Author:Duncan Harris, Peter Gallagher, Robert Day Webb, John Van der Kiste, Andrew Wild
A somewhat eclectic mix for the new batch of releases in these series….
I lost track of Motorhead with the demise of the classic line up really, but the band ploughed on regardless until Lemmy’s death in 2015. There were some fairly poor albums released in the middle period of their career after a tremendous high energy beginning, There was certainly something of a resurgence in their latter days, but they never regained the heights of the glory years, although they remained a solid attraction on the live circuit. The book does a good job of covering all the albums and doesn’t try to gloss over the weaker records, giving a pretty fair assessment of the band’s overall work, but for me they were an experience best enjoyed live in their natural environment rather than on record.
Is there an artist who deserves to be better known than Warren Zevon, and indeed one who had a wider range of subject matter for his lyrics? Throughout his five decade career until his passing in 2003, he released a whole slew of great records, and is another artist who enjoyed a return to form late in life after a mid career dip into cult obscurity. It’s been a pleasure relistening to his work while reading this very well put together book and hearing again his tales of ghostly gunslingers, doomed drug dealers and of course lycanthropes – and if you’ve never heard the excellent Stand In The Fire live set then you should really check it out without further ado. A good and interesting read, especially if listening to the albums alongside it
Other than the McCartney penned Come and Get It and the hit single No Matter What, I knew very little about Badfinger prior to reading this book, other than a vague knowledge of their tragic double suicide story. In fact they produced ten studio albums, with not that much commercial impact, as well as two of the members writing the perennial Without You. They seemed to somehow fall victim to every possible career pitfall, a combination of bad management, record company neglect and plain bad luck. Although financial and legal issues blighted their legacy, at least some of their songs from the halcyon days of 1969 – 71 have endured over the years, and this book helps redress the balance, focussing on the band’s long career while casting a critical eye over their music.
Free and Bad Company produced some super music in their prime of that there is no doubt. Free’s lifespan was relatively brief but even now, fifty years later, I often dig out their music for a listen. The story of the band is well known with inter band fall outs and the tragic death of Paul Kossoff at just 25 years old, but it bears retelling and there’s a critical look at all the albums. Bad Company started off strongly, picking up to an extent where Free left off. The first two albums are great examples of British blues/hard rock, and Paul Rodgers voice is perfectly suited to the material. For me, they rather lost their way, with subsequent albums bringing diminishing returns critically if not commercially. Perhaps the relentless touring, particularly in the US, took its toll on their creativity, but disappointingly they never really fulfilled that early promise. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading this and it’s well worth checking out if you’re a fan of the two bands.
The Clapton book is the first in a new series looking at the sessions played on for other musicians, rather than the artist’s own career. It’s certainly seems very comprehensive, but as someone like Clapton has played on so many sessions there’s not always that much to say about them, and I found it a little disjointed to read, jumping from one session to the next with not that much in the way of any new insight or in depth detail really. Frustratingly, sessions where you would have thought there’d be more to write about, eg his excellent playing on one of my favourite albums, Roger Waters Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking, are dealt with all too briefly and without particularly adding anything to what I already knew. Overall, it’s well researched and compiled, but I’d say this is definitely one for the Clapton completist rather than the casual fan!
Length of Read:Short
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
The work of these artists.
One thing you’ve learned
A very good and diverse selection of books here.