book Archive

Progress Report: My Upcoming Book About 415 Records

Work continues at a just-this-side-of-feverish pace on my upcoming book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave. The San Francisco record label helmed by Howie Klein really only existed for a comparatively short time: 1978 to 1982 as an indie, and then up until ‘87 as a Columbia/CBS-affiliated label. During its

Things Get Better: Soul Man Eddie Floyd (Part 3 of 3)

Continued from Part Two … That success extended well beyond Eddie Floyd’s records. In fact – as he recounts in detail in his new memoir, Knock! Knock! Knock! On Wood: My Life in Soul – Floyd got his start at Stax as a songwriter, not a performer. His first success as a Stax house writer

Things Get Better: Soul Man Eddie Floyd (Part 2 of 3)

Continued from Part One … During that “Knock on Wood” writing session, there was a torrential rainstorm going on outside. “In Alabama where I live,” explains Floyd, “the rainstorms can be fierce.” Even though “Knock on Wood” was shaping up to be a love song, he decided put that idea into it: “It’s like thunder,

Things Get Better: Soul Man Eddie Floyd (Part 1 of 3)

On the occasion of the publishing of his memoir, Knock! Knock! Knock! On Wood: My Life in Soul, I spoke at length with soul legend Eddie Floyd. The feature based on that conversation – first appearing in Record Collector – follows. – bk Between 1966 and 1974, soul singer Eddie Floyd scored an impressive number

The 411 on 415

Last November I wrote a cover story for SF Weekly; it focused on a series of reissue/compilation CDs on the Liberation Hall label. Those releases contained music originally released on 415 Records, an influential and trend-setting indie label based in San Francisco in the late ‘70s and early-to-mid 1980s. Founded by Howie Klein and Chris

Book Review: David Menconi — Step it Up and Go

Attempting to weave together the many and varied stories that collectively tell the story of popular music in North Carolina is a task of herculean proportions. It’s a task best not taken on lightly. Luckily for those interested in the subject, David Menconi seems born to meet just such a challenge. The connections between, say,

Book Review: Barrett: The Definitive Visual Companion

There have been quite a few books written about Syd Barrett. Some have emphasized the more lurid and sensational aspects of his story, including his drug use, mental illness, dismissal from the band he founded, and somewhat hermit-like post-Pink Floyd existence. Others have shone a light on his music. But few have delved with insight

Book Review: Ready Steady Go!: The Weekend Starts Here

Launched a few years ago, BMG Books broke into the market with the excellent Hotter Than a Pepper Sprout, Billy Edd Wheeler’s lively memoir. Soon thereafter, the publisher began its RPM series in earnest; that series shines a light on the histories of important record label. Titles have included Gillian Gaar’s book on Sub Pop

Book Review: Chris Hillman — Time Between

Musician memoirs/autobiographies are a decidedly mixed bag. Even when an artist is known for his or her songwriting wordsmith skills, that’s not a truly reliable indicator that said artist can write a compelling, worthwhile long-form narrative. Many enlist co- or ghost-writers, and – when they’re chosen carefully – that approach can compensate for any shortcomings.

Book Review: That Thin Wild Mercury Sound: Dylan, Nashville, and the Making of Blonde on Blonde

One of the most confounding and inscrutable of all artists, Bob Dylan and his body of work defy simple descriptions. Of course that hasn’t stopped journalists, academics and critics from trying. There’s no telling how many books and articles have been written about Bob Dylan and his music. But if a dedicated and thoughtful writer-researcher