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Publisher's Summary

Born just outside London in 1942, Glyn Johns was 16 years old at the dawn of rock and roll. His big break as a producer came on the Steve Miller Band's debut album, Children of the Future. He went on to engineer or produce iconic albums for the best in the business, including Abbey Road with the Beatles. Even more impressive, Johns was perhaps the only person on a given day in the studio who was entirely sober, and so he is one of the most reliable and clear-eyed insiders to tell these stories today.

In this entertaining and observant memoir, Johns takes us on a tour of his world during the heady years of the '60s. He remembers helping to get the Steve Miller Band released from jail shortly after their arrival in London; he recalls his impressions of John and Yoko during the Let It Be sessions; and he recounts running into Bob Dylan at JFK and being asked to work on a collaborative album with him, the Stones, and the Beatles, which never came to pass. Johns was there during some of the most iconic moments in rock history, including the Stones' first European tour and the Beatles' final performance on the roof of their Savile Row recording studio.

©2014 Glyn Johns (P)2015 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Fans of the era will enjoy both the anecdotes and the technical descriptions of life behind the recording console." ( Publishers Weekly)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • MeDC
  • WASHINGTON, DC, US
  • 07-04-15

No tell all ... not at all

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Not a bad book. But it's hardly enlightening. Rarely do we get any glimpses behind the scenes or any insight into the giants of rock mentioned in the title. Stories about the Stones, The Who, The Eagles and others are legendary, oft-told, and nowhere to be found in this book. It's kind of surprising that a book about rock 'n' roll can be so boring.

What could Glyn Johns have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

The title promises "A Life Recording Hits With the Rolling Stones, the Who, Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, Eric Clapton, the Faces…" but this book really doesn't deliver. It's a really shallow presentation of some of the most extraordinary recording artists of the 20th Century or the birthing process for their most treasured works. This book reads more like a calendar, with a few diary notes thrown in. The real revelation in this book is how bad Glyn Johns judgment seems to be. Several times, he poo-poos iconic artists (the Eagles, Clapton, Joan Armatrading), only to be saved by friends and colleagues to ask him to give them a second look.

What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

Fine narration. Wish Simon had better subject matter.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

If this was a movie, it would be some dude briskly walking past a bunch of famous people, commenting briefly on each one, and then stopping at the end to whine about how computers and radio stations ruined the music business.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Inner circle snapshots.

If you happen to be a music history buff curious about the behind the scenes stories of some truly great music and its creators, this book is for you.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A fascinating true story of the 60s music scene

I loved listening to this story of the man in the control booth for many of the great recordings in rock history. If you are into music you'll likely love it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Musical Storytelling

Would you consider the audio edition of Sound Man to be better than the print version?

I only purchased audio.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Sound Man?

The cadence of the story telling.

What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

Absolutely beautiful voice and rhythm. Like listening to a lullaby.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Sound Man

Any additional comments?

Superb storytelling abilities. Lovely listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An outstanding story!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Anyone that loves music & the unfolding of Rock & Roll ... should read with their eyes and/or their ears ... I did both. It's really compelling!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Well ... Glyn obviously!

Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favorite?

Simon proved to be a great narrator!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, too long ... if one would care to digest ...

Any additional comments?

Love it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Objective music history

Not a kiss and tell, but you certainly know who he liked and didn't. The list of groups he worked with is incredible. Loved the early tales when he was breaking in.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Amazing Stories, But Boredom and Ego Intrude

What made the experience of listening to Sound Man the most enjoyable?

The sheer fact of John's spectacular career and the who's who of rock royalty he's worked with--mostly quite successfully.

What did you like best about this story?

It's the greatest hits that really shine--the big events and the intimate moments with the 20th Century's great rock talents.

What three words best describe Simon Vance’s voice?

British, High-Brow, Articulate

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Rarely, though I remain in awe of his body of work.

Any additional comments?

Several sections (especially the first 3rd of the tome) can be rather boring. Too often, I found myself skimming page after page in search of the the 'good bits" (the memoir can go for pages focusing on parts of Johns' life that, frankly, just aren't all that interesting).

Also, too often and too transparently, Johns' practices the art of the left-handed compliment (praising someone to the heights whist simultaneously bitching about them--all in an ego-driven attempt to ensure he comes off as well as possible). Didn't he have an editor? Was there no one who could tell the master what he should just leave out?!

Even when Johns' is admitting to a misstep, he typically makes sure to praise himself for having learned from the experience. These elements of the memoir--coupled with all the not-so-subtle moralizing about the evils of drugs and alcohol--can make Johns' come off as unlikeable and smarmy. Or, maybe just well-heeled and British.

We get it, Glyn--you're the consummate pro (but a more secure man of his age and reputation would have just let the work speak for itself).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • JB
  • Boston, MA
  • 04-13-18

Excellent

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

If you like the Beatles, you'll love this book. It's full of interesting stories of their lives and the creation of the songs in the studio

What did you like best about this story?

Loved the anecdotes of the how the songs evolved in the studio

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Wish it were better because I love and respect his work in music

Glyn Johns is unquestionably one of the most talented and important figures in modern pop and rock music. I’m a total fan of his work, and he seems like a good and decent gentleman. I just wish there was as much detail about his process in this book as he put into recording/mixing/producing the many masterpieces that he helped to create.

Learning a little about his early years and how he entered the music industry was interesting. However, this book lacks the kind of rich descriptiveness that makes you feel like you’re there. He lists recordings and bands that he worked with but in much of the book it reads like a resume. He will offer who he likes and who he dislikes, but not with much detail as to why. In some cases it’s almost like an afterthought. So you don’t really come away with any true sense of the amazing people he worked with except that he worked with them and they were masterful or sucked, or were rude, in his opinion. An example...he never really got on well with Keith Richards when he was working on their albums because Keith could be stoned and drunk and nasty. Well there’s a news flash.....not.

He seemed to tire toward the end of the book and it became more of a recitation of albums he did and who was on them - Nothing about the recording process or how he helped nurture the great performances out of these artists.

What I believe fans like myself would have loved to hear was more of what the sessions were like. His process. What was his insight about the artists and what made them tick. Also missing is any detailed mention of his talented family members. They were almost mentioned in passing.

As a contrast, Geoff Emerick’s book “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles” is everything this book is not as far as details about sessions, the personalities and the times. I was compelled to read Glyn Johns book after listening to Peter Townshend’s “Who I Am”, which was also a thorough, all encompassing account. Maybe Mr. Johns will write another book specifically about his work, and how he went about creating the iconic music he helped create? You decide if it’s worth reading this one.....

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful Read

A wondeful book to listen to, as any book narrated by Simon Vance is. The content was entertaining, thought provoking and interesting, what a life to lead. Although there were quite a few holes, some tales left half told, some not told at all. The ending left me wanting to hear more, seeming like it was finished before it was really done, the later, current years. The beginning, middle and details make up for the lack of a complete ending. I highly recommend a great listen, better than to read, if you have any interest at all in the Stones, the Who, Led Zeppelin, Eagles, Clapton..... As I stated above, Simon Vance can always make a good book great, and a great book one you will not want to finish, and listen to again.