Showing posts with label A Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label A Reviews. Show all posts

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spring Reading: Mama and Junior

Remember me? Yes, it's been quite a while since I last opined on a rock star memoir. Believe me when I say I hadn't intended to let Chez BTRU go stale, and though people who advise on the proper way to live as a blogger tell you not to explain long absences, I feel I owe one.

Since starting this blog I've posted reviews every other month - sometimes the gap is wider, but I deliver something. After posting my last review in June I had another book in my TBR and plans for a summer vacation of reading. Then in July, on the day we woke to leave for our trip, we were told my mother-in-law died. Helping to settle her affairs took the rest of the summer.

Fall brought school, more estate stuff, and the day job. During Christmas vacation I felt enough time had passed that I could resume reading and blogging...then I got laid off. The day after Christmas, no less. I lost January looking for work, and February and March dealing with two separate health crises in the immediate family.

So 2016 took some family, a job I loved, and all the cool celebrities, and the gloom left me sliding into 2017 with little desire to do anything. We're almost into April and I'm once again working to resume a productive life - productive in the things I enjoy. This past week I went book shopping and found a few gems to share.

Book Riot clued me in to California Dreamin' by Pénélope Bagieu, a graphic novel covering the first two-thirds of the life of Cass Elliot. As one fourth of the harmonious 60s group The Mamas and the Papas, Cass offered an amazing voice to the music scene. I'm not a die-hard fan, but I could probably name about a dozen hits off the top of my head as they were one of the more important bands of the era, bridging folk to pop and offering serious competition to the British invasion. Had Cass lived, I don't doubt she'd have continued a successful post-Mama career, if not in music then some hybrid of stage, cabaret and TV - hell, maybe a cartoon spinoff from that Scooby Doo special she did. She'd have been a riot on Twitter, too.

Bagieu's illustrative biography is more of a serial in that Cass's story (from early to age to the cusp of TM&TP's breakthrough) is told from the perspectives of the important supporting players in her life. Her sister gets a chapter, then her school BFF, collaborators, would-be lovers and rivals chime in to reveal the evolution of Ellen Cohen to Cass Elliot. Bagieu's artwork is loose and lush, not completely detailed scene for scene, but she gives enough distinction for each person portrayed - Cass's wide-eyed awe, John Phillips' austerity, Michelle's pixie beauty, and Denny Doherty's shaggy hippie charm. It's like Bagieu sketched out Cass's story as gently as possible, as though to provide some comfort to the young woman who put up with so much BS throughout her short life. I enjoyed reading Dreamin', but I would advise if you want to read this spend the money and buy it in print. Reading graphic novels via Kindle, even through the web reader, is a pill.

Rating: A

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I picked up Matt Birkbeck's Deconstructing Sammy after seeing it marked down through an eBook deal newsletter. It's not so much a biography of Sammy Davis, Jr. as it is a cautionary tale. I've read similar stories about entertainers, how one can generate millions of dollars over a storied career yet have nothing to show for it by the end. You can have an amazing voice, dance on ceilings without wires, and recite Shakespeare to make people cry, but if you don't have any money sense you're toast. TL;DR - If you want to major in drama, minor in business and read everything you sign.

Deconstructing is the more the story of Albert "Sonny" Murray, a former federal prosecutor whose involvement in settling Davis' IRS entanglements came at the behest of family and friends on behalf of Davis' widow, Altovise. Similar to the aftermath of James Brown's death, as told in James McBride's Kill 'Em and Leave (reviewed here), Davis died with his estate in dire straits, and survivors fighting over rights to exploit. Altovise wanted her Hollywood lifestyle back, Sammy's daughter wanted a musical made, but until the IRS got theirs nobody got anything.

Fixing the seemingly impossible fell to Murray, and as you read you may want to root for him the most, considering how the deeper he gets into Davis' "afterlife" the more unpleasant surprises await him. Davis proves as interesting in death as he did alive, in every sense surrounded by people stuffing their pockets. Birkbeck balances the timelines of Davis' life of extravagance and strife with Murray's determination to finish a job and frustrations in bringing his parents to financial solvency by helping to save their inn - the first in the Poconos to cater to black tourists. It's fascinating to read.

As I write this I'm not yet finished with the book. I wanted to contribute to the blog, and these titles seem to go together in that each tells a bittersweet story, in that you wonder what could have been with a longer life for Cass and a broader legacy for Sammy, a huge star in his time who hasn't enjoyed the exposure of a Sinatra or Elvis after his passing, but certainly warrants it. For now I'm giving the book a B but that rating might change when I finish.

Kathryn Lively is back...for now.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching For James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride

First things first: James McBride wrote an excellent, excellent memoir called The Color of Water. Go read it.

Second, don't expect a traditional biography when you open Kill 'Em and Leave (AMZ). Authors of biographies concern themselves with facts, typically in chronological order. That's not to say McBride isn't interested in the truth about James Brown; this book features input from many people involved in Brown's inner circle and some on the fringes: musicians, money men, friends and family. How McBride presents what truth he finds happens in a narrative that's personal and evokes an almost spiritual journey.

Explaining James Brown equates, one could argue, to trying to explain what Jesus actually looked like. Different versions of the Brown story/legend exist because, as we see in McBride's book, it's how Brown wanted it. For a man who enjoyed the spotlight, he craved the mystery and privacy just as much. The title of this book comes from advice Brown was fond of giving and sticking to: knock their socks off, and go. Kill 'em and leave. As McBride writes, "James Brown's status was there wasn't no A-list. He was the list." Watch any clip of him on YouTube and try to argue.

McBride's narrative reminded me in part of Citizen Kane and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, in the respect that you have a person searching for story, looking for an answer (What was Rosebud? Who was the real James Brown?) and in the process you come across a variety of people whose interpretations not only magnify the legacy of the subject, but make them people you want to know better. McBride talks to the last surviving member of The Flames, Brown's early group; his first wife Velma; the man who helped save Brown from the IRS; surrogate son Al Sharpton; and Miss Emma, a devoted friend for decades. Their stories are raw and engaging and bring pieces of Brown's life together like a puzzle we're amazed to see at the end. It's more than a story about one the great soul singers, it's a history of black music and a social commentary about how we treat people, and how we revere some after death...and how greed makes us blind to the need of others. The story of James Brown after his death - the multiple funerals, the fight over his estate, the midnight visit from Michael Jackson - would make one hell of a movie on it own.

This is a book that will stay with you. It's awesome. Just read it.

Rating: A

ARC received from NetGalley.

Kathryn Lively feels good, like she knew that she should.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Series Review: The Garden of Allah by Martin Turnbull

The good news is I'm not dead. It's been an interesting Spring/Summer - a trip to Sicily, a book contract, pages of writing completed, and melting in the sun. I'm reading a storm, too, but lately I haven't touched any rock books. It's not for lack of titles: the books are there, and the ones I really want to read aren't out yet. I suppose I've hit a slump where I simply can't get into the subject. I have two on my TBR pile - another Kiss book and another Beatles book. I've done plenty of them, and I truly want to add some variety here.

I won't abandon those bands entirely, or rock books, but in the interest of keeping this blog from the stagnant, mosquito infested stage, I'm going to broaden the scope a bit and include reviews of books that focus on pop culture in general - music, film, TV, and some fiction. Recently I finished the latest novel in a series I can't recommend enough.

I picked up The Garden of Allah by Martin Turnbull after happening upon it after a round of Amazon roulette. The premise grabbed me immediately: three friends with ambitions in young Hollywood become acquainted in the lush community ruled over by actress Alla Nazimova. IRL, Nazimova owned property on which a mansion/hotel and a few dozen villas were built. She rented out to people in the industry - writers, actors, general gadabouts doused in whiskey and gin. You've heard of the Algonquin Roundtable, consider this Algonquin West. In this mix Turnbull places Kathryn the aspiring journalist, Marcus the aspiring screenwriter, and Gwendolyn the aspiring actress. Throughout the series they experience career and personal peaks and valleys and cross paths with the big names of the day: Mayer, Warner, Selznick, Flynn, Hearst, Garbo, Welles.

The Garden of Allah sets the series with this trio of friends working to gain footholds in their respective fields. Naturally it doesn't come easy, and you learn quite a bit about studio politics in the early days of film. The Trouble With Scarlett takes them through the greatest casting search in film history, with Kathryn longing to scoop the top dog gossips on GWTW news and Gwendolyn plotting to play the lead. By Citizen Hollywood, we're all struck by the cinematic genius of Citizen Kane...even those who'd kill to suppress the film.

Seriously, if you have a yen for Old Hollywood stories, you'll like these. I heard there are six more books planned, and I wonder how far Turnbull plans to take his characters. Will we see the infancy of Marilyn Monroe's career, or get caught up in Black Dahlia's murder all over again. I'm stuck waiting, but you can catch up.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Please Be With Me: A Song for My Father, Duane Allman by Galadrielle Allman

Order Please Be with Me: A Song for My Father, Duane Allman from Amazon.com!

I should know more about The Allman Brothers Band than I do, which (until I read this) isn't much. I've lived my entire life south of Mason Dixon - with half of that spent in areas still affected by Allman influence. Indeed, while reading Ms. Allman's biography it surprised me to find so many coincidences:
  • The author and I share a birthday, though we're separated by a few years.
  • Her uncle Gregg received a liver transplant at the Mayo Clinic right around the time my father did.
  • She lived eleven years in Jacksonville, FL. I lived there for 22.
  • Duane and Gregg Allman lived very briefly in Virginia Beach as children, where I live now.
  • In the book's prologue, Ms. Allman talks about finding a Rolling Stone with her father on the cover in an Athens, GA thrift shop. I lived in Athens for a time, and I have a good idea which store she mentions.
Spooky, eh? Maybe the last two tibits are a stretch, but seeing the birthdate was pretty wild. I also share the day with Gene Simmons and Gopher from The Love Boat.

Coincidences aside, I still acknowledge I should know more about The Allman Brothers. While not a Jacksonville-based band like Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet, the ties the brothers had to the music scene there shaped the legend. Perhaps for a long time, Ms. Allman knew as much about her father as I do - she was only two when Duane Allman perished in a motorcycle accident in the early 70s, a few years shy of the mystically unlucky 27 that stalks troubled musicians, and shortly after the band's grand commercial breakthrough. Please Be With Me is the culmination of her journey to meet a man everybody else (even strangers) knew and loved. 

To complete the puzzle, Ms Allman relies on the memories of colleagues, family friends, and relatives to recount Duane's life story in vivid, lyrical prose. You can taste the salty air of Daytona Beach, where Duane picked up chords through his adolescence, and follow the scents of bougainvillea, whiskey, and weed all the way to Macon and back. When you read stories of rock legends, however, you wonder about the accuracy of detail when everything comes to you second and third-hand. One reviewer on Goodreads of this book voiced some skepticism that Ms. Allman's book holds 100% accuracy. I don't know if this opinion is based upon further research on Duane and the Allmans, or just conjecture. I say, sometimes an urban legend holds a kernel of truth. Did a brother really arrange to severely injure himself to get out of the draft? Were there tensions with the Grateful Dead and in Clapton's Layla sessions? Chances are, you'd learn of different opinions as these events happened.

I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Allman's book, which is partly a biography and partly a tribute not only to her father but the family that surrounded them. The strength of the narration carries you deep into the story that, for a moment, you almost forget the tragic outcome and want to remain where the music plays.

Rating: A

ARC received from NetGalley

Kathryn Lively is a mystery writer and book reviewer.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Who I Am by Pete Townshend

When Pete Townshend's book was initially released, I heard on my local classic rock station that he immediately regretted writing it, and wished he didn't. One can understand this - when you put your life in a book you expose yourself to the world and risk emotional infections. I write fiction, and while I don't have a readership the size of The Who's fan base I still feel queasy every time I announce a new title. Just as with non-fiction, and even song writing, there's a piece of yourself in everything you publish. As a lyricist, Townshend no doubt shared plenty of his life through song, and Who I Am serves to deconstruct his life in music and on the fringes of the industry.

He seems - to me, anyway - to tell his story with some hesitation. When my husband saw me with the book he cast me the patented "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" smile, as though expecting something sordid like recent musician bios I've read (*cough* Mick Jagger *cough*). Even if you have casually kept track of Townshend's career over the decade you've probably caught all the juicy bits - from the mystery of his sexual preferences to the addition of his name to a sex offender registry. These instances are covered in his book, though not dwelled upon for more than a few pages. Neither are the events of his youth ostensibly connected to these later issues revealed in great tabloid detail. Perhaps Townshend's memory has failed him when it comes to recalling the abuse he claims to have suffered at the hands of his grandmother and her friends, or maybe he deliberately chose to focus more on his professional life. If you are a die-hard Who fan and concern yourself more with musicianship than gossip, you will likely appreciate how the book is structured.

For somebody who seems reluctant to write his memoir, he offers a rather large product - Who I Am checks in at 500+ pages which breeze through a tense childhood with entertainer parents and the early days of The Who, through the peak of their stardom and Townshend's struggle to balance work, family, and various vices with his growing spirituality (just as The Beatles found enlightenment with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Townshend embraced the teachings of Meher Baba). There are gossipy anecdotes as well, including same-sex flirtations and one tale putting Townshend in the awkward position of distracting George Harrison while Eric Clapton made a play for Patti. The things we do for friends.

Some reviews I've read of Townshend's book complain there isn't enough information despite the book's length. I'm neither a casual Who fan nor a die-hard - I'm in the middle somewhere, I'll watch Tommy when Palladia runs it - but I enjoyed the book, more so than many of the memoirs and bios I've read this year. Being a writer, I suppose I appreciated Townshend writing about writing, songs and fiction and rock operas.  When he does open up about heartache, infidelity, and conflicts with band mates and others there is an air of honesty (and in some instances regret), and while you might not sympathize completely with him you may come away from reading Who I Am satisfied that you read a good story. I am.

Rating: A

Kathryn Lively is a mystery author and a book blogger.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The John Lennon Letters by Hunter Davies, ed.

I was fortunate enough to be in New York City when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame annex was still open and promoting their exhibit on John Lennon's years in the city. Like the mother museum in Cleveland, the annex also forbade photography so I'm unable to share images other than what I can describe. One display that particularly struck me was a collection of John and Yoko's writings. As my companion and I studied the entire case I noted with interest the snippets of Yoko's short, instructive poetry. "Would you look at that," I told my friend, "Yoko invented Twitter."

I've also read somewhere, and perhaps Yoko said it, that were John alive today he would have embraced social media and made frequent use of it. We can only imagine (sorry) a verified Twitter account for John or a Facebook page he might use as a soapbox for political and social commentary. Maybe, too, like George Takei he'd push the occasional funny LOL Cat picture, having had a fondness for felines toward the end of his life. It would be fun to follow him, but after having gone through The John Lennon Letters one has to wonder how much we have lost since the social media boom. A co-worker recently complained that one problem with smart phones and the rise of texting and photo sharing is that this growing activity nurtures a society of people who won't look each other in the eye. One could argue that a society that accepts information in 140 character increments may one day lose appreciation for the art of the letter, and conversation. This collection of Lennon's correspondence does more than offer the fan a more complete picture of the Beatle and activist, but reintroduces us through Lennon a fading culture.

Within this thick book you'll find an impressive collection of written history from Lennon's point of view: everything from memos to doodles, and postcards and short notes to more thoughtful letters. Many are personal and many are professional - if you have read earlier bios of Lennon and the Beatles, you may have seen some before. A few that strike out in memory include Lennon's early love letters to girlfriend/wife Cynthia Powell and a few scathing missives to Paul McCartney post-breakup.

Editor Davies, also a Beatles biographer and acquaintance of Lennon's, includes with each entry what information he could find behind each entry. While perhaps not a complete collection, Davies gives us the full spectrum of Lennon era, from youth to middle age. Reading some of these letters will reintroduce you to Lennon's quirky sense of humor while also showing a compassionate side other biographers don't always showcase so well. Just when you think you've read everything about Lennon, too, a newer book tends to offer a surprise or two. Without going into detail, I will add I found especially interesting what Lennon had predicted about his older son, Julian, as well as a sense of loyalty to his mother's relatives, with whom he corresponded when possible.

The John Lennon Letters has the look and feel of a coffee table book - you could probably jump back and forth reading the letters and notes, but reading all the way through creates a more rounded picture of Lennon by Lennon. If you are mostly a digital reader now, as I am, you'll find the price for hardcover well worth the investment.

Rating: A

Kathryn Lively is a mystery author and book blogger.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best-Kept Secret by Kent Hartman

While searching for a Monkees biography for a timely review, this title popped up in the recommended widgets. I had known for some time that the Monkees did not play in the studio for their first two albums, and it occurred to me other groups of the day would have made use of studio musicians. That the majority of the best-known songs recorded during rock and roll's first few decades had been performed by a core group left me wanting to know more, and author Hartman's meticulous biography of "The Wrecking Crew" traces their history from the days when popular music shifted from deep-voiced crooning to raucous rockabilly and on through the eclectic seventies. Some names are familiar, others not so much, but in a way that is probably fitting, given that the music (no pun intended) seemed to take center stage.

Kent Hartman's account of this group's evolution in The Wrecking Crew (AMZ) puts focus on a number of players, some within the crew and others the peripheral movers in the music business who benefited from their skills. Some names may be familiar with students of early rock -- drummer Hal Blaine who coined the moniker, the lone female Carol Kaye, and the rare crossover success story, Glen Campbell. For much of the 50s through the 70s, when singing groups tended the dominate the charts more often than actual bands, the Wrecking Crew handled the majority of studio performances, including songs by Simon and Garfunkel, Sonny and Cher, The Beach Boys (some of the crew would actually tour as ersatz members), The Monkees, The Grass Roots, The Fifth Dimension, and so forth.

The Wrecking Crew presents the evolution of the rock era through a series of vignettes that paint a colorful picture of the industry -- from tales of Sonny Bono's ballsy maneuvering into the business to dealings with the enigmatic Brian Wilson. The book presents a most fascinating history.

Rating: A

Kathryn Lively is a mystery author and book blogger.









Thursday, June 2, 2011

Starting Over: The Making of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy by Ken Sharp

There is a scene in a made for TV movie about John Lennon where the former Beatle is listening to the radio while lounging near the beach. He pauses on hearing a curious harmony punctuated by a high-pitched ululation that sends him to the nearest phone to call his wife, Yoko. "They're doing your act," he enthuses with apparent belief that his beloved's avant-garde approach to music is finally gaining acceptance. On this revelation, the scene cuts to a studio somewhere in New York City, where the Lennons commence an historic return to public life through the production of new material that will eventually comprise Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey. To look at those brief moments in a film that otherwise presents a relationship faced with various challenges, one might guess John had been at his happiest and most enthusiastic in that time.

I wouldn't doubt it. When Lennon and Ono entered the Hit Factory with The B-52's hit "Rock Lobster" no doubt ringing in their memories, they sought to put their own mark on the new decade. Ken Sharp's Starting Over attempts to record every detail of the making of Lennon's new music, and relies upon the memories of everybody involved in the production - from Yoko to producer Jack Douglas, guest artists Bun E. Carlos and Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, and a host of studio musicians and personnel, engineers, and music critics. Lennon himself is represented through interviews granted to various sources before his death.

The structure of Starting Over offers the play-by-play through a series of direct narratives from all involved parties. If you have read Live From New York, a history of Saturday Night Live as told by cast and crew, you will be familiar with the format. Here, readers bounce around a series of "he saids" and "she saids" where everything from Lennon's day to day mood and work ethic to the food delivered for lunch (sushi mainly, until the band rebelled and began to sneak in hamburgers) is revealed. Largely visible, too, is the overall perception of Lennon being somewhat insecure in his work despite the absence of pressure from labels. Because Lennon was not under contract to make the record, he opted for strict secrecy (it almost worked) and seemed ready to destroy everything if it didn't turn out to his satisfaction. One can only wonder the fate of the music that comprised Milk and Honey had he not died - would he have approved of that release?

Despite entering the relaxed atmosphere of the Hit Factory, a cloud did loom overhead - namely the pressure to live up to the Lennon name and reputation, as well as execute an impressive leap from the shadow cast by former band mate Paul McCartney, whose own 1980 album had gone gold. Some may view Lennon's decision to eventually sign with fledging label Geffen Records as opposed to McCartney's label (which, among others, courted Lennon) as a final act of non-conformity.

Few stories in the book, told from different angles, contradict one another. Yet, when it happens it happens big. The process of arranging tunes in playing order, as recalled by Yoko, might have resulted in a disadvantageous placement of her songs if others had gotten their way.

What I found most fascinating about Starting Over is the latter half of the story, the critical and public reaction to the finished Double Fantasy. As I read, I queued up the album to familiarize myself again with the music that seemed to dominate much of 1981 by virtue of our global mourning. Tracking responses by the major critics of the day, Yoko's work is singled out as the more innovative contribution to the album - interesting to note given that the bulk of Starting Over covers Lennon's involvement in the production. Lennon's songs, which mainly reflect his familial contentment and optimism, are dissected with great care, while explanation of Yoko's inspiration to write is hardly examined. I can only guess this lack of balance is attributed to Sharp's intention to offer Starting Over as a Lennon tribute, with the assumption that Yoko's story will be told in due time. This is not to say, however, that Yoko is shut out completely. We are reminded throughout Starting Over that two artists appear on the cover, and the story of how David Geffen finally won the most anticipated album of the new decade solidifies Yoko's importance in the project.

For readers interested in Lennon's later history with a concentration on work rather than gossip, Starting Over is a nice "oral" history, but may come off as a bittersweet read given how the story ends. Thirty years after the events, the stories remain as fresh as the music.

Rating: A

Kathryn Lively is a mystery author whose titles include Rock Deadly and Rock Til You Drop.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Good Rockin' Tonight by Colin Escott & Martin Hawkins

When I received the galley for the revised edition of Good Rockin' Tonight, my knowledge of Sun Records was minimal - I knew basically that it existed. I had known some of the legends of early rock and roll cut records with the label - Elvis, Jerry Lee, Roy - but I hadn't realized the richness of the label's history before now. While reading this book, what grabbed me the most was the sheer amount of minor record labels active in the 50's and 60's, and the preference of cutting singles as opposed to whole albums since one was likely to find more profit - a practice one sees now with iTunes, where one can buy individual songs.

I can remember, as a child, sifting through stacks of 45 RPM discs my parents had collected over the years. There may have been a Sun or two in the mix, but I recall quite a variety - Dot, Decca, Buddha, Stax...the music business doesn't appear that different from publishing, particularly in this time of transition. It is interesting to note how some labels operated to serve a specific market (in Sun's case, the South - perfecting what became known as the "Memphis Sound") and gain a following before broadening their reach. This makes sense when you think about it - popular music variety shows like American Bandstand and the Grand Ole Opry had roots in localized followings before expanding. Rockin' touches on the Sun Records connection to these national outlets, in particular with their more prominent artists.
When the original Sun studio opened, it had originally served as a place for musicians and organizations to make use of the equipment until it was realized that money could be made representing and distributing artists. Rockin' goes on to break down, chapter by chapter, the many relationships Sun and Phillips enjoyed with various artists and architects of R&B, rockabilly, and early rock and roll. The Sun histories of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Roy Orbison - some of them so brief - are recorded with academic detail and very little gossip. Though it's not revealed directly, as you run down the list of songs recorded and released by Sun you realize the butterfly effect Phillips had on rock and roll - one can argue that if not for the Sun discs making the rounds in the UK, where American artists of this period were quite popular, The Beatles may not have come into existence (indeed, check the Fabs' earlier albums for their covers of some of Perkins' Sun songs.).

Probably the juiciest tabloid-esque bits one can expect to find are Lewis's exploits, mainly because they resulted in nearly damaging his career while with Sun. Given the same amount of play here, though on the radio it was a different story, are the careers of second and third-tier artists like Charlie Rich, Malcolm Yelvington, Warren Smith, Billy Riley. You might not know the names, but perhaps if you had parents like mine who held a wealth of records you may recognize the music - a thorough appendix of Sun recordings at the end of the book provides the information you need to educate yourself.

A friend who has also read and enjoyed this book noted his amazement that Phillips not only had so much talent in his stable, but seemed to willingly let it go. The passages on Johnny Cash support this - one reads this entire book and wonders how a man of such innovation, who once had the organization so many others imitated, didn't seem perceptive enough to know he should hang on to the likes of Presley and Cash. Would Sun have survived the changing landscape of music in the 1960s if Phillips had been more aggressive in keeping certain artists? We can only guess at what might have been, but we do know the legacy left by one of the more influential independent labels in music history, and thanks to this book we know so much more.

Rating: A

(Book provided by publisher via NetGalley)

Kathryn Lively is a mystery author whose titles include Rock Deadly and Rock Til You Drop.