Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Respect for a Shark

Allen Klein – The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll – Fred Goodman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Easily one of the most revered and at the same time reviled men in the music business; Allen Klein is the subject of The Mansion on the Hill author Fred Goodman’s latest insider examination of the music industry. In Allen Klein – The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll, Goodman tries mightily to present a more balanced picture of the hard-nosed, often ruthless business man.

Aside from the Beatles and the Stones, Klein “other list” of clients reads like the directory at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, including the likes of: Sam Cooke, the Who, the Kinks and many others. Most music fans will certainly agree that Klein “transformed Rock & Roll” but may argue that is wasn’t for the better. While he certainly was a central figure in raising the profile and the bank accounts of many of his clients, it is impossible to argue that Klein wasn’t a self-serving, first dollar in business man. He clearly wasn’t the kind of guy to take his cut on the back end of any deal.

Goodman, known for his even handed approach, will certainly take some flak from hardcore fans who believe it was more Klein than Yoko, who busted up the Beatles and his outright swindling of the ownership of the early Stones catalog, while not unprecedented in the music business, is certainly one of the more glaring heists of intellectual property, as he tries to offered a balanced look at the man.

Are there two sides to every story? Certainly. Does Goodman’s rendering of things amount to a whitewashing of music history? I think there are instances that Goodman cites where Klein certainly has to be seen a zealous advocate for his clients, but it’s hard if not impossible to overcome the image of Klein perched on stacks of cash plundered from the Stones via the ABKCO (Allen B. Klein Company) shenanigans  


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