We recently asked Pat Thomas, editor of the recent Invitation to Openness: The Jazz & Soul Photography Of Les McCann 1960-1980, if he had any favorite music biographies or books and if he had read any recently that he’d like to recommend. Thomas is also the author of Listen, Whitey!: The Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975. Both books are avalable from Fantagraphics. Here’s what Pat recommends...
"Some of these are new, some have been around for awhile – but a good book never gets old – especially if you haven’t read it yet. Here are some timeless 'rock reads'..."
Pretend You’re In A War: The Who & the Sixties by Mark Blake
"Starting in the early 70s, I’ve never had a casual relationship with The Who — just like I’ve never had a casual connection to my head, heart or groin. The Who always exemplified the visceral, mercurial, macho, homoerotic, thunderous, vulnerable side of rock music, they made me feel more alive reflecting my changing moods. Many Who books are two dimensional in their delivery — finally an author dug deep into their early years and wisely ended the book in 1969 (although my favorite albums come later). Every living (original) member of the Detours is interviewed, (much new Who info here) including the fact that Pete Meaden was not the first manager —there was a German who suggested they shave their heads and wear kilts. This is a completely necessary addition to your bookshelf."
All The Young Dudes: Mott the Hoople by Campbell Devine
"Just finished reading this — definitive! Devoid of recycled Melody Maker articles, this book is packed with fresh interviews with Ian Hunter, Mick Ralphs, Dale Griffin, Overend Watts, Verden Allen, Morgan Fisher, Blue Weaver, and Ariel Bender, plus tons of info about the each album's recording sessions. Lots of Guy Stevens, Chris Blackwell, Bowie, Mick Ronson, and Tony Defries stories too."
"On a whim, I picked up Encyclopedia Walking: Pop Culture & the Alchemy of Rock n Roll by Jon Kanis. Opening essay was Ginsberg & Kerouac and I thought, ok – cool. Then there was Paul Williams (Crawdaddy) which put a smile on my face. By the time I got to the 1960’s-70’s TV show SOUL! (Channel 13 NYC) written in 1995, years before Gayle Wald's definitive book about it – I thought “who is this guy?” And then came an essay on my own Listen, Whitey! project – and I thought, – “where has Jon been all my life?” Aptly followed by “The Negro Problem” (the band, not the police commissioner’s report). There’s also articles name checking Bob Rafelson, Marshall McLuhan, and Alex Chilton – a nearly 500 page diverse collection that you can file on your shelf next to Lester Bang’s Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung – Jon captures a time when pop culture was THE counter-culture even when he's covering contemporary subjects."
Marquee Moon (33 1/3 Series) by Bryan Waterman
"When the 33 1/3 series started out, it was a simply brilliant idea. After a few years, quality control declined with books poorly edited or worthy of rejection. There's hope that the series will regain its original sheen, but I dunno. In the meantime, I did stumble upon this semi-recent tome which borders on the brilliant. There's a few minor mistakes, but they are outweighed by deep solid research with much information "new" to me. Mainly via the author painstakingly re-reading tons of original and early press. I will continue to line bird cages with some of this series, but this one will become part of the permanent library. Bravo."
"As much as I enjoyed Keith Richards' autobiography, at the end of the day, I think Keith wanted to be one of these guys, an American deep-South born and bred 'bad-ass' and obviously, he picked up a few tricks from Bobby Keys. (interesting to note that Bobby was originally Mick's 'play date' before Keith glommed onto him). Bobby also digs deep into his days with Delaney & Bonnie (one of my personal faves). Love 'em or hate 'em, but the Allman's were real Americana music (not that No Depression folk stuff) but a blend of the best blues, jazz, and rock influences. Gregg's lady friends are 'special' (he catches one wife in bed with his buddy, so she slashes her wrists on the spot) — and how does Dickey Betts get even with Gregg for marrying Cher? He impregnates Cher's personal assistant and then hangs out un-invited around their Hollywood mansion. Yeah, Keith is god-like, but he's still a suburban school boy compared to Gregg. Long may they all run....."
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