Monday, January 21, 2013

Book Reviews (Part One)

You'll find our first two book reviews posted today ... but first a little bit of catching up ... 

re: SAD NEWS:  
Hey Kent,
Sorry to report that original Letterman and the one who first suggested using the Lettermen name for the group, Bobby Engemann, passed away this morning about 1:30 am in Provo, Utah, due to complications from heart bypass surgery. He was 78 and a much loved, gentle and spiritual man.
He will be missed.
Lettermen / Reunion
Gary Pike
Very sad news indeed. Thanks for letting us know, Gary ... condolences all around.
Gary's brother Jim has just written a book ... and as a co-founding member of The Lettermen, I think you'll find it quite interesting.  Keep watching these Forgotten Hits pages for our review, coming up later in the week. (kk)   

Two things came to my mind today after reading your Sunday comments. First, during your discussion on the tour of Route 66 reminded me of the tune by Nelson Riddle out of 1962. Occasionally, stations would turn the record over and play the flip side, a song which the Ventures also recorded.
Finally, you mentioned at the end you felt like going in to the kitchen and taking some Alka Seltzer and putting it into a glass of water. Would you believe the other day I felt like going in to my kitchen and pouring me a cup of Folger's coffee (a beverage I don't drink at all) after thinking of another record I haven't heard in many years, also out of the year 1962. Know which one I'm talking about?

Could it be this one???  


Let me know if I guessed right.  But the more I thought about it, the more I think it was Maxwell House ... and not Folgers ... that used the little percolator jingle.  Anybody out there know for sure?  
Billy Joe and the Checkmates took their "Percolator Twist" into The Top Ten in 1962.
I neglected to mention yesterday that the instrumental T-Bones hit "No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In)"   (#3, 1966) consisted of Donny Hamilton on guitar, Joe Frank Carollo on bass and Tommy Reynolds on drums.  Five years later, these same three guys would SING their way to the top of the charts with "Don't Pull Your Love", a song first offered to ... and rejected by ... The Grass Roots!  Four years later they topped the charts again with "Fallin' In Love".  (kk)

I saw that you were going to do book reviews next week.
I leave you with this question ... When do you find time to read???
Frank B.
I spend a lot of time in the bathroom!!! (lol)

This week we'll be catching up on some book reviews that have been piling up.  The holidays brought a slew of new releases ... as well as ample time to catch up on few others that have been piling up in my collection.

You'll find ALL of these titles recommended to our readers ... and ordering information for each is included in the review.

Enjoy ... and feel free to submit your OWN reviews for any of these titles. 

First up today ... two beautiful "coffee table" books.  

FOREVER YOUNG: The Rock And Roll Photography of Chuck Boyd (Edited by Jeffrey Schwartz)  
$39.95 - Santa Monica Press  

A beautiful book from cover to cover ... and a "coffee table" display item to be sure. Boyd was a top-notch rock photographer and some of his best work (much of it previously unpublished ... and never collected with so much love and admiration) is on display here between these covers. 

Kicking off in 1965, Boyd captures up-close-and-personal shots of The Rolling Stones, James Brown, The Beach Boys, The Dave Clark Five, They Byrds and so many other of the hit artists of the day. Photos include on stage performance shots as well as more casual off stage photos as well, along with the typical "posed" shots so prevalent at this time. Several of these photos come from TV appearances on programs like "Shivaree", "The Lloyd Thaxton Show", "The Big T.N.T. Show" and more ... all in glorious black and white. (In fact, there isn't a color photo in the entire book, thus perfectly capturing the time in all its glory.)     

Moving forward through 1978 we're treated to one of a kind pictures of Phil Spector, The Four Seasons, Bob Dylan, a great shot of Sonny and Cher from the 1966 Grammy Awards Show, a classic spread of Simon and Garfunkel from "the early years", The Temptations captured live in action, along with many more of the "one hit wonder" artists of these years. 

While 1967 launched the psychedelic era, "Forever Young" kicks off the year with a GREAT shot of Little Richard sweating up a storm at the mike in a Columbia Records recording studio. We then get The Monkees, The Mamas and the Papas and The Supremes before we finally hit The Monterey Pop Festival with outstanding shots of The Buffalo Springfield (with David Crosby playing along!), Ravi Shankar (who absolutely KILLED at this show), Brian Jones of The Stones having a drink with John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas, The Who live on stage, and much, much more. '67 wraps up with a candid shot of Grace Slick backstage (looking absolutely beautiful by the way) followed by an on-stage shot that's about as close as Boyd comes to black and white psychedelia.

Things get a bit heavier (as they really did!) as we enter 1968. This chapter kicks off with pictures of Eric Clapton and Cream, Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead and a great on stage shot of Deep Purple from their appearance on "The Merv Griffin Show" (amazing!) 

As the '60's morph into the '70's, we're treated to shots of Led Zeppelin, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Santana, more from The Who and The Stones. The '70's photos move pretty quickly ... clearly Chuck Boyd's niche era was the mid-to-late '60's ... but we still get some timeless photos of Led Zeppelin, an almost-Amish-looking Mike Love of The Beach Boys, Elton John and some great shots of Kiss, Dick Clark interviewing John Kay of Steppenwolf, Fleetwood Mac and Queen.

Cover to cover, an absolute delight of photographs ... and the perfect addition to your music book collection. An excellent collection of Chuck Boyd's work. Highly recommended. (kk)   

Available here: Click here: Forever Young: The Rock and Roll Photography of Chuck Boyd   

I can't think of anything ... other than perhaps a few more shots from the '70's to balance things out. The nine year period between 1970 - 1978 is covered in a brief 58 pages whereas the other years are far more extensive. And (only as a matter of personal taste) maybe a full color centerspread of photos ... 8-16 pages ... just to mix things up a little bit. However, I have to admit that most of these black and white shots are quite breath-taking ... and VERY classy looking. 


101 ESSENTIAL ROCK RECORDS: The Golden Age Of Vinyl, From The Beatles to The Sex Pistols (Jeff Gold)  
$39.95 / Gingko Press 

Another pretty amazing collection of photos adorn this book, albeit it this time primarily album covers (both front and back), liner notes and centerspreads. (There's even a special section dedicated to "banned" and "amended" cover art, showing classic shots of Jimi Hendrix, surrounded by topless beauties, The Mamas and the Papas in the bathtub with the toilet still fully exposed, John and Yoko, also "fully exposed", on the cover of their "Two Virgins" album, along with the infamous Beatles "Butcher Cover". The Lynyrd Skynyrd "flames" cover for their "Street Survivors", immediately pulled off the market when their plane crashed a few days later ... I had a bunch of these in my collection at one time ... The Blind Faith / young teen boobs cover ... even a shot of Moby Grape drummer Don Stevenson "flipping the bird" on the cover of their debut album! Some cool shots indeed!)

The book itself (250+ pages) pays homage to the greatest albums ever made ... but it should be noted that this is not a "ranking" of these LPs but rather a chronological listing showing the importance each of these releases had on the music industry, the public and future musicians. (In fact, to that end you'll find commentary from the likes of Graham Nash, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Suzanne Vega, Robyn Hitchcock and more, all sharing the effects these releases had on them personally.)  

When it says "From The Beatles to The Sex Pistols", that's pretty much the scope of this tribute, kicking off with The Beatles' "Please Please Me" album (released in March of 1963 on the British Parlophone label) through 1977's "Never Mind The Bollocks - Here's The Sex Pistols".

The book has a decidedly British feel to it. ("Please Please Me" never "officially" came out here in The States until long after The Beatles had disbanded ... in fact, their first LP here in America was "Meet The Beatles", a derivative of their second British release "With The Beatles".) It certainly had an impact ... in fact, four Beatles albums made the list: "Please Please Me","Revolver", "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and The White Album. Incredibly (and inexplicably) "Abbey Road" did NOT make the final cut, nor did the very influential "Rubber Soul"!  

In between, you'll find in-depth listings and profiles of Bob Dylan ("The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan", "Another Side Of Bob Dylan", "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Blonde On Blonde"), The Rolling Stones ("The Rolling Stones", "Aftermath", and "Exile On Main Street") as well as most of "the usual suspects": "Pet Sounds" by The Beach Boys, "Are You Experienced" and "Electric Ladyland" by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, "Disraeli Gears" by Cream, "Music From Big Pink" by The Band, the previously mentioned "Blind Faith" album, "In The Court Of The Crimson King" by King Crimson, "Tapestry" by Carole King (and "Sweet Baby James" by James Taylor, two releases that, in this company, seem a bit out of sorts ... but landmark LPs nonetheless), "Dark Side Of The Moon" by Pink Floyd, "Born To Run" by Bruce Springsteen and "Rumours" by Fleetwood Mac.

There are also a few surprises: "Bayou Country" by Creedence Clearwater Revival??? It's not even their best album! The first Led Zeppelin album (while "Led Zeppelin II" and "Led Zeppelin IV" are ignored). "The Psychedelic Sounds Of" The 13th Floor Elevators, Tim Buckley's "Goodbye And Hello", "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake" by The Small Faces, "Oar" by Alexander Spence and "Tago Mago" by Can are just a few others that may leave you head scratching.

Overall, however, this book is beautiful from cover to cover, and highly informative, too. Great, in-depth profiles of every LP and artist are covered, even if some absolute "essentials" may appear to be missing. No "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel? How about the  "Woodstock" soundtrack album or "Abraxas" by Santana? No "Sticky Fingers"? "Harvest" by Neil Young? What about "Eat A Peach", "Fragile" or any of the classic Elton John albums that topped the charts throughout the '70's? Likewise for Stevie Wonder, who dominated the Grammys during this era. McCartney's "Band On The Run" ... ANYTHING by The Moody Blues ... heck, even "Frampton Comes Alive" ... which was certainly revolutionary at the time. "Hotel California"? ALL of these great albums came out during the era covered (1963 - 1978) and all have been overlooked. (In all fairness, other titles by some of these artists ARE included ... but a good deal of them seem to be inferior or have had lesser impact on the folks who actually went out and bought these LPs.)

The book is sure to spark some controversy as you make your own lists ... which is actually part of its charm. Very well done, documented and beautifully designed. Recommended. 

Available here: Click here: 101 Essential Rock Records (9781584234883): Jeff Gold, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Devendra Banhart, Peter   

IF I COULD CHANGE ONE THING:   I probably would have made it more "universally accessible" in content, especially for marketing here in America. "Please Please Me" absolutely helped establish what a long-playing record could be, more than just two hit singles and a bunch of filler ... but the truth is, The Beatles recorded that entire LP in a day ... and the majority of it was filled with covers that they used to do in their Hamburg stage act.  It's hardly a revolutionary piece of art.  And, because most of us never actually heard it at the time, "Meet The Beatles" would have been a more likely (aka "universal") choice. And I know there are only 101 spots available but still, how do you leave off "Rubber Soul" and "Abbey Road"? And instead award spots to artists like Kraftwerk (seriously ... "Autobahn" over "Come Together" and the Side Two Medley from "Abbey Road"?!?!?!), The Modern Lovers, The Damned, Can, Faust, Big Star, The Move, Vashti Bunyan, Nick Drake, Alexander Spence, MC5, The Soft Machine, The Pentangle, The Pretty Things, Leonard Cohen, The Incredible String Band, Tim Buckley, The 13th Floor Elevators, Davy Graham (who?!?!), etc. SURELY eliminating some of these artists would have opened up spots for some of the GREAT, timeless albums we mentioned above. But still, books like this are designed to breed controversy, so to that end, it succeeds brilliantly.  Even if some of your favorites didn't make the list, this book is still a joy to read and devour as you learn interesting facts about all of those titles that DID make the list. (And don't be surprised if reading about some of these doesn't inspire you to check out some of these albums on your own, if only for curiosity's sake!) Not a bad marketing plan at all, is it??? (kk)