Joe Boyd tells of his journey through Sixties music, from tour managing Muddy Waters and Coleman Hawkins, to plugging in Bob Dylan's electric guitar while working as production manager at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, to becoming a leading record producer. His first session was Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood's "Crossroads" followed by Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, the Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny and many more. He moved to Hollywood at the end of the decade where he produced the documentary "Jimi Hendrix" for Warner Brothers.
©2006 Joseph Walker Boyd (P)2013 Joseph Walker Boyd
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"A Truly Excellent Book"
This is easily one of the best audiobooks I’ve heard since joining Audible over 5 years ago, made all the more delightful a find as I’ll admit I bought this on impulse.
It deals with author Joe Boyd’s experiences working as club owner, gig promoter, road manager and record producer during the heady days of the 60s, and the many talented and potentially ill-fated people he met along the way. From the early pre-pop days of jazz quartets and endless one-night stands through The Beatles, Woodstock, Altamont and beyond the book never flags and manages to convey the sights, sounds and mood of probably the most important decade in pop music history. And it’s not all name-dropping and tales of expensive parties (although there is some of that of course). Whilst some of the acts Boyd deals with go on to worldwide fame and acclaim (Pink Floyd and Fairport Convention most notably) many more never quite achieved their potential as with The Incredible String Band or, worse, only found fame posthumously as with Nick Drake.
Joe Boyd also narrates his tale brilliantly, and is both engaging and entertaining so that you can feel his excitement at a pending opportunity, his anger when he is being lead a dance by record labels, and his sadness and regret at the many vulnerable souls (Syd Barrett, Sandy Denny, Jimi Hendrix, Nick Drake) who fell along the way. The final chapter is possibly the finest piece I’ve heard on the music business and how it, and life in general, has altered since the heydays of the 60s.
Joe Boyd disproves that oft-quoted saying, as he does remember the 60s, and he WAS there. Highly recommended.
"It gets better towards the end"
This one drags a bit at the beginning. It just seems like a useless list of names being dropped on you and a couple of funny anecdotes which seem to amount to nothing, the author doesn't really tell us anything about himself so we don't really care; I was about to just drop the book completely, but I decided it to give a last go, and I'm glad I did because it gets more and more interesting as Boyd makes his way into the sixties.
The Newport Festival is narrated in a truly beautiful way, and you get the feeling that the stakes were really high, at least for those involved. And after that, the stories start to get interesting, you learn all about UFO and Syd Barret, scientology and the underground scene in England which is pretty cool.
We then get Nick Drake's sad story, which made all the useless namedropping of the first hours worthwhile. The Drake that Boyd describes is fragile and intense, and you get the vision of this shy long-fingered poet which completely concurs with the music that comes from the records.
So I'd say there is definitely some cool stuff in this audiobook, but it's by no means a light listen, specially the first chapters.
"This one wont dissapoint!"
I recently wrote a review on another 60's/70's music producers biography; Dave Courtney's 'The Truth Behind the Music', which i gave 3 stars, after reading this I'm tempted to go back and reduce it to 1 star.
In short, this is how it's done.
As a music business practitioner and lecturer, I've read countless books on the music business and cultural critiques, OK maybe not countless, as I can actually count them on the bookshelf in front of me as I type this (there's 57 but even more on the bookshelves upstairs). This is one of the best I have read, granted if you like Nick Drake you might get a little more of thrill than those that don't, but there's plenty here for everyone, you name it Joe was there - Pink Floyd, Abba, Fairport Convention, Dylan et al. Not to mention a veritable whose who of Jazz and Blues legends.
Boyd had a unique experience jetting between the UK and USA rock music scenes as they formed out of the late 50's Jazz and folk scenes, literally in front of his eyes and often through his direct intervention. Boyd is like Forrest Gump on um... Acid (literally!), actually he makes Gump's adventures seem unremarkable and dull in comparison.
What lifts this from the usual, rock n roll, drugs fugue meanderings is Boyd's thoughtful and intelligent comparative analysis of the era in which he was active and his ability to bring it all back to life. There are plenty of rock historians who should be using this book to revise their ill informed perspectives of how various 60's music scenes started. Boyd actually takes the trouble to correct a couple of these ill informed perspectives.
I enjoyed Boyd's reading of his book and usually I cant stick American readers for too long.
It's a keeper, which I will come back to and listen to again. Buy it.
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