Book Review – Tom Petty and Me: My Rock ‘n’ Roll Adventures with Tom Petty by Jon Scott (Non-Fiction)

My Review :

There are times when a book, movie or song moves you so much that the need to share it with everyone is overwhelming. In Jon Scott’s case, it was an album from a relatively unknown band that caught his attention. This began a forty-year relationship chronicled in Tom Petty and Me: My Rock ‘n’ Roll Adventures with Tom Petty.

In 1977, Scott was just hired as the national head of album promotions for ABC Records. While reaching into a closet for his coat, a record with no identifying factors fell out. Determined to get a chance to break the band, Scott approached his boss, Charlie Minor. He learned it was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers by the band of the same name released eight months before with little success. In return, he was given six weeks and no budget. The rest is history.

The book details the friendship between Scott and Petty – from the heated first meeting backstage at the Whisky a Go Go and traveling coast-to-coast on tour to exchanging notes by way of the latest technology (facsimile) and holiday parties with loved ones. The stories shared within the pages are heartfelt and sometimes emotional but stays true to telling a story of grit and determination.

Tom Petty and Me is a great read for fans of this American treasure, anyone with a love for rock and roll, or people curious about the inner workings of the recording industry. I enjoyed the book thoroughly and read it in a few hours. Be sure to check out Jon Scott’s website tompettyandme.com to purchase an autographed book and bonus features.

 

Buy Tom Petty And Me: My Rock ‘n’ Roll Adventures with Tom Petty here: Amazon

 

Book Description :

Tom Petty And Me is a new book by Jon Scott, Tom’s friend for 40 years. Jon has been credited with “breaking” the career of this ‘iconic’ rock n roller. This book is an inside look of a former deejay, turned Promotion Man, who met Tom when he was about to be dropped by his record label, ABC Records. Through many serendipitous moments, Jon appeared at the right time to help get Tom’s first album played on the radio and changed the careers of both men. Tom’s first album had been out for eight months .when Jon arrived on the scene. The rest is history! At Tom’s final concert at The Hollywood Bowl, Tom dedicated “I Won’t Back Down” to Jon, as a testament to Jon’s help in establishing his career back in 1977.

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Book Review – Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR by Bob Ruggiero (Non-Fiction)

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My Review:

“Low Rider”, “Spill The Wine”, and “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” are the unforgettable songs that fuse rock, funk, Latin, and soul together. I particularly enjoy the cowbell, the danceable rhythms, and catchy lyrics the most. The band War was the mastermind behind these hits. There is a treasure trove of history prior to and long after these songs propelled them into fame.

For the first time, the first full-length biography written by long-time music journalist Bob Ruggiero, Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR, tells the story. He decided to scribe the book after reading hundreds of music books with none of them featuring the iconic group. Ruggiero spent three years researching, interviewing, and even traveling cross-country to meet some of the original band members. He was lucky to secure conversations with members of the original lineup (Howard Scott, Lee Oskar, and Harold Brown) in person or by telephone. Others simply declined to comment, fell ill, or passed away.

The book covers the early years as Harold Brown and Howard Scott met and formed the Creators and the Night Shift in California. It goes on to cover their union with Eric Burdon and the successful career they continued to have with Brown, Scott, Papa Dee Allen, Charles Miller, Lee Oskar, Lonnie Jordan, and B.B. Dickerson. The later years tell a more conflicted tale with disputes among themselves and management. Many of the recollections given by Brown and Scott clash with each other which injects a bit of humor, as they are both rather adamant of their respective memories. In addition, photographs from the personal collections of War band members can be found.

Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR is a necessary read. War is one of the first groups to break barriers by being multi-ethnic and crossing over multiple genres and delivering messages of unity and brotherhood in a time of despair through music. Ruggiero pulls back the curtain and provides the most in-depth look into a band deserving of a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

 

Buy Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR here: Amazon

 

Book Description:

The first biography of the seminal music group WAR whose many hits include “Spill the Wine,” “All Day Music,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” “Slippin’ into Darkness,” “The Cisco Kid,” and – of course – “Low Rider.” They combined rock, funk, soul, R&B, jazz, and a strong Latin vibe in their music, and have been awarded two Platinum and eight Gold LP records in their career. Their album “The World is a Ghetto” was the bestselling release of 1973 and a seminal work.

This book follows the group from their early incarnations when Harold Brown and Howard Scott met to form the Creators and then the Night Shift, to their partnership with former Animals lead singer Eric Burdon, to a highly successful career on their own with the core original lineup of Brown, Scott, Lee Oskar, Lonnie Jordan, B.B. Dickerson, Papa Dee Allen, and Charles Miller. The story also follows the band through their later, leaner years, and the conflicts with management that lead to a fissure and a split of performing entities that continues to this day.

Featuring original interviews, archival research, and musical analysis and commentary, “Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR” tells the tale of one of the most unique bands in the history of Classic Rock-era music.

Book Review – Future Sounds: The Story of Electronic Music from Stockhausen to Skrillex by David Stubbs (Non-Fiction)

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My Review:

Ah, the synthesizer! To some, it defined a generation adored by many and to others, it debased instrumentation. Either way, it completely changed the landscape of music and ruffled a few feathers along the way.

David Stubbs takes a complex look at the history of electronic music in Future Sounds: The Story of Electronic Music from Stockhausen to Skrillex. Stubbs provides a disclaimer, which basically states that not every artist affiliated with electronic music are not incorporated. However, a range of genres (funk, new wave, EDM, classical) and decades are acknowledged. Don’t worry though – Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode are found in the pages.

Future Sounds: The Story of Electronic Music from Stockhausen to Skrillex is encompasses an Introduction that provides a brief overview, Preface I and Preface II which offers a bit of insight behind the author and his fascination with the sounds emanating from his speakers, and four complete parts that dissect the history and future of the innovative invention. At the conclusion, there is a helpful timeline of Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Musical Technology and A Future Sounds playlist.

Future Sounds: The Story of Electronic Music from Stockhausen to Skrillex takes some time to digest due to its size and a plethora of information, but interesting nonetheless. This is the perfect book for a musicologist or lover of electronica in general.

 

Buy Future Sounds here: Amazon

 

Book Description:

In Future Sounds, David Stubbs charts the evolution of electronic music from the earliest mechanical experiments in the late nineteenth century to the pre-World War I inventions of the Futurist Luigi Russolo, author of the “Art Of Noises” manifesto. He takes us through the musique concrète of radical composers such as Edgard Varèse, Pierre Schaeffer, and Karlheinz Stockhausen, to the gradual absorption of electronic instrumentation into the mainstream: be it through the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the work of pioneers like Delia Derbyshire, grandiose prog rock, or the more DIY approach of electronica, house, and techno. It’s a tale of mavericks and future dreamers overcoming Luddite resistance, malfunctioning devices, and sonic mayhem. Its beginnings are in the world of avant-classical composition, but the book also encompasses the cosmic funk of Stevie Wonder, Giorgio Moroder, and unforgettable 80s electronic pop from the likes of Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, and Laurie Anderson – right up to present day innovators on the underground scene. But above all, it’s an essential story of authenticity: is this music? Is it legitimate? What drew its creators to make it? Where does it stand, in relation to rock and pop, classical and jazz music, to the modern society that generated it? And why does it resonate more strongly than ever in our own postmodern, seemingly post-futurist times? Future Sounds is the definitive account that answers these questions.

Book Review – Small Victories: The True Story of Faith No More by Adrian Harte (Non-Fiction)

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My Review:

I learned about a lot of music because of my time as a DJ at a college radio station. One of those bands was Faith No More via the song “We Care A Lot”. We gave it a ton of airplay. Shortly after that their lead singer was history. Maybe they were too? Fast forward to 1989 – The Real Thing burst on the scene and completely changed my life. It was frenetic, catchy, and nothing like I had ever heard before. They intrigued many others and inspired a laundry list of musicians.

Small Victories: The True Story of Faith No More by Adrian Harte is the story of a group that is unable to be labeled, although many people have tried – mainly frustrated music critics. The book takes the reader on a journey from the early beginnings to recent happenings with interviews from band members, record producers, label executives, and others involved in their history.

I would be remiss to gloss over the content. Everything you would ever want to know about FNM is found in the pages of this book: from the revolving door of guitarists to internal struggles – both personal and professional to lighthearted stories on the road. Harte, who has run the website newfaithnomore.com since 2009, provides one of the most comprehensive biographies I’ve ever read. Even Bill Gould (Faith No More’s bassist and co-founder) stated, “It provided me with more than a few revelations … and I’m in the band”.

Small Victories: The True Story of Faith No More needs to be in your To-Be-Read list if you are a fan (casual or rabid) or an audiophile in general due to their influence in the landscape of modern music.

 

Buy the book here: Amazon

 

Book Description:

Small Victories: The True Story of Faith No More is the definitive biography of one of the most intriguing bands of the late twentieth century. Written with the participation of the group’s key members, it tells how such a heterogeneous group formed, flourished, and fractured, and how Faith No More helped redefine rock, metal and alternative music.

Based on meticulous research and hundreds of interviews with current and former band members and other key figures, Small Victories combines a fan’s passion with a reporter’s perspicacity.

Book Review – Playing Back the 80s: A Decade of Unstoppable Hits by Jim Beviglia (Non-Fiction)

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My Review:

There is no doubt the landscape of music changed during the 1980s; whether by the launch of MTV, affordable technology, or the changing political climate. Jim Beviglia created a mix tape dedicated to the chart-toppers of the era in the form of a book.

Playing Back the 80s: A Decade of Unstoppable Hits provides insight into over sixty tunes that shaped a generation. Beviglia interviews the artists, writers, producers, and musicians who give narratives about the hits. Julian Lennon, Richard Marx, The Hooters, and Thomas Dolby are just a few of the musicians who offer an inside look.

You’ll find some of the songs took a few hours to craft out of necessity or took years of simmering in a journal. There are tracks crucial for keeping a recording contract (“Whip It” – Devo) or the one-hit wonder attached to them for eternity (“Under the Milky Way” –  The Church). There are many humorous anecdotes scattered throughout the book. But, there are moments of heartbreak, frustration, and tension which may change your perception. Personally, there were a few eye-openers that caught me by surprise. There were a few instances I had to lay the book down to think about a particular composition. However, it was easy to jump back into and move on to the next story.

Playing Back the 80s: A Decade of Unstoppable Hits is an entertaining read – even the 80s music buff will learn something new or find something they may not have heard before. Beviglia does a superb job of describing an unforgettable decade in music and delivers a book that will delight those shaped by the songs or bring light to other generations of music lovers.

Book Description:

The music of the 1980s left an indelible mark on pop culture. Thanks to the dawn of MTV and the increasing affordability of synthesizers, a generation of innovative artists took the world by storm to create one of the last great glory eras of pop music.

To get to the heart of what made this decade so special, music journalist Jim Beviglia weaves a narrative of the stories behind the pop music phenomenon. Playing Back the 80s: A Decade of Unstoppable Hits features original interviews with more than sixty artists, producers, session players, writers, and others who were directly involved with the most memorable songs of the decade. Among those who appear in Playing Back the 80s are iconic artists like Huey Lewis, Rick Springfield, Kim Carnes, Vernon Reid, Dennis DeYoung, Colin Hay, and Eddie Money telling the stories of how they created, often against imposing odds and in the midst of bizarre circumstances, the unstoppable hits and unheralded gems that still enchant so many fans today.

Playing Back the 80s will have music fans pulling their old cassettes out of storage and remembering when and where they heard the songs first. For those who didn’t grow up in the 80s, this endlessly fun book will show them what the fuss was all about and maybe reveal a few surprises along the way.

Book Review – Appetite For Definition : An A-Z Guide To Rock Genres by Ian King (Non-Fiction)

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My Review :

Do you think you’re an expert in rock music? If you read Appetite For Definition : An A-Z Guide To Rock Genres, it may change your mind and probably expand it. The author, Ian King, dissects over 200 sub-genres, and micro-genres in this interesting and enjoyable book.

Every punk, core, metal, and rock you can shake a stick at is in here. The A to Z format allows you to read the book cover-to-cover or randomly. For instance, it will describe the differences between black metal and death metal, acid rock and psychedelic rock, and glam rock and shock rock. There are times where many of the genres intersect and sometimes collide with each other. A list of “key players” and “crossover tracks” accompany each genre which is an added benefit. King rolled up his sleeves and did a great job researching.

While there are some genres that could have been covered a little bit less or expanded upon, I was thoroughly entertained and learned a few new things. I was appreciative Blondie is listed as a pioneer in the Rap Rock category for the song “Rapture” and Comedy Rock holds it own with acts such as Flight Of The Concords and Spinal Tap. However, in my selfishness, I wanted the segment on The Paisley Underground to solely focus on Prince and his proteges. He does make a small appearance with The Bangles based on his love for the genre with gifting them with “Manic Monday”.

Appetite For Definition : An A-Z Guide To Rock Genres is the perfect companion. It can be used as a reference point for trivia or a catalyst to spark a conversation. It comes highly suggested as a gift for the music lover in your life. I bought it for myself because I love me. 🙂

Buy here : Amazon

Book Description :

Part reference book, part history, and part road map to the connectivity of popular music, this book is a must for all rock ‘n’ roll fans as it brings together a compilation of over two hundred genres of rock music—an entertaining, enlightening, knotty family tree of America’s favorite musical genre.

In the six decades since rock ’n’ roll stole America’s soul, the single genre has produced over two hundred sub-genres. The days of being able to walk in to a Tower Records and seek out recommendations from an aloof, all-knowing staffer has been relegated to a long-lost Generation X paradise preserved in John Hughes films. From iTunes to Spotify, listeners now regularly turn to algorithms instead of human advice to develop relationships with the music they love.

The essential companion for any rock lover’s collection—be it on vinyl or Spotify playlists—Appetite for Definition breaks down algorithms into their human stories and interconnected histories.  It provides and pulls up recommendations from a deeper well of consideration and gives you the tools to do the same. Operating on a macro level it surveys the myriad microlevel movements into an accessible map that readers can use to navigate the vast, craggy terrain of rock music and take their rock knowledge—whether casual or obsessive—to the next level.

Book Review – Do Stand So Close : My Improbable Adventure As Sting’s Guitarist – by Jeffrey Lee Campbell (Non-Fiction)

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My Review:

How does a guitarist from North Carolina with dreams of stardom end up on the tour of a lifetime? I’ll give you a clue. Read the new book Do Stand So Close : My Improbable Adventure As Sting’s Guitarist by Jeffrey Lee Campbell.

Campbell starts with a brief background on his childhood in Carrboro, playing anywhere and everywhere in high school, and spending time at the University of Miami before dropping out.

After visiting a friend in New York City, his sights were set on the city that doesn’t sleep. He saved money by working in a wedding band and prepared himself physically, mentally, and emotionally. He returned several years later and this is where the real story begins.

Campbell speaks about his first job in Broadway theater selling candy with other struggling artists like Camryn Manheim and Aaron Sorkin. He eventually met Delmar Brown and joined Bushrock. This would take him to France and Italy where he crossed paths with Branford Marsalis. Shortly after, he got the call that would change his life. Within eight months of his arrival and four auditions, he got the gig as guitarist for  the “Nothing Like The Sun” tour.

A motherly roommate gave him a journal before embarking on the twenty-five country, six-continent world jaunt and encouraged him to write. Do Stand So Close chronicles the vices and virtues of traveling the globe with one of the best-selling music artists in the world.

He chronicles many events from experiencing an industrial Super Soaker with his trusty leader to rubbing elbows with Eric Clapton, soccer matches pitting band vs. crew to stays at posh hotels, and backstage shenanigans to witty itineraries authored by Billy Francis, the tour manager with a penchant stranding tardy band members.

The books documents the side rarely heard – the pressure to deliver epic performances every night on stage, anxiety with others waiting in the wings to take your place, and boredom in a time with no internet or cell phones. The dark side rears its ugly head courtesy of the hotel mini-bars in Sydney and San Francisco.

Alas, all things must come to an end. After paying a few dues and learning a few lessons, he went on to play and record with Jon Bon Jovi, Aretha Franklin, Sammy Davis Jr. and countless others. The author’s journey came full-circle with an extensive career playing in Broadway shows such as The Life, Saturday Night Fever, Mamma Mia!,  and School Of Rock – The Musical.

Jeffrey Lee Campbell delivers an honest, insightful, and humorous look into an improbable adventure. People picking this up will enjoy an entertaining and engaging read from beginning to end. I do know this – Do Stand So Close : My Improbable Adventure As Sting’s Guitarist provided me with one of the best reads of the year and ranks in the top 10 of my favorite memoirs and I’ve read a lot of them. Take your bow Jeffrey Lee (Can I call you that?), a job well done!

Buy Do Stand So Close : My Improbable Adventure As Sting’s Guitarist here – Amazon

Book Description:

When a small-town musician from North Carolina decides to try his luck on the biggest stage of all—New York City—he hits the jackpot. Mere months into his NYC gambit, Jeffrey Lee Campbell is catapulted, literally overnight, from selling candy in Broadway theaters to playing guitar with rock legend Sting. Do Stand So Close is a layered, coming-of-age memoir based on Jeffrey Lee Campbell’s yearlong stint as guitarist on Sting’s Nothing Like the Sun World Tour. Written in a breezy, journal-esque format, this seductive page-turner recounts Jeffrey’s twenty-five-country, six-continent trial by fire—and it’s humbling aftermath. Through it all, Jeffrey’s insider’s perspective provides the reader with both humorous anecdotes and poignant revelations.