book Archive

Funny You Should Mention It: Howard Kaylan’s Shell Shocked (Part One)

Autobiography or no, Howard Kaylan is an engaging, colorful character. His life story is full of highs and lows, but his highs and lows were set against the backdrop of being on one of the 1960s more popular bands (The Turtles) and then as part of the mad ensemble known as Frank Zappa‘s Mothers. In

Book Review: Beatles With an A

‘Tis the season for two things, at least: the annual holidays, and new Beatles-related products of note. Just this week, for example, the long-awaited (and delayed) release of the 2CD set On Air, a collection of BBC radio broadcasts (music and banter) from the band’s early days. As for me, since I have the (cough)

Album Review: Woody Guthrie — American Radical Patriot

Most Americans know the name Woody Guthrie. What they know of him beyond that – and/or their opinion on what he means to popular culture and music – varies widely. He’s an often misunderstood character, and as so often happens, human tendency toward a sort of reductionist thought tends to try and simplify him, to

Book Review: Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker

If you’ve been living and paying any attention to the human condition, you understand that people are complicated. We’re inconsistent, unpredictable, messy creatures. And even if one focuses on the “special” ones – those who excel at one thing or another, who are led up as exemplars of some sort – what’s inevitably found are

Book Review: Boys Don’t Lie: A History of Shoes

Sidestepping tired allusions to Boston‘s Tom Scholz, Guns’n’Roses and Chinese democracy, Boys Don’t Lie: A History of Shoes was a long time coming. Author Mary Donnelly began work on the book several years ago. Lots and lots (and lots) of interviews would form the basis of this exhaustive and supremely well-researched tome, and then various

Book Review: 400 Saturdays, An Anthology of Vinyl Folklore

It’s actually a great idea for a book. 400 Saturdays: An Anthology of Vinyl Folklore is described on its (exceedingly well-designed) cover thusly: “In the spirit of Studs Terkel‘s Working…an intimate look into the active listening experience.” And across some nearly two hundred pages, K. Johnson-Bair shares verbatim transcripts of the vinyl reminiscences of about

Album Review: Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra – For the Baby Doll

In and of itself, eclecticism is neither a good nor bad characteristic. Consistency may in fact be (as Ralph Waldo Emerson sorta-said) the hobgoblin of a little mind, but it helps sell records. People like knowing what to expect. Not everyone wants adventurism with their rock’n’roll. But some of us welcome the musical curve ball.

Book Review: Louder Than Hell

For journalist-authors, there are myriad ways to tell a story. The easiest – and often most effective – is to write the story as narrative, and insert quotes from those who were there to supports the assertions made in said narrative. It’s a tried-and-true method that works, and readers can follow it. But there’s another

Book Review: Vinyl Lives II

James Goss‘ 2010 book Vinyl Lives was built around a series of interviews the author conducted with owners of independent record stores around the country. Woven together, these individual stories painted a picture of the state of this niche market. Consistent themes developed; chief among these was the idea that owning and operating a record

Book (P)review: Boys Don’t Lie – A History of Shoes

On my desk at the moment is a pre-release Kindle copy of Mary E. Donnelly‘s long awaited book about the Zion, IL powerpop group. Shoes began their recording career in the 1970s and continue to present-day; in fact they’ll be making a relatively rare live appearance soon, at this year’s SXSW. (If you’re going to