly recommend fans take a look at it.
Length of Read:Short
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
As always, fans of the subjects!
One thing you’ve learned
There’s so much music that’s been lost in my memory banks over the years, and these books are very good for bringing it all back to the surface and encouraging you to dig the albums out for another listen .