Author:Richard James, Matt Karpe, Don Klees, John Van der Kiste
I was a regular attendee at Quo shows from the mid seventies to the mid eighties, where you were always guaranteed a great night out. This book takes an in depth look at the albums from Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon to 1983’s Back to Back, the final one to feature the four key members. I always considered Quo to be a band where you needed a 2 cd best of – one disc to cover the hits (in the vein of Twelve Gold Bars), and a second to round up the essential album tracks such as 4500 Times. You might also want to add in the excellent 1977 live set that captures the band at their peak for good measure. The author is no fan of their more mellow material such as Living On an Island and Rock n Roll, both of which I really like, but writes well about the inter band conflict between Rossi, who preferred the more melodic commercial songs, and Lancaster, who was firmly in the hard rock camp, a schism that was ultimately to lead to the demise of this line up. This is a really enjoyable read and a good excuse, if one was needed, to dig out those classic albums from the glory days of the seventies such as Quo, Hello and Blue For You – great no frills stuff.
Korn are another one of those nu metal bands I remember my kids listening avidly (and loudly) to in their teenage years. Listening again to samples of their nineties albums Life is Peachy, and particularly Follow The Leader and Issues, certainly rang a few distant bells, particularly on songs like Got The Life and Freak on A Leash. It’s not music aimed at my generation of course, but if you’re a fan of the band, or indeed this genre, then this is a good introduction to their work, taking in all thirteen of their studio albums plus B sides, exclusive songs for movies and a stash of unreleased material – and after two Grammys and over forty million albums sold the band are seemingly still going strong to this day, so they must be doing something right!
I’m no Dylan expert, and no doubt there are other books out there that look in more detail at this period of his work. However, this effort gives a good overview of the decade’s quite prolific releases, ranging from the poorer efforts such as Saved and Down in the Groove, through to the relative high points of Infidels and Oh Mercy, with diversions via the live set with the Grateful Dead and the Travelling Wilburys album. Indeed, the recorded output seemed to vary widly from the lacklustre and mundane to the profound and moving, often on the same album – and of course there’s the usual discussion of songs that were left off the albums such as Caribbean Wind, Foot of Pride and Blind Willie McTell. Alongside the background to the recording of the albums, the author also looks at the live activity in the period and what was happening in Dylan’s life to try to give a snapshot of where he was at in this era that is perhaps best defined by its inconsistency. One for those with an interest in 80’s Dylan but who don’t need reams of in depth analysis and interpretation.
Was 1970 a key year in rock history? Well, this book certainly illustrates that it was a year of great changes and development across the music scene. Beginning with an overview of what was happening with key players in different genres at the turn of the decade, the author then selects and dissects 25 key albums released in that year – some of these are obvious choices such as Abraxas, Tumbleweed Connection, Déjà Vu and Moondance, while others are rather more obscure and surprising choices – Nicely Out of Tune by Lindisfarne, The Move’s Looking On and Mungo Jerry’s self titled effort to pluck out a few. I think the overall point the book is endeavouring to make is that this was a year of great upheaval in the music being produced, with the traditional pop and easy listening tunes being supplemented by more ambitiously constructed pieces. A diverting read for a couple of hours – it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know about albums I was already well acquainted with, but there are some interesting insights on the lesser known ones, which was the most interesting part of the book for me.
Length of Read:Short
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
The music of the featured artists.
One thing you’ve learned
There’s always more to learn by reading other people’s interpretations.