just one more book lover
This is a lively history of pop music since 1989. If you think Katy Perry is great or you hate the Backstreet Boys, you will find out why in this book.
Or so the featured music producers like Denniz PoP and Max Martin would like you to think. This is a story about that segment of pop music where the artist is usually a pretty girl or boy whose sound and look are a creation of the producer and his team.
This is a story about songwriting simplified to a formula, where words are units of melody and melody is married to the beat.
The writer looks at sound factories in Sweden, America and Korea. He follows the careers of the major Svengali producers and the acts whose hits they have manufactured, including Kelly Clarkson (who fought against the constraints), Rihanna, Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, Katy Perry and a more recent Taylor Swift.
Spotify, the streaming music company, also gets a chapter.
You might become cynical about the music industry after this. You might get inspiration for your Ableton compositions. You might run out to see a real loose garage band or singer-songwriter just to prove to yourself that other kinds of music are out there.
But you won't look at today's music hits the same after reading this book.
The story goes that Dylan got booed off the Newport stage in 1965 for plugging in.
The author digs thru the history to set the record straight. It has been set straight before, but this is the Audible version and an abbreviated one that doesn't come embedded in a longer history of Dylan.
The audience booed when Dylan was on. Pete Seeger did threaten to wield an axe. Folklorist Alan Lomax and Dylan's manager Albert Grossman did trade blows at some point. But the why of the myth and the why of fact are not one and the same, says the author.
Renehan does a good job giving background on the festival and its partipants. He says a lot in a very limited space, and stays true to his purpose to tell a more factual account. This is not Hunter S.
Thompson mainlining dramatic prose. But the book is a good and precise little history.
The narrator could have used some help with editing. Another sound editor would have removed the mouth smacking sounds. It happens all the time in audio recording and I didn't really care. But the narrator, if he is doing his own editing, might want to take those out next time.
Allen Klein wanted the Beatles. He got the Beatles. He lost the Beatles. He went to prison.
When you think of bad$&@ rock managers, Allen Klein comes to mind. And Goodman's book is a worthy and long-awaited look at the man who made things happen for his clients--but at a cost.
Klein started with Sam Cooke, Bobby Darin and Bobby Vinton, then scored a big haul with the Rolling Stones. He believed he was the best manager. And he wanted to manage the best group, which in the late '60s put him on the hunt for the Beatles.
He got his wish, after Brian Epstein died and the other Beatles' wanted an alternative to Paul McCartney's suggestion of girlfriend Linda Eastman's father and brother. But the group was unraveling and Klein became another wedge that split the band. What would follow, if you read You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup by Peter Doggett, were years of financial and legal wrangling.
Much of that wrangling would involve Klein, as the representative of John, George and Ringo. And you get the sense from Goodman's readable bio that Klein was in his element. He loved power. He loved managing music groups and he loved a good (or bad) fight.
If you are like me and have always been attracted to the oversized Goliaths who populate the ranks of rock management, you will enjoy this book. Goodman does not paint a sympathetic psychological portrait. Rather, what he provides is an outside look, a man revealed through his actions. You don't crawl into the sheets with Klein. You come upon him across a table or in a corner office coaxing, cajoling and threatening.
Klein's greatest skill as a negotiator was his ability to see what artists wanted and then move worlds to get it. What they wanted in the early '60s was more money and control over their songs. Klein believed artists should be paid more. He negotiated lucrative royalty deals and had the Stones record their music independent of the label, thereby giving them and him more control over the production and copyright. Too bad Lennon and McCartney didn't get the same counsel when they were signing songwriting contracts in 1962.
But whatever good Klein did for his clients was offset by his lust for power and money. You were truly stiking a deal with the devil when you signed with Klein. The biography reveals a pattern. Klein the savior becomes the guy the band can't unload fast enough, and for good reason.
Eventually, Klein would go to prison for tax fraud, which probably gave no end of satisfaction to his enemies. He would make a brief comeback representing Phil Spector and dabble in films. But the slick deal maker from New Jersey, whose life was haunted by a childhood spent in an orphanage, lived out a quiet last act.
As narrator, Mike Chamberlain gives a straight reading. He doesn't perform the text as some narrators do. He just tells it like it is, no fuss.