A "Sound" Read...

A "Sound" Read...
Reviewer: SteveJ
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Sound Man:
A Life Recording Hits with The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Eric Clapton, The Faces . . .
320 pages
November 13, 2014
ISBN 10:
ISBN 13:

A memoir of a remarkable rock-and-roll career from Glyn Johns, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame producer and sound engineer whose resumé includes work with the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Who, the Clash, and many more.Born

Pretty unusual book. I expected engineer and producer Glyn John’s memoir, Sound Man, to be more nuts and bolts. There’s a bit of technique here and there, but it tends to be much more from the producer’s view — rather than the engineer's — focusing on the personal working relationships in the studio. Not that that’s a bad thing; John’s resume includes the cream of the crop of classic rock‘n’roll, soul, and R&B. As a teetotaler in the heyday of the Sixties and Seventies, his recall of legendary sessions just may be the most reliable — and this is almost certainly one of the most sober histories of that musical era.

Aside from being the “straight” man, Johns comes off as one of the nicest and most forgiving blokes in his business. There’s only a few cross words and sour opinions about the many people he worked with — many whom are ultimately forgiven upon further collaboration  — and there were some wild ones! The ones not forgiven (hint: label heads) must have really left a mark on Johns.

The book is very English, almost formal in tone, moving chronologically through John’s years as an engineer and ultimately to the producer’s chair. It’s a pleasant and easy read, but I couldn’t help yearn for more of the nitty gritty, be it on the technical side or (even better) the scandalous side. But, alas, that just doesn’t seem to be John’s style.

Can’t fault him for that; it’s clear reading this book that remaining true to who he is was critical to his success and helped form the respect he clearly has among the rock’n’roll elite musicians. A solid read that might have been helped by the very thing Johns' avoided both personally and musically: a little excess.


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