Tag Archives: Rock & Roll

A Review of The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs by Greil Marcus

The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs

by Greil Marcus

Once again, I am reviewing a Rock and Roll book. I get sucked in by these books because I love to listen to good old rock ‘n’ roll. Every time I do read one of these books, I have to spend more time listening to the songs and watching the videos that are discussed in the book, than I do reading the book. This time I even spent an afternoon watching the movie Cadillac Records. I still have to find the time to watch the 2007 film about Joy Division, Control. It’s on my to do list. Both of these films are featured in the book, and even though I could find some clips on YouTube, I still felt like I needed to spend the time watching the whole movie, so that I could really understand what Mr. Marcus was trying to say. By the way, I really enjoyed Cadillac Records.

Mr. Marcus calls this book The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs, but really he just uses each of the songs as a springboard. In each chapter he talks about ten, twenty, or even more songs, and many of them are recorded by two or more artists. He goes into great detail about many of the songs. He describes parts of the songs, such as the way certain passages are performed by the guitarist or keyboard player, and how they manipulate the sound to create a feeling in the listener. He also goes into a lot of detail explaining the way the singer uses his voice to express emotions or just portray a feeling.

Somehow, much of the time, when I listen to the song that he is analyzing in such great detail, I don’t hear it. He makes you feel like you will be hearing something really special, but when I listen, I just hear a Rock and Roll song. Some are better than others, but my ear just can’t hear the subtleties that he is talking about. I’m not a trained musician, but I don’t feel like he is trying to target musicians with this book. He isn’t talking about the technical aspects of the performances, such as notes and chords and techniques of playing the passages, that would interest a musician. So I really think that I am his target audience.

All in all, I had fun with this book. I listened to some great music that I hadn’t heard in quite a few years, and maybe a few songs that I had never heard. I watched a lot of clips on YouTube. That was fun, too. I got to watch a great movie. But I thought that Mr. Marcus tried a little too hard. He was a bit over-the-top with his analysis of many of the songs. Sometimes his writing seemed to be nearly like stream-of-conscientiousness prose. It was a little difficult at times.

I give this book 3 1/2 Stars out of 5. If you want to spend some time reading, and then even more time listening to Rock music and watching videos and movies, then this is the book for you. You will enjoy the guided tour.

I received this book for free from NetGalley and the publisher, Yale University Press, in return for an honest review.

Book Description

The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten SongsUnlike all previous versions of rock ’n’ roll history, this book omits almost every iconic performer and ignores the storied events and turning points that everyone knows. Instead, in a daring stroke, Greil Marcus selects ten songs recorded between 1956 and 2008, then proceeds to dramatize how each embodies rock ’n’ roll as a thing in itself, in the story it tells, inhabits, and acts out—a new language, something new under the sun.

“Transmission” by Joy Division. “All I Could Do Was Cry” by Etta James and then Beyoncé. “To Know Him Is to Love Him,” first by the Teddy Bears and almost half a century later by Amy Winehouse. In Marcus’s hands these and other songs tell the story of the music, which is, at bottom, the story of the desire for freedom in all its unruly and liberating glory. Slipping the constraints of chronology, Marcus braids together past and present, holding up to the light the ways that these striking songs fall through time and circumstance, gaining momentum and meaning, astonishing us by upending our presumptions and prejudices. This book, by a founder of contemporary rock criticism—and its most gifted and incisive practitioner—is destined to become an enduring classic.

 

Book Details

Hardcover: 320 pages

Publisher: Yale University Press (September 2, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0300187378

ISBN-13: 978-0300187373

Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches

Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds

 

About the Author

Greil Marcus lives in Oakland, CA. His books include “Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ’n’ Roll Music” and “Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century.” With Werner Sollors he is co-editor of “A New Literary History of America.”

Book Description and Details are from Amazon.  The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs

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A Review of The Gibson Les Paul: The Illustrated Story of the Guitar That Changed Rock by Dave Hunter

 

The Gibson Les Paul: The Illustrated Story of the Guitar That Changed Rock

by Dave Hunter

Mr. Hunter has written a very complete book about one of the most iconic electric guitars ever made. He tells the complete history, explains many of the factors that have made a classic Les Paul such a prized electric guitar. He has short glimpses into the guitar players who have played Les Pauls in their careers. He includes lots of pictures. In fact the pictures rival the text, they tell such a complete story of the artists and their axes. He also includes album covers of the major works in which the artist used his Les Paul. He shows pictures of the custom Les Paul models that Gibson has issued honoring the guitarists that are famous for playing Les Paul guitars.

Mr. Hunter has included some technical details that will be very interesting to guitar players who would like customize their guitars. He talks about pickups, bridges, and various other technical details. He explains how different models of Les Pauls were built, what wood was used, and how they contributed to the sound and playability of the different models. He also has some blueprints and wiring diagrams that were used to build the early Les Pauls.

I give this book 5 Stars out of 5 and 2 Big Thumbs Up! I really enjoyed this book and think that anybody that ever wondered about the mystique of this popular guitar will enjoy it too.

I received this Digital Review Copy for free from edelweiss.com.

Book Description

Release Date: June 15, 2014

The Gibson Les Paul is possibly the electric guitar most associated with rock ‘n’ roll. The result of a collaboration between Gibson’s Ted McCarty and jazz guitarist Les Paul in response to the success of Fender’s Telecaster, the Les Paul has gone on to become a prized instrument played by most of the greatest guitarists in rock history. This massive illustrated history of the guitar examines its prehistory and origins as well as its evolution in the 60-plus years since its 1952 introduction. In addition to the Standards and Customs that guitarists admire so much, author Dave Hunter also gives ample coverage to variations like Les Paul Juniors, Melody Makers, and SGs. To bring the music to life, there are profiles of players well known for using Les Pauls through the years, including Hubert Sumlin, Carl Perkins, Eric Clapton, Mike Bloomfield, Peter Green, Paul Kossoff, Jimmy Page, Neil Young, Peter Frampton, Keith Richards, Bill F Gibbons, Bob Marley, Mick Ronson, Steve Jones, Johnny Thunders, Angus Young, and more. Illustrated throughout with studio photography of the guitars, candid and performance photography of the artists, and relevant memorabilia, this book is prefect for music lovers and guitar enthusiasts.

Product Details

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Voyageur Press (June 15, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0760345813
ISBN-13: 978-0760345813
Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 9.4 x 0.9 inches
Shipping Weight: 3 pounds

About the Author

Dave Hunter is an author, musician, and journalist. He is the author of several popular books about guitars, amps, and effects, including Voyageur Press’s Star Guitars, The Fender Stratocaster, The Gibson Les Paul, and 365 Guitars, Amps & Effects You Must Play. A regular contributor to Guitar Player and Vintage Guitar magazines, he resides in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The book description is from Amazon. The Gibson Les Paul: The Illustrated Story of the Guitar That Changed Rock

A Review of Beatles vs. Stones by John McMillian

Beatles vs. StonesBeatles vs. Stones

by John McMillian

Mr. McMillian states that everyone has an opinion. Who do you like, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? Most people can answer that question. Mr. McMillian lets you know that the differences may be less than they appear. He gives you a look at the state of the music business in the early 60s and what both groups were doing at the time. He looks at how much news was media created and gives you some looks behind the PR. He goes on to trace The Stones as they continue to tour and record music long after The Beatles had broken up.

This is a well written and documented look at a debate that has really faded by now. It is interesting, but not terribly relevant to music fans of today. If you are drawn to this book, you will enjoy it, since it has some new information and a slightly different take on the British Invasion of the 1960s.

I give this book 4 Stars out of 5. If this sounds like a book that you would like to read, you probably will enjoy it.

I received this Digital Review Copy for free from edelweiss.com.

Book Description

Release date: October 29, 2013

With the sophistication of a historian, the storytelling skills of a journalist, and the passion of a fan, John McMillian explores the multifaceted relationship between the two greatest bands of our time.

In the 1960s an epic battle was waged between the two biggest bands in the world—the clean-cut, mop-topped Beatles and the badboy Rolling Stones. Both groups liked to maintain that they weren’t really “rivals”—that was just a media myth, they politely said—and yet they plainly competed for commercial success and aesthetic credibility. On both sides of the Atlantic, fans often aligned themselves with one group or the other. In Beatles vs. Stones, John McMillian gets to the truth behind the ultimate rock and roll debate.

Painting an eye-opening portrait of a generation dragged into an ideological battle between Flower Power and New Left militance, McMillian reveals how the Beatles-Stones rivalry was created by music managers intent on engineering a moneymaking empire. He describes how the Beatles were marketed as cute and amiable, when in fact they came from hardscrabble backgrounds in Liverpool. By contrast, the Stones were cast as an edgy, dangerous group, even though they mostly hailed from the chic London suburbs. For many years, writers and historians have associated the Beatles with the gauzy idealism of the “good” sixties, placing the Stones as representatives of the dangerous and nihilistic “bad” sixties. Beatles vs. Stones explodes that split, ultimately revealing unseen realities about America’s most turbulent decade through its most potent personalities and its most unforgettable music.

Product Details

Hardcover: 320 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 29, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1439159696

ISBN-13: 978-1439159699

Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches

Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds

About the Author

Hello! I was born and raised in Michigan, and I spent my teenage years in a tiny town called Essexville. Then, like everyone else in my immediate family, I did my undergraduate work at Michigan State University. It was the right choice for me. When I first started, I could not have imagined that I’d eventually want to go into academia, but I had some truly great professors at MSU, and they helped kindle some of my current interests. Later, I got a Ph.D. in American history from Columbia University, and from 2001-2009 I taught in the Committee on Degrees in History and Literature at Harvard.

Back when I was a grad student, I co-edited a couple of books on American radicalism. I still think that’s an important and oft-overlooked topic, but truth be told, I’m not much of a radical myself. (I don’t like being ideologically pigeonholed.) My first full book, “Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media In America,” (Oxford, 2011) is a scholarly monograph, based on my Ph.D. dissertation. My latest, “Beatles Vs. Stones,” (Simon & Schuster, 2013) is a popular history. I examine the friendship and “rivalry” between the two groups, and assess how it was constructed — by fans, the media, and the groups themselves. It’s a short book, but I worked hard on it, and it was a lot of fun to write. Currently I’m an assistant professor of history at Georgia State University, in Atlanta. I love my job, and I’m excited to be getting started on a new project, on Garry Trudeau and his great comic strip, “Doonesbury.”

Thanks so much for your interest. My email address is easy to find, so please feel free to be in touch if you like. Happy reading

The book description is from Amazon. Beatles vs. Stones

A Review of Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years Vol. 1 by Mark Lewisohn

Tune InTune In: The Beatles: All These Years Vol. 1

by Mark Lewisohn

This book is part 1 of a trilogy, so it ends December 31, 1962. On this date, The Beatles have one single on the charts, but are working on an LP and the next single. Nothing has been released yet in the United States. Most of the stories in this book were new to me since I was never a huge Beatles fan. I liked their music, and bought their later albums, but never read the fanzines or joined their fan club. This is a thoroughly researched and very well written biography of The Beatles.

Mr. Lewisohn has combed though all the sources that he could find and is still asking for more. He lets you walk in each of The Beatles’ shoes. I know more about John Lennon’s childhood than I do about my own. He gives Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr the same level of detail. He also lets you really know the backstories of Stuart Sutcliffe, Pete Best, Brian Epstein, and George Martin. He shows how all these people came together at the right time, with something different, something new, something that nobody expected, and burst on the music scene in 1962, after spending long, hard hours playing music in the “Red Light District” in Hamburg, sleeping in the back of a movie theater near the stinking public toilets, and playing in the overcrowded, underground Cavern Club in Liverpool. The Beatles were a hard-working band that would search though the new music from the US, looking for something new to play in their next show. They were a cover band, but with originality. This book lets you feel like you really know where they came from.

Tune In is a huge book, full of interesting stories, told by an informed author, in an authentic voice. You will have to live in this book for a while, since it is so long, but if you grew up in the 60s and have fond memories of that time, then you will enjoy spending time back there.

I give this 5 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up! It is quite a commitment, but worth it.

I received this Digital Review Copy for free from edelweiss.com.

Book Description

Release date: October 29, 2013 | Series: The Beatles: All These Years

Tune In is the first volume of All These Years—a highly-anticipated, groundbreaking biographical trilogy by the world’s leading Beatles historian. Mark Lewisohn uses his unprecedented archival access and hundreds of new interviews to construct the full story of the lives and work of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.

Ten years in the making, Tune In takes the Beatles from before their childhoods through the final hour of 1962—when, with breakthrough success just days away, they stand on the cusp of a whole new kind of fame and celebrity. They’ve one hit record (“Love Me Do”) behind them and the next (“Please Please Me”) primed for release, their first album session is booked, and America is clear on the horizon.  This is the lesser-known Beatles story—the pre-Fab years of Liverpool and Hamburg—and in many respects the most absorbing and incredible period of them all. Here is the complete and true account of their family lives, childhoods, teenage years and their infatuation with American music, here is the riveting narrative of their unforgettable days and nights in the Cavern Club, their laughs, larks and adventures when they could move about freely, before fame closed in.

For those who’ve never read a Beatles book before, this is the place to discover the young men behind the icons. For those who think they know John, Paul, George, and Ringo, it’s time to press the Reset button and tune into the real story, the lasting word.

Product Details

Hardcover: 944 pages

Publisher: Crown Archetype (October 29, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1400083052

ISBN-13: 978-1400083053

Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 2.1 inches

Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds

About the Author

Mark Lewisohn is the acknowledged world authority on the Beatles. His books include the bestselling and influential Beatles Recording Sessions and Complete Beatles Chronicle. He has been a consultant and researcher on all aspects—TV, DVDs, CDs and book—of the Beatles’ own Anthology and has been involved in numerous additional projects for them as well as independent works like this one. Married with two children, he lives in England.

The book description is from Amazon. Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years Vol. 1

A Review of Rubber Soul by Greg Kihn

rubber-soul-cover-final-hartterRubber Soul

by Greg Kihn

I loved this book! I had the biggest smile on my face as I was reading Rubber Soul. It was just so much fun. It may have been that it hit a chord with me because I lived through the rise of The Beatles in America. I remember my brother telling me that he had just heard a new song by an English group called The Beatles. He said the DJ on CKLW in Windsor had said that they were already huge in Britain. He predicted that they were going to be “The Next Big Thing”. And of course they were. But reading this book just brought it all back to me. I would smile and nod my head when Mr. Kihn would mention a song by an artist that I remembered from that time. I didn’t know every tune or group that he talked about, but there was enough real music from the late 50s through the early 60s to make the whole story feel authentic. He would talk about a place or event that I remembered and I would just have to stop reading and shake my head in amazement. It was just such ball!

Was this a great novel? Does it have an intricate plot line? Are you surprised by the plot twists? WHO CARES! This is just a fun narrative about an amazing time in the early 60s and the guys who changed the face of popular music. Read it if you ever had a touch of Beatlemania. I hope that you have as much fun with this as I did.

This book nearly feels like one of The Beatles movies. It’s a funny, somewhat unbelievable, quick-moving story. Everything is good. All the villains come and go quickly and don’t interfere with the good times. Just keep moving and it will all work out.

I give this book 5 Stars out of 5 and 2 Big Thumbs Up! If you are ready for a fun read, and like The Beatles, then grab this book and be ready for a good time. This book is even more fun if you can put some early Beatles songs on while you are reading! Really helps you get into it. Groovy, Far Out!

I received this Digital Review Copy for free from NetGalley.com.

Book Description

Release date: September 3, 2013

Greg Kihn continues to pioneer the Rock Thriller Genre with RUBBER SOUL, a murder mystery and an action packed ride through Beatlemania, featuring THE BEATLES themselves.

Dust Bin Bob runs a second-hand shop at the Flea Market on Penny Lane. He has an extensive collection of American R&B singles that he gets from Merchant Marines returning from Baltimore and New York. The action starts when he befriends some blokes by the name of John, Paul, George and Ringo and becomes their lifelong friend sharing the vinyl that will start a revolution.

From then on, it’s a rocket ride from the Beatles earliest days in Liverpool to six shows a night in Hamburg to the Cavern Club and to full-fledged Beatlemania.

Along the way, Dust Bin Bob thwarts a plot by Marcos loyalists to assassinate the Beatles in Manila after they snub Imelda Marcos, blowing off a reception at the palace and narrowly avoiding an international incident. It could have happened!

Product Details

Hardcover: 306 pages

Publisher: Premier Digital Publishing (September 3, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1624670946

ISBN-13: 978-1624670947

About the Author

NBC called Greg Kihn “Rock’s True Renaissance Man.” His career stretches from the dawn of punk and indie rock to the discos of the 80’s to the glory days of MTV. As a pioneer with the legendary Beserkley Records, he helped write the book on revolutionary west coast rock and roll.

He’s toured the world, had hit records, appeared on Saturday Night Live and American Bandstand, opened for the Rolling Stones, jammed with Bruce Springsteen, won the ASCAP and Midem Awards for his worldwide #1 hit JEOPARDY and THE BREAKUP SONG, was parodied by Weird Al Yankovic, lived the rock star lifestyle to the hilt, won and lost several fortunes, and lived to tell about it. But music is only part of the story.

In the 90’s Greg turned his attention to writing fiction. He published four novels, a handful of short stories in various anthologies, and edited a compilation of original fiction by famous musicians. HORROR SHOW was nominated for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel.

It was also in the 90’s that he began his radio career. After a year of seven-midnight, Greg spent sixteen years hosting the top-rated morning show for KFOX radio in San Jose/San Francisco. He also hosted and performed at the annual KIHNCERT at the Shoreline Amphitheater featuring some of the most important bands of our generation.

Greg was inducted into the San Jose Rock Hall Of Fame in 2008 and the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in 2012.

Greg recently retained the rights to all his old recordings and is currently re-releasing his entire catalogue with the original artwork. The New Yorker recently described Greg’s music as having “a high degree of intelligence and subtlety.” The recent review of the Greg Kihn Band’s Greatest Hits by Apple iTunes called the group “a rock band of genuine consequence.” The band continues to tour with Greg’s son Ry Kihn replacing Joe Satriani on lead guitar.

Greg maintains a strong Internet presence with professional website design and social media managed by Michael Brandvold Marketing. Thousands of fans engage him daily on Facebook and Twitter. Greg also retains a cutting-edge publicist, Christopher Buttner at PrthatRocks.com, the lauded San Francisco based PR agency voted Best Publicist Of The Year by the National Association of Record Industry Professionals.

RUBBER SOUL is Greg’s most recent novel. This completely unique murder mystery features the Beatles as characters in the story. The idea came while interviewing original Beatles drummer Pete Best. Greg asked where the Beatles got those rare American R&B 45’s that constituted their early repertoire. Pete revealed that it was from Merchant Marines who carried the records back to Liverpool from America. That gave him the inspiration for the character “Dust Bin Bob” who befriends the Beatles from their penniless early days to the height of Beatlemania. The story climaxes with an assassination attempt in Manila during their world tour in 1966.

Through interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Pete Best, Geoff Emerick (engineer), Alf Bicknell (driver), Yoko Ono and Patti Harrison, Greg got invaluable insights into the inner world of the Beatles. Even though RUBBER SOUL is a work of fiction, it is 100% historically accurate.

After a lifetime of rock & roll, and decades on the road and behind the microphone, no one else but Greg Kihn could have written this story.

The book description is from Amazon. Rubber Soul

Review of Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page by Brad Tolinski

Light and Shade Cover

Light and Shade

Conversations with Jimmy Page

Brad Tolinski

This book is a joy to read for anyone that enjoys rock guitar whether as a player or a listener. A must read! This book goes way beyond anything that has been written about the reclusive Jimmy Page.

Brad Tolinski was able to get close to Jimmy Page and got him to talk about his music. This book has all the details that any musician or music lover could wish for. Page talks to Tolinski about guitars, tunings, chords, and amps. They talk about how Page was able to get a specific sound on an individual song. They discus the interplay between Bonham’s drums, Jones’ Bass, Page’s guitar, and Plant’s vocals and how they were able to all come to agreement on the roles that each would play in Led Zeppelin.

The book covers the time when page was a studio musician, before Led Zeppelin was formed, up to what Page is doing in 2012. The conversations with Page are interspersed with interviews with other musicians who have worked with Page, such as Jeff Beck, Chris Dreja, John Paul Jones, Jack White, and Paul Rogers.

I give this book 5 stars out of 5.

I was given an e-book version of Light and Shade for review purposes by Crown Publications and Net Galley.

Description

The “oral autobiography” of Jimmy Page, the intensely private, interview-averse lead guitarist and mastermind behind Led Zeppelin–one of the most enduring bands in rock history–and the most complete, in-his-own-words portrait of the guitarist ever published.

More than 30 years after disbanding in 1980, Led Zeppelin continues to be celebrated for its artistic achievements, broad musical influence, and commercial success. The band’s notorious exploits have been chronicled in bestselling books such as Stephen Davis’s Hammer of the Gods. Yet none of the individual members of the band has penned a memoir nor cooperated to any degree with the press or a biographer. Iconic guitarist and Led Zeppelin founder, Jimmy Page, is both the band’s most reticent member and the one who most fascinates Zep’s huge fan base. For the first time and in his own words, he opens up to journalist Brad Tolinski, exploring in-depth his remarkable life and musical journey.

Title Details

Crown Publishing Group

Crown Trade

Pub Date: Oct 23 2012

ISBN: 9780307985712

Price: 26.00

Currency: USD

Edition: Hardcover

Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches

Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

About the Author

Brad Tolinski has been the editor-in-chief of Guitar World, the world’s best-selling magazine for musicians, for more than two decades. He has interviewed and profiled most of popular music’s greatest guitarists, including Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Eddie Van Halen, Jack White and Jeff Beck. He is also the author of the deluxe-edition illustrated books Classic Hendrix: The Ultimate Hendrix Experience and The Faces: 1969–75.