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Neil J. Cavanagh

cult leader


  • When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Mick Wall
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    They were the last great band of the '60s and the first great band of the '70s. They rose, somewhat unpromisingly, from the ashes of the Yardbirds to become one of the biggest-selling rock bands of all time - and eventually paid the price for it, with disaster, drug addiction, and death.

    David says: "Must read for Led Zeppelin Fans"
    "Decent Bio"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I would remove all the 2nd person stuff. It's off-putting and presumptuous; a lot of unnecessary conjecture and supposition about the inner feelings of the band and those connected to it. It also pulls the reader out of time since these are often flashbacks. I was always pleased when the narrator returned to the main thread.

    What other book might you compare When Giants Walked the Earth to and why?

    I haven't read many of these types of rock bios in recent years, but I listened to Clapton's autobiography and found it similar, in that there were interesting parts when the music being made was great and popular, and then a long epilogue where the author has to gloss over a few boring and repetitive decades subsequent to the peak era.

    What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

    Thought he did a great job, and I appreciated his shifting accents, even though I did not like the book's choice to use 2nd person perspective in those parts.

    Did When Giants Walked the Earth inspire you to do anything?

    To re-listen to the later Led Zeppelin albums, and Robert Plant's later work.

    Any additional comments?

    I did not think the occult emphasis in the book was out of place, as other reviewers might. Jimmy Page and his ideas/beliefs are the heart of Led Zeppelin's music, so all of that was entirely relevant, as those ideas seemed to shape his life in the 1970s. It was educational and of interest.

    Most of these long bios tend to drag at the end, and while I was looking forward to hearing about the post-breakup period, it did seem to get bogged down and repetitive. The author gets brutally critical of the band members after LZ's peak around 1975, not totally without reason, but it's a bit jarring considering the praise he lavishes on each member before that.

    There's also a tendency in these bios, and this is no exception, to neatly summarize people and their histories as if they are fictional characters instead of complex real people, in a desire to make a book's ending more satisfying. Jimmy Page comes off at the end as someone desperately clinging to the legacy of his band, as if he is "haunted by demons." It's a spooky way to characterize and close out the author's themes, but the real man seems more complex than that. The biographer paints a selfish and controlling picture of Plant by the end, and never seems quite sure how to talk about John Paul Jones, as a great musician who was key to the band, or someone more deluded and inconsequential.

    But regardless, I'm glad I listened, I learned a few things, and the book has a good amount of detail, only regrettably interrupted in terms of chronology by the aforementioned second person accounts.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Star Wars: Darth Plagueis

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By James Luceno
    • Narrated By Daniel Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Darth Plagueis: one of the most brilliant Sith Lords who ever lived. Possessing power is all he desires. Losing it is the only thing he fears. As an apprentice, he embraces the ruthless ways of the Sith. Darth Sidious: Plagueis’s chosen apprentice. Under the guidance of his Master, he secretly studies the ways of the Sith, while publicly rising to power in the galactic government, first as Senator, then as Chancellor, and eventually as Emperor. as Chancellor, and eventually as Emperor.

    J. Whitney says: "Easily the best Star Wars audio production"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A better book, and a narrator who tried a little less hard to sound serious and dark.

    What was most disappointing about James Luceno’s story?

    That he had the opportunity to tell an exciting, untold story from the dark past of this fictional universe, and instead filled it with even more details about The Banking Clan and intergalactic trade than the prequel movies had.

    Would you be willing to try another one of Daniel Davis’s performances?

    I'd preview it to see if he does the same overly deep, serious and pretentious voice in it, first.

    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Star Wars: Darth Plagueis?

    Pretty much all of it. It does its best to cater to fans with the typical name-dropping of minor Star Wars trivia ("hey, somebody mentioned a planet that was visited in a Star Wars video game ten years ago!"), but it never creates any new compelling characters to follow - any that have a chance to become interesting are quickly killed off. I tried many times to make it through this, just for escapism (what else?) It got more interesting when Palpatine enters the story, because that character brings with him interest from previous media, i.e. Ian McDiarmid's relatively strong performance in the films, but it all began to feel like a story that was better left untold, better left as mystery, to the audience's imagination. It's always been a thing, like with Boba Fett - he was so interesting originally because we knew so little about him, and the more we found out about him, the less interesting he became. It was the same for me with Anakin Skywalker in the prequels, and now here, Palpatine and his mentor. I understand there's people who want to know more, I guess I did too, but as far as villains go, I think a glimpse of their past is often enough. There's no character here to respect and invest in, it's all greedy bad guys running around (well, not running, more like moving slowly and methodically), and there's no character development. And we know how it will all end. Not a recipe for a great literary fiction experience, or even a so-called guilty pleasure. I am not a big expanded universe hater, I've even enjoyed something else Luceno wrote, for what it was, and I'm not the biggest prequel movie hater. But regarding those contentious prequels to which this story is connected, this book makes similar mistakes, by focusing on a character who is not heroic, and boring the audience with a lot of tedious yet simplistic corporate/political goings-on, instead of more direct situations of adventure and drama.

    Any additional comments?

    If you like SW expanded universe stuff, maybe you'll love this. I've enjoyed a few things, but I've found the pieces (like this one) that tried to tackle more potentially serious and dark subject matter to be utterly lacking. If this was not connected to Star Wars, it would not likely have been published as even with that complex and popular connection, it's boring, and I went in to it with a good attitude too. But I suppose if you love everything Star Wars, this might be essential or something, and could be better than other related books out there.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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