Sunday, April 27, 2014

Music, Music, Music and More Music

A Man Called Destruction – The Life and Music of Alex Chilton… - Holly George Warren (Viking Books)

It’s difficult to believe the volume of words that have been generated in the range of music press, books; hell the Replacements even wrote a song about a musician who managed to score only one hit record over the course of what can only be described as legendary career.

That musician is Alex Chilton; and the latest entry into the massive collection of words written about his career is A Man Called Destruction – The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, from Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man. Author Holly George Warren has done an epic job of marshalling a HUGE volume of information, interviews and clippings about Chilton into a clear, cogent and comprehensive biography about a uniquely talented, yet mysterious artist.

Warren paints and intriguing picture and offers some insight into what made Chilton one of the most influential artists of his generation. List laundry list of musicians and bands that lay claim to his influence is a veritable hit parade that far exceeds Chilton’s own chart success.

Shining Star – Braving the Elements of Earth, Wind and Fire – Philip Bailey

Quick…who are the most influential artists/bands of all time? The easy response goes something like this; the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley. It is easy to overlook the far reaching influence and seismic shift that was brought forth by legendary R & B artists, Earth, Wind and Fire.

In the new autobiography, Shining Star – Braving the Elements of Earth, Wind and Fire, singer/percussionist Philip Bailey retraces his career back to its start as a 21 year old who signs on EWF founder Maurice White and his second incarnation of a band who can lay claim to changing the face of not only R & B, but raising the bar when it came to live performances. In the book, Bailey details White’s vision for not only the music, but for “the Concept” a larger picture vision of what EWF was all about.

Bailey and his co-authors Keith and Kent Zimmerman, do a nice job of weaving inner workings and insights into the bands career, but also offers up personal detail and some of the great interactions with other celebrities that have been part and parcel of his life. Overall this a quick and entertaining read about a uniquely talented guy.

Get The Led Out – How Led Zeppelin Became the Biggest Band in the World – Denny Somach (Sterling Publishing)

Author Denny Somach ranks as one of the most prolific producers of music based content for syndicated radio and television in the history of the business. He maintains easily one of the largest archives of programs ever assembled, so he is uniquely qualified for the task at hand.

That gargantuan task is to assemble a book telling the story of legendary hard rockers Led Zeppelin and attempt to bring something new to the table and dozens of books have already told this tale again and again. Clearly this is a task that was poised to become and easy, but epic fail.

With Get The Led Out – How Led Zeppelin Became the Biggest Band in the World, now out in paperback, Somach avoids the musical black hole and scores a great entry into the over-crowded field of Zep books. He avoids the obvious error of trying to re-tell classic tales about the band’s on and offstage exploits and brings together an interesting series of insider perspectives from the band’s intimates and fellow artists. The books tasteful layout and design makes it easy to dip into and out of for a quick Zep fix.

The Time of My Life – A Righteous Brothers Memoir – Bill Medley (DaCapo Press)

The history of rock ‘n’ roll is dotted with unique and memorable voices; singers that stir emotion and raise goose bumps on your arms and send chills up your spine. Sure there have been great vocal combinations and magical harmonies along the way, but putting my mind to the task, I couldn’t come up with another example where the pairing of two unique voices have joined to have the impact of Bill Medley’s deep baritone and Bobby Hatfield’s soaring soprano in the Righteous Brothers.

Medley details his career and life in the new biography The Time of My Life – A Righteous Brothers Memoir and he delivers on one of the things I love the most about these kinds of bios, unique insights and stories from offstage and behind the scenes. His story about playing Las Vegas and meeting Frank Sinatra offered not only an insight into Ol’ Blue Eyes strong hold on the entertainment capital, but his generous offering of advice to the young upstarts.

While Medley details the ups and downs inherent in any music career, he avoids the formulaic Behind the Music roller coaster and focuses more on the positive. This a great read for fans of the Righteous Brothers or any music fan.




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